Giovanni Giacalone
Eyes everywhere

Meloni is wrong, there was no “harsh” response by Israel

Bibi Netanyahu and Giorgia Meloni
Bibi Netanyahu and Giorgia Meloni

According to Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, Israel’s increasing isolation in Western public opinion is the result of Israel’s harsh reaction to the October 7 massacre:

The brutal attack by Hamas, the massacre perpetrated against civilians, including children and the elderly, and the ferocity with which that massacre was carried out pushed Israel into such a harsh reaction that it led to isolation, both in the Middle East as well as in Western public opinions”.

Such a statement raises serious doubts, and it would be interesting to ask Meloni what Israel’s response should have been. What would she have done?

Israel’s reaction was not “harsh”, as Meloni claims. It was a normal and natural response by a sovereign State that was attacked by a terrorist organization. A response to the biggest massacre of Jews after the Shoah. It is very important to keep that well in mind.

We must keep on recalling the difference between the State of Israel, a sovereign State and a democracy, and Hamas, which is nothing more than a terrorist organization and a proxy of the Iranian regime. The fact that Hamas has a political branch does not give it any legitimacy, because that is typical of the hybrid terrorist organization, as explained by Boaz Ganor, director of Herzliya’s International Institute for Counter-terrorism.

If we have to keep on recalling this difference, between Hamas and the State of Israel, then we are facing a problem, because if there is no will to see it, then there is a basic prejudice against Israel.

The response of the IDF in Gaza was not only in line with international law, but the army even evacuated Palestinian civilians in advance using humanitarian corridors and even gave advance warning of where it would attack, thus slowing down the offensive and losing the element of surprise, which is essential in an operational context. How many other armed forces have previously done this? None. Not in Iraq, not in Afghanistan, not in Somalia.

The IDF is targeting Hamas, not Gazans. This is counter-terrorism, not a peace-keeping operation. The term “harsh” used by Meloni is therefore out of place.

Secondly, Meloni seems to be wrong about the issue of “isolation”. Is Israel isolated? Plenty of governments have expressed full solidarity and are backing Israel’s war on terror, so it is quite unclear what the Italian PM is referring to.

It is interesting to notice how Meloni used the term “Western public opinions”, which could indicate concern for the street demonstrations occurring in some European countries such as the ones in the UK; demonstrations led by Islamists who even managed to project the sadly notorious phrase “From the river to the sea…” on the Big Ben two days ago.

Maybe Meloni is also concerned about the street demonstrations taking place in Italy and organized by well-known Palestinian activists and the far left, often turning violent. Last week, pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Turin burnt a photo of Meloni and Netanyahu.

However, this is not “public opinion”; these are demonstrators who are chanting “Intifada”, “Israel fascist terrorist State” and “from the river to the sea”, which is a genocidal chant that invokes the annihilation of Israel. What about the public opinion in support of Israel, which is surely there, but simply unnoticed because either well-mannered or afraid to express itself for fear of retaliation.

It is worth recalling that, in Milan, 22-year-old Italian citizen Mihael Melnic had his apartment visited by plainclothes police after exposing the sign “Free Gaza from Hamas” from the window of his flat during a non-authorized anti-Israel demonstration under his building. The agents even tried to confiscate the sign, inside his home. Melnic released an interview to TOI in early February.

The Italian authorities have so far done nothing to stop the hateful propaganda carried out on Italian soil by well-known Palestinian leader Mohammed Hannoun, who glorified jihad, defined the October 7th attacks as “self-defense”, praised Hamas bombmaker Yahya Ayyash and Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas’s Iranian liaison eliminated in Beirut on January 2nd. It is unclear why nothing has been done, since measures have been taken by the Italian authorities against individuals sharing pro-Isis propaganda. Isn’t Hamas classified as a terrorist organization by Italy?

This individual had his associations’ bank accounts frozen by different banks and consequently posted a video on Facebook asking for cash donations to be made directly at its offices in Milan, Rome and Genoa. Is it legal?

Italian journalist Massimiliano Coccia and his colleagues showed how easy it was to hand in cash to Hannoun’s association in Rome’s office and reported it on February 22nd in an article for Linkiesta by the title: “This is how easy it is in Italy to finance Hamas’ activities in Gaza”.

The October 7th massacre inevitably led the international community to decide which side to take: either the side of legitimacy or the side of terrorism. The masks have fallen. There are no more shades but only black and white. Clear positions and actions are needed.

Would anyone imagine al-Baghdadi or Usama bin Laden being invited for a negotiation with Western leaders in order to discuss the release of hostages? So why is this happening with Hamas? Maybe certain European governments fear a reaction by its growing Muslim population.

About the Author
Giovanni Giacalone is a senior analyst in Islamist extremism and terrorism at the Italian Team for Security, Terroristic Issues and Managing Emergencies-Catholic University of Milan, at the Europe desk for the UK-based think tank Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorism, and a researcher for Centro Studi Machiavelli. Since 2021 he is the coordinator for the "Latin America group" at the International Institute for the Study of Security-ITSS. In 2023 Giacalone published the book “The Tablighi Jamaat in Europe”.
Related Topics
Related Posts