May 29, 2024


“Judges at the top United Nations court ordered Israel [last] Friday to immediately halt its military assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah… World Court president Nawaf Salam said the situation in the Palestinian enclave had deteriorated since the court last ordered Israel to take steps to improve it, and conditions had been met for a new emergency order.” Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that a ‘tragic mishap’ was made in an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah [on Sunday] that set fire to a camp housing displaced Palestinians and, according to local officials, killed at least 45 people.” AP News

“The Biden administration said on Tuesday it was closely monitoring the probe into a deadly Israeli airstrike it called tragic, but that the recent deaths in Rafah didn't constitute a major ground operation there that crosses any U.S. red lines.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left supports the ICJ ruling, and criticizes Israel’s offensive in Rafah.

“By a lopsided vote of 13 to 2, the International Court of Justice has ordered Israel to ‘immediately halt its military offensive’ in Rafah and open border crossings for ‘unhindered provision’ of humanitarian aid. But the court’s order, while binding, has no enforcement mechanism — which in practice means it is up to the United Nations Security Council and, in particular, Biden to enforce

“When President Ronald Reagan faced a similar situation during Israel’s catastrophic invasion of Lebanon in 1982 (which led to the rise of Hezbollah), he suspended some weapons transfers and warned that the American-Israeli relationship was in jeopardy; it worked…“It’s time for Biden to act firmly and withhold all offensive weapons as an imperfect approach that just might be a step toward easing the humanitarian catastrophe, ending the war and upholding that rules-based order that he says he believes in.”

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times

“Any military action that poses a large-scale risk to civilian life faces an immense burden of justification. The Israeli argument — that Rafah is Hamas’s largest remaining base of operations — is not good enough. We have seen previously that Israel has cleared areas of Hamas fighters, like al-Shifa hospital, only for them to return after the IDF moved on. There is substantial evidence that Hamas is recruiting thousands of new fighters during the war

“Pre-war Palestinian polling showed that Fatah, the moderate faction in power in the West Bank, was more popular with Palestinians than Hamas — 26 percent political support for Fatah versus 22 percent for Hamas. Today, those numbers are flipped: a recent poll found 34 percent support for Hamas versus 17 percent for Fatah…

“Israel’s war isn’t just failing to accomplish its objectives. It is actually weakening two of the most important pillars of the Jewish state’s long-term survival: international support and Palestinian belief in the possibility for coexistence.”

Zack Beauchamp, Vox

Regarding the strike on Sunday, “The language of war serves as a camouflage that allows the truth to hide. It aims to make the horror of deadly conflict acceptable, or at least manageable… Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called these civilian deaths a ‘tragic accident’ in an address to parliament. Many words might accurately describe these killings — gruesome, cruel, immoral — but ‘accident’ is not one of them

“The residents of Gaza have been displaced from their homes and herded into areas that have been designated humanitarian zones, the boundaries of which are not discrete, their locations confusing and their general fitness for human habitation indecent. Here they are stuck, crowded together under tarps and lean-tos, surrounded by devastation while Israeli leaders maintain that they’re using ‘precise munitions’ and ‘precise intelligence’ to target combatants.”

Robin Givhan, Washington Post

From the Right

The right is critical of the ICJ ruling, and supports Israel’s offensive in Rafah.

The right is critical of the ICJ ruling, and supports Israel’s offensive in Rafah.

“The source of the ICJ judgment on Gaza rests on an unsupported claim that there is some kind of equivalence between the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7, 2023, and the collateral damage that arises out of the Israeli operations in Gaza, which, as the military historian John Spencer has repeatedly argued, have led to fewer civilian casualties than similar urban wars conducted elsewhere, including those by the United States…

“Yet, the ICJ addressed only the deplorable conditions on the ground without determining Israel’s justifications for its actions or mentioning the aid it had already supplied. It made no mention of Hamas’s initial grotesque provocation or the standard litany of Hamas’s violations of the laws of war: using human shields, locating military facilities in hospitals and schools, fighting out of uniform, indiscriminately attacking civilians, and more. Nor is there the slightest effort to ask what would happen to Hamas if the Israelis were to back out of Gaza.”

Richard A. Epstein, Hoover Institute

The only group Israel aims to destroy in Rafah is Hamas. Since the invasion of the city began nearly three weeks ago, Israel has expertly evacuated about a million Gazans. Because Hamas isn’t party to the ICJ trial, the ruling demands nothing of it, while seeming to tell Israel unilaterally to stop fighting in the terrorists’ last stronghold…

“What about the Israelis held hostage in Rafah? The ICJ knows that Hamas refuses to release them, which the ruling calls ‘deeply troubling.’ Well, thanks, but the judges effectively ask Israel to abandon the hostages. Like most rulings from The Hague, this one will be ignored. Israel rightly says it is already in compliance with the court’s wishes—its Rafah offensive isn’t genocidal, so it need not be halted. No state in Israel’s place could do otherwise.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

Regarding the strike on Sunday, “A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces maintains that the strike, in which at least 45 are believed to have been killed, involved the deployment of the ‘smallest munition our jets can use’ and suggested that secondary explosions were responsible for the excessive collateral damage. The IDF subsequently produced audio of an intercepted phone conversation between two Gazans who substantiated the Israeli claim…

“Israel’s critics are unlikely to take the IDF’s word or the evidence in support of it at face value. But that circumspection seems never to apply to the claims retailed by Gaza-based Palestinians… On Tuesday, another 21 Gazans were killed and many more wounded in what local authorities claim was an Israeli artillery strike on a civilian tent encampment. But the IDF maintains that it executed no strikes anywhere near a humanitarian corridor where displaced Rafah residents are taking shelter — a detail even the Washington Post later confirmed.”

Noah Rothman, National Review

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