After the Hamas massacre of over 1,000 Israeli men, women and children, President Biden and members of his administration appeared to be saying all the right things about the attack.
In reality, the Biden administration tied down the Israeli response, making airstrikes less effective, delaying a ground assault, resupplying Hamas and slowing down military aid to Israel. Its intervention has made Israel less likely to destroy Hamas and more likely to lose lives.
There was always a great difference between Biden’s public and private response.
Biden and administration officials began pressuring Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli officials to avoid civilian casualties almost right after the Hamas attacks. Warnings that were initially relayed in phone conversations were leaked to the media. And shortly after they became public warnings. During his speech, three days after the attacks, Biden introduced the emphasis on following the “laws of war” that everyone in his administration would echo.
Administration officials took up the theme with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin lecturing Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on “the importance of adhering to the law of war, including civilian protection obligations, and addressing the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”
Avoiding civilian casualties while fighting terrorists whose defensive strategy is hiding behind civilians and embedding their infrastructure around mosques, schools and hospitals is impossible. But as a result of Biden’s pressure campaign, Israel issued more warnings, allowing civilians, but also Hamas terrorists, to abandon areas and infrastructure they knew were targets.
But that still wasn’t good enough.
In his remarks in Israel and his prime time speech to the nation, Biden scolded that “when America experienced the hell of 9/11, we felt enraged as well. While we sought and got justice, we made mistakes. So, I cautioned the government of Israel not to be blinded by rage.”
The Biden administration returned to this theme of Israel as dangerous, lashing out with rage and prone to killing innocent people unless it was prevented from doing so by Washington D.C. Biden had not lectured Ukraine about not being blinded by rage, but Israel was another matter.
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson limited the administration’s support to “necessary and proportionate action to defend its country and protect its people”. What the “proportionate” response to mass murder, torture, rape and beheading was, went unmentioned.
Publicly, Biden’s trip to Israel was hailed as a show of support, but officials suggested to the media that it was seen as the only way to apply pressure to the Israeli government in person.
Biden’s conditions for the trip included Israel ending its ‘siege’ of Gaza, demanding that Israel continue to supply power and water, as well as allow convoys into the Hamas territory even while Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer admitted to CNN that there was no way to stop Hamas from making use of them. $100 million in aid to Gaza was promised by the Biden administration and its proposed aid package of $9 billion to Israel includes $9 billion in aid which can be utilized for the ‘Palestinians’. This ended Israel’s efforts to cut off supplies to Hamas.
The Biden trip was also contingent on Israel delaying its ground assault on Hamas originally planned for that week. Once Biden visited Israel, the ground assault was further delayed under pressure from the Biden administration which demanded that Israel first allow in aid convoys and give it time to properly secure American diplomatic facilities in the region.
Hamas was able to resupply through the aid convoys, but Israeli soldiers still couldn’t go in.
300,000 Israeli soldiers have been mobilized in a nation of 7 million. Ordinary people have closed their businesses, canceled their plans and collapsed the economy.
Hamas is using this time to prepare more booby traps and a defense strategy for block by block fighting in Gaza City. Israel’s efforts to convince Gazans to leave were meant to prepare the ground for an assault. The longer a ground attack is delayed, the more soldiers will die.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had sought to carry out a first strike to decimate Hezbollah’s massive arsenal of rockets in Lebanon, but the Biden administration had vetoed that on the grounds that it would escalate the conflict and instead offered to deploy two aircraft carriers to potentially dissuade a Hezbollah campaign while limiting the fighting to Hamas.
Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terror group that controls Lebanon, instead has waged a lower-intensity conflict with Israel, killing soldiers and civilians, while threatening a larger one.
The ground assault on Hamas in Gaza continues to be postponed. The Biden administration has demanded that Israel have humanitarian plans fully implemented and a post-Hamas governance model in place before Israel can really send ground troops into Gaza.
But, as days pass, the population is trickling back in, which will mean far more civilian casualties. The Biden administration’s obsession with delaying an assault to wait for humanitarian aid would mean far more dead people if a full ground attack takes place. It would have saved more lives to quickly remove Hamas and provide aid than the other way around.
