Hamas ‘Terror Attack’ on Israel puts ‘Palestinian Cause’ in limbo

It was the Jewish festival of ‘Sukkot’ as the whole Israel was having a relaxed sleep, when the ghoulish terrorists of Hamas carried out one of the deadliest terror attacks of recent times killing over 1400 innocent people. The Israeli counter-offensive on expected lines, has been extremely brutal leading to the death of much more civilians than terrorists. And in between all this, the ‘Palestinian Cause’ — though was never a geopolitical priority — has been further thrown in the backburner. In this Blog, I will analyze the whole sequence of events, its geopolitical aspects and what lies in future.

The Attack of 7/10

October 7, 2023. The whole of Israel was sleeping totally unaware of the horrific sequence of events that were to be followed. Suddenly, a barrage of rockets was fired into the territory of Israel. Completely caught unaware, before Israel could have understood anything, hundreds of Hamas militants breached the Israeli territory. The militants started massacring the people, killing and raping innocent civilians. The death toll started mounting at a rapid pace and from 100, 200 crossed 1000 in no time, with total casualties being well above 3000.

In a major development, Ofir Liebstein, the mayor of Shar’ar Hanegev, San Diego’s sister city in Israel too was killed in the attack. Making the case even more gruesome, some extremely horrific and disturbing videos emerged on the web, showing Hamas terrorists celebrating with a naked woman’s body. At the same time — amid claims of Hamas beheading children — some blood-curdling visuals appeared of burned child corpses. Hamas has even taken many innocent as hostages (220 confirmed as of now).

The Israeli security forces — who are known for their extremely sharp intelligence — had completely failed to anticipate anything even close to this. As the forces woke up to the situation, they started retaliatory attacks; first by attacking the militants within Israel, and then launching a major offensive in the Gaza Strip, which has witnessed a huge number of civilian casualties. With fuel, and water cut off for a long, the area is suffering from a major humanitarian crisis, with even hospitals being on the brink of shutting down. Although the Rafah crossing from Egypt has been opened, there lies a long way ahead for normalcy.

Five Hours After Gruesome Attack Began, a Satellite Captured Hamas  Atrocities in Israel - National Security & Cyber -

A satellite imagery showing the extent of brutal Hamas attacks (Photo: Haaretz)

A Brief History of Israel-Palestine

The whole conflict between Israel and Palestine originates from the holy land, on which as many as three religions have their claims. Amid the persecution of Jews, the movement called ‘Zionism’ emerged which called for the Jewish people to head towards their holy land Jerusalem and form an exclusively Jewish state. As a lot of Jews started gathering in Jerusalem which was under the Ottoman Empire, it led to a series of Arab-Jewish riots. Ultimately, in 1948, Israel marked its inception after a UN-brokered deal (under which Jerusalem was an international territory). However, it left the Arab countries infuriated and this led to a series of Arab-Israeli wars (1967 being the most horrific). The place of Jerusalem also marks the religious belief of both Muslims and Jews, creating further tensions between Israel and Palestine.

PS: This is a very brief description. For more details, do read my blog (link above and below) where I have given more elaborate descriptions.

However, despite all the violence, there did come a moment which could have set things right. Yitzhak Rabin was perhaps, the best Israel Prime Minister to hold the office. He actually tried to resolve this conflict by recognising the state of Palestine. The Oslo Accords (1993) brokered by Rabin and PLO chief Yassar Arafat called for separate territories under Israel and Palestine and some under joint control. This was the best-case scenario and could have almost installed a peaceful two-state solution. However, the extremists and hardliners (a huge enough section in Israel) were very much against even some piece of land being given to Palestine. As a result, Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated and the accords fell off the backburner.

Palestine's other open-air prison | Occupied West Bank | Al Jazeera

Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world (Photo: Al Jazeera)

The ‘Open Air Prison’ called Gaza Strip

Looking at the complex map of Palestine, it is divided into two parts (broadly), the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. While, the West Bank is governed by elected Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) or Fatah (Ḥarakat al-Taḥrir al-Waṭani l-Filasṭini), the Gaza Strip is controlled by terror group Hamas. Intially, PLO too was a radical group designated “terror outfit” by many. But, slowly it mended its ways, and chose the route of demanding independence ‘peacefully’. However, when the ‘peaceful’ way couldn’t bear fruit over the years, the radical section started taking the other route. This birthed Hamas which eventually kicked out PLO from the Gaza and enforced its total control.

Unlike PLO, which recognises Israel, Hamas believes in “total destruction” of the Jewish state. And, worryingly, as the ‘Palestinian Cause’ kept on being sidelined, it has led to more impatience especially among the Palestinian youth, building more support towards Hamas and its violent means. The reason even PLO-government in West Bank hasn’t called elections since 2006, is the fear that Hamas may come out victorious or at least a major power-holder in the authority. However, a significant section also believes that Hamas must get away from Gaza as their presence itself has been more harmful for the civilians there.

The area of Gaza Strip is a narrow portion of land sandwiched between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. With 2 million people living in just 365 km sq area, makes it one of the most densely populated places in the world. The Kerem Shalom from Israel and Rafah crossing from Egypt are the only border entry points into Gaza. This makes the movement of Gazans extremely restricted, as no one can leave the Strip, without permits from Israel or Egypt, which are difficult to obtain. With extremely harsh conditions and total dependency on Israel for fuel, water and food, the place is often termed as an ‘Open Air Prison’. Amid poverty and poor standard of living, 60% unemployment with over 80% youth unemployment worsens the situation to the extreme.

Another pertinent point here is the way Hamas uses Gaza civilians as “human shields”. All through the 7/10 attack, the terror outfit was in its most brutal possible form. However, once the Israeli counter-offensive was started, it tried to take a backseat and let all the innocent civilian deaths take the centre-stage. The perpetrator Hamas, in this way, wants to play the victim being persecuted by Israel (I’m not supporting Israeli actions here). Although, I can’t confirm who is behind the bombing of al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza — keeping in mind the history of both Israel and Hamas in zero regard for civilians — it is pretty easy to figure out, whose agenda the hospital bombing suits better in this situation.

Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus celebrate after fighters from the Gaza Strip infiltrated Israel on October 7.

Palestinians in West Bank celebrating the horrific terror attack by Hamas (Photo: France 24)

What’s behind the Timing of Hamas attack

There are multiple reasons why Hamas chose only this point of time for carrying out this attack. If anyone is following the geopolitical developments closely, one would find that slowly Israel and the Arab world — historically at loggerheads with each other — were slowly normalising their relations. The most significant was the recent Israel-Saudi normalisation and the Iran-Saudi (the one brokered by China). Also, the India-Middle East-Economic Corridor that had to pass through Arab nations as well as Israel was an even stronger step in the same direction.

It is pertinent that, even when the Arab world was outrightly against Israel, the subject of an independent Palestine could never materialise. So, once the normal relations had been brought in place, the Arab world, though might not have completely left the issue, would surely have got softer on it. This could have put the ‘Palestinian cause’ further on the back burner. So Hamas believed that the clock was ticking for them, and their choice only worsened the situation further.

Netanyahu, The Man Who Loves A Fight - I24NEWS

Benjamin Netanyahu is an arrogant hardliner who is as much responsible for worsening the conflict (Photo: i24news)

The Devil that is Benjamin Netanyahu

What Hamas did was a horrific horrific terror attack, and there can’t be any justification for it. But, does that in any way, make Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a good leader. NOT AT ALL. Netanyahu is a hardline extremist of ‘Zionist’ ideology, which he derived from his historian father’s “pessimistic worldview”. Having served at the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and losing his brother (Commando Forces) during an operation further emboldens his jingoistic and hardline politics.

Ever since Netanyahu joined the Likud Party and became the Prime Minister (Israel’s youngest) he has been firm on his belief of “one state”. Over the years, he has been undermining the very idea of a “two-state solution”. After four rounds of full-fledged war, Israel and Arab nations were slowly coming to some sort of settlement with Fatah as the representative of Palestine. But, both the terror group Hamas, as well as the extremist brigade led by Netanyahu were against it. “Beat them up, not once but repeatedly beat them so it hurts so badly until it’s unbearable.”

As a result, he was continuously undermining Fatah on the West Bank and was trying to equate Palestine with Hamas, as it better suited his agenda to NEVER negotiate with Palestine (equals Hamas) so that his “one-state” idea could prevail. Some experts have even pointed out that since Netanyahu wanted Hamas to stay as a force to undermine Fatah, there lies a possibility that Israel had gotten complacent regarding any funding or ammunition reaching Hamas in Gaza right under its nose.

Another strong reason, for the timing of this attack, is Israel’s situation under Netanyahu’s recent policies. Although there has always been a right-wing government in Israel (with varying shades), the current one is considered the “most right-wing” with the likes of some ultra-religious and Zionist parties. Israel was continuously increasing its settlements in the areas of the West Bank and Gaza, weakening the Palestinian Authority. The journalists and artists were targeted for not being “patriotic enough” for the establishment. Finally, the Judicial Reforms were the last nail in the coffin. It saw massive protests throughout the country including from military and security personnel. All of this was presenting Israel as an “unstable” power and somehow gave Hamas the impression that it is the best time to strike Israel to a point, it can never get up.

Israel-Hamas War: Israelis and Palestinians Blame Each Other for Blast at  Gaza Hospital That Killed Hundreds - The New York Times

A heartbreaking visual from Gaza after al-ahli hospital blast (Photo: New York Times)

How issue raked in Indian Politics

Today, geopolitics is no longer rocket science and carries the same impact as that of Globalisation. Whether it is the Russia-Ukraine war or the Israel-Hamas conflict, its impact falls all over the place. And more than that, the stand of political parties on such issues very much defines their ideologies. For India, the Israel-Palestine issue has always been a crucial one. Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, although sympathised with Jews never supported the formation of a separate Israel state calling it “unfair” on the Arabs who have been living there for years. Surprisingly, India even voted AGAINST the UN solution to Israel in 1948. However, India recognised the country of Israel in 1955, but only after several Muslim countries did so.

Slowly, India’s stand on the issue started getting more balanced. India has throughout advocated for an independent Palestinian state, but it also started developing relations with Israel. Yasser Arafat highly respected Indira Gandhi and even broke down at her funeral. PV Narasimha Rao was the first Indian PM who established diplomatic ties between India and Israel. Even BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee supported the two-state solution, even stating that “Israel will have to give back the occupied land to Palestine”. At the same time, Israel too stood like a time-tested ‘friend’ for India, supporting it militarily in the 1971 and 1999 wars, at a time when even the US was wary of us.

Finally, under Narendra Modi, India’s stand on the issue became the most upfront. He became the first Indian PM to visit Israel in 2018, and later visited Palestine in 2019. It is pertinent here, that he didn’t visit the other during each tour, bringing a sort of bifurcation in India’s policies towards both Israel and Palestine. Also, a major reason why India-Israel ties have become so strong is the fact that similar right-wing ideologies are in power in both countries and both Modi and Netanyahu are similar unapologetic hardline leaders (as per critics anti-Muslim too). But still, India’s stand for a two-state solution and support for Palestine has remained intact. But, yes, we have shifted more towards Israel now.

What surprised me this time, was the stand of the Congress party on the issue. It passed a resolution, expressing its expresses its “dismay and anguish” and called for an “immediate ceasefire”. It reiterated its “long-standing support for the rights of the Palestinian people.” However, the resolution didn’t have any mention of Hamas or any condemnation of the horrific terror attack. This backfired badly, and the BJP used it quite effectively in accusing Congress of being “soft on terror”. The saffron party took it one step further by combining it with its “anti-Muslim” rhetoric targeting the Indian Muslims. Although, the grand old party later tried to control the situation by condemning Hamas, but the main damage was already done.

What is the solution to the Conflict?

As I already said, what Israel has been doing for all these years was completely wrong and “criminal”. But can that justify what Hamas did? NO. It’s very sad that the Palestinians lost their land, were persecuted over the years and were made refugees, but was it the fault of those 1400 civilians who were brutally massacred by terrorists, those young guys who had just gathered for a music festival or the people who were awaiting a Jewish festival? What was achieved by this? What Hamas did was a brutal and outright terror activity having no justification.

And did it help the ‘Palestinian Cause’ in any way? Israel has launched a brutal counter-offensive, with no regard for their “enemy civilians” and seems in no mood to stop. If anyone thought that they could finish off Israel by force like Hamas, he was the biggest FOOL. Instead, it has further emboldened Israel towards its extreme target of wiping off Gaza once and for all. It might reduce the ‘Palestinian Cause’ restricted to a small West Bank area, having little to no voice after the episode. Althoug

Over 4400 civilians have already been killed in Gaza, including over 1000 children. This number is even more than what have died in Ukraine for over one-and-half year of Russian invasion. Also, what is very problematic and disturbing is the extremely polarising views. Those criticising Israel haven’t said a word of condemnation for the Hamas attack. And those being a die-hard fan of Israel just have no regard for human lives in Palestine as if the people there don’t even matter. And both sides are coming up with their “devoid of logic” justifications for the killings.

Now, the solution here is that Israel and Palestine co-exist peacefully on the land. But, Palestine can be given a separate state only when Israel trusts it that there is no danger anymore having a sovereign Palestine — having its own defence framework — right next to it. But, do we see that happening? Unfortunately, No. It can’t happen until there are groups like Hamas aided by proxies like Iran and Hezbollah. Nor can it happen until there are people like Netanyahu sitting at the helm. Israel might need another Yitzhak Rabin and terrorists…well may just require a round to hell. All we can do is show some regard to the human lives and mourn around 6000 innocent deaths on both sides, while hoping for a resolution, whose prospect lies bleak.

“History has shown us time and again that what is right is not what is popular”: Benjamin Netanyahu

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