Israel’s military campaign against Gaza has entered its second day and so far it has left 24 Palestinians dead (including a 7-year-old boy) and at least 70 injured. The current round of violence began on Tuesday after Israeli strikes killed Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu el-Atta, his wife, and four others. The attack prompted retaliatory rocket fire from a number of Palestinian groups. Israel continues to attack the region. “They have one choice: to stop these attacks or absorb more and more blows. Their choice,” declared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
South Bend Mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg has tweeted his support for Israel’s actions and a condemnation of the rocket fire from Palestine. “I strongly condemn the rocket attacks on the citizens of southern and central Israel,” the tweet reads, “Israel has a right to defend itself against acts of terror that set back any progress towards peace and will only serve to inflame the humanitarian situation in Gaza.”
I strongly condemn the rocket attacks on the citizens of southern and central Israel. Israel has a right to defend itself against acts of terror that set back any progress towards peace and will only serve to inflame the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) November 13, 2019
Buttigieg’s tweet immediately received praise from various pro-Israel organizations. “Thank you, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for standing with the people of Israel as they come under incessant rocket fire from Gaza,” tweeted the American Jewish Committee’s account. Democratic Majority for Israel (a group that was formed to stamp out growing pro-Palestine sentiment within the Democratic party) tweeted, “Thanks to Pete Buttigieg for his strong condemnation of rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza and his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself.”
The Buttigieg tweet also received criticism from advocates of Palestinian self-determination. “Disgusting,” tweeted Electronic Intifada associate editor Tamara Nassar. “Not one casualty reported in Israel while over 20 Palestinians have been killed since Israel started its lethal bombardment of the Strip early Tuesday, including 3 children…Buttigieg’s position is clear: Palestinian lives don’t matter.”
“It’s ‘defending yourself’ when the overwhelmingly powerful side keeping the other population under siege surgically kill people, and ‘attacks’ when the far weaker, besieged side use less powerful and precise weapons, rarely killing anyone. Got it,” journalist Abi Wilkinson tweeted at the mayor.
Buttigieg has positioned himself as one of the most pro-Israel Democratic candidates in the race, but he’s also declared that he would condition military aid to Israel if Netanyahu follows through with announced plans to annex the West Bank. At the recent J Street conference he also implied that he’d be open to the idea of conditioning aid over the issue of settlement expansion.