Plus, a reader question about Eastern Oregon counties seceding to Idaho.

I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”

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Today's read: 13 minutes.

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Today, we're covering the latest on Israel's hostage rescue mission in Gaza. Plus, a reader question about Oregonians seceding into Idaho.

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Quick hits.

  1. The Consumer Price Index showed a slowdown in inflation on Wednesday, the latest sign price growth may be easing. (The numbers
  2. A committee of experts has endorsed the experimental Alzheimer's drug donanemab for FDA approval, saying it slows cognitive decline with benefits that outweigh safety concerns. (The endorsement)
  3. Four American college instructors were stabbed in northeastern China yesterday. The victims were part of an exchange program from Cornell College in Iowa. A suspect was arrested. (The attack)
  4. Ukraine is facing extended blackouts due to severe damage to its power stations caused by Russian strikes. (The blackouts) Meanwhile, a Ukrainian military official also said Ukraine had successfully struck missile launch sites inside Russia. (The strike)
  5. A federal judge ruled that Florida's restrictions on hormone- and puberty-blocker treatment for trans minors were unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. (The ruling)

Today's topic.

Israel's hostage rescue. On Saturday, Israel rescued four living hostages from inside the Nuseirat refugee camp in Central Gaza. The hostages were freed eight months after they were kidnapped by Hamas militants who had crossed the border into Israel. All four — Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, and Shlomi Ziv — were abducted from the Nova music festival in Southern Israel on October 7. An estimated 116 of the 250 hostages taken remain in Gaza, at least 40 of whom have been declared dead by authorities.

During the raid to rescue the hostages, Israeli forces entered two residential buildings where the hostages were being held separately. Both residential buildings contained three to four stories occupied by families and armed Hamas combatants guarding the hostages. The IDF said that the three men rescued were being held by a local journalist, Abdullah Aljamal, who they claimed worked for Al Jazeera, a popular Qatari state-owned news outlet (Al Jazeera denies they ever employed Aljamal). Aljamal's name appears in just one opinion piece that was published on Al Jazeera, but he was published 16 times since October 7 by The Palestine Chronicle, an English news website and nonprofit. 

During the rescue, a firefight ensued that left scores of Palestinians dead, though the total number of combatants and civilians killed is disputed. Israeli Defense Forces claimed the total Palestinian casualties were less than 100, while the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health said 274 people had been killed.

Neither death toll has been independently verified, and U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the U.S. may never be able to do so. Sullivan celebrated the release of the hostages, but called the Palestinian death toll "heartbreaking” and “tragic.”

"I've said before that the Palestinian people are going through hell in this war. They're caught in the crossfire. Hamas hides among civilian infrastructure, hides underground, and puts the Palestinian people in harm's way," Sullivan said.

Across Israel, celebrations broke out following news of the hostage rescue. Argamani in particular had become one of the most recognizable hostages, as video of her being taken into Gaza on the back of a motorcycle while pleading for her life and reaching for her boyfriend has been broadcast across the globe. Argamani's boyfriend is believed to still be held captive inside Gaza. 

Meanwhile, leaders across the Arab world condemned the operation, saying Israel violated international and humanitarian law by conducting a dangerous operation that took the lives of so many people. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry called the operation “a flagrant violation of international law,” and said it “holds Israel legally and morally responsible for this blatant aggression.” 

The rescue operation occurred while Israel and Hamas continue to negotiate a ceasefire deal and hostage release. On Tuesday, Hamas responded to a U.S.-proposed ceasefire deal that the United Nations Security Council approved, though whether they accepted the proposal is still unclear.

The U.N.-brokered deal contains three phases, beginning with a six-week ceasefire, the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, and a withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas in Gaza. Phase one involves the safe distribution of humanitarian aid; phase two calls for a "permanent end to hostilities, in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza;" and phase three launches "a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the remains of any deceased hostages still in Gaza to their families."

Today, we're going to break down some arguments about the hostage deal and the ceasefire proposal from the right and left, as well as some opinions from Israelis and Palestinians. Then, my take.


What the left is saying.

  • The left is glad the hostages are home but says the focus must remain on a ceasefire and hostage release deal.
  • Some argue the operation’s death toll should temper celebrations over the hostages’ rescue. 

