Views & Reviews
West Asia Crisis: Israel at War
After exactly 50 years of the deadly Yom Kippur war of 1973, Israel once again woke up to a bloody dawn on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. The ghastly terror attack did renew the memories of the Holocaust of the 20th century.
In fact, the terror group behind this cowardly attack, that is Hamas, has in its charter called for the complete annihilation of Israel as a nation-state. This also quite justifies the group being proscribed by various democracies around the world including the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and others.
While the Hamas may not accurately represent the ‘Palestinian cause’ due to them junking the two-state theory through their fundamentalist approach, they do still receive much backing from Muslim powers in the region and elsewhere.
The latest terror attack on the Israelis may be seen as barbaric and a form of butchery by an overwhelming majority, but what raised many eyebrows was the nature and sophistication of the execution of the same.
Domestic political turmoil due to protests within Israel against the sweeping judicial reforms by Prime Minister Netanyahu, diverted the attention of the Intelligence agencies away from its border regions. This, coupled with a Jewish holiday meant the Hamas had the requisite tactical advantage to gain an upper hand when the conflict broke out. However, no explanation justifies the death of over 1400 Israelis and counting.
The Hamas-launched “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood”, whose objective on paper is to retake the “occupied lands” by the Zionist regime in Israel, including the mosque at Al-Aqsa that is central to the faith of Islam. Irrespective of whether they realise this aim through the ongoing assault or not, it will certainly bloody Israel’s nose and drag it onto the negotiating table.
The Al-Aqsa mosque located in East Jerusalem, is in close proximity to other holy sites in Judaism and Christianity too. This small piece of real estate has since been a flashpoint in the Israel- Palestine conflict.
In the past couple of years, there have been reportedly serious scuffles between the people of different faiths in the area around the holy site, with the state of Israel being portrayed as the oppressor.
The Hamas has skilfully used the videos to carry out information warfare and psychological operations on social media and other platforms, so as to fuel emotional support for its dastardly actions on the innocent civilians in Israel.
The two-state theory which has been propagated by many as a viable solution for the ever-lasting dispute, may not be as straightforward to execute in reality. Dissecting a territory into two will involve complicated historical, political, religious and geographical calculations, which may have no single formula in the textbooks on geopolitics.
Moreover, the ruling establishment in Israel is a coalition of the far- right conservatives, that not only rejects the existence of a separate Palestinian state, but also has intended to annex the West Bank into its own territory, much like they did with the Golan Heights from Syrian control during the six-day war in 1967.
The recent attack by Hamas has created a tailor-made situation for the Israel’s political and military establishment to realise the aforementioned objectives. This has all the possibilities of widening the conflict in the region, while increasing the figures of innocent casualties.
Under the “Operation Iron Swords”, Israel has vowed to crush the Hamas and has managed to kill several of its top commanders through air raids and bombings. The attacks however, are not limited to Gaza city only, as Israeli air strikes have been reported in the Southern Lebanon and inside Syria as well.
A multi-front war in the region and the rise in civilian casualties may well alter the narrative from Israel being the victim to the aggressor in the region. Loss of international support would be the least desirable for Israelis, who are surrounded by a hostile neighbourhood.
Israel has now cut off the Gaza strip from access to water, fuel, electricity and even food, to prepare ground for an imminent terrestrial invasion into the Gaza strip, a move that has found little backing among global players.
With Saudi Arabia pulling out of peace talks with Israel, the Arab- Israel rapprochement, which had been negotiated under the Abraham Accords in 2020, now stands derailed.
Mega projects involving India, such as the India- Middle East –
Europe – Economic Corridor (IMEC), launched during the Group of 20 (G20) summit held in New Delhi earlier this year, may face difficulties.
With Israel taking a harder stance that terror and talks cannot go together, a long-drawn conflict looms large over the region. The solution to such complex geopolitical problems can only be found out when the fog of ideologies settles down and realpolitik takes over for the better.
There is however, little doubt that Israel may have now learnt its lesson on cross-border terrorism the harder way. India quickly needs to make its own adjustments at its frontiers, especially with terrorism being one of the larger industries for its western neighbour.
One of the most notable lessons from the Israel-Hamas war is to understand that technological superiority can only aid the foot soldiers on ground, but does not make one invincible or impenetrable.
Binit Patnaik is a freelance writer dealing with Indian Political System and International Affairs.