Written by 22:45 World

As Israel’s Hard Line Stokes Anger Abroad, Netanyahu May Get Benefits at Home

Israel took several tough diplomatic blows over the past week, some of which had been feared for years. Yet the rising outcry against Israel abroad appears not to have swayed the Israeli public, whose views on the country’s military campaign in Gaza are largely different from those of the rest of the world.

Just this week, Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, announced he was seeking arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister and defense minister on charges of crimes against humanity, alongside three leaders of Hamas; three European countries announced they would recognize a Palestinian state; and Israel backed down on seizing equipment from The Associated Press after an international backlash.

But Israeli leaders are looking first and foremost to their public, which, analysts say, still views the war with Hamas in Gaza as an existential conflict. While international support for Israel has eroded over its devastating military response in Gaza — with over 35,000 people dead, according to health authorities there — Israelis have largely remained focused on the brutality of the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks and the fate of hostages taken that day.

Political analysts say that Mr. Netanyahu hopes to leverage the rising international criticism to tamp down frustration at home over his failure to either decisively defeat Hamas or bring home the remaining hostages in Gaza. Some of Mr. Netanyahu’s key rivals rallied to his defense on Monday after Mr. Khan announced that he would seek a warrant for his arrest.

“Israel is not only isolated, but feels that it is under some kind of siege,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli diplomat.

For many Israelis, memories of the massacre in southern Israel — in which roughly 1,200 people were killed and 250 taken hostage, according to the Israeli authorities — remain a constant backdrop to the conflict. Months later, Israeli news media still continually airs the stories of victims, survivors and the families of those held hostage in Gaza.

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Last modified: 24 May 2024
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