The Washington Post editorial board wrote “Israel’s rescue of four hostages is good news, but Gaza’s suffering can’t ease without a truce.”

“There is much we still do not know about what happened as Israeli forces fought their way in and out of the crowded Nuseirat area of central Gaza Saturday. One key data point is the precise Palestinian death toll; alas, it is surely substantial. Hamas officials in Gaza report more than 200 killed; Israeli sources speak of fewer than 100,” the board said. "What is safe to say is that everyone killed Saturday would likely still be alive if Hamas’s forces had not seized hostages — as part of an operation on Oct. 7 in which they also intentionally killed hundreds of civilians — and deliberately held them in a densely populated area.

“Equally certain, but the opposite of a reason to rejoice, is the fact that the civilian body count in Gaza was already far too high. And the enclave’s physical destruction after months of Israeli air and artillery strikes against deeply embedded Hamas troops was far too extensive,” the board wrote. “These numbers bespeak immense human suffering — especially for Gaza’s children — and the urgency of halting the fighting. There is a way to achieve that, at least temporarily: the plan President Biden unveiled… Secretary of State Antony Blinken returns to the Middle East this week for more long-shot negotiation. Those who genuinely seek a better day for the Palestinians — and Israelis — will be wishing him success.”

In CNN, Jill Filipovic said “the rescue of Israeli hostages is unquestioned good. The loss of Palestinian life should be unquestioned tragedy.”

The operation is “not an unalloyed victory. The rescue was complex and, as is often the case, did not go all that smoothly. It also extracted a devastating civilian cost — a truth that complicates what should be a happy narrative about innocents rescued in a daring effort,” Filipovic wrote. “In the end, the four Israeli hostages were thankfully brought home safely. But dozens of Palestinians lost their lives and many more were injured. The numbers are unclear… but, undoubtedly, yet again, innocents were killed in a war they didn’t start and that has resulted in an overwhelming loss of life.”

“The weekend’s rescue is a victory for Israel, but one with big caveats. Far too many innocent Gazans have been killed in this war. Many hostages are still in captivity; others have been killed. As with so much else in this war, many observers and commentators evince a stunning disregard for human suffering felt on whichever side they’ve decided is ‘other.’ Some shrug off the mass death of Palestinians as the natural outcome of war or even a deserved end for civilians included, while others suggest that captivity wasn’t so bad for Israeli hostages and whitewash Hamas’s brutality and strategy of putting civilians in the crossfire.”


What the right is saying.

  • The right celebrates the rescue, arguing Israel was well within its rights to carry out the operation.
  • Some say Hamas is to blame for the civilian death toll and criticize the media’s framing of the mission.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board criticized those who blame Israel “for rescuing its people.”

“The non-surprise is that professional anti-Israel voices, United Nations officials and the European Union foreign-policy chief rushed to attack Israel. Egypt condemned the operation ‘in the strongest terms.’ How dare Israel rescue its own citizens. Didn’t it know there would be casualties? The BBC asked whether Israel gave a warning that the rescue raid was coming. Seriously? A tip-off to terrorists? Perhaps read them Miranda rights too,” the board said. “Haters of Israel will blame it and excuse Hamas every time, and the media are easily manipulated into playing along. The Hamas figure is likely inflated, and it includes the terrorists killed trying to stop the rescue as well as those who hid the hostages.

“Hamas started the war with a massacre, took these hostages and hid them in a crowded civilian area. Then, when Israel came to free them, Hamas responded with heavy fire, including RPGs—yet people are condemning Israel. It makes us wonder if the West has lost the moral discernment and instinct for self-preservation needed to defend itself in a world of killers. Hamas could not survive if not for its enablers around the world.”

In The Federalist, David Harsanyi wrote “if you don’t want to be killed, don’t take hostages.”

“Critics of Israel now ask the usual dishonest question: Are four lives worth the alleged 200-plus Arabs that were lost rescuing them? Israel is the only nation on earth that is tasked with protecting its own people and its enemies,” Harsanyi said. “Every innocent lost life is, of course, a tragedy. But if you don’t want to be placed in harm’s way, don’t hold hostages in your homes and neighborhoods, and don’t cheer and support a government that puts your life in constant danger for a lost cause. This is the reality of the world.”

