The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Hamas’s Strategic Victory
I do not support Hamas, nor murder, by anyone. I am not Muslim, English not Arab, and have no Arab, still less Palestinian, connections at all. I have never attended a march or public demonstration in my life. Nor does it seem to me to be ‘anti-Israel’, still less anti-semitic, to expect Israel to behave more humanely and with more regard for law, property, and human life than Hamas. That is not a high bar to set for any remotely civilised state.
The State of Israel
The state of Israel (which was carved out of Palestine and did not exist until 1948) is unique in regarding the God of their national religion as a real estate agent and the arbiter of national boundaries. In fact, the state of Israel was created, and its borders were determined by international treaty. The assertion that ‘God gave us this land’ really is enough to make a cat laugh. Moreover, it is striking that the original Zionists of the late 19th and early 20th century readily accepted Jerusalem as sacred to a number of religions and a place which should be open to all of them. They pressed for a Jewish homeland but not necessarily where ancient Israel existed in biblical times. Africa was seriously considered, anywhere in fact where land was lightly populated and could be purchased for a modest price.
Israel was created and its borders declared by international treaty, rather than the childish conceit that the land of Israel was given to the Jews by God, and that actual possession, control, and private ownership rights that came into being during the 2000 years prior to 1948 can be ignored as contrary to the terms of God’s gift. And even so that was 2000 years ago. two millennia passed during which the state of Israel did not exist, and the land in question was owned and occupied by others. Until about a mere 70 years ago most of the present Israeli population and its forbears were citizens of a variety of European states.
Now let’s look into the following additional facts:
- That the 1948 treaty did NOT abrogate the private property rights of the owners of any of the land within the newly created state but merely made them subjects of that state (and incidentally, entitled to the protection of their property rights by that state and its courts).
- Israel is and has been for many decades blatantly and as a matter of policy violating international law by permitting and encouraging its own citizens to acquire (frequently by simple theft) land within the occupied territories, to evict the Arab private owners of that land, and to colonize the occupied territories. That does not sound to me like a state that respects and upholds international law.
- Under much respectable jurisprudential theory, violent resistance and ‘self-help’ is lawful where the person or persons acting violently are denied recourse to a lawful remedy through the courts, or the civil authority fails in its duty to them to uphold and protect their rights, in breach of law binding upon that civil authority, and under more extreme jurisprudential theory, where the person exercising such self-help has been denied his ‘human rights’ (which include the right to be safe and to the security of his personal property).
The Hamas attack on October 7 was never going to be anything other than suicide, it wasn’t an attempt to wipe Israel off the map. HAMAS don’t have the means to defeat Israel and neither do Hezbollah, even if they combined.
The attack was merely death throw from a dying nation, a bit like the little big horn during the Indian wars. In fact the plight of Palestine is very similar to the plight of American indigenous peoples… The most HAMAS could hope for was a brief moment of success, then maybe negotiations and concessions from Israel for security and to get the hostages back.
But Israel totally lost the plot, accepted the invitation to make a huge mistake, and kill tens of thousands of civilians. On hundreds of hours of news footage I’ve not seen a single Hamas fighter or weapon.
The Israeli mask has slipped, the far right religious bigotry has been revealed for the entire world to see, and with it the total hypocrisy of US foreign policy. Israel and the US may defeat Hamas militarily but they have already lost all credibility, or at least the Bibbi/Biden regime has.
Is Netanyahu in the pay of Moscow, or Hamas?
The Hamas attack on October 7 was never going to be anything other than suicide, it wasn’t an attempt to wipe Israel off the map. HAMAS don’t have the means to defeat Israel and neither do Hezbollah, even if they combined. The attack was merely a death throw from a dying nation, a bit like the little big horn during the Indian wars. In fact the plight of Palestine is very similar to the plight of American indigenous peoples…
So far, the conflict has been a total strategic victory for Hamas. Hamas presses Netanyahu’s buttons, and he responds exactly as they hope and expect he will to set the region aflame and force Arabs and Muslims to choose between Israel and the Palestinians, and to make it impossible for Arab and Muslim states to ignore public opinion and force them to criticise Israel and to back the Palestinians:-
- The object of the Hamas raid was to provoke an extreme reaction from Israel, including heavy loss of civilian life (Hamas does not care about Palestinian civilian lives where the losses serve its purpose in showing Israel in a bad light and make even tacit support for Israel by Arab states impossible). Nor in an armed conflict, is there any chance that Palestinian support for Hamas will be reduced, because there are only two choices , support for Hamas or for Israel.
- Israel has obliged by reprisals on a scale and of a type which put an end to any chance of a Saudi – Israel treaty (or a treaty between any other Arab nation and Israel) which would have cut financial support for Hamas or Hezbollah or made intervention against Israel by Arab states in support of the Palestinians less likely.
- The scale and nature of the reprisals and in particular cutting off water, fuel, food and medical supplies to the civilian population of Gaza has eclipsed the barbaric Hamas raid from minds around the world, and Israel is now seen as the barbaric party, at best on a moral par with Hamas.
