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OpinionIsrael at War

Three victories in Israel’s war for hearts and minds

The ICJ ruling, exposure of UNRWA’s terror connections and rising Gazan discontent with Hamas show that the battle for truth can be won.

The South African delegation presents its case against Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Jan. 11, 2024. Source: X.
The South African delegation presents its case against Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Jan. 11, 2024. Source: X.
Clifford Sobin
Clifford Sobin is the author of Israel’s Struggle with Hezbollah: A War Without End.

Three recent events took the wind out of the sails of Israel’s enemies:

  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) declined South Africa’s request to issue a preliminary ruling that would order Israel to end its war against Hamas.
  • The U.N.’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA was forced to fire nine employees based on evidence provided by Israel that proved the employees’ involvement in the Oct. 7 massacre. Following this, 17 nations suspended funding to UNRWA.
  • A large number of Gazans publicly expressed anger towards Hamas.

Last December, South Africa filed a petition with the ICJ that alleged Israel was committing genocide in Gaza. It demanded the ICJ immediately order Israel:

  • To agree to a permanent ceasefire.
  • Take all reasonable measures to prevent genocide.
  • Not to impede humanitarian assistance entering Gaza.
  • Not to destroy Palestinian life in Gaza (presumably including terrorists).
  • File a report within one week outlining actions taken in furtherance of the requested ICJ order.

Finally, South Africa asked the ICJ to find that Israel committed genocide.

The ICJ refused to order Israel to halt its war against Hamas. It also issued an order demanding the release of hostages held by Hamas and other terror groups. It further stated that civilian deaths alone do not prove genocide, which must include an “intent to destroy at least a substantial part of the particular group.”

Even though the ICJ ambiguously stated that “at least some of the acts and omissions alleged … appear to be capable of falling within the provisions of the [genocide] convention,” it did not find anything that necessitated a provisional order demanding Israel stop its military operations.

Therefore, for now, no international legal basis exists for preventing Israel from fighting until Hamas is destroyed. This neutralized a potent weapon in the pro-Hamas forces’ arsenal.

The case of UNRWA was just as significant. Unlike all other refugee organizations in the world, UNRWA has worked to exacerbate the plight of its refugees as much as possible, mainly by unilaterally expanding the definition of a Palestinian refugee to include millions of their descendants. UNWRA now services 5.9 million Palestinian “refugees,” most of whom never lived in then-Palestine. This is an astounding 8.5 times the 700,000 Palestinian refugees alive in the late 1940s.

Worse still, UNRWA is almost totally compromised by terror connections. In particular, its schools teach Palestinian children to hate Israel and become terrorists, effectively acting as a recruitment tool for groups like Hamas. It also allows its facilities to be used for terrorist purposes. These facts have been known for years. Israel and various organizations have continuously pointed them out to the U.N. and the international community, to no avail.

But things are changing. Israel caught at least 12 UNWRA members in the act of aiding Hamas on Oct. 7, including by holding an Israeli hostage. Israel also reportedly has evidence suggesting that 10% of UNWRA employees have terrorist connections. Israel turned the information over to UNWRA leadership along with proof that some UNWRA vehicles and facilities were used by Hamas to commit the Oct. 7 massacre. The intelligence was so damning that UNWRA’s commissioner-general fired nine people, is investigating two others (the twelfth died), and the U.S. and 16 other nations suspended funding pending an investigation.

Finally, the world is asking the question of whether UNWRA is part of the problem rather than the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hamas and its massacre are widely supported by Gaza residents. Nevertheless, more than a few Gazans have recently voiced their unhappiness with Hamas. One recent video showed them chanting, “The people want to topple Hamas.” Palestinian media reported on Gazan complaints about Hamas, such as, “They take most of the aid, and only small amounts reach the distribution centers.”

Will this dissatisfaction gain momentum? It is impossible to say. But in Lebanon, many were angry with Hezbollah for provoking a war with Israel in 2006. That sentiment still exists among Lebanese today. The truth is, most civilians don’t like starving, seeing their children suffer and having their homes blown up on behalf of someone else’s jihadist cause.

Does all this mean that Israel has turned the tide in the ongoing information war? Absolutely not. The cards are stacked far too high against Israel to even dream of taking a victory lap. But recent events demonstrate that the battle has not been lost. This should strengthen our determination to wage the war for truth and gives us the ammunition to do so.

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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