“Even if there were over 200 dead, it is also surely the case that many of the dead were members of Hamas or holding hostages of their own volition or helping those holding hostages. Avoid doing so if you value your life,” Harsanyi added. “In the end, of course, this could all end today if the hostages were returned and Hamas would unconditionally surrender. Israel haters, who fashion themselves peaceniks, will blame everyone — Netanyahu, Biden, colonialism, racism, etc., etc. — but the Islamists who are the cause of this war.”


What Palestinian and Israeli writers are saying.

  • Many Palestinian writers mourn the loss of civilian life in the raid, with some assigning dual responsibility to Israel and Hamas for the loss of life.
  • Most Israeli writers praise the IDF for rescuing the hostages but say a peace deal remains the best chance to bring the rest of them home.

On X (formerly Twitter), Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib shared his “thoughts, observations, and rants” about the operation.

“It should go without saying at this point that we wouldn’t be here had it not been for Hamas’s criminality on October 7 and that these hostages should have never been taken or held this long. This entirely avoidable war was started by Hamas and the buck stops with them,” Alkhatib said. “It’s been weird, strange, gross, revealing, and disappointing to see some ‘pro-Palestine’ activists go into straight meltdown mode over the fact that Hamas no longer holds these hostages, NOT the death of numerous Palestinian civilians during the raid, but the idea that Hamas no longer has ‘Zionist prisoners’ who have been consistently dismissed and dehumanized since October 7.”

“It’s been disgusting, upsetting, and, quite frankly, enraging to see the utter dehumanization of the Palestinian civilian losses and victims by some ‘pro-Israel’ activists who have so little capacity for compassion and empathy that the hundreds who have been killed ‘are all terrorists,’” Alkhatib wrote. “Those who did not push for a ceasefire/hostage deal, who dehumanized the people of Gaza, and who are blinded by rage, hate, and a desire for revenge; those who do not view the Palestinians as people worthy of life or basic liberty and are unwilling to register Israel’s role in the unfolding catastrophe, including by supporting Hamas for years and letting its rule fester: you own this and are part of this catastrophe.”

The Haaretz editorial board said “Israel cannot count on more heroic rescue operations. A hostage deal must come next.”

“Thanks to Saturday's operation to rescue four hostages from Hamas… the public's confidence in the Israel Defense Forces' ability to protect the country's citizens has been restored slightly, after having been smashed to pieces in October,” the board wrote. “But at the same time, it's important to stress that the way to free the 120 hostages still held by Hamas, only about half of whom are still alive, is through a deal. This is also the position of the military and senior defense officials. Not only the security risks, but also the number of Palestinian civilians killed in the operation, including children, must be considered.

“Eight months of war have proved that the idea that military pressure would advance the hostages' release is an utter lie. We must not let those who want to prolong the war exploit the operation's success to continue placing the war's continuation at the top of our national agenda, ahead of bringing home the hostages,” the board said. “We must not let the far right sacrifice the remaining hostages on the altar of its messianic ambitions. After the successful rescue, Israel must cooperate with the United States and advance a hostage deal in all earnestness.”


My take.

Reminder: "My take" is a section where I give myself space to share my own personal opinion. If you have feedback, criticism, or compliments, don't unsubscribe. Write in by replying to this email, or leave a comment.

  • I don’t think I have anything new to say.
  • It’s good news that the hostages were freed, but it comes with a heavy cost of Palestinian lives.
  • Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, a fellow at the Atlantic Council from Gaza City, said it best, and his inner conflict mirrors my own.

In a lot of ways I feel like I'm running out of things to say.

Am I happy to hear of the hostage rescue? Of course. I was elated when the headlines came across my news feeds. In part because of the names — like Noa, whose story feels familiar and close — and in part because of what it signified: One inch closer to getting all of the hostages out of Gaza and home, and a potential end of the war.

But the feeling is fleeting, as "good news" during wartime usually is. The horror was made plain a few sentences later: “At least 210 Palestinians, including children, were killed, a Gaza health official said”… orvideo of the aftermath showed charred bodies strewn across streets covered in rubble as residents gathered the remains of those killed in sacks.”

