OpinionIsrael at War

The curious case of the Biden administration and Hamas

The U.S. administration appears to be doing its utmost to sabotage Israel's efforts to defend itself against terrorism

U.S President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
U.S President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Bassam Tawil

As Israel wages war on the Iran-backed Hamas terrorists who murdered more than 1,200 Israelis and abducted 240 others on Oct. 7, the U.S. administration appears to be doing its utmost to sabotage Israel’s efforts to defend itself.

Iran and its proxies, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Houthis, can only be ecstatic about the Biden administration’s new restrictions, especially the pressure it is reportedly exerting on Israel to end the war in the coming weeks.

Hamas is currently fighting for its survival in Gaza—which is why it is pleading for a ceasefire. Hamas’s eyes are now set on the United States and the United Nations, which it hopes will prevent Israel from stopping its reign of terror.

President Joe Biden’s latest bizarre statements, in which he warned that Israel was losing international support because of its “indiscriminate bombing” of the Gaza Strip, are the best gift he could have given to Hamas and its Iranian patrons. By accusing Israel, falsely, of “indiscriminate bombing,” Biden is parroting the bogus accusations made by Israel’s fiercest enemies around the world, such as Hamas and Iran’s mullahs, who are trying to stop Israel from defeating a terrorist organization akin to Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. 

Did anyone call for a ceasefire when the United States was routing ISIS in Syria and Iraq, or demand that Washington end its military campaign by a certain date?

“Israel’s security can rest on the United States, but right now it has more than the United States. It has the European Union, it has…Europe, it has most of the world supporting them,” Biden said during a fundraiser on Dec. 12. “They’re starting to lose that support by indiscriminate bombing that takes place.”

Biden went on to say of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “I think he has to change his government. His government in Israel is making it very difficult.”

According to the Associated Press: “Biden specifically called out Itamar Ben-Gvir, the leader of a far-right Israeli party and the minister of national security in Netanyahu’s governing coalition….” Ben-Gvir, who has no authority over Israel’s military, is not a member of the country’s three-man War Cabinet.

Biden’s remarks were quickly and jubilantly picked up by Hamas’s media outlets. The Palestinian Information Center, which serves as a mouthpiece for Hamas, was so pleased that it wrote: “The U.S. administration attacks the extremism of the Netanyahu government and the dispute [between Israel and the United States] over Gaza explodes into the open.”

Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official based in Lebanon, also rushed to express deep satisfaction over Biden’s statements: “The Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip have prompted U.S. President Joe Biden to realize the madness of the Israeli military operation.”

The Hamas official is saying that Palestinian terrorism pays—even the U.S. administration is turning against Israel.

By accusing Israel of “indiscriminate bombing” of the Gaza Strip, Biden is intentionally ignoring that Israel’s aerial assaults have meticulously targeted only military sites.

Hamas, however, in keeping with one of its favorite war crimes, has continued to use its own citizens as human shields precisely because it hopes that whenever Israel targets a military site, Gazan civilians will be killed. The international community can then fall for the trick and do exactly what Biden did: tell Israel to stop because of civilian casualties.

The grotesque irony, of course, is that—no matter how careful Israel is to avoid civilian casualties—the more the West blames Israel for civilian deaths, the more Hamas will place civilians in the line of fire in order to keep the international community blaming Israel.

The Biden administration should be telling Hamas, not Israel, to minimize the number of civilian casualties. The real cause of these casualties, besides Hamas, is therefore actually the Biden administration, the U.N. and the international community. They incentivize Hamas to place its own people in harm’s way. 

The act of blaming Israel for casualties orchestrated by Hamas is, in fact, what is causing them. Hamas can only be looking around and saying to themselves, “Hey, it’s working! Let’s keep on doing it!”

Hamas commits further war crimes for which Israel also gets unfairly blamed. There is clear, abundant evidence that Hamas terrorists deliberately place their weapons and ammunition in schools, kindergartens, hospitals and mosques, which, under international law, are “protected zones,” and use these sites to fire rockets at Israel and ambush Israeli soldiers.

Under international law, however, once combatants use “protected zones” for military purposes, including for storing weapons, these zones lose their protected status. 

As U.S. Senator Tom Cotton said: “If Hamas uses schools, and kindergartens, and mosques for military purposes, Israel has every right under the laws of war to strike back… It is Hamas that is committing war crimes by using those civilians….”

There is also evidence that Hamas fires rockets at Israel from protected safe zones, designated by Israel in southern Gaza specifically for Palestinian civilians who have fled their homes in the north, as Israel requested they do to protect them from getting caught in the fighting. It was Hamas who were shooting at their own citizens to try to keep them from leaving, and it was the Israelis who stood guard along Gaza’s main road south to prevent Hamas from shooting them.

Israel’s airstrikes in the Gaza Strip have, in reality, been astonishingly precise, not in the least “indiscriminate.” Israel has, for instance, been able to take out a specific apartment on the second floor of a building in which terrorists were hiding while leaving the rest of the building, including the third floor, untouched.

Biden appears to have gotten it the other way round: It is Hamas that is firing rockets indiscriminately at civilians in Israeli cities—the same Hamas that, on Oct. 7, sent thousands of heavily armed terrorists to butcher Jews, Muslims and Christians; Israelis, Americans, French, Filipinos, Nepalis and Thais. 