Seeing that the Biden administration had been effective in crippling Israel’s military response, Hamas began releasing a trickle of hostages to further slow down the Israeli operation. The Biden administration and the European Union have come out against a ground assault, now believing that diplomacy can free the hostages from Hamas. All that does is demonstrate to Hamas that having hostages is leverage that can be used to get Biden to stop an Israeli attack.
The hostages weren’t actually ‘hostages’ until Washington D.C. and Brussels made them so by blocking an Israeli ground assault on Hamas. Meanwhile Iran’s Shiite backed militias in Iraq and its Islamist allies around the Middle East began attacking and threatening American targets. The Biden administration once again gave in to the hostage situation by asking Israel to hold off its operation until it has managed to further secure American facilities. Why were these facilities not secured after Benghazi, the attacks on other diplomatic facilities on that same day, and years of rocket attacks by Iran’s militias on American facilities in Iraq, and what more can be done to secure them now? And how long will the process of securing them take? Who knows.
What is clear is that Biden demonstrated that Iran can take American facilities hostage across the region to force Washington D.C. to restrain Israel from destroying its terrorist organizations.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.
Biden chose to tie $9 billion in military resupply to Israel to a $106 billion package of which $61 billion will go to Ukraine and another $14 billion to processing border invaders more rapidly. This had the intended effect of drastically slowing down aid to Israel while creating a crisis with House Republicans who question further aid to Ukraine and oppose Biden’s border policies.
By making Israel’s military resupply dependent on a much larger Ukraine aid package, Biden reinforced the primacy of the Ukraine war over Israel’s campaign against Hamas. While Biden has repeatedly scolded Israel about following the laws of war, no such criticism has been directed toward Ukraine even when sending cluster munitions and other controversial weapons.
Rather than providing military resupply to Israel as quickly as possible, Biden had taken it hostage for political profit, trying to turn pro-Israel voters against House Republicans. It’s a win-win strategy for the Biden administration which for once can position itself on the pro-Israel side of an issue while slowing down aid to Israel in order to delay its military response.
Biden’s rhetoric after the Hamas attack won praise, even from some Republicans, but his policies don’t match his words. While he spoke of backing an Israeli military campaign against Hamas, what his administration actually did was to cripple it. The warnings about civilian casualties encouraged Hamas to hide behind women and children while making Israeli air strikes less effective. The constant delays imposed on a ground operation in Gaza may scuttle it altogether or make it longer and more costly in the lives of Israeli soldiers.
Hamas hostage taking was rewarded and if real fighting with Hezbollah breaks out, the lack of a first strike may prove to be an even more catastrophic disaster than the original Hamas attacks.
Finally, Biden promised rapid aid and instead turned it into a political game with Republicans to extract $61 billion for Ukraine and score some political points ahead of the 2024 election.
The Israeli government has tried to accommodate the Biden administration, but making its military response dependent on support from Washington D.C. will work out the same way that all past concessions, including those which allowed Hamas to win elections in 2006 and seize control of Gaza in 2007, have, leaving Israel with neither political support nor tactical options.
The greatest level of political support for a campaign against Hamas came right after the initial massacres. As time passes and the media barrages the public with Hamas propaganda like the hospital hoax, that support is disappearing and whatever support the Biden administration is promising will go with it.
Biden will take the admiring newspaper columns in Jewish weeklies and the ‘thank you’ letters sent to the White House, and tell Israel that it needs to wrap up its operation in a week or two. No matter how much Israel struggles to avoid killing civilians and how much aid it allows inside, his administration’s spokesmen will still blame civilian casualties and the “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza for the withdrawal of support. And many American Jews will side with Biden.
The Israeli government is waiting around for a level of political support that will never come. It has learned nothing from the failure of past concessions. It is always easier for an administration to sell out Israel than to stand up to Muslim countries and the American Left.
If the Netanyahu government is to fulfill its promise of ending Hamas rule in Gaza, it will have to act sooner rather than later. And it will have to go ahead without Biden’s approval. If it does not, Hamas will remain in power and the politicians will build a bigger wall and rationalize that this time they will make sure that the Islamic terrorists don’t get through it.
Listening to the Biden administration won’t defeat Hamas: it will allow it to survive. And that injustice will disgrace the memory of the dead and threaten the survival of the Jewish State.