Congress Must Not Let the White House Withhold Arms from Israel

On Monday, in response to recent reports that the U.S. has withheld shipments of ammunition to Israel, Senators Joni Ernst and Ted Budd sent a letter to the president asking what was withheld and why. Richard Goldberg argues that the Biden administration only undermines itself with such moves, both as a matter of politics and as a matter of policy:

Biden’s strategy . . . works against his objectives. Every time he puts pressure on Israel to cut a deal with Hamas and hold back military operations, Hamas feels less pressure to cut a deal—opting instead for head fakes like Monday’s claim that it would accept a ceasefire proposal Israel had never offered. Leaks suggest that Hamas sympathizers inside the State Department are pressing for an aid cut-off—perhaps via a Biden-mandated report to Congress due [today] on Israel’s compliance with international law.

The president insists he wants to see the release of Israeli hostages and a transition to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. He might achieve those goals by putting pressure on Hamas’s sponsors—Iran, Qatar, Lebanon, and Turkey—instead of Hamas’s victim. By playing for an Israeli surrender to Hamas, however, Biden all but guarantees continued conflict in the Middle East, and continued unrest from his left flank at home.

There is more, Goldberg explains, that the legislative branch can and should do:

Congress can intervene, however, either through oversight hearings or the power of the purse. Considering the legislature just brokered a compromise on a $95 billion emergency supplemental that included aid to Israel, holding up assistance would contravene the will of Congress. It would be justified in retaliating by holding up a wide range of spending for any Biden-controlled department.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Congress, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, 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