Sherwin Pomerantz

The 223rd Day of War in Israel

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant kicked off a political storm during a press conference on Wednesday evening, publicly criticizing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s indecision on the question of who will govern Gaza after Hamas is defeated.  The press conference was Gallant’s first in months, and it was the sharpest criticism from a member of Israel’s war cabinet since the war began on October 7. It erupted after months of tension between the two and after reports emerged earlier this week that senior IDF officers believed that the lack of a governing alternative to Hamas had forced the IDF to return and fight in areas that had already been cleared out. Gallant argued that “indecision is, in essence, a decision” that would lead to one of two bad results: Continued Hamas rule, or IDF control over Gaza’s civilian population.

“I call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a decision and declare that Israel will not establish civilian control over the Gaza Strip, that Israel will not establish military governance in the Gaza Strip, and that a governing alternative to Hamas in the Gaza Strip will be raised immediately,” Gallant said.

He then added, “We must make tough decisions for the future of our country, favoring national priorities above all other possible considerations, even with the possibility of personal or political costs.”  Netanyahu responded later that evening in a defiant statement saying Israel will remain in Gaza until it achieves its objectives.

A Hezbollah drone struck an IDF air force base in the North on Wednesday, according to the military spokesperson.  The exact nature of the harm was still being reviewed, and additional aspects are under gag order.  The IDF succeeded in shooting down a second attack drone launched by Hezbollah and was probing how it could avoid similar future incidents, with a number of recent incidents where drones have avoided IDF defenses more than Hezbollah rockets.  Already on Wednesday, Lebanese and Israeli media had said that up to dozens of rockets as well as some anti-tank missiles were fired at the Western Galilee, including the Mount Meron area where the IDF has an air force base.  There were no reported injuries.  Additional barrages today did cause property damage in the north, 18km south of the border, the deepest penetration into Israel by Hezbollah armaments since the start of the war with Hamas.

The US’ Office of Management and Budget, which is part of the White House, stated on Tuesday that US President Joe Biden would veto H.R. 8369, the Israel Security Assistance Support Act, if it came across his desk.  The bill, which was scheduled for a House vote on Wednesday and which has a companion Senate version as of now, condemns the Biden administration’s decision to pause an arms shipment to Israel and would withhold funds from the Pentagon and US State Department unless that and future shipments are approved.

The White House “strongly opposes” the bill, “which seeks to limit the president’s discretion to ensure that the delivery of certain defense articles and services aligns with U.S. foreign policy objectives,” it stated. “The bill would undermine the president’s ability to execute an effective foreign policy,” the White House added. “This bill could raise serious concerns about infringement on the president’s authorities under Article II of the Constitution, including his duties as commander-in-chief and chief executive and his power to conduct foreign relations.”  The White House added that the legislation is “a misguided reaction to a deliberate distortion of the administration’s approach to Israel.”

“The president has been clear: We will always ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself,” the White House stated. “Our commitment to Israel is ironclad.”

So another week ends here, the war continues, people continue to die, five yesterday by that terrible term “friendly fire”, no end in sight and even the objectives are subsumed under a catch phrase “We have to destroy Hamas.”  The only thing that is not clear is how to do so and what that even means.  I have no doubt we will prevail but the cost is and will continue to be high.  May we who remain be worthy of those who lost their lives in our defense.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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