Mairav Zonszein

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For a few months now, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly invoked the name of the Gaza Strip’s southernmost city: Rafah. His government has relentlessly threatened Hamas—and promised its own public—that it will soon send ground troops into the only part of Gaza that Israel has yet to invade. Netanyahu dangles the threat in almost every meeting and press conference, without mentioning that the manpower and logistics required to both recruit the required IDF troops and evacuate the civilian population would take weeks to organize. That process has yet to begin.

But another battle is well under way. The U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police officers extinguish a fire during a protest against the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government on March 16, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Amir Levy/Getty Images

When U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, one of the staunchest pro-Israel lawmakers in the United States and the highest-ranking Jewish official in Washington, effectively called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ouster on the Senate floor in mid-March, it was a watershed moment for anyone following Israel’s role in U.S. politics.

Israel has been so sacrosanct in America for so long that the idea that a hawkish Democrat like Schumer would call for regime change in Israel is extraordinary. But the Senate leader’s stance is fairly mainstream among Israelis. There’s consensus—even within his own party—that elections should be held early.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Defence Minister Yoav Gallant (C) and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz hold a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on October 28, 2023 amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian gr Abir SULTAN / POOL / AFP

Over three months into the Israel-Gaza war, Israel has neither a clear path to victory nor a feasible exit strategy. It appears far from accomplishing either of its two main war objectives: dismantling Hamas’s military and governing capacities and securing the release of its citizens held hostage. The roughly 200,000 Israelis displaced from the country’s borders with Gaza (and Lebanon, due to exchanges of fire with Hizbollah) have no prospect of going home soon. The Israeli military operation has killed only 20 to 30 per cent of Hamas’s military wing despite the heavy toll of 26,000 Gazan casualties, mostly civilians, and the loss of more than 200 Israeli soldiers and injury of another 2,700 since the ground operation began.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Families of Hostages Are Calling on Israel to Do Something Radical

Ido Shamriz turned his eulogy for his brother, Alon, into a protest.

Against all odds, Mr. Shamriz said, his brother had survived 70 days of captivity in Gaza and escaped — only to be shot and killed by Israeli soldiers along with two other hostages waving white flags. Those “who abandoned you also murdered you”, Mr. Shamriz said.

In other words, the state failed to protect Alon on Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked Israel and again on Dec. 15, the day he was killed.

The accidental killing of the three hostages by Israeli troops shifted the public mood in Israel from despair and grief to indignation and fury.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mourners embrace during the funeral of Meni and Ayelet Godard, in Kibbutz Palmachim, Israel, October 29, 2023. The Israeli couple was killed by Hamas militants on October 7, in Kibbutz Be’eri near the border with the Gaza Strip.

Since the massacre committed by Hamas on October 7, the full scale and scope of which is still grindingly coming to light weeks later, Israeli leaders and media have turned to extreme rhetoric to convey the horrors of entire families being burned alive in their homes, parents being shot in front of their children, babies kidnapped. Hamas is being referred to regularly on Israeli TV as Nazis. Israeli liberal mainstream columnist Nadav Eyal referred to the Hamas attack as “an attempt at targeted ethnic cleansing and genocide”. Israel’s daily Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper website has a banner across its homepage that reads, “The War Over Our Home”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to attend a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on Feb. 23.Ronen Zvulun—Pool/AP

Four days after the most catastrophic attack on Israel in its history, the scope of the fatalities and extent of the mental and physical damage have yet to become fully clear. But several things are already apparent. One is that the staggering human toll is almost surely going to rise significantly, as civilians on both sides bear the brunt. The second is that Israel was caught by surprise amid a major intelligence failure, despite all its sophisticated, high-tech resources and capabilities that make it the region’s dominant military power. The third (one that very few Israelis may want to hear at the moment, or even be able to absorb, as they keen for their dead and fear for their hostages) is that Israel’s decision to divide and control millions of Palestinians, put them behind walls and fences, deprive them of their rights, and implement what leading human rights organizations have called apartheid is not a tenable approach for the long term security and stability of its Jewish citizens.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli settlers adjusted a large Star of David last year in an outpost near the Palestinian village of Beita in the West Bank. (Majdi Mohammed/AP)

When Israel’s new president, Isaac Herzog, marked the first night of Hannukah in December by lighting candles in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, where some 850 Israeli settlers live under military protection among over 200,000 Palestinians, he offered yet another insulting reminder of Israel’s brutal occupation. Herzog talked about the need to denounce “all forms of hatred and violence” in a place where systemic violence against Palestinians is blatant.

