Israel’s road to perdition

Hussein Haridy
Tuesday 31 Oct 2023

Through its brutal bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip, Israel seems set on killing off any chance of peace, security, and stability in the Middle East, writes Hussein Haridy



sraeli forces entered Gaza in the second phase of the country’s war against Hamas last Friday, with the ultimate aim of destroying the group’s military wing as well as its capacity to govern the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli government.

The first phase has seen the most intensive and indiscriminate Israeli bombing campaign not only in Gaza but in all the Arab-Israeli wars since 1948. At the time of writing, the number of those dead in Gaza has surpassed the 8,000 Palestinians recorded by the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Strangely enough, US President Joe Biden publicly questioned the number of the Palestinian victims last week. His words were shocking to Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims around the world. Since the outbreak of the fifth Israeli war against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, neither he nor his administration have shown any empathy for the plight of the Palestinians, nor have they asked the Israelis to lift their total siege of Gaza.

Under pressure from Egypt and US “partners” in the Middle East, the Biden administration has asked that “humanitarian assistance” be sent to Gaza. But not a single word has been said about the urgent need for a ceasefire to stop the war.

The US was among the countries that voted against a resolution adopted on 27 October at the UN General Assembly that requested immediate and sustained humanitarian assistance for the people of Gaza, among other demands. The resolution was sponsored by Jordan and supported by 45 delegations. It was adopted by 120 countries in a show of solidarity with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the Europeans at the EU summit meeting on 26-27 October in Brussels called for humanitarian assistance and humanitarian corridors to be set up in Gaza. Their positions have been aligned with those of the US administration. Like in the US, the word “ceasefire” did not come up, meaning that there was unqualified and regrettable European support for Israel in its brutal bombardment campaign in Gaza.

The US and some European powers, for instance the UK and France, have deployed naval ships in the Eastern Mediterranean in order to deter Iran and pro-Iranian forces in the region from widening the war. This is an attempt to freeze the war on Gaza and let the Israelis “finish the job,” so to speak, of destroying Hamas.

Neither the Americans nor the Europeans, or, for that matter, the Israelis themselves, have any inkling of what the morning after, once the war comes to an end, will be like in Gaza. The three parties are literally and figuratively groping in the dark as far as the future of Gaza is concerned. I am not sure the Arab countries or the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah have any idea either. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for the PA to accept to go back in and govern Gaza on the back of Israeli tanks.

This war must come to an end someday, like all other wars, no matter how long that takes. The longer it lasts, the riskier will be the regional consequences. The Israelis said after the Hamas attacks on 7 October that they would re-establish what they termed “regional strategic deterrence” – in other words, Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.

This could explain to a great extent the unqualified US and Western support for the Israelis and their attempts to annihilate Hamas, which, in all probability, is hardly achievable.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press conference on 27 October that the war will be long and difficult, though he did not say how long. What he did not say is that the Israelis would fail in imposing their will on the Palestinians or in destroying Hamas and other Palestinian movements.

Nevertheless, the Israelis are laying the foundations for more radicalised Palestinian movements and are close to killing off the chances for peace, security, and stability in the Middle East. Maybe Netanyahu, who once said that providing money and financial assistance to Hamas would kill the chances of establishing an independent Palestinian state, and the extreme right in Israel are preparing the ground for the annexation of the West Bank?

The question is what the Arabs will do to meet this “existential challenge” and thwart another Nakba some 75 years after the first one in 1948.


The writer is former assistant foreign minister.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 2 November, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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