More than five weeks have passed since the brutal war launched by Israel on the Gaza Strip. The major humanitarian catastrophe it has left so far – through the indiscriminate killing of civilians, targeting hospitals and residential facilities, preventing the entry of food, medical and relief aid to the afflicted, and forcing the residents of the northern Gaza Strip to migrate towards the south – gives us a clear glimpse of Israel’s strategy in this war.
This strategy is based on three goals: removing Gaza from the equation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, collectively punishing the Palestinians as a means of restoring the concept of deterrence that cracked after the Hamas attack on October 7, and turning the war into an opportunity to complete what Israel has been unable to do since the Palestinian Nakba by trying to create A major demographic change in the conflict through displacement in Gaza, and an escalation in the pace of mass expulsions of Palestinians from some areas of the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu’s personal factor adds another dimension to the war. Because he faces a devastating political fate after the war ends, he looks to prolong it as long as possible
Although the Israeli crimes were one of the results of the absolute support that the West provided to Israel at the beginning of the war under the pretext of defending itself, some Western leaders began to show a feeling of shock at these crimes, but it is a feeling that mostly seems artificial in order to relieve the internal and external pressure that Western governments face due to… The green light it gave to Israel to wage war and continue it in this brutal manner, as well as political and military support for it, just like the United States does. However, the growing criticism in Western capitals of the Israeli war does not change the fact that the West, in general, is not ready to exert its influence in order to stop Israeli arrogance.
The United States still opposes a ceasefire, as does Germany; With the aim of giving Israel more time to achieve its goals in Gaza. The humanitarian paths that the West is now demanding raise many doubts about their true motives. On the one hand, it appears designed to reduce the moral responsibility that the West bears in this war, and on the other hand, to reduce international pressure on Israel and enable it to displace civilians from the north of the Gaza Strip to its south under the pretext of protecting them.
However – as it seems clear so far – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to continue this war, not only in order to eliminate Hamas, but also in order to achieve other strategic goals that go beyond the Hamas movement. Western complicity – alongside Israel in this war and the inability of the Arab and Islamic worlds to do anything to stop it – gives Netanyahu a clear message that he is capable of continuing the massacre in Gaza and causing a second catastrophe for the Palestinians without having to care about the consequences.
Netanyahu’s personal factor adds another dimension to the war. Because he faces a devastating political fate after the end of the war, he views prolonging it as long as possible and causing a second Nakba for the Palestinians as ways to delay political punishment, and perhaps ultimately escape it. A prominent commentator in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz wrote last week: Waiting for the end of the war in order to remove Netanyahu from the Israeli political scene means that the war will not end. He seems right in this assessment; Because the Israelis are well aware of Netanyahu’s mentality and methods that have enabled him to remain in power all these years.
Confronting the major humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip and stopping the war should form the basis of regional and international approaches. However, these approaches must not ignore the fact that Israel deals primarily with this war from the perspective of the opportunity it has created for it to remove Gaza from the conflict equation, and a new displacement of Palestinians in order to completely eliminate the remaining opportunities for establishing a state for Palestinians in the future.
The prominent leaders who ruled Israel sought to leave their own legacy. Inflicting the maximum amount of disasters on the Palestinians and their cause was often the basic criterion that determined whether this legacy deserved to be recorded on the first pages of Israeli history. Although the worst setback Israel has suffered since the 1973 war occurred during Netanyahu’s rule, and although it caused a deep and unprecedented internal division in Israel’s history, he views the infliction of a second Nakba on the Palestinians as the legacy he must leave.
Although Netanyahu’s declared goals in the war are to eliminate Hamas, he is looking for legacy before Hamas. He wants to be remembered in Israeli history as the leader who, eight decades after the first Palestinian catastrophe, was able to bring about a second catastrophe for them, and to crown the demographic changes he brought about – in historic Palestine during his rule through the settlement incursion into the West Bank – with the displacement of the Palestinians from the Gaza Strip. And unleashing the settlement movement by escalating displacement operations in Area C in the West Bank, which the international community envisions as the core of the Palestinian state project.
Therefore, he is seeking, from now on, to impose his visions for the day after the end of the war by declaring that Israel will assume security control over Gaza after the supposed elimination of Hamas, rejecting the return of the Palestinian Authority to the Gaza Strip, and opposing the American proposal to involve the countries of the region in managing the security arrangements in Gaza. After the war. Although the justifications offered by Netanyahu in public stem from security considerations, in reality they go beyond these considerations. Netanyahu believes that reoccupying Gaza will help him in the future to redeploy settlements in the Strip, and that allowing the Palestinian Authority to return to administering Gaza or deploying foreign forces there will weaken Israel’s ability to resist the project of a two-state solution to the conflict, especially since this project has regained great momentum in politics. Regional and international relations towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The administration of President Joe Biden has shown an explicit rejection of Israel’s reoccupation of the Gaza Strip, and gives a strong impression that it wants this war to end by relaunching a serious peace process between Palestinians and Israelis leading to a two-state solution. But the truth she will have to face now; Netanyahu’s main goals in the war are to destroy any remaining chance for peace.