As Israel responds to the barbaric attacks by Hamas on innocent civilians on October 7, 2023, their reactions seem characterized by a hot-blooded desire for vengeance, and not by cool-headed strategic thinking.
They seem to be falling into a strategic trap that may have been cleverly laid by Iran, with the goal of killing and reversing any rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Arab states.
The very barbarism of the attacks by Hamas appears to have been designed to provoke a blind rage on the part of the Israelis, and blind actions aimed at securing vengeance.
By laying siege to the Gaza Strip, cutting off food, water, electricity and other supplies, Israel appears to be violating the most fundamental norms of international humanitarian law, also known as the law of war or the laws of war.
Falling into a trap that may have been set by Iran, Israel is responding to the barbarism of Hamas with what appears to be a strategy that entails the commission of war crimes.
Important consequences, perhaps opaque to the hot-headed warriors demanding vengeance, are likely to follow.
First, it may in the future become hard for Israeli soldiers and officials to travel to any of the 123 countries which are parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Israeli leaders could be indicted by the ICC, in the same way that Vladimir Putin has been indicted. Individual countries, exercising what is known as “universal jurisdiction” could also bring proceedings in their own courts.
Second, the Israelis may, by the commission of actions such as imposing a siege on the Gaza Strip and conducting widespread bombing killing and injuring civilians beyond the limits of the principle of “proportionality” which is part of international humanitarian law, be creating future generations of terrorists and other enemies of Israel throughout the Arab world.
Finally, Israeli overreactions, as they blindly fall or jump into the apparent Iranian trap, may set back for generations any prospects of closer ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and otherArab states.
In short, if Israel overreacts and commits war crimes in response to Hamas’ barbarous attacks, it may simply be contributing to the success of Iran’s strategic plan.
So, the best advice for our Israeli friends, for whom we have the greatest sympathy and understanding of their pain, may simply be:
SLOW DOWN AND THINK
The Trenchant Observer