Why the Siege of Gaza Is Legal

While Israelis are still burying their dead, those who enjoy the safety of the West are rushing to find way to condemn them for taking measures to defend themselves. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s announcement on Sunday that the IDF is imposing a “complete siege” on Gaza has thus prompted accusations that the Jewish state is itself committing war crimes. Such accusations display a complete ignorance of international law, as Avi Bell and Erielle Davidson explain:

Both the Geneva and Hague conventions include instructions on conducting sieges under international law, recognizing they may be effective tools for bringing a conflict to a rapid and successful end. The basic rule they outline: sieges are lawful unless deliberately aimed at starving the local population.

International pressure demanding Israel provide terrorists with electricity and other goods is absurd and without basis in international law. As the besieging state, Israel is not required to fund or assist Hamas’s war effort as it attempts to butcher Jews. Siege law includes a humanitarian aspect: international law requires that Israel facilitate the passage of food and medicine by third parties, but only if such goods can be reliably delivered without diversion to Hamas and without fear the goods will give Hamas an economic and military boost. Given Hamas’s sixteen-year exploitation of humanitarian aid and infiltration of human-rights and international organizations in Gaza, diversion is not merely a possibility—it is a certainty.

If governments and international organizations are serious about aiding Gazan civilians—to date, such organizations have been more invested in condemning Israel and immunizing Palestinian terrorists from accountability and punishment—they should devote their resources to facilitating the safe and rapid evacuation of Gaza’s civilian population outside the conflict zone. While this is a heady mission, it is not impossible: indeed, five times the population of Gaza was evacuated from Ukraine under fire.

Removing Gaza’s civilians will prevent them from being harmed as lawful collateral damage and block Hamas from using them as human shields. Humanitarian efforts should focus on cooperating with Israel and Egypt to allow Palestinians to surrender at Gaza’s Egyptian border, go through Israeli screening to prevent hostage smuggling or terrorists’ escape and reach safe locations outside the Middle East.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Gaza War 2023, International Law, Laws of

 

Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship