In a recent statement, former President Barack Obama has raised concerns about Israel’s tactics in dealing with the Palestinian terror organization Hamas. While initially supporting Israel’s right to defend its citizens against violence and saying Israel should “dismantle” Hamas, the former president is now calling for a more nuanced approach.
“As I stated in an earlier post, Israel has a right to defend its citizens against such wanton violence, and I fully support President Biden’s call for the United States to support our long-time ally in going after Hamas, dismantling its military capabilities, and facilitating the safe return of hundreds of hostages to their families,” Obama stated in a message posted to Medium.
However, Obama emphasized the importance of how Israel conducts its operations against Hamas while acknowledging that Hamas is itself endangering the lives of innocent Palestinians by embedding its military operations within civilian areas.
“But even as we support Israel, we should also be clear that how Israel prosecutes this fight against Hamas matters. In particular, it matters – as President Biden has repeatedly emphasized – that Israel’s military strategy abides by international law, including those laws that seek to avoid, to every extent possible, the death or suffering of civilian populations,” he added.
He went further; “Still, the world is watching closely as events in the region unfold, and any Israeli military strategy that ignores the human costs could ultimately backfire. Already, thousands of Palestinians have been killed in the bombing of Gaza, many of them children. Hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes. The Israeli government’s decision to cut off food, water and electricity to a captive civilian population threatens not only to worsen a growing humanitarian crisis; it could further harden Palestinian attitudes for generations, erode global support for Israel, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, and undermine long term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.”
Headline: Obama Criticizes Israel over Gaza: ‘Don’t Harden Palestinian Attitudes for Generations’
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Obama’s comments come as Israel has built up its military presence along the Gaza border in response to an unprecedented attack carried out by Hamas on Oct. 7 that left over 1,400 people dead. As it prepares for a possible ground invasion into the territory, Israel has cut off food, water, medicine, fuel and electricity supplies to Gaza, which has a population of over 2 million.
While Obama’s statement does not lack length, he ignored Israel’s longstanding commitment to upholding human rights and international humanitarian law in its fight against terrorist enemies such as Hamas. Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz has praised the nation’s human rights record, stating, “No other country facing similar threats maintains as strong a commitment to human rights as Israel.”
Furthermore, experts have stated that a siege of Gaza could be deemed lawful under international law.