The Dangers of Holding the IDF to an Impossible Standard

A group consisting of senior military figures from several countries recently released a report detailing its extensive investigation of Israel’s conduct of the 2014 war in Gaza. It finds that, contrary to evaluations issued by the UN and Human Rights Watch, not only was the war justified under international law but Israel’s conduct also went above and beyond accepted legal and ethical requirements. From this, however, the authors draw a disturbing conclusion, as Tom Wilson notes:

[They] point out that if [the] new, rigorous level of humanitarian concern adopted by Israel comes to be accepted as the norm in the international community, then it will become impossible for other militaries to fight future wars effectively. . . .

Israel’s experience in Gaza has very profound implications for other democracies seeking to wage war against terrorist non-state actors. Terror groups who not only have no regard for international human-rights law but that also have no fear of their international standing being tarnished . . . do not need to worry about condemnation at the UN having repercussions such as the imposition of sanctions. In fact, these groups are clearly learning from Hamas tactics and seeing that it is possible to gain an advantage over western armies that restrain themselves in accordance with the stipulations of international law. . . .

They know that by hiding behind civilians, they can achieve a wide range of strategic objectives. . . . [They] know full well how a high civilian casualty rate can be made to play out in the court of public opinion. Journalists, international observers, campaigners, and many in government—all apparently suffer from having an incredibly poor grasp of where international law and, particularly, the laws of armed conflict, stand on a whole range of issues. As we’ve seen with Israel’s wars, world opinion now expects Israel to conduct its wars without anyone being harmed.

Read more at Commentary

More about: IDF, International Law, Israel & Zionism, Laws of war, Protective Edge, Terrorism

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas