Tuesday, October 24, 2023

  • Tuesday, October 24, 2023
  • Elder of Ziyon

Former president Barack Obama wrote his thoughts on his Medium account:

It’s been 17 days since Hamas launched its horrific attack against Israel, killing over 1,400 Israeli citizens, including defenseless women, children and the elderly. In the aftermath of such unspeakable brutality, the U.S. government and the American people have shared in the grief of families, prayed for the return of loved ones, and rightly declared solidarity with the Israeli people.

As I stated in an earlier post, Israel has a right to defend its citizens against such wanton violence, and I fully support President Biden’s call for the United States to support our long-time ally in going after Hamas, dismantling its military capabilities, and facilitating the safe return of hundreds of hostages to their families.

So far, so good. But then: 

But even as we support Israel, we should also be clear that how Israel prosecutes this fight against Hamas matters. In particular, it matters — as President Biden has repeatedly emphasized — that Israel’s military strategy abides by international law, including those laws that seek to avoid, to every extent possible, the death or suffering of civilian populations. Upholding these values is important for its own sake — because it is morally just and reflects our belief in the inherent value of every human life. Upholding these values is also vital for building alliances and shaping international opinion — all of which are critical for Israel’s long-term security.
Obama's language assumes that Israel is not adhering to international law. That is condescending and false. 

And then he warns Israel that by not following what he thinks international law is, that could be bad for Israel. It is a very subtle threat, but a threat nonetheless.

A real friend of Israel would say that Israel has more experience in applying international law to conflict than anyone else in the world, and the US supports Israel and will defend its interpretations - which are, as far as I can tell, fully in line with what the Department of Defense says in its Law of War Manual, July 2023.

According to that manual:

It is lawful to besiege enemy forces, i.e., to encircle them with a view towards inducing their surrender by cutting them off from reinforcements, supplies, and communications with the outside world.  In particular, it is permissible to seek to starve enemy forces into submission.

....A commander of an encircling force is not required to agree to the passage of medical or religious personnel, supplies, and equipment if he or she has legitimate military reasons denying such requests (e.g., if denying passage may increase the likelihood of surrender of enemy forces in the encircled area). Nonetheless, commanders should make reasonable, good-faith efforts to do so when possible.

...Commanders should make arrangements to permit the free passage of certain consignments: 
• all consignments of medical and hospital stores and objects necessary for religious worship intended only for civilians; and 
• all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing, and tonics (i.e., medicine) intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers, and maternity cases.
However, allowing passage of these items is not required by the party controlling the area unless that party is satisfied that there are no serious reasons for fearing that: 
the consignments may be diverted from their destination
• the control may not be effective; or 
a definite advantage may accrue to the military efforts or economy of the enemy

In short, the US Army says it is legal to even starve civilians if it is likely that their food will be stolen by Hamas, allowing Hamas to keep fighting.

I'm not saying that Israel should do that - but it would be legal.  And for Obama to lecture Israel on international law, when that law as interpreted by the US itself allows such extreme measures to destroy Hamas, is not an expression of friendship.

Obama continues:

The Israeli government’s decision to cut off food, water and electricity to a captive civilian population threatens not only to worsen a growing humanitarian crisis; it could further harden Palestinian attitudes for generations, erode global support for Israel, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, and undermine long term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.

He is invoking a fallacy: that Palestinians respond rationally to Israeli goodwill. As I have proven using UN sources, Israel has shown huge amounts of goodwill in recent years in allowing travel and goods to go into and out of Gaza, higher than before the Hamas takeover. The Palestinian response was a  massacre, one supported by most Palestinians. 

Israel doesn't need to be lectured on the "benefits" of improving the lives of Gazans. It learned exactly how much they were appreciated. Nothing Israel does would make Palestinians like it any better, and evidence shows that the terrorists take full advantage of any loosening of rules. Israel's allowing tens of thousands of Gaza workers into Israel resulted in Hamas having detailed maps of the kibbutzim surrounding Gaza. 

It’s therefore important that those of us supporting Israel in its time of need encourage a strategy that can incapacitate Hamas while minimizing further civilian casualties. 

How, exactly? I'm sure if Barack Obama has a plan on destroying Hamas without hurting civilians that Israel hasn't thought of, it would be welcomed by the Israeli government. 

But he doesn't. The IDF lawyers and Israel's High Court and Israel's government have spent far more time on these issues than Obama ever has. They know the downsides of killing civilians while attacking terrorists better than Obama does. 

That's why this article, supposedly advice to a friend, is so patronizing. Obama is trying to tie Israel's hands behind its back and say, go ahead, defend yourself.

Israel doesn't need such friends.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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