Israelis fear Biden’s demand for an immediate ceasefire could mean a victory for Hamas

JERUSALEM – On Thursday, Israeli officials voiced strong opposition to President Biden’s request for an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza during a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“A ceasefire now would be a victory for Hamas. It would demonstrate that terrorism pays. The world must continue to support Israel in its efforts to weaken Hamas,” according to Yaakov Katz, a senior fellow at the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Institute.

During Biden’s call with Netanyahu, the president “emphasized the need for an immediate ceasefire to stabilize and improve the humanitarian situation and protect innocent civilians. He also urged the Prime Minister to authorize his negotiators to quickly conclude an agreement to bring the hostages home.”

The statement also mentioned Iran, stating that “the two leaders discussed public Iranian threats against Israel and its citizens.” “President Biden made it clear that the United States strongly supports Israel in the face of these threats.”

On Thursday, a spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement from Netanyahu’s cabinet meeting to Digital. “The Cabinet authorized the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense, and Minister [Benny] Gantz to take immediate steps to increase humanitarian aid to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.” The statement added, “This increased aid will prevent a humanitarian crisis and is necessary to ensure continuation of fighting and attainment of the war’s objectives.”

Hamas  and massacred 1,200 people, including over 30 Americans. Hamas is currently holding over 100 hostages in the Gaza Strip. Hamas’ remaining forces are concentrated in Rafah, the last major stronghold of the Sunni terrorist group in Gaza.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement on Thursday drew criticism from many Israelis. Blinken drew a comparison between Israel and Hamas, a U.S.-sanctioned terrorist organization, suggesting that Israel had failed to adequately protect civilians in Gaza.

Hamas has used civilians as human shields during its wars, including the current conflict, to blur the distinction between terrorists and civilians. Blinken stated, “It’s what distinguishes us from terrorists like Hamas. If we lose that reverence for human life, we risk becoming indistinguishable from those we confront.”

Katz, the former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, also told Digital, “Israel has been waging this war in a manner unseen in modern warfare. It has achieved an unprecedented civilian-combatant ratio in urban warfare and takes extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties. Regrettably, mistakes and tragedies occur in warfare, but Israel is not Hamas. It is the polar opposite. Its military seeks to avoid civilian casualties, whereas Hamas targets civilians.”

For Israelis living on the front lines of a new Hamas offensive, the safety of their nation should not be contingent on American elections, and Blinken’s equation with Hamas is unsettling.  Biden has been accused of attempting to  in Michigan at the expense of securing the release of American hostages held by Hamas in Gaza and ensuring Israel’s security.

Talia Golijov, an American-Israeli resident of a kibbutz on the border with Gaza, told Digital, “From the outset, I’ve believed that ‘total victory’ is an elusive goal and that the primary objective should be the return of hostages, which I would like to see happen as soon as possible. While acknowledging the tragedy and scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the pressure and double standards imposed on Israel’s conduct of the war have become intolerable. It is unimaginable that the IDF would ever act like or become indistinguishable from a terrorist organization.” 

She went on to say, “The shift in Biden’s policy is as much a result of an immediate high-profile error as it is of the approaching elections. His poll numbers should not dictate how Israel conducts the war and ensures its future.”

Golijov added, “With all due respect, and gratitude for the administration’s support to date, Israel has always maintained that it is ultimately responsible for its own defense. It is now Netanyahu’s responsibility to live up to this.” 

There are dissenting voices who advocate for Israel to end its prosecution of the war. “I believe the war should be halted. It is Israel’s moral obligation to secure the release of hostages,” said Yossi Melman, a veteran Israeli journalist for the left-leaning Haaretz.

Melman is a recognized expert on Israel’s intelligence and defense establishment. He stated, “Once a ceasefire is established in Gaza, there will be a ceasefire in Lebanon. I expect the Houthis will no longer target Israel, resulting in regional peace.” He pointed out that “Israel increased humanitarian assistance in response to Biden’s requests.”

He dismissed Netanyahu’s talk of “complete victory” as “nonsense.” Melman envisions a long-term ceasefire “only if an international military force intervenes to stabilize the situation.” 

He went on to say that instead of empowering Hamas, “an international force or an Arab force led by the Palestinian Authority” is required.

Melman stated, “It matters not whether there is a double standard. That’s the reality, whether we like it or not. I don’t like it. We are on the verge of an EU arms embargo… Israel has no alternative to the US, and there is no alternative to Biden. Trump is worse. Trump demanded a ceasefire. Biden is the last fully pro-Israel president. Israel is losing America.”

After Biden and Blinken criticized Israel, the Jewish state’s Minister for Diaspora affairs and combating antisemitism, , shared an image of former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who infamously appeased and misunderstood Hitler’s plans for European conquest, with a red X over his face, stating: “Being weak towards your enemies and harsh towards your allies is a strategy that has never proven itself.”

Yishai Fleisher, a former advisor to Israel’s controversial Minister of National Security, told Digital, “Elements within the US administration are working to ensure our defeat in this war by encouraging us to cease fighting and by deploying a new type of human shield, aid workers, and flooding the region with supplies to prevent any progress. The Biden administration is ensuring that terrorists will not be eradicated and that Hamas will be able to claim victory. We are witnessing an attempt to assist Hamas in winning the conflict.”

Fleisher, who serves as the director of International affairs for the Jewish community of Hebron, went on to say that Hamas “will undoubtedly claim, ‘Look, we drove out the Israelis, committed atrocities against them, and displaced them without mercy, yet they were unable to defeat us because we were able to rally the international community.'” He continued, “The next phase is a total Hamas victory, which equates to a triumph for worldwide Jihad against Israel and a limited setback for Israel, which will be detrimental and encourage Jihad against Israel and global Jihad.”