Israel is not preparing a military adventure against Gaza, Syria, Hezbollah or Iran because it is in fact already attaining its objectives both internationally and domestically.
Its military apparatus regularly hits targets in Syria with a calculated risk of retaliation from Damascus and its allies. Israel willingly risks a Syrian reprisal. If Syria were to respond to Israel’s continuous violations of its sovereignty, it would help Israel attract world attention. The world powers would then do their best to try and stop an escalation between Israel and all its enemies gathered in one place in the Levant, rather than looking in meticulous detail at Israel’s wrongdoing in Palestine, and its violations of UN and Oslo agreements. Israel is aware that its enemies will evaluate the timing, benefits and reaction to any military response. Syria and its allies believe a war will slow its recovery from 8 years of war. The potential consequences of a war with Israel on the Syrian economy – at a time of ongoing economic crisis – would be devastating. Syria’s allies are not willing to be dragged into a confrontation at Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s whim. They are also aware of Trump’s unlimited support for Israel at all costs and by any means. An Israeli-US war on Syria would be disastrous.
Netanyahu feels very confident, given Trump’s unlimited support and the confirmation of his domestic support in recent legislative elections. He holds the initiative and has managed to concentrate global attention on Iran rather than Palestine. Demonization of Iran as the head of the “Axis of Evil” diverts attention from the Jewish Nationalist law, the dislodging of the Palestinians from the West Bank-Zone C, and the Israeli attempt to wipe out any trace of Palestinians in the occupied Israeli territory.
Saudi Arabia’s record of militant hatred against Iran’s wide influence in the region is nothing new. It dates back to 1981 when Saddam Hussein declared war on Iran. Moreover, Saudi’s extremist Wahhabite Islamic doctrine leaves little room for tolerance towards any other practice of Islam or towards any other religion. Saudi’s takfiri Wahhabist doctrine is the same creed as that of al-Qaeda and ISIS, who consider secular, Shia, Druse, Isma’ili and Zaidi men, women and children as deserving to be killed at sight, and Yazidi and secular women and children as subject to enslavement.
The Israeli Defence Minister has said that he would prefer to have ISIS on Israel’s borders than the Syrian army and its allies; he publicly acknowledges Israeli military and non-military support to jihadist terrorists during the war against Syria. At the same time Saudi Arabia generously invested in support to Jihadists and opened its prisons and borders for Jihadist-tourists to leave the Kingdom in direction of the Levant. Israel and Saudi Arabia agreed and still agree today that their common enemy is Iran not ISIS.
Netanyahu plans to keep up his aggressive rhetoric against Iran while at the same time domestically pushing the one million Palestinian refugees from Gaza towards the Egyptian Sinai territory, so that he can later divide Gaza into parts A-B-C as his predecessors did to the West Bank through the 1993 Oslo agreement. The Israeli Prime Minister is also aiming to normalise Israeli-Arab relationships and establish overt diplomatic and commercial ties with Arab states, isolating Iran and its allies, i.e. Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Gaza and Yemen.
The Israeli Prime Minister was happy to share with the world that “more than two Arab Leaders rushed to congratulate him for his victory in the last legislative elections”, when a coalition of the far-right wing overwhelmingly defeated more conventional right-wing elements.
Gaza is the cornerstone of what Israel calls the “Deal of the Century”. Netanyahu cannot, any more than Hamas, deal with one million refugees and another million inhabitants – when he or his successors decide to move on Gaza. These people need water, electricity, medical care, infrastructure, schools, universities, security, and links with the outside world. The economic situation in Gaza is critical and Hamas is suffering from the sanctions imposed on its administration of the Strip.
Gaza was under Egyptian administration from 1948-1959. This inspired Netanyahu’s idea to relocate the Palestinians to Sinai. In the 1950s, President Abdel Nasser sent to Gaza his General Mustafa Hafez who in 1955 created “the Palestinian Fedayeen Forces”. Abdel Nasser visited al-Arish with Abdel Hakim Amer and Salah Salem and considered Hafez commander of the “Army of Palestine”. The Egyptian President considered it important not to rely on any UN resolutions, but he proved incompetent to give the Palestinians back their territory. Hafez was confronted with the Israeli unit 101 led by Ariel Sharon and was assassinated by the Israeli intelligence service.
David Ben Gurion decided to join the British and the French in their war against President Abdel Nasser following his decision to nationalise the Suez Canal. Israel saw in the charismatic Egyptian President an existential danger; Israel wanted control of Gaza and demanded that France build its nuclear military facility in Dimona.