- The USA is becoming concerned that its unconditional support for Israel is doing it huge reputational damage around the Muslim, and much of the non-Muslim, world. The USA is now back-pedalling, and calling for Israel to conduct its operations within the requirements of international law.
- Israel may yet push its reprisals to the point where other Arab states feel obliged by public opinion at home to intervene militarily in support of the Palestinians. even if they do not, they will certainly give diplomatic and financial support to the Palestinian cause.
- No doubt plenty of terrorists will be killed, but within a couple of years a new, probably more efficient, generation of terrorists will have grown up.
Israel has made the desert bloom, by stealing all the water!
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Israel hold all of the aces, and they increasingly persecute the indigenous peoples.
When Israel sees demonstrations against them and in favour of the Palestinians around the world, and Jews around the world hanging their heads in shame and keeping a low profile, what does it think the prospects are for normalising relations with neighbouring Arab states and gradually marginalising the support for the Palestinian cause, and causing the supplies of money and weapons Hamas currently enjoys to dry up? What a mess….
A Propoganda War
One thing is absolutely clear, though: the gratuitous slaughter of civilians is a criminal act whoever commits that slaughter, and the Semitic code, shared by both Hebrews and Arabs (both being Semitic races) of ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,’ (all too often applied in terms of ‘many eyes for an eye, many teeth for a tooth’) provides no way forward. Two wrongs do not make a right; they just perpetuate and exacerbate the cycle.
The conflict itself is also a propaganda war. No casualty numbers should be accepted without verification, which the Palestinians are now supplying. One murder is one too many, but 1400 dead is a huge number and would suggest at least that number wounded, and I have seen no evidence of 1400 funerals, nor huge numbers of wounded. Where are the interviews with wounded survivors or pictures of crowded hospital wards?
Frankly, and at the risk of being accused of inappropriate levity, I also wonder how many truck loads of ammunition a bunch of Palestinian irregulars would need to inflict 1400 fatal gunshots. Some casualties will have been inflicted by rockets, but they certainly would not have inflicted a 100% fatality rate – statistically more likely about 3 wounded (perhaps more for Fred Carno rockets) for every death.
As I say though, even one murder is one too many, and in a confused situation with a lot of shooting at least SOME blue on blues are inevitable, though highly regrettable, and not something any army publicises. That said, a figure of 50% of the death toll seems far too high to be credible. Even 5 or 10% would be surprisingly high.
A Two-State Solution
I heard someone mentioning that from his experience Arabs and Jews do not stick to their bargains. That is not my experience. In my experience, Arabs and Jews tend to bargain long and hard but stick to a deal after it is struck and expect exact adherence on the other side too.
How can the Israeli action end the problem ‘once and for all’? At best, it will leave a political vacuum, in which another and probably more extreme organisation than Hamas will spring up and prosper. Just as Hamas filled the void when lat this ‘solution’ was attempted. A ‘one state’ solution is impossible because (a) a mixed population of settlors and Palestinians would be a recipe for civil war and (b) Israel would not allow Palestinians to vote in elections because they might actually win seats, by reason of numbers.
To create a viable Palestinian state huge numbers of settlors would have to be removed, and would resist… Moreover, would any Israeli government get elected on a mandate to return stolen land? I also think the Jordanians might be more than a little concerned at the prospect of placing their border security exclusively in the hands of the Palestinians! I expect they would be only too happy to ship out their numerous Palestinian refugees to the new Palestinian state on the West Bank, but would wish to maintain tight border security to ensure that none of them came back! Lebanon too would doubtless be happy to provide further Palestinian citizens to populate the new Palestine, and would be equally keen to make sure they did not return.
And as for the Israelis relocated to the Gaza strip, the Egyptians would probably find them more congenial neighbours than the Palestinians they replaced, but it would not be long before the Palestinians wanted it back, because the new Israeli owners would in no time at all transform it to a place of hitherto unknown prosperity! Too cynical? Perhaps the Palestinians, generous minded folk that they are, would feel admiration, and satisfaction that the Gaza strip was in good Jewish hands and its true potential being realised.
So what will happen? Gaza will continue as an open air concentration camp, Israel will continue to settle the west bank and to evict the arabs living there. Israel no doubt hopes that in the end other arab states will take in all the Palestinians, leaving all the land for the Israelis. I don’t see that happening. Eventually the USA will grow weary of paying for Israeli oppression, and seeing Israel trash the reputation of the USA in the process.Then Israel will have to accept a two state solution, but the process will be very traumatic with far more settlors to shift than there are today. Israel is its own worst enemy.
In conclusion, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a deeply complex and multifaceted issue with no easy solutions. While both sides have legitimate concerns and grievances, the recent escalations have once again highlighted the tragic loss of innocent lives and the need for a peaceful resolution. The international community’s role in promoting dialogue, upholding international law, and working towards a two-state solution is crucial. It is imperative that all parties involved prioritize diplomacy and empathy over violence and retribution, as the cycle of suffering and conflict only perpetuates a tragic status quo.