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Israel Situation Update, Nov 16th
Updates, perspectives, predictions
Israeli military has stormed Al Shifa hospital where Hamas’ underground base is reportedly headquartered
The IDF has stated the operation will be confined to a limited area of the hospital
650 patients, 650 medical staff, and between 5000-7000 civilians are reportedly inside the hospital
UN says premature babies and other patients have died at Shifa due to power outages that began on November 11th
Israeli military has stated, “We can confirm that incubators, baby food and medical supplies brought by IDF tanks from Israel have successfully reached the Shifa hospital. Our medical teams and Arabic speaking soldiers are on the ground to ensure that these supplies reach those in need,”
The IDF has reported finding weapons in the Shifa hospital’s MRI center. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry calls these claims fabricated.
The IDF releases footage of weapons found at Shifa
White House National Security Council Spox John Kirby says headquartering inside a hospital is violation of the law of war
The IDF reports Hamas military uniforms were found in the hospital, suggesting that members changed into civilian clothes to evade detection
Saudi Arabia condemns IDF’s Shifa operation
World Health Organization chief says storming of Shifa “totally unacceptable”
Belize suspends diplomatic relations with Israel, adding to the growing list of Central and South American nations cutting ties with Israel
CNN publishes inside look at one of many hospitals used by Hamas
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says “From the river to the sea” chant is genocidal
Nearly 300,000 people march in support of Israel in DC
Turkey’s Erdogan accuses Israel of “fascism.” Germany’s Chancellor calls Erdogan’s accusation absurd
UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese says Israel has no right to self-defense under international law
Netanyahu has stated about the future of Gaza, “What we have to see is Gaza demilitarized, deradicalized and rebuilt,” saying further, “We don’t seek to conquer Gaza. We don’t seek to occupy Gaza. And we don’t seek to govern Gaza.”
The IDF gains control of Gaza’s police headquarters, parliamentary building in Gaza City, and port:
The IDF gains control over Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza, reports finding weapons and explosives
Gaza death toll has passed 11,100
52 attacks on U.S. Middle Eastern forces have occurred since October 17th, at least 56 soldiers have been injured:
Three Palestinian terrorists open fire on civilians in area south of Jerusalem, with five people wounded and at least one in critical condition. The gunmen have now been killed by Israeli police
Hamas says the organization is willing to release at least 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for a 3-5 day ceasefire and humanitarian aid
Israeli finance minister says voluntary relocation of Gaza’s citizens is “the humanitarian solution”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez demands immediate ceasefire in Gaza, says he’s working in Spain and Europe to recognize the Palestinian state
Iran’s supreme leader reportedly told Hamas that they gave no warning of the October 7th attack and will not enter the war on their behalf
UK parliament votes against calling for a ceasefire in Gaza
68% of American respondents in Reuters/Ipsos poll say Israel should call for a ceasefire, indicating steep loss of support from American public
The House offices in DC locked down and lawmakers evacuated due to intense pro-Palestinian demonstrations
Pro-Palestinian rioters clash with metro police outside of DNC headquarters in Washington, with multiple officers injured
UN Security Council approves draft resolution for a humanitarian pause in Gaza
IDF death toll has risen to 50 soldiers
The IDF continues to strike Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, Hezbollah says more than 70 soldiers killed
Israel’s Channel 13 reports the IDF believes war with Hezbollah is inevitable
October 7th death toll revised down to 1,200 from 1,400, with dead Hamas members dressed as civilians inflating the numbers
Nearly 200,000 people in France march in support of Israel
Hamas forbade Shifa hospital from accepting fuel from IDF for PR reasons
Germany’s Interior Minister announces multiple raids on pro-Hezbollah group within country, saying Germany will not tolerate sentiments hostile to Jews and Israel
IDF reports over 200,000 Gazans have been safely evacuated south through humanitarian corridor
Pro-Palestinian rally on Armistice Day in London saw turnout of 300,000 people
Ireland’s Sinn Fein leader says the Irish government must take Israel to international criminal court over actions in Gaza
Anti-semitism on university campuses is still going strong. We’ve recently seen MIT students chant “globalize the intifada,” an Arabic word meaning a violent uprising against Israel. We’ve seen dozens of student organizations at Columbia form a coalition to prompt the university to divest “all economic and academic stakes in Israeli apartheid.” And now the Harvard faculty has written a letter to Harvard’s president saying that characterizing Israel as an apartheid state is not anti-semitic, that the “from the river to the sea” pro-palestinian chant is not actually eliminationist, and more. There’s a certain thought I’ve been sitting on today, which is that maybe somewhere around half to three-quarters of all people are shit-testers. They’ll prod you and poke you and see what you’re made of, the same way a hungry bear in the woods would. Like the hungry bear, these people want to devour you. The bear doesn’t want to just survive, at least that’s