We likely won't know the real death toll of operations like this for some time — maybe never — but that number appears to be at least in the dozens. How many were willing combatants and how many were innocent bystanders? I can’t tell you the answers from my office in Philadelphia. Reporters across the border in Israel are interviewing Gazans who say their children were killed in the fighting. Video and photo evidence show the dead on top of the dead. At least some of the people caught in the crossfire were certainly innocent, and the humanitarian horror on the ground continues to grow.

Details of the operation are difficult to read but worth taking in. They show the consequences of a fight between Hamas, a militant group willing to intentionally endanger the population it claims to fight for by hiding hostages among them, and Israel's military, which values the lives of its citizens more than the lives of Palestinian bystanders — so much so that it's willing to kill dozens or hundreds if it means rescuing a few of their own. I have a hard time assessing how these calculations are made as an outsider; but if my friends, family, or even just fellow citizens had been held hostage for eight months, I'm sure I’d be willing to accept a lot of pain and loss of others to get them home. There continue to be no good options and no easy answers for Israel.

I've been appreciating the commentary of Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, a fellow at the Atlantic Council from Gaza City, who describes himself as "pro-Palestine anti-occupation anti-Hamas pro-peace” and has lost 31 family members in the war. Though I haven’t felt nearly the suffering he has, when I read him grapple with the Israel-Palestine conflict, I see a lot of the same torment I feel. On a day where I feel a loss for words, I appreciate the perspectives he manages to hold at the same time, which I find worth reiterating here:

"Some of the testimonies and accounts that I’ve encountered have confirmed a disturbing trend: IDF soldiers were shooting/killing upon contact with any unknown subjects. In other words, there was little to no effort to discriminate targets based on their gender, proximity to the hostages’ locations, or their possession of firearms. Yes, Hamas had those hostages in peoples’ homes, Gazans who are connected to the Islamist group. However, Hamas’s operational security protocols likely ensured that most civilians in the immediate vicinity/proximity had no idea that hostages were being held there; this means there truly were innocent, uninvolved civilians near the hostages who, for no fault of their own, were eliminated by the IDF...

Those who did not call on Hamas to release the hostages; who dehumanized Israeli hostages and captives, calling them “prisoners of war” and thinking that they’re legitimate spoils of war; those who celebrated October 7 as resistance and cheered on Hamas; those who championed the armed resistance narrative: you own part of this! This is partly on you! Yes, your ignorance, arrogance, short-sidedness, inhumanity, and grift got us here. Imagine if the entirety of the pro-Palestine movement, in unison, called for the release of Israeli hostages, or at the very least, the women, children, elderly, and the dead. Imagine if Hamas faced this popular/public/moral pressure and realized that its actions are profoundly unpopular and despised and that it had to concede to protect its people and not lose the narrative. But no, you went along with the disaster, and now you’re upset that your beloved terror group is continuing to get the Palestinians annihilated."

What now?

More news of ceasefire talks, which — like all good news during wartime — seem fleeting. Every time we hear of a few incremental steps forward toward a deal, rumors leak to the press, the deal collapses, and we have to start all over. These days, even news of a U.N.-backed proposal gaining traction among both Hamas and Israel leaves me feeling skeptical. As much as I still want to see a ceasefire deal (despite the numerous strong arguments against it), I genuinely have no faith that one is coming imminently, all the press reports and headlines be damned.

I'm glad the hostages are home, heartened to see Israelis celebrate their rescue, and rather stunned that such an operation actually got them out alive. But that feeling was short lived; the war rages on, the tragedies mount, and I don't see any end in sight.

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Your questions, answered.

Q: What is going on with now 13 counties seceding from Oregon to join Idaho?

— Tony from Kirksville, MO

Tangle: It’s a little nuts, and at the same time kind of brilliantly simple: On May 21, 54% of Crook County residents voted to pass a measure to leave the state of Oregon and join neighboring Idaho. These residents, along with a majority of Oregonians in 12 other eastern counties, have decided that they just have more in common with Idaho and want to join their more conservative eastern neighbor.

