What has Israel gained after 200 days of aggression against Gaza?

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By: Adnan Abu Amer

After more than 200 days of aggression against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and a ruthless war of annihilation against people, buildings, plants and wildlife, has Israel found what it is looking for? The occupation state launched its offensive on the premise that all of its barbarism on the battlefield must lead to the defeat of the Palestinian resistance, even at the cost of massacring the elderly, women and children, and destroying civilian infrastructure. That has not been achieved, despite the enormous bloodshed over the past seven months.

Israelis are looking at the price being paid for the government’s and armed forces’ failure to achieve Benjamin Netanyahu’s stated goals of his war. Billions of shekels — hundreds of millions of dollars — are spent daily; waves of hostility are swamping Zionist propaganda; international support is draining away amid game-changing shifts in US and European public opinion; normalisation agreements in the Arab world are being disrupted; Israel’s political standing and regional deterrence factor are probably damaged beyond repair; and there is unprecedented legal, moral and political pressure on the occupation state and its illegal settlers.

It has already created a new reality that is an incentive for all anti-occupation forces in the region. As a result, Israel will be facing strategic damage that exceeds its so-called tactical achievements and paves the way for facing more pressure of all kinds.

More than 200 days of genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza have failed to eliminate the resistance capabilities of Hamas — which have, nevertheless, still suffered considerably, no doubt — and the movement is still the de facto government in the enclave, doing its best to help the people under the most horrendous of circumstances. Israelis believe that Hamas will be able to rehabilitate what has been destroyed, and point to the fact that in only a few days during the November truce it was able to revive its fighting capabilities in certain areas. What, they ask, will it be able to do if a long-term ceasefire is agreed, or the war is ended altogether?

It is unlikely, therefore, that the sketchy operational plans under which the occupation army is operating, with no clear, definite objective in mind, will lead to the desired outcome.

Hamas, meanwhile, summarised the 200 days of war in a recent statement by its military spokesman. He mentioned strategic achievements, including the losses incurred daily by the occupation forces in terms of dead and wounded soldiers, despite the seemingly endless supply of arms and ammunition at their disposal (courtesy of the US and Germany, and other allies, all of whom are complicit in this genocide). If the struggle turns into a war of attrition it will be interesting to see which side will collapse and give up first. In any case, a long-term war is not in the best interest of the occupation state.

Perhaps the clearest evidence of this was the recent resistance action to the east of Khan Yunis, and in Beit Hanoun. These two areas are used as Israeli buffer zones. However, the reality on the ground is that there were dozens of fighters watching the occupation army’s movements. At the same time, the movement continues to fire missiles at Israeli cities from these very areas, sending a strong message to the apartheid state that despite the near total destruction of civilian infrastructure and killing of Palestinians — mainly children and women — it has not achieved its aims.

The upshot is that there is a growing concern in Israel that this war is going to last for several more months, perhaps longer, as its troops sink into the Gaza quagmire, physically and metaphorically. The army seems to have been unprepared for the type of guerrilla warfare employed by the resistance groups.

Moreover, the operational objectives have been recalibrated according to developments on the ground and political restrictions; they are now actually less well-defined than before. Instead of the complete destruction of Hamas’s military and government capabilities, we now see that the occupation army wants to ensure simply that Hamas is unable to carry out another 7 October-style attack in the years to come. This might necessitate the original goal being achieved, or it might not. We’ll see.

Whatever happens, Israel made a mistake in aligning its operational plan with the declared war objectives of a prime minister facing criminal charges (and now possibly war crimes charges) and for whom the war acts as a temporary “Get Out of Jail Free” card. You cannot bomb an ideology into submission; killing key Hamas personnel has been tried in the past, and ready-made replacements simply stepped into the breach, so the challenge of the Islamic Resistance Movement is not going away. Unless and until meaningful steps are taken to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the oppression of its people, therefore, Israelis will be fearful every time the 7th of any month looms on the calendar.

End the war. End the occupation.

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