Thursday, Apr 11, 2024

Biden Promoting a False Picture of Reality in Israel and Gaza

 

 

The Biden administration has spent the last two weeks since the president delivered his State of the Union address, trying to mend his fences with the pro-Hamas apologists who dominate today’s Democrat party and who are threatening to withhold their critical votes on Election Day, November 5, potentially costing Biden the swing states of Michigan and Minnesota, and with them, a second term in the White House.

At the same time, the Biden administration continues to present a deliberately exaggerated picture of the so-called “humanitarian crisis” facing the civilians in Gaza today to publicly challenge the legitimacy of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his democratically elected right-wing government, as declared by its proxy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, with the advance knowledge and approval of the Biden White House.

This ultimately self-defeating Biden administration effort to revive the failed two-state solution is supported by the recent writings of some of the foremost figures in America’s liberal foreign policy establishment over the last 30 years, including Dennis Ross, Aaron David Miller, Martin Indyk, Richard Haass, and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. They remain committed to the naive hope that the corrupt and terrorist-supporting Palestinian Authority (PA) can somehow be transformed into a trustworthy partner for peace as the government of a Palestinian state that is to be imposed upon Israel, against its will, if necessary, by the Biden administration and its European allies after the fighting ends in Gaza.

BIDEN INITIATIVES UNDERMINING ISRAEL

Many Israelis also view the American government’s attempt to undermine their national unity government during a time of war as an insult to Israel’s sovereignty and a threat to its national security.

Last week’s speech by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who had long been one of the most loyal and effective advocates for Israel in Washington, calling for an early Knesset election to depose Netanyahu as prime minister, came as a shock and deep disappointment for supporters of Israel around the world.

In another extraordinary development, top U.S. intelligence agency chiefs warned in public testimony before Congress last week that Netanyahu’s future as prime minister after the dissolution of the national unity government formed to fight the Gaza war, is in grave jeopardy.

Even some of Netanyahu’s most bitter domestic political opponents, such as former prime minister Naftali Bennett, realize that the Israeli people are united as never before in support of Bibi’s Gaza war aims, which call for no less than achieving complete military victory, even if that means that Israel must cross Biden’s self-declared “red line” by invading the southern border city of Rafah to destroy Hamas’ last four militarily operational battalions.

Bennett issued a statement protesting Schumer’s speech and stating that he “strongly opposes external political intervention in Israel’s internal affairs. . . “With the threat of terrorism on its way to the West, it would be best if the international community would assist Israel in its just war, thereby also protecting their countries. . .”

ISRAEL IS NOT A “BANANA REPUBLIC”

“We are an independent nation, not a banana republic,” Bennett added in a biting comment which was repeated by a Likud party statement, and widely reported by the international news media.

Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and respected Middle East historian Michael Oren tweeted, “Regardless of my opinion of Netanyahu and his fitness to serve, Senator Schumer’s call for new Israeli elections is deeply disrespectful of our democracy and sovereignty. Israel is an ally, not a vassal state. Along with the U.S., we’re one of the few countries never to have known a second of non-democratic government, and the only democracy never to have known a moment of peace. We certainly deserve that respect.”

Schumer’s public suggestion that Netanyahu be replaced as Israel’s leader was also condemned as inappropriate by his most popular likely rival in the next Israeli Knesset election, war cabinet minister Benny Gantz. He declared that “the United States and Israel share common values and interests, and the citizens of Israel profoundly cherish the clear stance of the United States in support of Israel throughout these trying times.”

Gantz also called Schumer, “a friend of Israel, and though he erred in his remarks, plays an important role in assisting Israel.” But he then added, “Israel is a robust democracy, and only its citizens will decide its future and leadership. Any external interference in the matter is counter-productive and unacceptable.”

The only popular Israeli political to publicly support Schumer’s call for Netanyahu’s replacement was Knesset opposition leader Yair Lapid who cited Schumer’s speech as “proof that, one by one, Netanyahu is losing the staunchest supporters of Israel. What’s worse is, he is doing it on purpose.”

Lapid then added that “Netanyahu is causing serious damage to the national effort to win the war and maintain Israel’s security.”

