Opinion| Gains and losses in the Gaza war (2)

Hatem Sadek
7 Min Read

The operation on 7 October posed a complex challenge for Israel, stirring confusion across all political and religious factions, including the ruling right-wing parties.

Despite the pressures, the Israeli right navigated the conflict in a manner that led to internal rifts, even within the coalition government, and actions that strained ties with some of Israel’s staunchest allies.

Recent polls suggest that the conflict has eroded support for the Israeli right, with indications that the right-wing parties currently in power could face a substantial loss to the opposition in potential early elections.

The United States-Israel relationship has also experienced tensions, necessitating a reassessment. Contrary to common assumptions, Tel Aviv has shown a capacity to influence Washington that may surpass Washington’s leverage over Tel Aviv, with US decisions proving pivotal.

In Europe, the war’s impact is less pronounced. The ongoing war in Ukraine and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic have heavily influenced Europe, leading to a reliance on the US stance in many crises, despite efforts by nations like France to adopt a more balanced approach amidst the turmoil.

Conversely, Russia appears to have gained from the Gaza conflict, capitalizing on America’s preoccupation with Israel to secure advances against the Ukrainian forces, especially as European backing for Kyiv has waned.

Furthermore, Russia, in partnership with China, has effectively challenged the US on the diplomatic front within the Security Council and the United Nations, highlighting perceived inconsistencies and causing diplomatic discomfort for the US among the international community and Global South nations.

This strategy aims to underscore what they view as American double standards by contrasting the US responses to the conflict in Ukraine, the situation in Taiwan, and the treatment of the Uyghurs, with the support for Israel’s actions in Gaza, which they argue reflects a broader pattern of US antagonism unrelated to specific policies.

Regionally, Hamas has leaned heavily on support from Turkey and Iran, beyond what their capacities might justify. Turkey, amidst a financial and political crisis, as shown in its recent elections, faces internal divisions without an apparent successor to Erdogan within his party.

Iran, too, stands at a threshold of change, with the Supreme Leader’s advanced age signaling a potential shift in power. To maintain control, the Supreme Leader has favored the conservative faction in recent elections, while the nation grapples with economic turmoil and public weariness from prolonged conflicts since the rise of the Islamic movement.

Several outcomes have emerged from the conflict, some predating the war and now forming the basis for future developments:

1- For the first time, two peoples with historical and religious claims to the land of Palestine have gained some degree of legitimacy, despite the potential inequality of their claims.

2- When historical and religious claims are nearly equal, the party wielding greater power will inevitably extend its influence and dictate its vision over the other.

3- These claims are now politically and economically endorsed by most stakeholders in the conflict. Yet, the more powerful party has managed to navigate this complexity, while its counterpart remains hindered by internal strife and vulnerability to external exploitation.

4- Armed resistance often serves as leverage for better political negotiation terms rather than a means to assert control over land or impose a vision, especially against an occupier with superior political, military, and economic strength.

5- The efficacy of national resistance is contingent upon the support of its local environment. It should act as a defense for the people and land against the occupier’s transgressions, rather than forcing residents to become shields for the resistance.

6- The notion of an independent Palestinian state, whether now or in the foreseeable future, seems more like a pretext to perpetuate the conflict rather than a feasible goal. This is due to the lack of essential state components, exacerbated by the proliferation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, where nearly half of Israel’s population resides. The remaining territory offers scant resources for Palestinians to establish a viable state, save for the Gaza coastline.

7- Palestinian decision-making regarding national issues and negotiations tends to be delayed or non-existent. A glance at the online maps of the proposed Palestinian state reveals the gradual erosion of land and statehood concept, following each unimplemented resolution or accord since 1947.

8- The Palestinian cause has been detrimentally affected by its religious and ideological promotion, particularly post-1967 war. This period has seen Arab regimes with conservative religious views exploiting the cause for their agendas.

9- In the Gaza conflict, advancements in technology have narrowed the military gap between nations like Israel and non-state actors such as Hamas. This shift has enabled groups like Hamas to conduct operations that resemble those of national militaries, as noted by Foreign Affairs magazine. Modern technology has empowered Hamas to execute complex attacks and disseminate their message as effectively as Israel. Traditional strategies, including the construction of tunnels beneath Gaza, have also bolstered Hamas’s defense against a stronger adversary. The group has expanded its influence, notably through the abduction of approximately 240 individuals. Technological access has allowed Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement to self-produce various armaments, including drones, which are now pivotal in modern combat.

10- The information technology revolution has provided Hamas with tools to enhance and broadcast their achievements. They now match Israel in their capacity to communicate their perspective of the conflict. Hamas utilizes platforms like the Telegram app for recruitment and content distribution.

Dr. Hatem Sadek: Professor at Helwan University

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