Former President Barack Obama expressed a change in his stance on Israel’s actions against the Palestinian organization, Hamas. While he initially advocated for Israel to “dismantle” Hamas, he has now criticized the Israeli government for the way it is pursuing this objective.
President Obama began his statement by reaffirming Israel’s right to defend its citizens against violence, showing support for President Biden’s call to assist Israel in going after Hamas and dismantling its military capabilities. However, he emphasized that the strategy employed in this fight is of great importance, as the world closely monitors the situation in the region.
In a statement, Obama wrote:
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.
But even as we support Israel, we should also be clear that how Israel prosecutes this fight against Hamas matters.
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.
Obama raised concerns about the human costs of the Israeli military campaign against Hamas. He cited the significant number of casualties among Palestinians, including many children, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. He also criticized the Israeli government’s decision to cut off essential supplies such as food, water, and electricity to the civilian population in Gaza. The former president argued that these actions could exacerbate a growing humanitarian crisis, potentially harden Palestinian attitudes for generations, erode global support for Israel, and play into the hands of Israel’s enemies. He also expressed concerns about the impact on long-term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.
Obama acknowledged that a siege of Gaza could be considered lawful under international law, citing an expert’s opinion and pointing out that Gaza only receives a small percentage of its water from Israel.
In his statement, President Obama’s criticism of Israel’s actions was contrasted with Israel’s overall record in upholding human rights and international humanitarian law. He cited Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, who stated that Israel has one of the best human rights records globally, especially considering the internal and external threats it faces.