ISRAELIS FULLY BEHIND NETANYAHU’S WAR POLICIES IN GAZA

By publicly attacking Netanyahu and his war policies, which enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of Israel’s Jewish voters, and by issuing a call for an early Knesset election, which would legally paralyze the Israeli government’s ability to continue to wage the war in Gaza, the prime minister’s American critics are actually strengthening his tenuous hold on political power.

For example, an Israel Democracy Institute survey published last week found that 74 percent of Israel’s Jewish voters support the IDF “expand[ing] its military operations into Rafah,” while only 12 percent oppose it.

In other words, while Netanyahu may not have as much personal popularity among Israeli voters as he used to, his current handling of the war in Gaza does.

Even though most Israelis would much prefer to have the continued support of the Biden administration in the effort to complete the destruction of Hamas, they also understand that they may have no other choice but to go it alone. That not only applies to the invasion of Rafah but also to the inevitable war against Hezbollah needed to end its threat and enable the return of the population that was forced to flee from the north of the country.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s American critics may have unintentionally thrown him a political lifeline, in much the same way that the “over the top” accusations and highly questionable criminal charges against Donald Trump helped to pave the way for him to lock up the Republican presidential nomination easily, and to build his current lead over Joe Biden in almost all of the national and battleground state polls.

Former president Trump has begun to speak more openly about the origins of the war in Gaza and how he believes that Israel should proceed with it. In a March 5 interview with Fox News, Trump said that Hamas’ October 7 “attack on Israel, and likewise, Israel’s counterattack… would never have happened if I was president.” He also said at that time that Israel must “finish the problem,” without providing any further details.

In a second Fox interview last week, Trump said he would tell Prime Minister Netanyahu, “I think you have to finish it up, and do it quickly and get back to the world of peace.” Trump recalled in Israel’s defense for its pursuit of the war against Hamas that, “[it] lost a lot of people on October 7. People have to remember that.”

Trump also repeated his previous claim that if he wins the November presidential election, he will end the war between Russia and Ukraine even before taking office next January, and also bring “peace in the Middle East,” based upon his success in brokering the Abraham Accords which normalized diplomatic and economic relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan.

TRUMP CALLS ON ISRAEL TO ABANDON BIDEN AND THE DEMOCRATS

Trump had been very supportive of Netanyahu throughout most of his presidency, but their personal relationship soured after Netanyahu called to congratulate Biden for his victory in the 2020 election which Trump has never accepted.

In the wake of Chuck Schumer’s Senate speech calling for early Israeli elections to oust Netanyahu as prime minister, and President Biden’s criticism of Israel’s announced plans to finish off Hamas militarily in Gaza by attacking its last battalions in the city of Rafah on the Egyptian border, Trump declared that “The Democrats are very bad for Israel. Israel sticks with them. I guess [because] Israel’s loyal — maybe to a fault.”

Trump added that “If [Biden] were a [true] supporter of Israel, the Iran nuclear deal would have never been signed [when he was President Obama’s vice president], and Israel would have never been attacked [on October 7].”

Speculating on the reasons for Schumer’s decision to publicly attack the Israeli prime minister, Trump said, “He’s seeing the Palestinians and he’s seeing the [anti-Israel] marches and they are big. Then he says I want to go that way instead of Israel. . .

“He was probably shocked to see it, and all of a sudden, he dumped Israel. [Schumer] just said essentially that Bibi Netanyahu should take a walk,” Trump said.

THE WAR IN GAZA IS WINDING DOWN AS THE FLOW OF AID INCREASES

The fictions and falsehoods underlying the Biden administration’s misleading picture of the allegedly dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza have been laid out in a report by Alon Goldstein published on the Ynet website. He points out that since the heaviest fighting in northern and central Gaza ended more than a month ago, the Israeli military has been able to safely withdraw 80% of its troops who were engaged at the height of the fighting. As a result, the war has been winding down to a series of limited-scale military actions at the same time that there has been a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian aid reaching the civilians in Gaza by land, sea, and air with the full cooperation of the Israeli government and military. Hundreds of trucks have been delivering supplies daily from the south and east, and in recent days through a new route opened from Israel directly into northern Gaza, where the suffering of civilians has reportedly been the greatest.