The hodgepodge Israeli coalition that ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s tenure has tried to turn the page by practicing respectful diplomacy abroad. As foreign minister, centrist politician Yair Lapid has been trying to repair Israel’s relations with Democrats in the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the past few weeks, Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem has been the site of several violent attacks in which Palestinians, many of them teenagers, have gone out to stab Israelis, and then often paid for it with their lives. Last month, a Palestinian, just 16 years old, stabbed two border police officers in Jerusalem’s Old City, and was fatally shot. On Dec. 4, a 25-year-old Palestinian man stabbed an orthodox Israeli near Damascus Gate, then apparently tried to stab two Israeli border police officers, who subsequently shot him several times, even after he was down on the ground and no longer appeared to pose a threat.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israel Wants to Have Its Ice Cream and Cybersecurity, Too

It is never quiet in Israel, but July brought new scrutiny. First, news broke that governments around the world have used spyware purchased from an Israeli cybersurveillance company, NSO Group, to target journalists, human rights activists and politicians. The revelations could implicate the Israeli Ministry of Defense in granting NSO permission to export hacking software that was then used by countries with authoritarian governments to suppress dissent. The scandal topped international news for days, but Israeli officials were instead preoccupied with ice cream. On July 19, Ben & Jerry’s announced it will no longer be available in the occupied Palestinian territories as of 2023.…  Seguir leyendo »

Many are still scrambling to understand how we got to this point in the Gaza conflict, to process the scope of violence and pinpoint the triggers that sparked it.

But what is already painfully clear is that even when the current warfare subsides, the endgame will remain elusive and while civilians lose their lives, the fundamental problems will still remain and the conflict will only deepen.

Israeli top political and military brass insist that the goal of the current offensive in Gaza is to achieve “long-term quiet,” as Benny Gantz, the defence minister, put it.

For now, Israeli leaders appear to hope to reach that goal through the exclusive use of force.…  Seguir leyendo »

An injured Palestinian demonstrator is helped during clashes at Damascus Gate just outside Jerusalem’s Old City, Saturday, May 8, 2021.

Within the span of a few days in April, violent confrontations erupted in East Jerusalem that were severe enough for the U.S. Embassy and State Department to put out a statement, expressing “deep concern” and calling for “safety, security, and rights” for all in Jerusalem. A Jewish supremacist group with ties to a newly elected Knesset member had walked through the streets chanting, “Death to Arabs,” as they hunted down and assaulted Palestinians during the height of Ramadan. Then, last Friday night, as thousands of Palestinians prayed in the al-Aqsa mosque, tensions boiled over as some Palestinians threw rocks and bottles at Israeli police, who responded by shooting stun grenades and rubber bullets at crowds of worshippers, including women and children.…  Seguir leyendo »

Labourers walk past a Blue and White party election campaign banner depicting its leader, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the March 23 ballot, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 14, 2021. REUTERS/Corinna Kern

This publication is part of a joint initiative between the International Crisis Group and the United States/Middle East Project (USMEP) to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What is this election about?

This election seems to be about one thing only: should Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be in or out? More substantively, it is about whether the hybrid opposition to Netanyahu (spanning right to left) can muster enough votes to break a two-year stalemate and end his hegemony in Israeli politics. Since 2019, Netanyahu, the longest-serving premier in the country’s history, has been unable to form a stable working majority. Then again, neither have his opponents – hence, Israel has held four elections in the intervening time (and nobody is ruling out a fifth).…  Seguir leyendo »

George Soros at the office of Open Society Foundations in New York. Credit Joshua Bright for The New York Times

As a Holocaust survivor, a successful financier who embraces free market capitalism and a philanthropist who champions liberal democracy, George Soros should be a darling of the Israeli establishment. But Mr. Soros has failed the only litmus test that seems to count for Israel’s current leadership: unconditional support for the government, despite its policies of occupation, discrimination and disregard for civil and human right.

For years Mr. Soros largely avoided Israel-related philanthropy, but he became involved in 2008 when he contributed to J Street, a moderate pro-Israel, pro-peace lobbying group based in Washington, after it was founded. Through his Open Society Foundations, Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israel’s Abortion Committees

I knew Israeli law required that all abortions be approved by a committee. I also knew that the procedure was widely accessible. I’d never heard of an Israeli woman being denied an abortion (as opposed to say, a divorce, which must be granted by the husband in a religious court).

So I never really gave it much thought, until I found myself sitting in front of such a committee, six weeks pregnant with a 5-month-old baby at home.

When I went to my gynecologist, all he could do was provide me with an ultrasound as proof of my pregnancy. “I don’t do abortions,” he told me.…  Seguir leyendo »

On July 12, four days after the latest war in Gaza began, hundreds of Israelis gathered in central Tel Aviv to protest the killing of civilians on both sides and call for an end to the siege of Gaza and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. They chanted, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.”

Hamas had warned that it would fire a barrage of rockets at central Israel after 9 p.m., and it did.

But the injuries suffered in Tel Aviv that night stemmed not from rocket fire but from a premeditated assault by a group of extremist Israeli Jews.…  Seguir leyendo »