“The Oregon/Idaho line was established 163 years ago and is now outdated. It makes no sense in its current location because it doesn’t match the location of the cultural divide in Oregon. The Oregon/Washington line was updated in 1958. It’s time to move other state lines,” according to the Greater Idaho Movement.

In an interview with Fox News, the Greater Idaho Movement’s Executive Director Matt McCaw broke down a lot of the reasons why: Borders have always been arbitrary (and have moved before), Eastern and Western Oregon have a very different geography and very different cultures, and the majority of residents in Eastern Oregon agree more with Idaho’s conservative policies — like looser gun restrictions, lower overall taxes, and a lower minimum wage.

So, will it happen? Not likely. It’s very hard to secede from any state in the United States. In order for any county or municipality to swap states, both state legislatures would have to approve the measure, as would Congress. 

McCaw and the Greater Idaho Movement have gotten pretty far, but you’re likely to have just witnessed their high water mark. Western Oregon and Western Washington have had their own failed secession plans to form the state of Cascadia, just as the Mormon state of Deseret failed to secede from Utah into California, and Nantucket has failed to secede from Massachusetts into New York, and the city of Killington has failed to secede from Vermont into New Hampshire, and so on

Still, it is a remarkable news bulletin that illustrates the political divisions we are witnessing today, even at the hyper-local level like this. In some ways I admire the gumption of the Eastern Oregonians pursuing this, but at the same time it makes me worried — worried that we are so incapable of living among folks with whom we disagree that we would rather literally secede than learn to live with one another.

Want to have a question answered in the newsletter? You can reply to this email (it goes straight to my inbox) or fill out this form.


Under the radar.

Federal agents arrested eight Tajikistan nationals in the U.S. on immigration charges after they were linked to terrorism networks, U.S. law enforcement officials said. The arrests were made by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia. One source said the suspects had entered through the southern border where the officials who screened them did not identify any ties to terrorism. A second source said officials later discovered links between the individuals and ISIS, which prompted the investigation that led to their arrests. CNN has the story.


Numbers.

  • 62%. The percentage of Israeli citizens who say a deal for the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza should be Israel’s highest priority, according to a May 2024 survey by the Israel Democracy Institute.
  • 32%. The percentage of Israeli citizens who say they are optimistic about the future of Israel’s national security.
  • 61%. The percentage of Gazans who say a member of their family has been killed during the current war, according to a June 2024 poll by The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.
  • 57%. The percentage of Palestinians living in the Gaza strip who support Hamas’s decision to attack Israel on Oct. 7. 
  • 71%. The percentage who said they supported the Oct. 7 attack in March 2024.
  • 48% and 25%. The respective split between Hamas and Israel for whom Palestinians living in the Gaza strip believe will win the war.
  • 46%. The percentage of Palestinians living in the Gaza strip who want Hamas to remain in control of the area.
  • 64%. The percentage of deaths in Gaza identified as women and children in October 2023, according to analysis by The Associated Press. 
  • 38%. The percentage of deaths in Gaza identified as women and children in April 2024.

The extras.

  • One year ago today we covered Trump’s classified documents indictment.
  • The most clicked link in yesterday’s newsletter was the news of Hunter Biden’s conviction.
  • Nothing to do with politics: Raspberry Pi — the tiny computer company — will launch its IPO this week.
  • Yesterday’s survey: 624 readers answered our survey on New York’s congestion pricing plan (paused by Gov. Hochul (D)) with 24% strongly supporting the plan. “This is yet another example of elected officials prioritizing the interests of suburban voters over city dwellers.” one respondent said.

Have a nice day.

50 years ago, researchers discovered a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica allowing cancer-causing radiation to reach Earth’s surface. The hole in the ozone was caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which can destroy thousands of ozone molecules with a single chlorine atom and linger in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Shortly after the discovery, countries signed on to the 1987 Montreal Protocol to phase out production of CFCs, and production of CFCs has been banned globally since 2010. The depletion of ozone slowed, and now — for the first time since 1987 — researchers have detected a significant dip in atmospheric levels of hydrochlorofluorocarbons. The Washington Post has the story.


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Isaac Saul
I'm a politics reporter who grew up in Bucks County, PA — one of the most politically divided counties in America. I'm trying to fix the way we consume political news.