But while living conditions in northern Gaza are admittedly difficult, due to the massive amount of war damage that was inflicted there earlier in the war, they are far short of the alarming reports of mass starvation disseminated by naive or antisemitic Hamas sympathizers in the mainstream media, and by cynical politicians and government officials in the United States and Europe, seeking any excuse to gain favor with the leftist elitists who dominate the social media platforms by bashing Israel.

In response to that pressure, Israel’s chief military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, told reporters last week that Israel plans to “flood” northern Gaza with aid and to scale up all available entry points into Gaza for humanitarian aid. But at the same time, Israel insists that it will continue to conduct strict inspections of all supplies entering Gaza for the benefit of its civilian population, and take all necessary measures to prevent Hamas from diverting them for their use.

Meanwhile, Israel’s critics continue to overlook or try to justify the fact that the war in Gaza was initiated by the unprecedented Hamas attack which deliberately targeted Israeli civilians and subjected them to the most outrageous atrocities. The disaster of October 7 also made it clear that if Israel is to survive as a Jewish state and homeland, Hamas cannot be permitted to remain in control of Gaza or to survive as a viable military force.

BIDEN’S WORRYING ADOPTION OF THE HAMAS NARRATIVE ON GAZA

Joe Biden, the president of the United States, who has previously been an outspoken advocate on behalf of Israel in Washington, D.C., and his administration, are the latest to adopt the deceptive pro-Hamas description of the military and humanitarian situation in Gaza. The more openly hostile Biden administration stance towards Israel’s government was a politically motivated reaction to the outcome of recent Democrat primaries in Michigan and Minnesota. A significant number of pro-Palestinian, Muslim, and other antisemitic and misled voters in those states cast their ballots for uncommitted slates of Democrat national convention delegates as part of a well-organized protest against Biden’s support for Israel.

In a desperate attempt to salvage his fading hopes for victory over Donald Trump on Election Day this November, Biden and his administration have further confused his already badly compromised position towards Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza. While Biden continues to proclaim Israel’s right to defend itself against the very serious threat to its existence revealed by the scale and savagery of Hamas’ October 7 attack, he and his administration have now publicly embraced the false pro-Hamas narrative shifting the moral responsibility for the welfare and survival of Gaza’s civilians, whom Hamas continues to use as human shields, entirely upon Israel.

MIXED SIGNALS FROM THE BIDEN WHITE HOUSE

Publicly, President Biden has said that the announced Israeli intention to launch an attack on Hamas’ last four organized military battalions in Rafah, comprised of about 3,000 fighters, would cross his “red line,” unless Israel can present him with a viable plan to protect more than a million Gazans who have fled their homes to the north to seek refuge in the Rafah area from the fighting. But Politico has reported that unnamed senior Biden administration officials have told their Israeli counterparts that Biden would support smaller numbers of Israeli troops going after high-value Hamas targets in and underneath Rafah, as long as Israel does not repeat the kind of large-scale invasion it launched against Gaza City earlier in the war.

In addition, Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan made an awkward attempt to walk back Biden’s “red line” comment in a televised interview last week over Israeli plans to mount a full-scale attack on Rafah by telling reporters that, “The president didn’t make any declarations or pronouncements or announcements. Our position is that a military operation in Rafah that does not protect civilians, that cuts off the main arteries of humanitarian assistance and that places enormous pressure on the Israel-Egypt border is not something that he can support.”

According to Sullivan, President Biden is now focused on “the protection of civilians and about Israel being able to sustain a campaign in a way that ultimately leads to an outcome in which the people of Israel are secure, Hamas is crushed, and there is a long-term solution to stability and peace in the region,” even though some of those goals appear to be mutually exclusive.

The bottom line is that Biden’s position on the next stage of Israel’s war in Gaza is so murky and caught up in presidential campaign politics that it is likely that the president has no clear idea of what he intends to do when the last remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah inevitably come under Israeli attack.

By publicly trying to pressure Israel’s duly elected prime minister to endanger its national security by giving in to Hamas demands for a premature end to the war in Gaza and a full withdrawal of Israel’s troops from Gaza, the Biden administration would enable Hamas leaders eventually to carry out their public promise to recover and launch more October 7-style attacks, again and again until Israel is destroyed, chas v’shalom.

