The war on Gaza: carnage of hard power

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This article is featured in Orient I/2024.

The attack by Hamas against the Israeli settlements on Gaza’s northern border on October 7 had the limited objective of taking as many captives as possible to exchange them later, with a growing number of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. However, the operation, while it did achieve its objective, seemed to go sour as anarchy prevailed with the flow of undisciplined crowds into the settlements, precipitating acts of violence. The reaction to Hamas resulted in a war of vengeance against Gaza, with clear indications that the carnage created has rendered the towns and villages of the Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank unfit for living. Witnessing the huge destruction of life and property, the world woke up to the tragedy of the Palestinians. Calls were made to end the violence and the option of a two-state solution gained momentum. Yet historical precedence seems to defy such a course of action. On previous occasions when the world attended to the various sides and parties of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours, it was often Israeli reluctance to make the necessary territorial concessions that led to failure. The typical syndrome followed a familiar pattern, in which Israeli leaders begin having disagreements and friction among themselves, then their American allies fall into confusion and inaction resulted. This has plagued the course of the so-called peace process between Israelis and Palestinians since 1967. Biden has made it clear that he not only favours the two-state solution, but that in preparation for its realisation, Netanyahu should distance himself from the extremists and accept the Palestinian Authority as a negotiating partner. Netanyahu has already rejected Biden’s recommendations and opted for a defiant position. In all probability, Biden will shy away from a confrontation and the call for a two-state solution will be frozen. Consequently, Israel will continue to rely on its hard power without relinquishing its hold on the territories it occupied in 1967.

Walid Kazziha is Professor of Political Science, several times chairman of department and former Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Political Science at The American University in Cairo. He is a specialist in the field of Middle East Politics, with particular reference to the politics of the Arab East, Egypt and the Gulf region. He has taught a wide range of courses focusing on government and politics of the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli conflict, civil society in the Middle East, political Islam, Arab political and social thought, the Middle East in Global Politics and conflicts in the Gulf. He has authored and co-authored several books, including Egypt’s Tahrir Revolution, Revolutionary Transformation in the Arab World, Palestine in the Arab Dilemma and a monograph, The Social History of Southern Syria.

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