“One area where the Biden administration has set itself apart is in sending weapons to partner countries, and now we’re getting a more complete picture of what the US is sending Israel in the weeks since October 7.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the US has ramped up its previously minimal military aid to the country to an unparalleled $46.7 billion. Ukraine towers over the other major recipients in bar charts of US security assistance for 2022 and ’23. The US is sending so many munitions there that it has apparently strained American factories and led to a whole-of-government effort to revive military supply chains.
The US is also accelerating arms transfers to Israel in response to Hamas’s October 7 attacks that killed 1,200 people and resulted in the kidnapping of more than 200. Last month, President Joe Biden announced from the Oval Office that he would seek “an unprecedented support package for Israel’s defense” of $14.3 billion. “We’re surging additional military assistance,” he added.
But while Ukraine has never been a traditional recipient of heavy military aid, the US’s most recent support of the Israeli military builds on a long bipartisan American practice. Israel has received about $3 billion annually, adjusted for inflation, for the last 50 years, and is the largest historical recipient of US security aid. The Obama administration in 2016 announced the biggest security assistance package to the country ever, pledging $38 billion for Israel over the next decade. US support has ensured that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge over neighboring Arab countries by having more advanced weapons systems, something Congress wrote into law in 2008.
Israel would not be able to conduct this war without the US, which over time has provided Israel with about 80 percent of the country’s weapons imports.”
“Israel contends that it has the right to circumvent certain international obligations in the West Bank, saying that it’s not part of Israel’s sovereign territory and therefore subject to military laws that can restrict people’s civil rights. But watchdog groups, including the United Nations Human Rights Committee, argue that as the occupying power, Israel must respect human rights in Palestinian territories — especially as the occupation grows older and more entrenched.
And before the war, Israel was not, by and large, deploying this tool lawfully. “Amnesty has found that Israel’s systematic use of administrative detention against Palestinians indicates that it’s used to persecute Palestinians rather than as an extraordinary and selectively used preventative measure,” Rghebi said.
Israel maintains that it detains people because of legitimate security concerns, such as potential participation in violent attacks. But while there is a thin veneer of due process — Palestinians can appeal their detention orders, for example — the reality is that a stunningly low number of appeals succeed, in no small part because as both local and international human rights groups have documented, neither the detainees nor their lawyers are told what evidence Israel has against them. (According to B’Tselem, Israeli military courts only nullified 1.2 percent of detention orders issued between 2015 and 2017, and an investigation by Haaretz found that as of August, not a single detention order had been canceled this year.)”
“Even before this most recent war between Israel and Hamas, the very tiny, very rich Gulf state had carved out a bit of a reputation as a diplomatic broker, especially in hostage negotiations. This has been a deliberate gambit on Qatar’s part, which has cultivated and managed pragmatic ties with the region’s main players — becoming a kind of middle man between parties that otherwise do not get along. It’s a key US ally, hosting an American military base critical to US operations in places like Syria and Iraq. Qatar also has ties to Islamist groups, including Hamas, whose political arm has an office in Doha.
This has given Qatar leverage — and, most importantly, access. The United States and Israel do not negotiate directly with Hamas. That has made the Qataris an indispensable go-between. “You have to talk to Hamas to get anything done,” said F. Gregory Gause, professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. “The Qataris are there to help you out — and they’re there to remind you that they’re helping you out.”
Qatar’s role in this conflict extends beyond this week’s deal. In late October, Qatar helped negotiate the release of a couple hostages held by Hamas, and it may be helping to tamp down a wider regional conflict, given its good relations with Iran and open channels with the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah. Qatar played a role in mediating the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, and has supported Gaza, including financing salaries for Hamas civil servants through the sale of fuel to the group — with the okay of Israel, in part because Israel saw it as a stabilizing measure.
Qatar’s diplomacy isn’t limited to the realm of Israel-Hamas, either. Qatar served as an intermediary between the US and the Taliban before the two ultimately negotiated a peace deal directly, in Doha. Qatar’s open lines with the Taliban helped facilitate evacuations from Afghanistan after Kabul’s fall in 2021, and even after. And Qatar has increasingly become known for its skill in hostage negotiations, even outside the region. It recently helped broker a deal to get Russia to return four Ukrainian kids to their families.
“It wants to be influential, diplomatically, and it does understand that, obviously, it’s not a regional superpower that can dictate things,” said Bessma Momani, a political science professor at the University of Waterloo. Yet maintaining these delicate ties — and working those connections — is a very good way for Qatar to advance its interests, and its security. That approach comes with some risks, but, at least right now, they don’t outweigh the upsides for Qatar.