BIDEN’S WEAK RESPONSE ENCOURAGES IRANIAN-SPONSORED AGGRESSION

The Biden administration’s weak and ambiguous response to blatant acts of aggression across the Middle East, including an attack by Iranian-supported Iraqi terrorists that cost the lives of three American soldiers at a support base in Jordan, has further encouraged Iran and its terrorist allies throughout the region. They include Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has stepped up its daily missile attacks on northern Israel which have forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of Israelis from their homes, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who continue their long-range missile and drone attacks aimed at southern Israel, and their indiscriminate assaults on ships in international waters leading to and from the Suez Canal, severely disrupting maritime cargo and oil traffic, and imperiling free world trade.

Netanyahu and his supporters argue that by caving in to domestic political pressure from pro-Hamas liberal Democrats to halt the war in Gaza just as victory is within Israel’s grasp, Biden is emboldening Hezbollah and the Houthis, and encouraging Hamas leaders to harden their position in negotiations to free the hostages still being held in Gaza in return for an initial six-week cease-fire.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has once again sent mixed signals to Iran, by re-issuing last week a $10 billion waiver on U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, two days before joining with the other members of the G-7 group of economically developed nations in threatening to impose new economic sanctions against Iran if it were “to proceed with providing ballistic missiles or related technology to Russia.”

As a Wall Street Journal editorial notes, “All of this was foreseeable when the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany let the international embargo on Iran’s missile program lapse in October. Instead of triggering snapback sanctions, the Biden administration preferred to avoid an escalation that might disrupt diplomacy with Iran. Weeks after the Oct. 7 massacre, while Iran’s proxies were firing on U.S. troops in the region, appeasement was in the air.

WAIVED U.S. SANCTIONS HELPING IRAN TO FINANCE TERRORISM

“It was the same story in November, when the administration last renewed the sanctions waiver giving Iran access to more than $10 billion. . . [in] frozen revenue from its electricity shipments to Iraq. . .

“As usual, the State Department spin [on the waiver] is that the money can be used [by Iran] only for ‘humanitarian purposes’. . . [but] that money is fungible. These funds free up others for use [by Iran] in spreading terrorism abroad and advancing a nuclear weapons program at home.

“Why does the Biden administration pretend otherwise? Maybe it’s for the same reason the administration keeps hidden how much of the $10 billion Iran has accessed since the waiver was last extended: The American people might not like what they find out.”

Another problem with the Biden administration’s murky and contradictory policies and goals for the “end game” for the war in Gaza is based upon demonstrably false assumptions about the current opinions and preferences of both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Post-October 7 public opinion polls indicate that large majorities of both Palestinians and Israelis have no desire to see the implementation of the two-state solution after the end of the Gaza war, with which the Biden administration and its European allies continue to be obsessed.

WHY THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION STILL CAN’T WORK

After more than thirty years of failed peace negotiations and recurring terrorist violence following the signing of the Oslo Accords, there is no reason to believe that an independent Palestinian state created immediately after the end of the fighting in Gaza would be willing to live in peace alongside Israel. Some diplomats even suggested the fantastic notion that, in order to reform the Palestinian Authority to make it suitable to take over security control of Gaza from Israel, it deliberately absorb the remnants of Hamas.

On the contrary, the violent takeover by Hamas following Israel’s voluntary and complete disengagement from the area in 2005, strongly indicates that a similar Israeli withdrawal to create a Palestinian state on the West Bank would wind up placing another terrorist entity on Israel’s eastern border, posing a mortal threat to Israel’s adjacent main population centers.

For the same reasons, all public opinion polls taken since October 7 show that a large majority of Israeli Jews are now vehemently opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state. In addition, according to a Midgam/Channel 12 survey in January, 72% of Israelis are also opposed to sending any humanitarian aid into Gaza until all of the hostages being held there are released.

BIDEN’S ILLUSIONS ABOUT TODAY’S ISRAEL

The Israeli public that President Biden thinks he knows and has been trying to rally against Netanyahu and his right-wing government, the public that supports deep West Bank withdrawals, widespread Jewish settlement evacuations, and the two-state solution, ceased to exist two decades ago due to the reaction to the second intifada in which more than 1,000 Israelis were murdered, mostly by members of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ “moderate” Fatah party over a period of three years. The widespread Israeli belief since then that peaceful co-existence with a Palestinian state is impossible was further strengthened by the savage slaughter, during 8 horrific hours on October 7, of 1,200 more Israelis, including hundreds of defenseless babies, women, and the elderly.

