Thursday, 7 Dec 2023

This is ‘who will suffer most’ when Israel hits back against Hamas

Hamas’s decision to target civilians has earned condemnation from around the world. We may be past the point of de-escalation, and Israel is already preparing for offensive operations and mobilizing ground troops.

These events have come on what has felt like the eve of historic diplomatic changes in the region. Morocco and Saudi Arabia were moving towards normalised relations with Israel.

Saudi Arabia is also angling for a robust security agreement with the United States. Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman sees such a relationship as a major boost for the vision of his country as a global player. The UAE hopes to become a critical economic hub and is deepening ties with the West.

Hamas fears being left behind. Normalisation pushes aside their vision for a Palestinian state, so they struck, hoping to force Arabs to ally against Israel in a war between Muslims and Jews.

Saturday’s actions by Hamas show they are willing to use some of the worst terror tactics to do so. Even more moderate Israelis, who usually call for restraint, see this attack as brazen and unprecedented – not only are hundreds of Israeli men, women, and children dead or taken hostage, but Hamas fighters crossed into their country.

Military action will be seen as justified and necessary, to show Israel’s resolve and make citizens feel safe again. 

READ MORE Dad breaks down as he watches daughter kidnapped by Hamas beg for her life

At the same time, the danger of a broader, region-wide conflict has risen, as Hezbollah has fired rockets from Lebanon, attempting to further provoke Israel.

Domestic politics matter, too. Many Israelis are already blaming Prime Minister Netanyahu and his far-right government for failing to protect them.

The Prime Minister is also in deep political trouble following controversial reforms that would impact pending corruption proceedings against him, and he could try to use this assault to rally Israelis behind him as he defends the homeland.

War between these two forces will have no winners, but Palestinians will suffer the most. There are two million people in Gaza, the vast majority civilians, and they have nowhere to flee.

Israel’s military is far superior. They will push Hamas fighters back across the border and retaliate there. Hamas lives amongst civilian populations, and Israel has shown its willingness to inflict collateral damage when going after the terrorists – innocent Palestinians will be caught in the crossfire.Charley Cooper is a former senior Pentagon official.

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