Battle for al-Shifa Underway as Biden Administration Starts Blinkin'

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Serious times used to produce serious leaders. For the moment, however, we seem to be experiencing the opposite — leaders that current events not only outmatch but outright humiliate. Two years ago, Americans saw that happen in real time when Joe Biden abandoned thousands of Americans in Afghanistan to the Taliban by botching an already ill-advised withdrawal and betraying a government we built over the course of twenty years.


That thoroughly disgraceful episode has already produced echoes in the current Middle East crisis. Despite a strong start in supporting Israel after Hamas kicked off a full-scale war on October 7, the Biden administration has increasingly sought a way to betray another ally in wartime. The sotto voce attempts to yank a leash on Israel in its effort to destroy Hamas have become more overt in the last few days, and Antony Blinken provided even more blinking late yesterday:

The top U.S. diplomat shared his assessment amid signs of a potential rift with Israel over its continuation of the war.

“Much more needs to be done to protect civilians and to make sure that humanitarian assistance reaches them,” Blinken told reporters in India, where he wrapped up a nine-day diplomatic tour of the Middle East and Asia on Friday.

“Far too many Palestinians have been killed, far too many have suffered these past weeks, and we want to do everything possible to prevent harm to them and to maximize the assistance that gets to them,” Blinken continued.

This is a ludicrous position to take, especially given the efforts of the IDF to keep evacuating civilians while under fire from Hamas. It plays directly into the hands of Hamas too, by validating and incentivizing their human-shield strategies in Gaza, both with Palestinians and the hostages. Israel waited three weeks to launch a ground invasion of Gaza and warned all throughout that time for civilians to evacuate. Whether they balked of their own accord or because Hamas holds them hostage, their deaths on the battlefield are the responsibility of Hamas, not Israel, especially as the clear aggressor in the war.


To even consider otherwise would endorse the formula that Douglas Murray ridiculed in his interview by Piers Morgan this week:

“If you just follow the logic of what Barack Obama said,” Murray scoffs, “then you just shouldn’t do anything, if you’re Israel. You should just be attacked, and sit back and say Great, we’ll wait for the next one.”

It’s also based on absurd and completely ahistorical application of the doctrine of proportionality, which is also based on a deliberate obfuscation: “collective punishment.” We hear a lot of complaints about “collective punishment” by Israel of the Gazans, but that is a lie. That would apply if Israel still occupied Gaza, but they haven’t occupied it since 2005. This is not “collective punishment,” therefore — it is war, one started by the party recognized as the government of Gaza against Israel. Once started, the offended party has the right to see the war to a conclusion of victory either by feat of arms or the capitulation of its enemies in the field.

In no other war other than those involving Israel did the world impose a standard of civilian-death “proportionality,” because that standard would be absurd and does not exist. Did the US stop attacking the Taliban when the death toll in Afghanistan exceed the estimated 3,000 Americans who died on 9/11, for instance? Of course not, and no one called the war on Nazi Germany “collective punishment” on Germans either — and the Allies carpet-bombed Germany for years before ground troops utterly vanquished the Nazis.


Proportionality relates to the necessity of judging the gains of a military operation against the potential collateral loss of life among civilians and in making all practical efforts to limit the latter. It most certainly is not an equation of casualties. The IDF has always operated on the properly defined basis of proportionality and punished commanders who do not. It is beyond absurd, and arguably outright malevolent, to apply the casualty-equation standard to Israel in a war started in this manner. That’s especially true when based on the number of civilian deaths as reported by Hamas, a terrorist group that uses those numbers for its propaganda and includes its own operatives among those numbers too.

All of this matters because the IDF has finally arrived at Hamas HQ in Gaza City, also known as al-Shifa Hospital. It has been no secret that Hamas installed its central command in a hospital to use it as a shield against the IDF. Reporters have known that for a decade or more, although they don’t often reveal it. The Washington Post did in an opinion column in 2014, however, about the same time that Tablet Magazine blasted the mainstream media for covering it up during the last Hamas-Israel ground war.

This time the IDF means business, whether Blinken likes it or not:

Fierce fighting continued in and around Gaza City between Israel Defense Forces troops and armed gunmen on Saturday, as the military closed in on Shifa Hospital, where Israel believes Hamas’s main headquarters to be located.

Live footage of the area appeared to show heavy fighting in the vicinity of the hospital, with the constant sounds of gunfire and explosions and heavy smoke rising from the area.

Israel has presented evidence in recent weeks that Hamas’s main command center is located underneath Shifa and accused the terror group of using the hospital and its occupants — with 1,500 beds and some 4,000 staff — as human shields for the elaborate bunkers and tunnels beneath it.

Thousands of civilians had been sheltering in the Shifa compound in recent weeks, but many fled Friday as Israeli troops closed in and the IDF expanded access to safe evacuation routes to the south, where there are fewer airstrikes.


When the IDF assaults Hamas HQ, the terrorist group’s use of the hospital and their refusal to allow civilians to leave will undoubtedly create a large number of civilian casualties. That apparently has the Biden administration quailing, in large part because of their domestic political situation but also because of their pusillanimity. However, the destruction of Hamas’ main command and control center is clearly a legitimate military target and is obviously necessary for Israel’s peace and security (especially after 10/7), two conditions on which legitimate proportionality is based.

Furthermore, Israel has warned for at least three weeks of their intent to target and destroy Hamas’ main HQ, and they have attempted to set up corridors for civilians to escape that battle. And even more pointedly, the IDF has eschewed the easiest path for that destruction: ‘bunker buster’ bombs deployed by air to destroy the entire complex and literally bury Hamas command for good. Instead, Israel has chosen the much riskier ‘surgical’ approach using infantry and armor, one that will produce a significant number of casualties for the IDF.

Blinken’s bleatings are the product of a deeply unserious mind, and even worse, a lack of heart, courage, and loyalty. The US should stand with its ally in war, not undermine it with false doctrines and shabby lies about their actions.

What about on the home front? The second time around, history is repeating as farce, especially in this clip from Kamala Harris yesterday. In the face of sweeping and violent anti-Semitism and pro-Hamas rioting, Harris took the opportunity to say nothing at all while wasting oxygen in the process. We did get to learn, however, another use for the Left’s favorite term non-binary:


If you can’t condemn anti-Semitism without flogging the old canard about Americans and “Islamophobia,” you don’t belong in public office. In fact, maybe you should keep your mouth shut and just be thought a fool, rather than opening it and removing all doubt.

But this has been a long post, and I want to leave you with a sunnier exit than that. Last night, MSNBC national-security analyst Malcolm Nance castigated his followers and proclaimed a lot more vigor and courage than the Biden administration has collectively demonstrated since about October 10. Point 7 was good enough to convince me to follow Nance. Click through and read it all.

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