That broad consensus of Israeli public opinion has led to the collapse of the ideologically socialist Labor Party which dominated the government for the first 28 years of Israel’s existence. Most of the Israeli left’s remaining political leaders no longer dare to mention in public their support for the two-state solution, preferring instead to attack the draft exemptions for 60,000 Israeli yeshiva students and the Netanyahu government’s proposed reforms to reign in the unbridled powers of Israel’s liberal-dominated Supreme Court.

When Biden claims that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Gaza war aims of total victory over Hamas at all costs are “hurting Israel more than helping it,” and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calls, at Biden’s behest, for early Knesset elections because Netanyahu is “allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel,” they are totally misreading the mood of the Israeli electorate and the military situation on the ground today in Gaza.

Most Israeli political analysts believe that Netanyahu’s remaining days as prime minister were already numbered by the gross government and military incompetence that made Hamas’ October 7 attack so devastating. Many said that the only way that Netanyahu might be able to remain in power after the Gaza war would be by showing the Israeli electorate that he is strong enough to withstand the intense pressure from the Biden White House to give in to Hamas’ unacceptable demands for a permanent cease-fire and a premature Israeli military withdrawal from Gaza. In that sense, the criticism from Biden and Schumer has been helping Netanyahu’s post-Gaza war chances for remaining in power.

As long as the Biden administration refuses to recognize the basic realities that have been driving the war in Gaza, that Palestinians overwhelmingly support the mass murder of Jews, and that no Israeli government would dare to risk the creation of a PA-ruled Palestinian state on the West Bank in the foreseeable future, the confused and misguided White House efforts to bring the war to a satisfactory conclusion seem doomed to failure.

According to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Israeli journalist and political commentator Amit Segal, when Biden and his senior administration officials talk about the Israelis and the Palestinians, they are often describing “two peoples that don’t exist in reality.”

WHAT ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS BOTH DON’T WANT

For example, during a televised CBS News “60 Minutes” interview recorded a week after the October 7 attack, Biden claimed that “the extreme elements of Hamas don’t represent all the Palestinian people.” But in an effort by the Biden administration to justify its continued support for the two-state solution, it keeps ignoring the Palestinian opinion polls showing that 75% of those Palestinian “civilians” support the Hamas attack on October 7, and would vote once more, if given the chance, for a Hamas-led government.

Similarly, Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, declared without citing any supporting evidence that, “the many, many Palestinians who have had nothing to do with the brutal terrorist organization Hamas — the vast majority of the population of Gaza — they deserve dignity. They deserve safety and security.”

Segal noted that when “Mr. Biden refers to the Palestinian Authority as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, he ignores that its president, Mahmoud Abbas, was last elected 19 years ago to a four-year term and that the last time the Palestinians [in Gaza and the West Bank] went to the polls, in 2006, they voted for Hamas,” and would do so again today if given the opportunity.

Segal also writes that “the Israeli people as the White House envisions them are also different from the real thing. Vice President Kamala Harris [recently] uttered a statement about Israel of the kind typically reserved for dictatorships: ‘It’s important for us to distinguish or at least not conflate the Israeli government with the Israeli people.’” she said.

“Yes,” Segal concedes, “there is a significant disparity between Israel’s leadership and its citizens — but it’s the opposite of what people in Washington assume. The Israeli public is far more ‘right-wing’ than the policies of its [Netanyahu-led] government.”

Segal admits, “Sometimes I wonder if Messrs. Biden and Netanyahu conspired to stage the escalating confrontation between them to save themselves from the [electoral] defeat the polls predict: The president confronts the prime minister to buck up his disillusioned [liberal Democrat voter] base; Mr. Netanyahu recovers from the failure to foresee and prevent the [October 7] attack by proving that he’s strong against Washington.”

BIDEN’S ACCEPTANCE OF HAMAS’ FAKE GAZA CASUALTY STATISTICS

Biden and other members of his administration, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, have also allowed themselves to fall into the trap of relying on the Palestinian casualty statistics in Gaza issued by the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry which have been exposed as clearly faked by a report issued by Abraham Wyner, a professor of statistics and data science at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

After the first few weeks of the war, on October 25, Biden exhibited a healthy skepticism about the accuracy of the Hamas-issued casualty figures which have never differentiated between the Hamas fighters who were killed in combat with Israel and Gaza’s civilian population which Hamas has cynically used as human shields. At that time, when Hamas’ alleged casualty figure stood at about 6,500, Biden appropriately noted that “I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed.”

