It is crucial to recognize that Israel, America and their allies, both in the region and around the world, all realize that the Palestinian plight, symbolizing as it does the struggle for justice and human dignity, will always be a focus of international support. Furthermore, over the years, the Palestinian issue has evolved within the culture and consciousness of the Arab world, making it a central topic that demands Arab opposition to Israel as an occupying force in the region.
Internationally, the Palestinian issue has become widely known, and a tremendous amount of support for and solidarity with the Palestinian people have been shown as they fight for freedom and independence.
Ever since the conflict began, or at least since 1948 and the declaration of Israel as a state, Palestinian rights and resistance movements have been relentlessly targeted. These movements, however, are still going strong in their struggle for human rights and freedoms.
At this delicate juncture of history, profound changes are occurring in the region, changes whose outcomes are as yet unclear. Syria and the failure of the United States and its allies in this country. Iraq. The rise of resistance movements in the region. The abject failure of peace negotiations between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel. All of this means that active popular resistance is now the only relevant choice for procuring national liberation.
All of this means that a necessity has developed for Israel to liquidate the Palestinian rights movements, and their struggle to achieve freedom from the Israeli occupation. Moreover, Israel is under significant pressure to do this within a short space of time, and was therefore waiting for an opportunity to attack the Palestinian resistance.
Thus, when the three Israeli settlers were abducted, Prime Minister Netanyahu claimed within four hours that Hamas was responsible and declared war on them. The war was first in the West Bank, where hundreds were arrested and thousands of homes, offices and institutions linked to the group were raided. Shortly afterwards, they commenced the war on Gaza, where the strongest elements of the various Palestinian resistance movements are based. This attempt at dismantling the Palestinian right movements follow several others, most recently in 2009 and 2012.
But why did Netanyahu frame the attacks as a war on Hamas?
Perhaps he thought that targeting a group which many countries deem to be a terrorist organization would provide him with positive coverage and moral authority around the world to execute these attacks on resistance movements and the Palestinian people. This is the Israeli political perspective of war.
But why did Netanyahu raise the slogan that this is war against Hamas?
First and foremost, after the dismantlement of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt and the subsequent tension between Hamas, which was originally the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the new dictatorship in Egypt, Netanyahu could exploit such an atmosphere to attack the resistance within the context of a war against Hamas. He assumed that Egypt would accept this war and not stand against it, or at least not firmly. The same goes for other Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, which plays a dominant role in the region and which has declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be an illegal organization.
Secondly, the position of Hamas vis-a-vis the war in Syria, where they have stood against the Syrian regime, is relevant. Hamas has thus alienated former allies, such as Hizbollah and Iran, who are strongly supportive of the embattled Syrian dictator. It is thought that due to this difference of sides in the Syrian conflict, Hamas has been separated from its axis and therefore, it was not dangerous for Netanyahu to go to war against them.
Thirdly, the internal conflicts between Hamas and Fatah, despite the unity government, and the division between Palestinian political parties, also meant that Netanyahu could believe this war on Hamas would not spread to the streets and that Hamas would not receive wholesale support from Fatah and the Palestinian Authority
Fourth, the situation in the West Bank. It was hoped that as a result of security coordination between the PA and Israel, no serious solidarity movement with Gaza could be launched, especially if the war was described as being against the Hamas movement and not against the people of Gaza.
Finally, Netanyahu assumed that since none of the official responses of international governments to past massacres of Palestinians have ever been serious or critical, that none of them would be a significant impediment. Netanyahu therefore did not need to worry about the reaction of the international community.
Where has Netanyahu miscalculated? Where have his calculations proven erroneous?
Firstly, the strength of the Gaza resistance has amazed and surprised the Israeli military force. The resistance surprised with its ability to reach large and dispersed Israel cities with big barrages of rockets, and with the strength of field militants, who have made it very difficult and dangerous for Israeli forces to make progress over the last twenty one days. The weakness of Israeli intelligence, which lead them to believe the Palestinian resistance would be minimal, has been exposed.
Secondly, concerning unity of the various political movements in Palestine and their desire to resist their oppressors. Palestinians quickly became aware that Israel’s war was not just against Hamas but against the Palestinian collective, aimed at wiping out resistance to the occupation and extinguishing hopes they have for freedoms and rights. This led to the mass unity we have seen in all regions of Palestine. Palestinians understood that this is a war against their aspirations for rights and independence, such that all major Palestinian cities in the West Bank have risen up and clashed with the occupying Israeli forces. This has led to numerous deaths and injuries in the West Bank. This internal unity was demonstrated between all Palestinian parties. Netanyahu’s hopes of further dividing the different Palestinian factions have been dashed.
This Palestinian unity and the understanding of the real objectives of the Israeli war on Gaza means that more Palestinians than ever are standing behind the resistance and solidarity movement to show their support for Gaza. Palestinians everywhere are fighting the occupation. This situation has brought back previous attitudes towards occupation, showing that it is a valid choice to stand up in support of Gaza and against the occupier.
It has reclarified the relationship between Palestinians and the occupation, and reaffirmed the importance of resisting it. The current reality has also dismissed the peace process as a legitimate avenue for progress, a peace process of negotiations which have failed the Palestinian people at every stage. It has further demonstrated that strong words and actions are the real tools of the resistance on the road to freedom. The important message is that despite their political or social differences, Palestinians are taking to the streets and it is a national movement, independent of petty politics.
It seems that Israel has gotten itself stuck in this war. The resistance is continuing, Israel is killing more and more innocent civilians, including many children, which have lead to strong and critical reactions from the international community. Massive protests are being conducted all over the world, and Israel has been further isolated from international support. It is now eminently clear that Israel has not accomplished its goals of breaking the Palestinian resistance and its ethical and legal demands. There is now the chance, given the advantage of the resistance, of curtailing the brutal siege on Gaza’s million and a half people.
One of the main results of this ongoing war is that it has re-established the nature of the relationship between Israel, a brutal occupying power, and the Palestinians, who are a people fighting to obtain their rights and equality in the eyes of the law.
There is an occupation and there is resistance. All other avenues to freedom have been fatally weakened.