What Israel Accomplished in Five Days of Fighting

During its latest duel with Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Jerusalem demonstrated the accuracy of its intelligence and the precision of its air force, writes Ron Ben-Yishai, explaining why he considers Operation Shield and Arrow a success:

The operatives of Hizballah and Hamas have now witnessed how Israel’s intelligence directorate identifies and targets senior operatives, striking them one after another, even during combat, despite their attempts to remain hidden. All of this was accomplished while Israel maintained international and public legitimacy to continue its operation, as it demonstrated that it does everything possible to avoid harming uninvolved civilians.

Evidently, the U.S. government refrained from demanding Israel cease the operation for about three days. Even when the U.S. did raise its head, it was in the form of a polite request rather than a forceful ultimatum, which was the go-to tactic during the days of the former president Barack Obama. It is not that the Democratic administration led by President Joe Biden softened its humanitarian approach, but rather Israel has demonstrated that it acts out of self-defense and is thus forced to act aggressively against a terrorist organization operating deliberately from within a civilian population.

The Israeli achievements were felt not only in Gaza but also in Iran, Beirut, and even in Yemen. Both Israel’s adversaries and allies have learned an important lesson from the civilian resilience and domestic cohesion they witnessed in Israel, even during the period of unprecedented social and political division.

Ben-Yishai does, however, add a cautionary note:

This was merely a mini-operation. The IDF, Shin Bet, and Mossad must be capable of dealing with Iran with the same operational and intelligence efficiency—and holding the fort when attacked from all directions. This [capability] has yet to be proven, and it must also be remembered that the IDF still does not manage to suppress offensive rocket and mortar fire [during the fighting itself].

Read more at Ynet

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza Strip, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Palestinian Islamic Jihad

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law