America Has Failed to Pressure Hamas, and to Free Its Citizens Being Held Hostage

Robert Satloff has some harsh words for the U.S. government in this regard, words I take especially seriously because Satloff is someone inclined to political moderation. Why, he asks, have American diplomats failed to achieve anything in their endless rounds of talks in Doha and Cairo? Because

there is simply not enough pressure on Hamas to change course, accept a deal, and release the remaining October 7 hostages, stuck in nightmarish captivity. . . . In this environment, why should Hamas change course?

Publicly, the U.S. should bite the bullet and urge Israel to complete the main battle operations in Gaza—i.e., the Rafah operation—as swiftly and efficiently as possible. We should be assertively assisting with the humanitarian side of this.

Satloff had more to say about the hostages, especially the five American ones, in a speech he gave recently:

I am ashamed—ashamed of how we have allowed the story of the hostages to get lost in the noise of the war that followed their capture; ashamed of how we have permitted their release to be a bargaining chip in some larger political negotiation; ashamed of how we have failed to give them the respect and dignity and our wholehearted demand for Red Cross access and care and medicine that is our normal, usual demand for hostages.

If they were taken by Boko Haram, everyone would know their name. If they were taken by the Taliban, everyone would tie a yellow ribbon around a tree for them. If they were taken by Islamic State, kids would learn about them in school.

It is repugnant to see their freedom as just one item on the bargaining table with Hamas, as though they were chattel. These are Americans—and they deserve to be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, U.S.-Israel relationship


The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7