Qatar finds “a way to be helpful and resourceful in specific, niche areas that can have outsized influence,” Momani said. “That’s their strategy.””
“Standing on the edge of the tunnel shaft, it was apparent that the structure itself was substantial. At the top, the remains of a ladder hung over the lip of the opening. In the center of the round shaft, a center pole looked like a hub for a spiral staircase. The shaft itself extended down farther than we could see, especially in the meager light of our headlamps.
Video released by the IDF from inside the shaft showed what we could not see from the top of the opening. The video shows a spiral staircase leading down into a concrete tunnel. The IDF said the tunnel shaft extends downwards approximately 10 meters and the tunnel runs for 55 meters. At its end stands a metal door with a small window.
“We need to demolish the underground facility that we found,” said IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari. “I think the leadership of Hamas is in great pressure because we found this facility, and we are now going to demolish it. It’s going to take us time. We’re going to do it safely, but we’re going to do it.”
It is arguably the most compelling evidence thus far that the IDF has offered that there may be a network of tunnels below the hospital. It does not establish without a doubt that there is a command center under Gaza’s largest hospital, but it is clear that there is a tunnel down below. Seeing what connects to that tunnel is absolutely critical.
For Israel, the stakes could not be higher. Israel has publicly asserted for weeks, if not years, that Hamas has built terror infrastructure below the hospital. The ability to continue to prosecute the war in the face of mounting international criticism depends to a large extent on Israel being able to prove this point.
Hamas has repeatedly denied that there is a network of tunnels below Shifa hospital. Health officials who have spoken with CNN have said the same, insisting it is only a medical facility.”
“According to a September UN report, there had been roughly two settler attacks on Palestinians per day in 2022, a doubling of the previous year’s average. In the first eight months of 2023, the daily average went up to three — the highest figure since the UN began recording data on the topic in 2006. The violence between 2022 and August 2023 displaced roughly 1,100 Palestinians and emptied four communities, with scant accountability. The UN found that while 81 percent of Palestinian communities reported incidents to Israeli authorities, only 6 percent said they were aware of Israel acting on the provided information.”
“The more egregious the settlers’ actions become, the more likely Palestinian militants are to respond with brutal violence of their own. The more violent they get, the more settlers and the Israeli military will retaliate. And the more Israel inflicts violence on Palestinians, the more likely it is that violence erupts into a full-fledged uprising across the West Bank.”
“Biden administration officials are increasingly at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government over how it is conducting its military assault on Hamas and how the two countries envision the political future of Gaza, current and former U.S. officials say.
Amid dire scenes from hospitals in Gaza and a rising civilian death toll, frustration is building among administration officials who have repeatedly appealed to Netanyahu and his government to take more action to protect Palestinian civilians and allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza.
“We are concerned that they aren’t doing everything possible to reduce civilian casualties,” said one administration official. The comments came as Israeli forces moved in on Gaza City’s main hospital, where they said Hamas militants have been operating from an underground command center.
The friction between the two governments is over crucial long-term questions about who will govern the Palestinian enclave after Israel completes its military offensive. That includes the role of the Palestinian Authority — which currently governs the West Bank — and reviving diplomatic efforts for a two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state, current and former officials said.
“There’s a looming gap between the U.S. and Israel on where we’re going to be in a month or two,” one former U.S. official said.
Although the U.S. and Israel have tried to present a united front publicly, the divide was exposed after Netanyahu last week said that Israel would have a security role in Gaza for an indefinite period.
Less than 24 hours later, Secretary of State Antony Blinken pushed back, making it clear the U.S. would not accept any suggestion of a reoccupation of the Gaza Strip or a blockade of the enclave.
The U.S. believes there can be “no reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict, hence, no attempt to blockade or besiege Gaza,” and “no reduction in the territory of Gaza,” Blinken said during a visit to Tokyo.
Blinken also laid out his most detailed vision yet for the future of Gaza, saying it “must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.”
The Palestinian Authority, which was pushed out of Gaza by its rivals in Hamas, administers semiautonomous areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The U.S. and other world powers view the Palestinian Authority, which is internationally recognized but lacks strong popular support, as the only realistic alternative to Hamas, which the U.S. and other Western nations considers a terrorist organization.
Netanyahu, in turn, brushed off Blinken’s proposal, telling NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that Gaza needed to be demilitarized and deradicalized and any Palestinian force including the Palestinian Authority was not up to the job.”