not all it wants. It wants to know that it sits atop all ladders of life it finds on its perambulations across the forest floor. If you’re encountered by such a creature, the usual advice takes this motive into consideration. He’ll begin to test you, and we’re told to make ourselves very big, like an apex predator, and very loud, like a clap of thunder or a roaring torrent. We pretend to be bigger and badder than we are, and the bear reasons out that a horrible monster like ourselves, arms waving, voice raised to heaven, is probably a much worse monster than himself, higher on the monster hierarchy than himself. The bear is a shit-tester. A lot of people are the same way. If you let them, they’ll prod you and poke you until they feel they have license to pull your skin right off. American Jews are facing enormous pressure from these people, and they’ll continue to escalate the situation until the Jewish community either caves or shows its glinting teeth. Of course the Jewish community isn’t the only community facing the same situation as Jonah, who also found himself before a yawning maw. Wokism is a civilization-wide shit-test that targets almost all successful groups of people. But today, Jews have become a special target, partly because the United States has imported decades-old ethnic conflicts from the Middle East to its own shores, and partly because a lot of people are resentful of the overwhelming success of this community. If the Jewish community stands up and simply says enough, with a shout, I’m sure these people would run away with a whimper.
Gaza’s support for terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens has had between 60-70% of public support for years. Calls for a two-state solution aren’t serious if they don’t account for this, they’re fantasy. Everyone’s ultimate goal should be peace. We can all agree that it’s an end that should be pursued by any means. The means to this end is not keeping Gaza’s civilians next to a civilization that they want to destroy, a civilization with the capacity to destroy them in turn, no less. The situation is complex and I can appreciate the grievances of Gazans. But a decent future can’t take shape for them without some political realism.
Last update I mentioned that Iran might do the smart thing and try to build its relationship with the U.S. since embroiling itself in a war with a superpower would offer very little gain. Iran’s now public statements telling Hamas that they’re basically on their own settles the question. More questions do arise in its place however, such as: If Iran really had no warning of the attack, then which state is responsible for funding it? If Qatar turns out to be solely responsible for funding the attack, how would Saudi Arabia respond given their extremely strained relations? How would Israel respond? Would Hamas have attacked Israel so flagrantly if it didn’t think it had Iran’s backing? Was iran’s statement made public to obfuscate its real intentions? Much to think about.
The extent of Hamas’ use of civilian infrastructure like houses and hospitals for military purposes gives under-appreciated insight into the psychology of the group. Americans supporting Hamas seem to be mapping their own psychology or the service-oriented frame of mind that dominates most of our institutions onto an organization which couldn’t be more alien; and “alien,” I think, really is the best word to describe it. From Ancient Greece to advanced modern states like the U.S., the legitimacy of a state has always been assumed to rest on whether it protects the people it obligates, “protego ergo obligo.” A state that slaughters its people, taxes them to death, or otherwise neglects their basic subsistence, is rarely ever lamented once overthrown. States that actively harm the people they rule over are illegitimate. But Hamas takes illegitimacy to an all-star level. Using human shields is just bizarre. When you imagine a small armed force facing a military circumstance with extremely poor odds, you feel that they’ve arrived at a moment of unalloyed meaning, a time to display all the martial virtues of war, those virtues which give the question of the purpose of life its clearest explanation. You imagine that they’ll seize all the dignity that the field of battle has to offer. Every war movie is this way, partly because it makes for a great story, and partly because it just makes the most sense. What Hamas is doing makes no sense at all. The western world is seeing a truly alien psychology at work and most don’t seem to know it.
Despite all of the above Israel is still losing the PR battle big time, and in the long run this battle might turn out to be one of the most important. The entire world is always watching now thanks to social media, and losing friends comes easier than ever before. The sheer number of South American nations that have cut ties with Israel has been astounding and it’s probably just the beginning. The best approach might be what I mentioned in the first point. Israel might achieve better control over the narrative frame by showing its teeth. Most people deeply respect displays of power. For example, I couldn’t tell you how many opponents of Gavin Newsom I’ve seen flip after he answered criticism over San Francisco clearing homeless encampments for Xi Jinping by basically saying, “Yeah, and? Of course we did that. What of it?” Israel is a powerful, highly innovative state with deep ties to the most important stories and symbolism in the world. It should own that.
No predictions today. Events are beginning to unfold more slowly at this point of the war, so enough isn’t changing to change our predictions or make new ones. We watch and wait!
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