Since that time, Hamas supporters have effectively used the unreliable Hamas casualty figures to stir up antisemitic demonstrations and attacks on Jews in major cities and on college campuses across the country and around the world. They have been used so often in the daily news reports on the war in Gaza over the past five months that they are being given credibility that they don’t deserve. Even worse, President Biden casually cited them during an MSNBC interview a couple of weeks ago, when he said, “You [Israel] cannot have another 30,000 dead as a consequence [of pursuing Hamas].”

Without getting into the statistical details of Professor Wyner’s analysis, he found that the Hamas death count did not have the natural day-to-day variations that one would expect during a war whose intensity is constantly changing due to the conditions on the battlefield. According to Wyner, “The ebbs and flows of the bombings and attacks by Israel should cause the daily [death] count [of males and females] to move together. But that is not what the data show” which is “evidence that the [Hamas] numbers are not real.”

Wyner is also suspicious of Hamas’ claims that 70% of the casualties in Gaza are women and children, a total “far higher than the numbers reported in earlier conflicts with Israel,” and which suggests that Israel isn’t doing a good job of eliminating Hamas fighters. But that contradicts the historically more reliable IDF casualty reports which claim that it has killed about 13,000 Hamas fighters since October 7, which amounts to about a third of Hamas’ estimated initial fighting force, and has wounded about the same number during that time.

ISRAEL’S REMARKABLE SUCCESS AT REDUCING CIVILIAN CASUALTIES

Based upon these findings, Wyner concludes that Hamas’ total casualty count is likely “extremely overstated.” But if the Israeli casualty numbers are just reasonably accurate, that would mean that the actual ratio of civilian to non-civilian casualties in Gaza is remarkably low, from 1-1.5 civilian deaths for every combatant death, compared to much higher ratios in other comparable recent battles in densely populated urban areas, where the average is 1 to 9.

This is especially impressive considering the fact that Israel has been fighting in Gaza in complex combat conditions above and below ground, against a Hamas enemy which protects its fighters by using the local civilian population as human shields and seeks to maximize civilian casualties to use them as a propaganda tool.

HAMAS IS BECOMING A GANGSTER ORGANIZATION AGAIN

Seth Frantzman, a senior Middle East correspondent and analyst for the Jerusalem Post, writes that because of the success of IDF operations in Gaza since the war began, the remnants of Hamas in Gaza under the leadership of Yahya Sinwar have returned to the organization’s historic roots as a gangster-like organization. It has been “cracking down on Gazans who speak out against it and massacring [civilians in the areas of Gaza still under Hamas control] seeking humanitarian aid.”

Frantzman notes that before October 7, Hamas “benefitted from a partnership with international organizations and provided ‘security’ for most [of them] and the U.N. in Gaza. This meant that Hamas police were seen as the force [in Gaza] for ‘law and order’. . .

“[But] after the October 7 massacre and Israel’s retaliation, Hamas has lost control of some areas of Gaza. However, their plainclothes thugs have [now] returned to many of these areas whenever Israel withdraws.”

That helps to explain why “four months after the IDF’s first major battles around [al] Shifa [hospital], the clashes have returned because Hamas returned to (or never left) the hospital.” That is why Israeli troops have launched “a precise operation. . . [based upon] intelligence information indicating the use of the hospital by senior Hamas terrorists to conduct and promote terrorist activity.”

WHY HAMAS NEEDS TO CONTROL GAZA AID

Franzman reports that because Hamas uses its control over the flow of humanitarian aid to control Gaza, “it appears now that Hamas is concerned it could be losing a grip on power as Israel has sought to enable humanitarian aid to enter Gaza via routes that avoid the [areas still under] Hamas ‘protection.’”

For example, the Israeli military reported that “about an hour before the entry of the aid convoy [on Thursday, March 14], Palestinian gunmen [presumably members of Hamas] were seen opening fire on. . . a crowd of Gazan civilians” in Kuwait Square in the Zeitin area south of Gaza City which is outside of the Nezerim corridor which is under IDF control.

