Wed 06 Dec 2023 11:20 am - Jerusalem Time

Israel is searching for an impossible victory

More than 56 days after the war launched by Israel on the Gaza Strip, and more than a week after the truce, and with the renewal of Israeli military operations, it seems clear the dilemma facing the Israeli army and the multi-dimensional dilemma that can be summarized in two things: the impossibility of achieving the goals that Israel declared for its war, It is summed up by the military and authoritarian elimination of the Hamas movement, the lack of a clear-cut Israeli vision for the day after the war, and the extreme difficulty of ending the fighting victoriously.

During the days of the truce and the prisoner exchange process, the military “accomplishments” that the army claimed to have achieved were dissipated, and an unambiguous fact emerged: despite the mass killing and forced displacement, the army did not succeed in achieving the primary goal, i.e. completely eliminating “Hamas,” which had not", It is still present in the northern Gaza Strip in Jabalia, the Zaytoun neighborhood, and Al-Shujaiya, and also in Gaza City, where two female Israeli detainees were handed over to the Red Cross.

In fact, when Israeli leaders set this goal for the war on Gaza and developed military plans to achieve it, they were motivated by two basic matters that have nothing to do with military thinking: revenge and revenge for the dignity of the Israelis who were humiliated through retaliation against Hamas and the population of Gaza in general. In doing so, they express the feeling of the absolute majority of the Israeli public, who felt that what happened on October 7 was a slap that shook everything that this public believed in: that it had an invincible army, the strongest army in the region, that they owned the most important advanced technological industries, and that they were pioneers of innovation. Not only did Hamas fighters succeed on October 7 in achieving the largest military, security, and intelligence breakthrough into the Israeli military system, but they also undermined the self-confidence of the Israelis, who over the past years had dealt with the people of the Gaza Strip with condescension, and arrogance, and believed, regardless of their groups, that they could continue to live their normal lives and enjoy prosperity, while more than two and a quarter million Palestinians live a few kilometers away from them in a large prison, called the Gaza Strip, which has been under siege for more than 16 years.

The war that Netanyahu declared on Hamas is supported by all the Israeli people and stands behind it until the end. As for the goal of recovering detainees, which Netanyahu did not mention in his first declaration of war, but was added later after Benny Gantz joined the war council, it was not a priority in the eyes of the Israeli public in the first week of the war. The absolute majority of Israelis, despite their sympathy for the tragedy of the families of the kidnapped people, and the increasing popular support for their movement, did not want their issue to stand in the way of achieving the primary goal of the war, eliminating Hamas, and throughout the period of extending humanitarian truces and exchanging prisoners, there was a fear among Israeli society that this would lead to a permanent ceasefire that would last forever. The situation is without a military resolution and without victory.

In light of all this, the Israeli army was expected to resume its military operations in the Gaza Strip, as the mission has not been accomplished yet. However, the return to combat today is different than in the past. Today, the Israeli army is again bombing the southern Gaza Strip, under several restrictions imposed by the Americans, who, despite their support for the goal of eliminating Hamas, stipulate that defenseless civilians should not be harmed. This means that the army will be forced to carry out limited and focused operations targeting Hamas leaders who are still in the southern Gaza Strip, where there are also more than a hundred Israeli prisoners. This will be a difficult, complex and thorny process, as how can the destructive Israeli military machine operate against invisible military targets in an area that is the most crowded in the world?

The Israeli army is also resuming its combat operations in light of differences of opinion between the American administration and the Israeli government, which no longer has an open green light and an unspecified time frame. In addition to the disagreements regarding the next day and the Israeli failure to agree to any point raised by the Americans, starting with their rejection of a permanent Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, which is matched by a categorical Israeli rejection of any possibility of the Palestinian Authority participating in the management of the Gaza Strip, without talking about the two-state vision that does not exist in the eyes of the Israelis.
The current situation is that, despite all official statements that the goal is to eliminate Hamas, it seems that Israel is in the process of redefining this goal more precisely and clearly in light of the lessons of the battle in the northern Gaza Strip. It seems that there is an implicit Israeli conviction that is not being talked about publicly, that eliminating Hamas militarily is not something that can be achieved in the foreseeable future, and another way out must be sought, such as the idea of the exit of Hamas leaders and fighters from the Gaza Strip, as happened to the Palestine Liberation Organization in Beirut after the Israeli invasion of  Lebanon in 1982. This seems impossible, first because “Hamas” is part of the fabric of Gazan society, and a part of it, and is not like the situation of the PLO in Lebanon, not to mention the difficulty of having an Arab country that accepts to receive “Hamas” fighters in the current circumstances of the battle that the movement is waging, and in light of the enormous sacrifices made by the residents of the Gaza Strip, and the war of extermination to which they were subjected.

On the other hand, there is a proposal from Hamas declaring its readiness to release all kidnapped Israelis in exchange for the release of all security prisoners, a complete ceasefire, and the withdrawal of the army from the northern Gaza Strip. For Israel, this is an acknowledgment of its defeat.

The fighting in the southern Gaza Strip will not be easy, and it will most likely not allow Israel to achieve a victory that seems impossible.
"The New Arab"


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