By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
Despite the brutal Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip (GS), resulting in the killing and injury of more than a hundred thousand Palestinians and extensive destruction in the Strip, it has not concealed the escalating Israeli predicament politically, militarily, internally and externally.
This article outlines eight prominent aspects of the Israeli predicament in its war on GS:
First: Failure to Achieve Declared Objectives of the War:
The war goals included eliminating Hamas, turning GS into a secure Israeli area, liberating Israeli captives held by Hamas, and displacing as many GS citizens as possible. However, after more than a hundred days of war, and despite Israel’s superiority in its destructiveness and committing massacres, it has utterly failed in achieving any of its objectives, defeating the resistance and breaking its will. On the contrary, the latter continues to demonstrate strong and effective performance.
The danger of this failure lies in Israel considering this battle as the “Second War of Independence” or the “Battle for Existence.” Therefore, it is haunted by the “horror of failure,” signifying the collapse of its security theory, the idea of a safe haven for Jews, and the concept of the region’s policeman and dominant power. This failure may signify, in the medium and long term, the beginning of a reverse countdown for the existence of Israel. The survival and success of Hamas in imposing its equation and the popular support it maintains will have significant future repercussions on the Palestinian situation, its political and leadership structures, the adoption of the resistance option and the collapse of the peace process.
Second: Lack of Vision:
The Israeli government lacks the of vision and strategy, especially regarding the situation in GS post-war and how to emerge victorious in a way convincing to its Jewish public. Statements and writings have increased among Israeli leaders, figures and intellectuals accusing Netanyahu and his government of lack of vision, being unable to define achievable goals, and under an extremist government threatened with collapse, incapable of dealing realistically with facts on the ground and unable to “get off the tree.”
Alongside many previous objections, recent objections from War Cabinet Ministers Gadi Eisenkot and Benny Gantz have emerged against the continuation of the military operation. The former Defense Minister, Gantz, criticized the political hesitancy that harms the course of military action, while the Chief of General Staff Herzi Halivi warned, “We are seeing our achievements so far worn down because there is no strategy for the future. It is likely that we will need to return to operations in areas where we had already finished fighting.”
All Israeli, US and Western plans, regarding the governance of GS on the day following the war, collapsed. There is no acceptable or feasible alternative, be it Israeli rule, international forces, Arab-Islamic forces or the Strip’s clans. Even the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah cannot assume control over GS, except within an internal Palestinian consensus where Hamas is a fundamental and determinant element.
This may imply the continuation of Israeli attrition without achieving results, amidst escalating international pressure to halt the aggression and cementing globally the negative image of Israel. This could strengthen the power dynamics in favor of Hamas.
Third: Increasing Military and Economic Losses:
In addition to the severe blow Israel received on 7/10/2023, its losses continued to escalate for over a hundred days. The Israeli side seeks to conceal its losses due to their significant impact on its settlers’ bloc. However, leaked reports suggest losses much greater than what Israeli officials acknowledge. The economic losses and costs of war are expected to exceed $50 billion, affecting tourism and various economic sectors.
This Israeli “bleeding” will inevitably force it, sooner or later, to mitigate its “arrogance” and conceit and reassess its calculations in light of the expected decline in results compared to the losses and costs incurred.
Fourth: Internal Migration and Counter Migration:
With the evacuation of settlers in the GS envelope and northern occupied Palestine, away from the frontlines, there are 400–500 thousand settlers who have lost their places of residence, sense of security, and have become a significant burden on the Israeli government. Some statistics indicate that more than 370 thousand Jews have left Israel for various countries. This indicates a real crisis facing Israel in providing security for its settlers, and if prolonged, it will undermine the key foundation upon which it is built—providing a “safe haven” for Jews.
Fifth: Political Crisis:
The shock of October 7th and its aftermath, along with Israeli performance on the ground, exacerbated the internal Israeli political crisis. Despite the strong desire for revenge and ensuring security, which showed a kind of Israeli consensus around this goal, there are increasing differences on how to manage the battle, the GS future, a deal about the Israeli captives, and how to deal with the international environment and global pressures.
The political shock affected Israeli parties, especially the ruling Likud party, which has dominated the political scene for the last 15 consecutive years and is projected to lose about half of its seats in any upcoming elections. The political process of Operation al-Aqsa Flood ended Netanyahu’s political future, as he enjoyed an exceptional position, surpassing even the Zionist state founder, Ben Gurion. The Israel Democracy Institute published a poll on 2/1/2024, indicates that only 15% want Prime Minister Netanyahu to stay in office after the war ends. Voices within his Likud party calling for his replacement have been growing, as the conviction rises that he is “finished.”
A recent poll by Ma‘ariv newspaper shows the rise of Gantz-led National Unity party, with 39 seats, compared to Likud’s 16, indicating a decline in religious Zionism. This suggests a significant downfall of the ruling religious right-wing alliance (pre-October 7th) with a strong rise of the opposition.
Sixth: Disruption of the Normalization Process in the Arab and Islamic Environment:
This process has become a significant burden on the normalizing countries. It is a vital strategic process for Israel, and Operation al-Aqsa Flood imposed high costs on those normalizing, in popular environments where the overwhelming majority rejects normalization and sees clearly the Israeli brutality in GS and Palestine.
Seventh: Escalation of International Pressures… and the Exposure of Israel’s Image Globally:
Operation al-Aqsa Flood and the Israeli war on GS caused a global anti-Israel wave, exposing its monstrous face, shattering its propaganda as a bastion of democracy and failing to present itself as a victim. Palestinians won the media battle and international sympathy as Israel’s isolation increased. The pressure of Israel’s allies to end the aggression and mitigate its crimes has risen… meaning it may eventually be forced to stop its aggression and withdraw before achieving its goals.
Eighth: Rise of Hamas:
There is a growing belief among all Arab and international forces, including enemies and opponents of Hamas, that it is impossible to eliminate Hamas, especially in light of its strong and effective performance and high combat efficiency, whether in the October 7th attack or effective combat throughout more than a hundred days. Hamas inflicted significant losses on the Israelis despite facing a global Israeli-US-Western alliance.
However, what is noteworthy is the widespread popularity of Hamas among the Palestinian people, including in GS itself, and the increasing popular support for Hamas and the resistance option inside and outside Palestine, contrary to the goals of the Israeli aggression. It is also worth noting the high dynamism of Hamas in GS, its capability to carry out military operations in areas where the Israeli army is present, swiftly retaking control of previously withdrawn territories, and effectively organizing itself and its forces to ensure the continuity of resistance.
The battle has proven that there is no separation between Hamas and the people, and Hamas is likely to overwhelmingly win in any free and fair Palestinian elections.
Undoubtedly, the Israeli predicament in GS is substantial, compelling it to abandon its arrogance and respond to the challenges imposed by the resistance in a more realistic manner. Despite acknowledging the immense costs and sacrifices borne by the Palestinian people and their resistance, particularly in GS, they will eventually reap the rewards of their endurance and perseverance, sooner or later.
Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 20/1/2024