Table of Contents
THE CONTEXT: Israel continues deadly bombardment of Gaza with latest attacks reported in the Nuseirat refugee camp and Khan Younis. Israel continues to state that it will continue the war in Gaza “with or without international support”.
- Theodor Herzl, one of the founders of modern political Zionism, wrote in Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), a pamphlet published in 1896. It was stated in the pamphlet that the Jewish state would form a part of a wall of defence for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilisation against barbarism,”.
- It was argued that security for Jews could be guaranteed only by the creation of a separate national state for them and requested the Ottoman Sultan to give Palestine to the Jews.
- It was promised to undertake the regulations of the whole of Turkey’s finances in return.
- The movement Herzl began culminated in the creation of the state of Israel in historical Palestine in 1948.
- More than 75 years later, the civilisational outpost that Herzl had imagined is now continuing its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and is fighting a calamitous war on the Gaza Strip.
ISRAEL NARRATIVE OF WAR:
- Israel objectives:
1. To free the hostages as Hamas had taken some 240 hostages during its raid.
2. To “dismantle” Hamas.
3. To rebuild Israel’s deterrence so that another attack would not happen.
- Large number of killings: In a short span of time, Israel, has killed 20,000 Palestinians, a vast majority of them women and children, wounded over 50,000 and displaced almost 90% of the enclave’s population. It has managed to turn Gaza into what the United Nations called a “graveyard for children and a living hell for everyone else”.
- Unequal power: In terms of military capabilities, Hamas does not stand even for a distant comparison with Israel. Israel is a nuclear power and a developed economy, which is politically and militarily backed by the United States, equipped with some of the world’s most advanced offensive and defensive weapons. Israel also controls all of Gaza’s border except the Rafah crossing in the south into Egypt. Hamas, on the other side, has roughly 50,000 fighters with assault rifles and short- to medium-range rockets.
- Unsuccessful in hostage operation: Israel has managed to free only one hostage through its military operation and the other over 100 hostages who were released were part of a brief ceasefire deal that Israel had struck with Hamas.
- Not good in unconventional wars: While Israel has an excellent track record against its conventional rivals in the region, its record against non-state actors has always been mixed. Israel has not fought a conventional war in 50 years.
1. Invasion of Lebanon: In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to push the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) out of the country. It was expected the war would bring “40 years of peace”. But the war itself lasted 18 years, even after Israel pushed the PLO out of Lebanon. In 2006, it invaded Lebanon again, this time to crush After a month of intense ground battle, Israel had to accept a ceasefire, leaving Hezbollah politically stronger. Ever since, Hezbollah has rebuilt its military strength many times.
2. Attack on Gaza: After it withdrew from Gaza in 2005 following the second intifada, Israel carried out at least four major bombing campaigns in the enclave aimed at weakening Hamas. Still, it could not prevent the October 7 attack, the deadliest cross-border attack since 1948.
3. Current war: Israel’s main narrative is that Hamas is like the Islamic State (IS) and it aims to destroy it like the physical structure of IS was destroyed. But this sweeping narrative overlooks some fundamental complexities in West Asia. The IS was an outgrowth of al-Qaeda which exploited the chaos in the region to capture territories and spread terror. It imposed itself on the peoples of Syria and Iraq and lacked any social or political cause. But in the case of Israel-Palestine, the fundamental contradiction is Israel’s continuing occupation of the Palestinian territories. Hamas might be a terrorist outfit for Israel but for a vast majority of other regional actors, it is fighting Israel’s violent occupation. Hamas has a social and political cause which is the liberation of Palestine and is deeply entrenched in Palestinian society.
IMPACT OF THE WAR
- Attacking Israel economy: A long war would expose Israel’s weaknesses, Israel has mobilised some 3,00,000 reservists, which is adding stress to its economy. Hamas, which uses Gaza’s extensive tunnel networks to hide and fight, continues to fire rockets into Israel, terrorising communities and disrupting local economies.
- Isolating Israel: The high civilian casualties and the sheer brutality of Israel’s offensive in Gaza have isolated the Israel globally. The U.S. still stands with Israel, but recent remarks by U.S. President that Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” would isolate it globally suggest toward this.
- Arab-Israel normalisation on halt: The Arab-Israel normalisation is on halt and can be said as dead, at least for now.
- Unstable West Asia: Houthis, the pro-Iran Shia rebels who control much of Yemen, are widening the war by targeting tankers in the Red Sea. It is threatening one of the busiest global shipping lanes and drawing the U.S. deeper into the conflict.
Israel’s objective to eradicate Hamas, free hostages and bolster its own deterrence, seems not achievable even after weeks of intense bombing campaigns of this century. It is in a way increasing the complexities of the power relations of west Asia region.
MAINS PRACTICE QUESTION
Q) “India’s relations with Israel have, of late, acquired a depth and diversity, which cannot be rolled ”. Discuss. (2018)
PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTION
Q) Israel’s narrative of Hamas equating it with the Islamic State overlooks some fundamental complexities in West Asia. Comment.
SOURCE: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/israel-is-fighting-in-the-dark-in-gaza/article67666853.ece#:~:text=Hamas%2C%20which%20uses%20Gaza’s%20extensive,isolated%20the%20Jewish%20state%20globally.Spread the Word