The Hamas terrorists that invaded Israel did not even try to differentiate. They were on a murder spree, full stop.

Israel’s war is not directed against the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip. This is a war, among the main purposes of which is to release the approximately 130 hostages who Hamas has not yet exchanged or murdered

If Israel were engaged in “indiscriminate bombing,” it would not have asked Palestinian civilians to move to safe zones. If this were a war against the Palestinian population, Israel would have bombed the Gaza Strip only from the air, without risking the lives of its soldiers. More than 100 Israeli soldiers have been killed in action in Gaza, and hundreds more wounded.

The current makeup of Israel’s coalition government is, contrary to defamatory swipes, entirely irrelevant to the war. Israel’s War Cabinet consists of Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and former defense minister Benny Gantz. 

Other Israeli Cabinet ministers, including Ben-Gvir, have virtually no say in the war effort. It is out of place in the extreme that U.S. officials believe they have the right to decide for Israeli voters who their government representatives should be. 

Ironically, the Biden administration seems to have more influence on Israel’s War Cabinet than Ben-Gvir and other members of Israel’s own government. Both Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken have personally attended meetings of the War Cabinet—a privilege denied to Ben-Gvir and other Israeli ministers.

By calling for a change in the makeup of the Israeli government in the midst of a war, Biden is giving hope to Hamas and the rest of Israel’s enemies that the United States is on their side. The message Biden is sending to the terrorists is: Hold on, we’re with you and we want to remove Netanyahu and his government from power.

How would a Cabinet reshuffle in Israel contribute to the war on Hamas? Is it appropriate for a foreign leader to demand that the Israeli prime minister replace his democratically-elected coalition partners while Israel is in the midst of a war, or even if it were not? 

Has Biden ever demanded from any Arab leader, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, that they make changes in their Cabinets?

Biden has shifted the talk from the need to eliminate Hamas and remove it from power to the need undemocratically to change the Israeli government.

Not only Hamas but also the P.A., whose leaders have yet to condemn Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, are pleased with Biden’s anti-Israel rhetoric. Hussein al-Sheikh, the P.A.’s No. 2, commented: “U.S. President Biden’s statements yesterday must transform into actions, starting with calling for an immediate ceasefire and putting forward a comprehensive political plan based on international legitimacy and international law… and establishing an independent Palestinian state.”

Hamas and the P.A. have every reason to be satisfied with Biden. As far they are concerned, the mounting pressure by the Biden administration on Israel to end the war is a sign that the United States does not want to see Hamas destroyed. Hamas is undoubtedly hoping to be rewarded for their Oct. 7 carnage with an independent, Iran-backed Islamist Palestinian state right next to their “mark,” Israel.

Biden’s statements make Hamas and the P.A. think that they are close to achieving their goals.

“Biden’s comments only feed the antisemitic rhetoric that Joe Biden himself claims to find so disgusting,” remarked former U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman. “These are really unfortunate comments.”

The U.S. administration, which has been seeking to appease the Iranian regime, doubtless understands that statements such as Biden’s are likely to sabotage the war on terrorism. When Iran and Hamas terrorists hear Biden criticizing Israel during a war, it simply encourages them to escalate their attacks. For the terrorists, these attacks on Israel are proving effective: even the president of the United States appears to be close to throwing Israel under the bus.

The Biden administration also doubtless understands that the war on Hamas cannot be conducted with a stop-watch. The war to destroy Hamas and remove its threat to Israel could take weeks or months. As with routing ISIS or Al-Qaeda, the timing should not be a consideration at all. The Biden administration should please stop meddling in the war effort.

Instead of issuing deadlines for ending the war, the Biden administration should be voicing full support for Israel’s war on Iran’s terrorist proxies. Israel is fighting to defeat terrorism and preserve freedom for all of us in the free world. Israel is sacrificing its heroic citizens so that we will not have to. Instead of hampering Israel, we should be thanking it and doing all we can to help.

Contrary to what Biden believes, Israel should not be worried about global reactions to the war on Hamas. Most countries, and the United Nations, would probably denounce Israel no matter what it does, because that is what they always do. In the manner of the boy who cried wolf, they have thrown at Israel so much defamatory sewage, so unjustly, for so long, that it no longer carries any credibility.

Many apparently believe that Israel has no right to defend itself—or even exist. Yet it was not Israel’s perennially virtue-signaling critics, the “international community,” who were slaughtered on Oct. 7. It was Israeli civilians, men, women and children, which is why Israel has an absolute obligation to defend itself against murderous jihadis to make sure they will never try it again. There should be no negotiations and no ceasefires.

Sadly, Israel is dealing with bloodthirsty Islamists who never honor their commitments. Hamas just recently broke two ceasefires in two months; there is no reason to think they would not break a third, fourth and fifth. 

As they keep openly admitting, their chief goal is to murder Jews and wipe Israel off the map. How is it, one wonders, that Hamas has the right to pursue its declared aim of destroying Israel while Israel is not entitled to battle those who seek its destruction?

Originally published by The Gatestone Institute.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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