Ben Gurion entered Gaza, Rafah and al-Arish and attacked the 200,000 Palestinian refugees (the population in those days). They had come from Haifa, Yafa, Gallilea, Jerusalem and other parts of Palestine. The Israelis killed in cold blood between 275 to 900 civilians during the nine-day massacre. In the 50s, Ben Gurion already wanted to implement the “Deal of the Century”. Israel was also responsible for another massacre, in Kfar Qassem, killing 49 farmers returning to their home because they hadn’t heard about a sudden curfew imposed by the Israeli army, as ex-Prime Minister Ehud Barak later acknowledged.
Israel adopted the “open door” policy, encouraging or intimidating Palestinians to leavetheir country. But the Israeli massacres didn’t persuade the Palestinians to leave their territory, like those who left in 1948. These were no longer affected by the Israeli “Ironing policy” and decided to stay even in wretched conditions.
These days, Israel is using Trump to try and twist the Palestinians’ arms. He gave Jerusalem (and the Golan) to Netanyahu and will probably give him the West Bank-zone C too. Trump also halted fundingfor the UN agency helping Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), in an attempt to force the Palestinians to accept Netanyahu’s objectives.
This is pushing the Palestinians to adopt what now appears the only solution–to join the resistance, to fight for their land. Those who have decided to stand up to Israel believe it is “weaker than the spider’s web”. Despite the murder of children, the elderly and women by Israeli bullets, Palestinians demonstrate weekly for the right of return. The Palestinian resistance (for the first time 14 groups have united in one military operational room joining their decisions, military actions and capabilities against Israel) has shown its capability to bomb Tel Aviv, forcing Netanyahu to positively respond to some Palestinian demands.
“Netanyahu said he will allow the re-opening of the passage between Gaza and Egypt; he will allow money to reach Hamas; he has agreed to enlarge the fishing space and allow trucks to supply Gaza with most needed goods. The Palestinian resistance agreed to stop using “rough methods” (flying burning kites) and managed to bring out of Israeli jails 1027 prisoners in the Gilad Shalit exchange deal. The Palestinian resistance has now halted all negotiations with Netanyahu in regard to the 5 Israelis detained by the Palestinian resistance. In turn the Israelis have re-arrested 56 prisoners who were released during the Shalit deal. Unless these are first released unconditionally, negotiations between the resistance and Israel will not be resumed”, said the Palestinian source.
The Palestinians find it difficult to reconcile amongst themselves to unite against Netanyahu’s “deal of the Century”. President Abbas wants to control Gaza, and Hamas is happy to pass on political leadership to him provided the armed resistance keeps its autonomy. Hamas is in organisational and economic trouble in Gaza and would like to take such responsibilities off its back. Hamas didn’t learn from the Hezbollah experience in Lebanon. Despite its huge military power Hezbollah wisely refuses to exert political control, thus avoiding blame for bad administration. Abbas believes in verbal resistance rather than armed resistance. Netanyahu supports the Palestinian President’s peaceful methods because he believes that talking has never won back any territory for the Palestinians. Abbas wants Hamas to retain control of Gaza if it won’t give up its weapons. This condition has been rejected by all resistance groups in Gaza.
Hamas has made many mistakes in the past. In Iraq and Syria, many ex-Hamas joined al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” (ISIS) with the aim of establishing an Islamic State. Many of them had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon but reappeared later as suicide bombers and on the battlefield, fighting against the Iraqi and Syrian governments for a purpose unrelated to Palestine. The political leadership jumped from one alliance to another and declared enmity to President Bashar al-Assad who still today refuses reconciliation with Hamas. Other Palestinian groups acted as a “guns for hire” in the service of Muammar Ghedaffi, Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad.
Netanyahu has failed to tame the resistance because he has no intention either of giving the Palestinians any territory, or of giving back territories Israel is currently occupying or has received from Trump. Netanyahu’s policies vindicate Hezbollah’s raison-d’être, justify Iran’s continued presence in the Levant, and provide strong motivations for President Bashar al-Assad to reject any future negotiations with Israel and to stick with the “Axis of the Resistance” for good. He is also offering to Iraq a motive to sympathise with the cause of the Levantine peoples and is dooming Israel to a state of ongoing war with its close neighbours.
The last word does not belong to Netanyahu or Trump. It belongs to the Palestinians. The wealth of the Middle East is being invested in Middle Eastern wars and is now being used in the service of Netanyahu – through Trump – to divide and reshuffle the Middle Eastern map. But the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
By Elijah J. Magnier
Source: Elijah J. Magnier