USIEA’s Stance on the Israel-Hamas
War and Hostage Situation
Israel and the free world are facing an unprecedented crisis that requires clear thinking, moral clarity, and perseverance to succeed.
On October 7th, 2023, Hamas launched a brazen, barbaric attack against the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Hamas brutally murdered more than 1,200 men, women, and children through butchery, rape, burning, and indiscriminate firing. Two hundred forty hostages were taken to Gaza, including corpses, to be ransomed in a future deal for the return of terrorists in Israeli prisons.
Hamas is an evil entity that must be completely eradicated from any position of power and authority in Gaza and around the world. Otherwise, this terrorist organization will continue its quest to exterminate Israel “from the river to the sea.”
The United States must stand firmly behind Israel as it navigates the challenges of fighting against a vicious enemy that intentionally operates from within civilian infrastructure and population centers. The American posture should be one of unequivocal support while refraining from counterproductive interference.
This means the United States should provide Israel with weapons, including precision-guided munitions, 155mm artillery shells, rifles, and small caliber ammunition as the IDF seeks to limit collateral damage to the civilian population in Gaza.
On October 31, 2023, the U.S. approved a $320 million sale of precision-guided munitions to Israel, on top of a previous sale for the same equipment that was valued at almost $403 million. Precision-guided munitions will have less damage to surrounding areas and civilian casualties than traditional bombs, though they are more costly, hence the need for U.S. support.
The U.S. also granted Israel’s request for 155mm artillery shells, despite controversial views regarding this weaponry. These shells have also been destined for Ukraine in their relief efforts. Israel’s desire to backfill its depleted U.S. emergency stocks outweighed concerns around use in densely populated areas.
The rifles and other small-caliber ammunition are just as important to the war efforts against Hamas. Throughout its history, Israel has demonstrated a commitment to preserving life during battle. The current war against Hamas is no different. In reality, Israel has set new standards in terms of the low ratio of noncombatant casualties. According to Yaakov Katz, former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, the total munitions fired in such a densely populated area would have resulted in far more deaths than what has been claimed if Israel had not made a significant effort to minimize civilian casualties.
According to Fox News, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have used artificial intelligence (AI) to improve targeting of Hamas operators and facilities as its military faces criticism for collateral damage and civilian casualties. Mark Montgomery, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation, says that AI tools can help in target identification, expediting target review, and approvals to make the whole targeting process more agile and executable.
The United States must also stand firmly with Israel diplomatically, pushing back against antisemitic and genocidal regimes that seek to punish Israel through international bodies for defending their people. The U.S. can and should cut off funding to any United Nations (U.N.) entity that is supporting biased attacks on Israel, including those declaring the Western Wall a non-Jewish historical site, using textbooks that promote hatred against Jews, and maintaining a permanent agenda item on Israel. In addition, the US should require them to reform their agendas and operations before any more U.S. taxpayer dollars are provided to those identified organizations. Equally important, the U.S. needs to urge allied countries to withhold their funding as well. Cutting off these funds will hit anti-Israel groups where it hurts so that they feel the effects of their grotesque narratives.
While we all desire an end to this war, a ceasefire before Israel’s objectives have been completed will only lead to greater conflict in the future. The week-long truce between Israel and Hamas did not lead to any resolution. Instead, the United States government should provide Israel with full support as it navigates this unprecedented hostage situation. In practice, “full support” means providing unconditional aid to Israel, vetoing any U.N. resolutions that target Israel, listening to Israel’s needs, and working to ensure involved parties (U.N., Gulf, etc.) understand these needs are non-negotiable.
If Israel decides future temporary ceasefires are merited for humanitarian reasons, the U.S. government should provide the diplomatic support to make it happen. However, the U.S. government must not push Israel into a deal that is not in the best interest of Israel. Rather than focusing on short-term political considerations, the U.S. needs to remain focused on long-term security interests in the region. This is best understood by focusing on the clear objectives the Israeli government has expressed: eliminate Hamas’ capability to govern Gaza and threaten Israel, recover/rescue all hostages, and bring calm to the Gaza envelope communities.
While providing military and diplomatic support, the United States should simultaneously organize a global effort to house Gazan refugees in neighboring countries until the war is over. For example, Gazans could be housed in North Sinai or other neighboring Arab countries – including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar. That said, it would be an exorbitant security risk to allow Gazans into Israeli territory when the depth of Hamas penetration into the civilian population is unknown. Therefore, the Negev desert is not an option for relocation. Further, Israel would have to limit any movement from the temporary camps which would be political fodder to Israel’s enemies.
Additionally, the U.S. government needs to make clear to countries currently harboring Hamas leaders, including Qatar, that they must choose a side. Either they join the free world that seeks to work together for the common good or with the axis of resistance led by Iran that seeks mayhem and destruction.
If these countries choose to continue harboring U.S. and U.N.-designated terrorists, the U.S. should respond by decreasing diplomatic relations with these countries. That means seeking a way to extricate Turkey from the NATO alliance and moving our US Central Command (CENTCOM) from the al-Udeid airbase in Qatar to a neighboring country, like Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates, that does not provide direct and indirect support to Hamas and other terrorist organizations.
It must be understood that the problem of the civilian population in southern Gaza is not an Israeli problem but a global issue. The U.S. and global community must work together to resolve it and allow Israel the time needed to eradicate Hamas. Otherwise, the war will end prematurely and Israel will lose. We do not need solutions for tomorrow until we have a better understanding of what tomorrow will look like.
With that being said, right now we must not waste oxygen on “solutions” that are non-starters in Israel. For example, any discussions about the Palestinian Authority governing Gaza have already been outright rejected, and the experiment has failed in both Gaza (where Hamas took over through a coup) and the West Bank where Israeli forces have been discovering tunnels and weapons storage throughout the areas supposedly governed by the Palestinian Authority.
If, and when, Israel wins the war against Hamas, there will still be a significant rebuilding period, both physically and psychologically. The U.S. needs to stand by its close ally and be ready to help the only functional democracy in the Middle East. By building upon the strength of the Abraham Accords, the U.S. can build a coalition of countries to help move the region forward in a positive, secure manner.
“Never again” is now and Israel has the right to exist and an obligation to protect itself.
Am Yisrael Chai!
Since October 7th, the U.S. Israel Education Association (USIEA) has mobilized to educate over 60 members of Congress with timely information that is not offered elsewhere. USIEA has also been represented at local town hall meetings, events with Jewish organizations, and the March for Israel in Washington, DC. USIEA is the first nonprofit to pioneer privately sponsored bipartisan Congressional tours through the West Bank, offering Members of Congress firsthand experience to better inform their policy decisions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. USIEA has led seven Congressional tours to Israel and the West Bank, and is currently planning the next trip for Spring 2024.