No, Israel Did Not Commit “War Crimes” in Restoring Jerusalem after the Six-Day War

Last month, the New Yorker published an article alleging that the Jewish state violated international law when it cleared out the Mughrabi neighborhood of Jerusalem that once stood directly in front of the Western Wall. The truth is very different, write Nathaniel Belmont and Lenny Ben-David:

[Even before the 1967 war], there is evidence that the neighborhood’s days were numbered. Much like the adjacent Jewish quarter, which had been demolished by the Jordanians [in 1949], the Mughrabi quarter was nothing more than decaying slums built on rubble. . . . In 1965 and 1966, prior to the war, some 1,000 Arabs were relocated by the Jordanian administration—some by force—from the [former] Jewish quarter to the newly created Shuafat refugee camp, by order of Jordan’s then-prime minister Wasfi al-Tal, [and a similar fate likely was in store for the Mughrabi quarter]. . . .

[Furthermore, the] accusation of “war crimes” perpetrated by Israel ignores legal norms appropriating private property for public use and public safety—provided due compensation is paid. Ironically, it is Jordan that failed to recognize this basic legal norm in 1949, razing the Jewish Quarter, expelling its residents, and looting and desecrating 58 synagogues, all without compensation.

Jordan’s 1948 actions stand in stark contrast to Israel’s actions in 1967. Regarding compensation, a 1968 letter from former residents of the Mughrabi Quarter affirms that many residents received compensation.

During the 1948-1967 period, Jewish access to the shrine was totally banned; but [even] the pre-1948 situation was hardly tolerable for Jewish worshippers. After navigating through a labyrinth of potentially dangerous, narrow alleyways, Jews wishing to pray at the Western Wall found themselves in a cramped area of approximately 120 square meters. (In contrast, the al-Aqsa complex on the Temple Mount covers 144,000 square meters.) Visitors in the pre-1948 era encountered broken stones, sewage, animals (and the refuse they left behind), and Mughrabi Quarter residents who “had a tendency to harass Jewish worshipers.”

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Laws of war, New Yorker, Six-Day War, Western Wall

Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden