Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
In Flattening the Gaza
Strip, Israel's Bleak Choices for the Day After
November 13, 2023
Millions of Palestinians forced to leave Gaza City towards
southern parts of Gaza Strip,
under continuous genocidal air
strikes, November 2023
In flattening the Gaza Strip, Israel’s bleak choices
for the day after
Undoubtedly, the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation launched by Hamas and its
resident allies on 7 October is already having profound repercussions
that will shape the political and strategic thinking for years to come.
For Israel, the day after will only compound current chauvinist Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s problems and could well speed up his long
sought downfall from power, further multiplying his legal troubles. Many
Israelis are accusing him of being unfit as a leader and want him out.
He has already been threatened with a jail term because of cases against
him. His approval ratings have plummeted to less than 30 per cent.
Netanyahu came to power promising Israelis more security and unleashing
the armed settlers to grab more Palestinian land. But, within a year of
his return to power, he failed to deliver any security as the Al-Aqsa
Flood Operation has shown.
In flattening the Gaza Strip, Israel’s bleak choices for the day after
After a month of slaughtering Gazans,
killing over 11,000 civilians, including over 4,000 children, Netanyahu
is yet to offer any serious and clear plan for the day after in the Gaza
Strip. The current bloody campaign will end one day, however long it
takes and however many more thousands of civilian Palestinians are
The Israeli war cabinet is already divided over the
question of what to do with the over-crowded strip of land where once
Israel was in direct control.
The more hawkish warmongers prefer
playing by the colonial textbook, which means re-occupying the entire
Gaza Strip or even annexing it altogether—an already tried and failed
approach. Others think neither Hamas nor Israel should govern the region
which will mean inheriting a waste land good only for creating more
Hamas(s), even if the current one is “wiped off the face of the earth”
as has been the stated goal of the current war—many IsraelI officials,
including Netanyahu, have been repeating this slogan as the only war
For his part, the Prime Minister offered the world a
glimpse of his thinking in an interview with ABC, in which he said that
Israel will have “overall security responsibility in Gaza for an
indefinite period”. But just as when he first announced the war
objectives, Netanyahu failed to explain what that means, in reality.
How could Israel be in complete charge of security in the waste land
of the Gaza Strip without being in full charge of the daily affairs of
the survivors of the onslaught? It is like the ill-defined war objective
of finishing Hamas off for good, but at what cost? Hamas continues to be
the “ghost” army it has always been and eradicating it is easier said
Being in charge of security means, among other things,
Israeli security agencies’ physical presence on the ground, watching
every aspect of Gazans’ lives, every minute of every day, twenty four
hours a day. Such an approach will also mean Israel will find itself
responsible, and legally bound as Occupier, to meddle in the Gaza
Strip’s ruined economy as more unemployment, more rebuilding and more
civil administration will be needed. This policy will, essentially, lead
to more Israeli intermingling with daily life which will, eventually,
lead to more and wider control.
This is a repetition of the same
old story and complete déjà vu which ended in a string of disasters for
the Gazans and for Israel, too, peaking into the latest war. Israel’s
security, again, will not be the outcome of such planning. At some
point, Gazans will resist, as they have been doing since 1967 and,
again, Israelis will suffer as a result.
Most Western sponsors of
Israel have already rejected this approach without offering their own
alternatives. The United States President, a big fan of the murderous
war, has warned Israel that staying in the Gaza Strip will be a big
“mistake”. Another huge fan of Israel, the President of the European
Union, Ursula Van der Leyen, doubled down on Biden by saying that
“long-term Israeli security presence” in the area is no starter.
It is not that the US or the EU are likely to penalize Israel if it
does re-occupy the strip of land – of course not. But they are advising
Israel, as good friends and reliable allies, that such a course of
action is too bad a long-term option.
Netanyahu might be thinking
of copying the West Bank model and applying it to Gaza. According to the
notorious Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is supposed to
control the civilian population and related issues; Israel has almost
full control of security. However, even the hated and corrupt PA is very
unlikely to accept such a treasonous arrangement. No Palestinian
politician would like to come to Gaza on the back of Israeli tanks and
thousands of dead Gazans. Besides, the PA has already had its fingers
burned when, in 2007, it conspired with Israel, the US and EU to deny
Hamas power after Hamas won the 2006 elections.
The other option
left may be some kind of arrangement made up of experienced
“bureaucrats”, who survived the war, to manage the daily ruined lives of
the population under some ad-hoc umbrella of local dignities and social
leadership, constantly coordinating with Israel. Even if accepted by
Gazans, this option is also unlikely, and it is a risky one. Most such
bureaucrats tend to be Hamas trained and mostly loyal to it without
necessarily being among its fighting brigade. Hamas, as Israel knows
only too well, is a huge network of social work, medical services and
educational institutions. On top of that, there is absolutely no
sympathy whatsoever among Gazans towards Israel but hate and more hate,
making collaboration with Israel a very slim possibility.
last option might be some Western financed United Nations, international
or regional security arrangement in which Israel will play no role. But
this scenario will never be accepted by today’s Israel and no regional
country is likely to join such a plan. Palestinians might accept such an
arrangement as long as it is not long-term and ends up in elections to
produce a new government, even if that means Gaza only elections.
However, this is no long-term solution but a bad choice amongst worse
ones. It might work, but it will certainly reset everything to where it
was on the morning of 7 October.
Israel is, indeed, in a rather
complicated labyrinth of its own making.
The last option that
might have the potential for settlement of the entire 75 year conflict
is a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians that
would lead to an independent Palestinian State, alongside Israel. Again,
wounded and humiliated Israel under its current fascist government will
never swallow such bitter medicine.
Logically one owns what one
breaks, but Israel has been defying any logic since it was created.
- Mustafa Fetouri is a Libyan academic and
freelance journalist. He is a recipient of the EU’s Freedom of the Press
prize. His article appeared in MEMO.