The statement “emphasized that IDF forces did not open fire at the aid convoy in Kuwait Square. . .  while making strenuous efforts to bring humanitarian aid to the residents of the Gaza Strip.” The IDF also accused “Hamas terrorists [of] harming the residents of Gaza and spreading lies for the purpose of blaming Israel.”

Frantzman notes that according to a Ynet report, “Hamas recently murdered several Gaza clan members” who had been cooperating with an Israeli initiative to bypass Hamas in the delivery of food and other humanitarian aid to Gazan civilians in order “to send a mafia-like message against these [powerful] family-based groups.”

According to Frantzman, the “recent spate of murders clearly indicates the lengths to which Hamas will go to keep its monopoly on aid distribution, concentrating more on suppressing Gazans than on fighting Israel.”

Meanwhile, the IDF announced last week that “six humanitarian aid trucks containing aid from the World Food Program (WFP) entered the northern Gaza Strip via the ‘96th’ gate on the [border] security fence” for the first time. The military also reported that “following IDF and Shin Bet intelligence, an Israeli military aircraft precisely targeted and eliminated” Muhammad Abu Hasna, a Hamas combat support operative who was “involved in taking control of humanitarian aid and distributing it to Hamas terrorists.”

ISRAEL KILLS GAZA’S THIRD MOST SENIOR HAMAS LEADER

A more important IDF achievement last week was the targeted air strike that killed Marwan Issa, the highest-ranking member of Hamas’ leadership in Gaza to be killed since the war in Gaza began. Issa served as the deputy of Mohammed Deif, the head of Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and he was believed to have been deeply involved in the planning of Hamas’ devastating October 7 attack. Issa was killed by an Israeli precision air strike while he was in a Hamas tunnel underneath central Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp.

His body was buried in the rubble of the collapsed tunnel, which is why his death was not confirmed until Monday by an announcement from the White House. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan also told reporters that, “the rest of the top leaders [of Hanas] are in hiding, likely deep in the Hamas tunnel network, and justice will come for them, too.”

Sullivan also said that President Biden reiterated his commitment to Israel and its right to go after Hamas, and also repeated his previous warnings that it would be a “mistake” for Israel to invade Rafah because it “would lead to more innocent civilian deaths, worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis, deepen the anarchy in Gaza and further isolate Israel internationally.”

However, Sullivan also blamed Israel for the current “humanitarian crisis [that] has descended across Gaza, and anarchy [that] reigns in areas that Israel’s military has cleared but not stabilized.”

KEEPING HAMAS FROM RETURNING TO
CONQUERED AREAS IN GAZA

“Instead of a pause to reevaluate where things stand in the campaign and what adjustments are needed to achieve long-term success, instead of a focus on stabilizing the areas of Gaza that Israel has cleared so that Hamas does not regenerate and retake territory that Israel has already cleared,” Sullivan added disapprovingly, “the Israeli government is now talking about launching a major military operation in Rafah.”

Sulivan also cited the need for the IDF to stage a raid that cleared out Hamas terrorists from the al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as an example of Israel’s failure to secure territory already under its control, and another reason why Israel should reconsider its planned assault on Rafah,

According to Sullivan, in a phone between the two leaders Monday, “The president told [Netanyahu] that we share the goal of defeating Hamas, but we just believe you need a coherent and sustainable strategy to make that happen.”

Sullivan reported that during their phone call, Biden had gotten Netanyahu to agree to send a “senior [Israeli] interagency team composed of military, intelligence and humanitarian officials,” to Washington to discuss U.S. concerns over an invasion of Rafah,” which would presumably be delayed at least until that meeting is held.

ISRAEL MUST NOT STOP UNTIL HAMAS IS DESTROYED

However, according to a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece written by Ophir Falk, a research fellow at the International Institute of Counter-Terrorism (ICT) in Herzliya, “Whoever pressures Israel to refrain from entering Rafah is preventing the destruction of Hamas and the freeing of Israel and Gazan civilians from Hamas’s stranglehold.”

Falk also quoted a statement two weeks ago by retired American Army General and former CIA Director David Petraeus, who led the successful 2007 American troop surge against the insurgency Iraq, that the “key now [for Israel] is to not stop until Hamas is fully destroyed.”

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