There Should Be More Public Pressure on Hamas

(New York Times) David French - There's a certain misguided logic in focusing most peace efforts on Israel. Israel, unlike Hamas, has demonstrated in years past that it will respond to international pressure. This means that protesting Israel feels less futile than protesting Hamas. I have a different view. World pressure, including pressure from diplomats and from the streets, should focus on Hamas. Demand that it end the war by laying down its arms and freeing the hostages. Public demands for a ceasefire advance the interests of the unlawful aggressor by attempting to block Israel's exercise of its inherent right to self-defense. A ceasefire instead leaves the attacking force in place, able to rest, rearm, and attack again. The absence of military resolve in the face of brutal and aggressive war is dangerous. There is no worse way to undermine the world order than to allow aggressors to prevail. While Hamas wants a cease-fire (which is in its direct military interest), it has also vowed not to stop its long war against Israel. It disregards every single international legal rule or norm. When Hamas attacked Israel, it violated rules against aggressive war. When it intentionally slaughtered civilians and then hid among civilians after the attack, it violated the most basic principles of the law of armed conflict. As a result, Israel has a right under international law to defeat Hamas. Hamas bears the legal responsibility for the civilian deaths that result from its own violations of the laws of war. I don't for a moment believe that defeating Hamas and removing it from power solves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But I do know that placing more pressure on Israel than Hamas to end the conflict and save civilian lives is exactly backward. The international system depends on opposing the aggressor and punishing crimes. Protests that aim their demands more at Israel than Hamas impede justice, erode the international order, and undermine the quest for a real and lasting peace.

2023-11-17 00:00:00

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