Home World Netanyahu is weakening Israel one strike at a time – Chicago Tribune

Netanyahu is weakening Israel one strike at a time – Chicago Tribune


In an airstrike last Monday in Syria, Israel’s military displayed the kind of pinpoint accuracy for which the Israeli Defense Force is both known and feared. The IDF’s precision strike hit the Iranian embassy complex on a busy Damascus street, where it was surrounded on all sides by occupied buildings. The strike targeted and killed senior Iranian military commanders and Palestinian militants expressly identified in advance, yet despite the congested area, no civilians were killed.

A few hours later, that same “precision” military accidentally killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers who had just delivered and unloaded tons of food meant for desperate Palestinians. Killed along an open road in a deconflicted zone under IDF control in Gaza, the workers had done everything right: They coordinated with IDF to make sure the workers’ planned route and schedule were known, and they drove together in a highly visible, white caravan of vehicles clearly identified by a large World Central Kitchen logo on the rooftop.

There were logistical differences between the two airstrikes. The strike in Syria reflected highly coordinated intelligence efforts and targeted a well-known, stationary building in broad daylight. The kitchen workers, in contrast, were misidentified in a triple drone strike and killed at night, as they drove along a dark road.

These incidents come amid the growing international outcry over the number of Palestinians killed by Israel in response to Hamas’ October attack — a death toll that officials now put at 33,494. The World Central Kitchen disaster cranked the dial under a slow-boiling and pre-existing suspicion that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing cabinet are indifferent to the lives of Palestinians. It also increased fire under President Biden to put his money where his concerned mouth is, leading him to warn Netanyahu on Friday that U.S. aid may stop absent stronger protections for Palestinian civilians.

International law requires proportional response

Nearly 200 aid workers have been killed since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, including local Palestinians who worked as United Nations employees. Military analysts say the World Central Kitchen debacle was the predictable outcome of Israel’s shoot-first style of engagement, a tactic Israel has employed since the Hamas attacks.

The U.S., Israel, and all signatories to the Geneva Convention adhere to the principle of proportionality, which seeks to limit civilian casualties during acts of war.

Proportionality requires that the means and methods of warfare must not be disproportionate to the military advantage sought. International Humanitarian Law seeks to spare those who have not participated in hostilities and to restrict violence to the amount necessary to achieve the aim of the conflict, which can only be to weaken the military potential of the enemy.

Israel’s right to defend itself against the Neanderthalic brutality of Hamas, which exists to destroy Israel, is not in question. The problem is that determinations of proportionality will always be subjective, depending on the perceived strengths and strategies of the enemy. To illustrate, if someone intentionally stomps on your foot, you don’t pull a gun and shoot. But if you have reason to believe they will come back at night to murder your family, you aim to kill.

The number of Palestinian casualties is hard to defend. Even under the vengeful justice of an eye for an eye, killing 34,000 Palestinians to redress the slaughter of 1,200 Israelis appears excessive.

Netanyahu is to Israel what Trump is to the U.S.

Some world leaders have begun accusing Israel of genocide. As the world increasingly turns against Israel for violating international law, Netanyahu and his cabinet present an existential threat to Israel’s existence. Nothing will put a more visible target on innocent Jewish people than continuing to commit heinous crimes in their name.

The American parallels are obvious. Netanyahu, like Donald Trump, is facing legal troubles including corruption and fraud charges. Netanyahu’s aggressive tactics in “othering” Palestinians, like Trump’s attacks on immigrants, suggests he is using the war in Gaza to stay out of jail and remain in power. Like Trump, Netanyahu is willing to sacrifice his country for his own benefit. Like Trump with NATO, Netanyahu has alienated his best allies, diminished his country’s reputation, and created more enemies for his people.

Netanyahu makes it difficult to separate innocent Israelis from their cruel government; the resulting rise in antisemitism is both heartbreaking and unfair.
Blaming Israel for Netanyahu is like blaming all Americans for Trump, even though over half the country detests him and wants him prosecuted.

Every time the IDF kills innocent civilians, global support for Israel weakens. The situation is untenable for both innocent Palestinians and innocent Israelis. Hamas would not win a bullets-for-bullets war against Israel, but they are winning the propaganda war with Netanyahu’s help, and destabilizing Israel’s strongest ally in the process.

Given recent polls, mounting deaths in Gaza may alienate enough Democratic voters to put Trump back in office. If that happens, Netanyahu will celebrate by extending Jewish settlements to the Mediterranean Sea, and Palestinian cries of sorrow will fade by attrition.

Sabrina Haake is a Chicago attorney and Gary resident. She writes the Substack newsletter The Haake Take.

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