How America Emboldened Iran in Yemen

On Tuesday, Houthi rebels in Yemen fired six ballistic missiles at commercial ships, one of which was shot down by a U.S. naval cruiser. It thus seems that the intensification of British and American attacks on the Iran-backed group’s military infrastructure has neither crippled nor deterred it. Noam Raydan and Grant Rumley explain how Washington’s timidity brought this situation about:

If the United States had responded to the Houthis’ attacks in November by immediately going after weapons stockpiles, missile launchers, and radar stations, it would have demonstrated U.S. resolve while seriously degrading the Houthis’ ability to continue their assault. Admittedly, Washington would have given the group the fight it wanted: the Houthis derive legitimacy from standing up to the United States and, by extension, Israel. But a quicker, more decisive strike against the Houthis’ military infrastructure would have had the practical effect of making it difficult for the group to conduct a prolonged campaign, regardless of its ambitions.

If the United States had struck earlier, the current U.S.-Houthi conflict might have looked more like an episode between the two states from seven years earlier.

In that instance, a swift and robust American response reestablished deterrence.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Iran, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security