Restraining Disorder

“The brutality of Hamas, this bloodthirstiness, brings to mind the worst rampages of ISIS … Stomach-turning reports of babies being killed; entire families slain; young people massacred while attending a musical festival to celebrate peace; women raped, assaulted, paraded as trophies. In this moment it must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel … Our hearts may be broken but our resolve is clear.” So said Joe Biden is a statement of strong support for Israel. One word common in such speeches that was missing from Tuesday’s: Restraint. Why? In part because 22 Americans are now listed among the dead and in part because Biden has seen the images of the massacres that included the murder of whole families, rapes, beheadings, and mutilations of children and even babies. Of course, it comes as no surprise to Hamas that Israel will be unrestrained in its response. They didn’t think this attack would result in the re-opening of peace talks. It’s about killing. We can expect a lot more fighting, a lot more brutality, and lot more losses of life. Sadly, a majority of the deaths will be innocent civilians.

+ My sister has lived in Israel for decades and spent her entire adult life working for peace in the region. The missiles flying over her shelter didn’t care about that. War is indiscriminate. Terrorism even more so. An American mom, 67, spent her life advocating for Palestinian rights. Then, Hamas came for her.

+ In WaPo (Gift Article) Yuval Noah Harari does an excellent job of explaining why no quarter can be given to those who committed the vile attacks over the weekend, but also provides some of the reasons why Israel, through policies and security failures, was left vulnerable. Some of the reasons why will sound all too familiar to Americans. The Hamas horror is also a lesson on the price of populism. “For many years, Israel has been governed by a populist strongman, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a public-relations genius but an incompetent prime minister. He has repeatedly preferred his personal interests over the national interest and has built his career on dividing the nation against itself. He has appointed people to key positions based on loyalty more than qualifications, took credit for every success while never taking responsibility for failures, and seemed to give little importance to either telling or hearing the truth. The coalition Netanyahu established in December 2022 has been by far the worst. It is an alliance of messianic zealots and shameless opportunists, who ignored Israel’s many problems — including the deteriorating security situation — and focused instead on grabbing unlimited power for themselves.” (Netanyahu was defending himself, not his country. You know the type.)

+ So far, US intelligence suggests Iran was surprised by the Hamas attack on Israel. Seems hard to believe the timing of this attack was unrelated to the peace negotiations between Israel and the Saudis. This from Tom Friedman in the NYT (Gift Article) is worth a read. “I believe one reason Hamas not only launched this assault now — but also seemingly ordered it to be as murderous as possible — was to trigger an Israeli overreaction, like an invasion of the Gaza Strip, that would lead to massive Palestinian civilian casualties and in that way force Saudi Arabia to back away from the U.S.-brokered deal now in discussion to promote normalization between Riyadh and the Jewish state.” Israel Has Never Needed to Be Smarter Than in This Moment.

+ As power gets cut off to Gaza, hospitals there are at risk of turning into morgues. NYT: Gaza’s largest hospital says it is running out of the fuel it needs to operate.

+ As I mentioned earlier, the politics of the story are easier to consider than the human element. Nowhere is that more true than when it comes to the hostages and children on both sides. The ‘horrendous toll’ on children caught in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

+ Sadly, we can expect things to get worse. The are reports of a new front opening as attacks are coming from Lebanon, Israel has formed a unity government, Gaza’s main power plant has run out of fuel, a ground invasion of Gaza looks imminent. Here’s the latest from CNN, AP, and BBC.

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