In Destroying a Building That Housed the Associated Press, Israel Risked Its Own Safety to Protect Civilians

July 14 2021

During the war with Hamas in May, the IDF destroyed the al-Jalaa tower in Gaza, which was home to the central offices of the Associate Press and Al Jazeera in the Strip, as well as a Hamas electronic-warfare base where operatives were developing technology for jamming Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system. The IDF warned civilians in advance of the attack, and as a result no one was injured. The attack was nonetheless widely condemned for “targeting journalists.” As a result of the warning, the terrorists were able to rescue some of their equipment prior to the airstrike. Michael N. Schmitt, a scholar of the laws of war at the United States Military Academy at West Point, examines the Israeli decision from a legal standpoint:

Should a media facility be used for military purposes, it may become a military objective. . . . For instance, if a media facility is used to communicate information of military value, it qualifies as a military objective by use and may be attacked. Even if it is not the intended target, an attacker need not consider any incidental harm to the facility in . . . an attack on another military objective.

[Yes], the journalists and their facilities were civilian in character and entitled to all attendant protections, including application of the rule of proportionality and the requirement to take precautions in attack. [But] if the Israeli reports of Hamas using the building are accurate, the entire building constituted a single military objective, damage to which did not have to factor into the IDF’s proportionality calculation.

The IDF’s hour [of advance] warning of the attack was [moreover] a paradigmatic example of an effective warning. If IDF reports that Hamas and Islamic Jihad were able to evacuate the building and remove military material from the facility before it was struck are accurate, the warning appears to have exceeded that required by the law of armed conflict because it involved some sacrifice of military advantage by the IDF.

Counter-allegations that the IDF used the attack as a ploy to end unfavorable media [coverage] are unsupported by the available facts. . . . Based on open-source information presently available, the strike complied with the law of armed conflict.

Read more at Articles of War

More about: Al Jazeera, Guardian of the Walls, IDF, Laws of war, Media

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy