Israel war on Gaza: Messages from beneath the rubble

Dr Sania Faisal El-Husseini, Tuesday 7 Nov 2023

Dr Sania Faisal El-Husseini writes on the facts that have exposed Israel’s lies and possible scenarios for its future attacks on Gaza

Future of Gaza

 

The first fact among the many lies that Israel has been broadcasting in recent days is the inability of Zionism and the Zionist state to distort the truth about the Palestinian cause despite its efforts to suppress it. Israel, alongside its colonial backers like the US, UK, France, and Germany, should recognise that hiding facts and manipulating history in this day and age has become a formidable challenge.

The words spoken by delegations at the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, as well as the calls from hundreds of thousands of protesters who have filled the streets of world capitals, largely those of the colonial nations, unmistakably underscore the international community’s awareness of the Palestinian cause.

The occupation of Palestine and the Nakba (Catastrophe) that led to the creation of Israel remain etched in the collective memory of most nations. This ongoing conflict serves as an explicit declaration that the world, its people, and the majority of its governments have not forgotten the Palestinian cause. The allegations and falsehoods perpetuated by Zionism find credibility only within Israel and its colonial supporters. The broader global community does not acknowledge the veracity of these falsehoods.

The second fact is the failure of the US and Israel to categorise the Palestinian resistance as terrorism. These endeavours, which both nations vigorously have sought to impose on global and regional populations, particularly in the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001, are in direct violation of established laws and conventions. The response, both official and popular, on an international scale to the present unprecedented Israeli military assault on Gaza has unequivocally exposed the failure of these efforts.

In the wake of the Israeli assault on Gaza, the immediate reaction from most nations and international organisations, even though often influenced by the colonial powers that wield significant control over them, was akin to an earthquake. They rejected the notion that responding to the Israeli occupation’s arrogant and self-aggrandising actions, which have gone unchecked for years, could ever be categorised as terrorism. Instead, the global consensus leans towards recognising it as legitimate resistance against a prolonged occupation.

The third fact underscores the difficulty of concealing the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation in modern times. All attempts to disrupt the Internet and communication networks, overt threats to satellite channels, and the pursuit and killing of journalists have proven futile. As the scale of crimes and civilian casualties continues to rise, so do the feelings of anger and revulsion towards these actions.

This surge will correspondingly lead to a significant increase in demonstrations and protests across the globe. Governments that support Israel or remain neutral in the face of these issues will face mounting embarrassment.

The fourth fact exposes the extent of the bias displayed by the US and its allies in the Western countries towards the Israeli narrative, accepting it without due review or scrutiny. The US has even echoed Israeli allegations such as Hamas’ “beheading children” and “rape” and has propagated the occupation’s account of the Baptist Hospital bombing.

In today’s world, far removed from the era of 1948, US and British newspapers are among the best sources for both facts and debunking falsehoods. They can provide concrete evidence in a world where concealing the truth has become exceedingly challenging.

The fifth fact pertains to the Arab countries, especially those with significant influence, which during this crisis have demonstrated their inability to break free from their dependence on the US and Western system. The Palestinians require not only financial and logistical support, but also a resolute political stance that can bolster their resilience and the enduring Palestinian struggle for liberation.

Today, in the context of major international shifts favouring the rising status of China and Russia, and given the alignment of these two nations on resolving the Palestinian issue, there is a prime opportunity for the Arab countries to unite and exert pressure on the US and Western nations to seek a just solution for the Palestinians. This potential is especially crucial considering the ongoing Western involvement in the present crisis.

However, the most significant fact emanates from Palestine itself. Despite enduring a century of relentless crimes committed against them, the Palestinian people have repeatedly emerged from the ruins, determined to resist and endure. Neither the British Mandate before World War II nor the Zionist occupation after it succeeded in breaking their will.

Israel’s current assault on Gaza is not the first, and it won’t be the last. Each time the Israeli war machine wreaks havoc, destroying homes, streets, and taking innocent lives without accountability, the Palestinian people persevere, rebuilding and continuing their quest for survival and freedom.

In the West Bank, largely demilitarised except for a few rifles and light weapons, Palestinian freedom-fighters procure their arms with their own resources, confronting occupation tanks and armoured vehicles with their bare hands. They endure missile strikes that destroy Palestinian land and kill Palestinian people while Israel’s actions remain unaccountable.

This unyielding struggle persists, with unwavering determination and hope, using the simplest tools against the most ferocious weapons, as the Palestinians remain committed to their chosen path until they achieve the cherished goal of freedom.

 

SCENARIOS: In the light of these facts, there are several scenarios regarding the future of the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

One crucial factor is the goals that Israel aims to achieve following its decision to carry out a ground invasion of Gaza. Others include Israel’s threshold for accepting losses as the conflict persists, as well as Hamas’ resilience.

Another factor is the possibility of Hizbullah’s involvement in the conflict, especially if the US carries out its threat of instigating a regional war against Beirut and Tehran.

It would be wrong to disregard the possibility of the US intervening to halt the Israeli assault on Gaza. This is due to the escalating global public condemnation of Israel’s atrocities against civilians and the potential risk of the region descending into a wider conflict, which the US is reluctant to engage in given its current involvement in another war in Europe.

Israel’s objectives for launching a ground offensive on Gaza were evident in three scenarios outlined in a report released by the Israeli security establishment six days after the commencement of the attack on Gaza. While Israeli officials initially limited these goals to the elimination of Hamas without intending to retain control over Gaza, statements from the Israeli authorities regarding the displacement of Gaza Strip residents reveal the primary objective to be to expel the population from their homeland.

All the reports’ three scenarios share one common assumption: the defeat of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The first and second scenarios envision Israel assuming control over Gaza by disarming the resistance and eliminating all the militants through the PA, an Arab or international administration, or a joint administration involving both.

However, the report criticises these two scenarios, as the first deepens the segregation between the West Bank and Gaza, obstructing any potential future political agreement with the Palestinians. The second also fails to guarantee the elimination of Hamas’ influence on the population, including their psychological and cultural attachment to the movement.

The report favours the third scenario, which revolves around the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homes, considering this to be the most favourable solution.

Leaked information from Israeli newspapers suggests that Israel may consider allowing Hamas leaders, including of its military wing, to leave the Gaza Strip freely in exchange for the release of Israeli detainees and prisoners held by the resistance. This aligns with Israel’s first and second scenarios, which primarily focus on eliminating Hamas’ infrastructure within the Strip, while not ruling out the implementation of the third scenario thereafter.

The defeat of the resistance in Gaza and the Palestinians’ loss of their land would effectively strip the West Bank of its last significant deterrent against their occupier. This would pave the way for Israel to continue denying the Palestinians their rights, imposing restrictions upon them in the West Bank and replacing them with settlers, and ultimately their expulsion.

The process already in part observed in Gaza can be anticipated, as it can to a greater extent in the West Bank as well. The US does not oppose this scenario and has furthered it by making the Palestinians deceptive promises regarding their return after the war is over.

There are two potential scenarios to dissuade Israel from continuing its devastating assault on Gaza and eradicating the Hamas Movement: recognising that Hamas represents an idea rather than solely a resistance movement and understanding that ideas do not perish as long as their underlying causes persist.

The first scenario hinges on the US exerting pressure on Israel to halt its aggression against Gaza, given the severity of Israel’s crimes against civilians and the mounting global and popular outcry against their continuation. The effectiveness of this scenario depends on the intensity of the international pressure exerted on the US in this regard.

The second scenario focuses on US intervention to stop the conflict if it becomes evident that the likelihood of a regional war is escalating. Such a war would involve Iran and Hizbullah and their armed forces deployed in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and it would contradict US regional plans and objectives. The US has threatened to wage such a war if Hizbullah intervenes in the present conflict, saying that this is the reason it has deployed its military in the region.

For more than 20 days, Hamas and the resistance factions have been firing missiles at various Israeli targets within the Green Line amid a relentless Israeli land, sea, and air bombardment of Gaza that has killed thousands of civilians, often children and women.

In recent days, the resistance factions have begun to repel the Israeli ground assault on Gaza, engaging in a battle that the occupation views as challenging. The possibility of Hizbullah’s intervention may increase if the resistance’s ability to confront the aggression starts to weaken.

Iran and Hizbullah perceive that Hamas’ defeat in Gaza would fundamentally undermine the framework of the resistance alliance, which is built on the principles of liberating Palestine and supporting the Palestinian Islamic resistance factions, namely the Islamic Jihad and Hamas Movements.

However, any decision by Iran and Hizbullah to escalate the war would also be subject to calculations of cost and benefit, particularly in the light of US threats to destroy Tehran and Beirut. The balance lies between the potential loss of one of the alliance’s pillars and the exposure of those pillars to existential dangers.

The possibility of a regional war also remains a possible outcome of the present conflict, as the entry or expansion of additional fronts may be the only way to alleviate the pressure on Gaza, prevent its defeat, and preserve its position within the axis of resistance.

Gaza’s departure from this axis would render it more vulnerable, and Hizbullah may be compelled to further escalate its actions, either within the framework of its current calculated escalation strategy or by launching a comprehensive attack.

During the visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the region some days ago, he endorsed the central Israeli scenario involving the defeat of Hamas and the assignment of the Palestinian Authority, Arab entities, or international bodies to run the Gaza Strip. He also rejected Arab demands for a ceasefire, arguing that this would allow Hamas to regroup, but affirmed that he would try to convince Israel to agree to humanitarian truces that would allow aid into the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

The ongoing conflict is a fateful war for the Palestinians and one of immense significance for the Arabs and their allies. Palestine’s victory in Gaza would compel Israel, the US, and the Western powers to enter negotiations to address the Palestinian cause that would be similar to the outcome of the 1973 War, which eventually led to a peace agreement with Egypt in the following decade and resulted in Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai and the evacuation of its settlements.

The legitimate Palestinian objective is the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital. This entails the evacuation of all Israeli settlements from the West Bank and ensuring unimpeded communication between the two occupied parts of the homeland – Gaza and the West Bank.

The writer is a professor of political science and international relations at the Arab-American University in Palestine.

 


* A version of this article appears in print in the 9 November, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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