In the heart of the Middle East, where political landscapes are as intricate as they come, Israel stands out as an example of complexity. As an Israeli citizen, I often find myself bewildered by the convoluted world of Israeli politics. The unpredictability of events and the sudden shifts in the political climate only serve to intensify this uncertainty.

Recent events in the region, such as rocket attacks from Gaza, exemplify the volatile nature of Israeli politics. The situation can escalate rapidly, leaving us to wonder how long the conflict will persist. This time, with Hamas taking hostages, the resolution seems far from swift. The conflict could endure anywhere from a few weeks to several years, a stark reminder of the ever-changing dynamics in the region.

Gaza has been a recurring flashpoint, with Israel withdrawing entirely from the territory in 2005, and reentered for a limited period in 2014.  However, current circumstances may necessitate an Israeli presence in Gaza once more. Israeli soldiers may soon be manning checkpoints and conducting security checks throughout Gaza, impacting the daily lives of its residents, including those who desire peaceful coexistence and have no affiliations with extremists or terrorists. Sadly, this is the grim reality when terrorists target Israel or any other nation.

Amidst this uncertainty, making predictions about the situation seems futile. Journalists who attempt to foretell the outcome are essentially guessing, as the Middle East is notorious for its unpredictability. To understand the intricacies of the situation, one must grasp the perspective of groups like Hamas.

Reporters keep discussing the possibility that countries such as Iran and militias such as Hezbollah may send support to Hamas.  And they keep mentioning that the US and the UK will send equipment to the IDF.  

If Hamas had felt that we were occupying them prior to last week, they’re in for quite a surprise now.  Now we’re almost certainly going to occupy Gaza. 

And I think that the journalists may actually be missing something:  Terrorists are called “terrorists” because their goal is to instill fear in people, that’s the reason that they select hostages entirely at random.  Among the hostages who have been captured by Hamas are people who have citizenship in the US, the UK Canada, France, Thailand, Nepal, Germany, Cambodia, China, Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico, Tanzania, and they’ve also captured someone who is a citizen of Ireland. 

Does one honestly believe that the governments of UK, Canada, France, Thailand, Nepal, Germany, Cambodia, China, Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico, Tanzania, and Ireland are going to sit back and do nothing at all when some of their citizens have been taken hostage by terrorists?

It’s likely that in addition to sending weapons, ammunition, medical supplies, food supplies, etc. to Israel, some of those countries may actually send their troops at some point within the next month. 

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem on January 30, 2023. [Photo by Ron Przysucha]

Israel’s Ministry Of Defense usually does not want troops from foreign militaries working with IDF troops within Israel, even when we’re all trying to achieve the same long term goals, but they may make an exception now because they want to avoid turning this conflict into an endless bloodbath.

Which brings me to: We actually withdrew from Gaza back in 2005.  We’d briefly reentered into Gaza for a period back in 2014.  The IDF has not been back into Gaza since 2014.  

If Hamas had felt that we were occupying them prior to last week, they’re in for quite a surprise now.  Now we’re almost certainly going to occupy Gaza.  The IDF will enter into Gaza, and we’re not going to leave for another ten to twenty years.  I don’t know if it will be solely Israeli soldiers or if it will be a coalition which will be comprised of Israeli soldiers working with soldiers from other countries, but I strongly suspect that they’re going to establish security checkpoints throughout every town in Gaza.

And this is the saddest part of this.  Hamas is an extremist group.  They do not represent the perspectives of the vast majority of the people who live and work in Gaza.  The vast majority of the people who live and work in Gaza actually are peaceful, they do want to live in peace with their neighbors, and the vast majority of the people who live and work in Gaza have no connection to or knowledge of the activities of extremist groups and terrorists.  And most Israelis do fully comprehend this. 

And the people who have no connection to terrorists or any desire to join or endorse the actions of an extremist group such as Hamas are going to end up being punished due to the actions of a small number of extremists now.

For the next ten to twenty years, the ordinary citizens of Gaza are going to be searched at security checks every time that they go out in public.

This is what I’d observed when I was in Hebron in 2019.

October 17th, 2019 in Hebron [ Photo: Scott Benowitz]

When Hamas members decry Israel’s “occupation,” it is essential to recognize that their view extends beyond Gaza’s borders. From their standpoint, the entire country of Israel exists on land they consider “occupied Palestine,” encompassing territory from the southern border with Egypt to the northern boundaries with Syria and Lebanon. Hamas’s logic appears inconsistent when considering the demographics of Israel, where approximately one-third of the population is Arab. Their actions, including firing into crowds and launching rockets, inevitably harm Arab citizens, casting doubt on their claim to be liberating fellow Arabs.

There’s a reason that Hamas opted to attack us on a religious holiday.

Moreover, as the names of the kidnapped individuals remain undisclosed, it’s possible that some captives may be from mixed-race couples, demonstrating the diverse and tolerant nature of Israeli society. However, terrorist organizations operate on a different plane of reason, their actions often counterproductive to their stated goals.

People in Israel always say that the times when we need to be the most alert are when nothing happens for a few weeks because that can be an indication that one of the terrorist groups is planning a series of attacks.  Their reasoning is that when nothing happens for a while, our intelligence agents begin to assume that everything has calmed down for a while and they can start paying more attention to other groups in other countries.  And this time, the terrorists timed their attacks almost perfectly.

There’s a reason that they opted to attack us on a religious holiday.  The terrorists were well aware that whenever there’s a large scale attack, the first thing that the Ministry Of Defense will do is to activate all of the reserve units in all of the branches of our military.  And while many people do own automobiles, there are still quite a few people who opt to not purchase cars- remember, absolutely everything is extremely expensive in Israel now. 

For people who do own cars, the timing of the attacks would make no difference at all.  However, the terrorists were no doubt also factoring in for the fact that there will be many reservists who do not own automobiles, and that’s probably a part of the reason that they opted to select a day when they knew that there would be no trains or buses operating throughout the country.  The absence of public transit would delay the amount of time that it would take for the reservists who do not own automobiles to get to the military bases that they’re being sent to- the delay would only be a few hours, but the terrorists knew that they’d only needed a few extra hours in order for them to seize hostages.

Terrorist groups worldwide, whether it’s ETA in Spain, the IRA in Ireland, or extremist organizations in the Middle East, rarely achieve their objectives. Instead, their actions typically hinder progress and further alienate their causes. The phenomenon is evident in their inability to garner support and achieve lasting change.

What can Hamas possibly accomplish now?  Nothing.  The citizens of Gaza had complete freedom of the press in Gaza, and under the terms of the 1993- 1995 Oslo Accords, they had free access to the medical system in Israel, and in some ways our medical system is among the most advanced medical systems anywhere in the world.  Now they’re going to lose access to our medical facilities, and we’re going to be scrutinizing every book, magazine and newspaper within Gaza to make sure that no one is sending coded messages about plotting further attacks- meaning that unfortunately we’re going to have to constantly monitor their media.  These “freedom fighters” are going to cost the citizens of their own country their own freedoms. 

Don’t misquote me here though.  I know that Israels’ civil rights record is not perfect either.  We too teach a sanitized version of our history. 

And the reason that it was so easy for us to close the supply of water, electricity and fuels to Gaza is that under the terms of the 1993- 1995 Oslo Accords, they’re receiving most of their electricity, water and fuel from us.  We control their borders.  We also supply them with their currency, the Israeli shekel is the official national currency of the West Bank and Gaza.  They are understandably notably displeased with this arrangement, but this is not a good reason to begin WWIII now. 


President Biden: 4-Year-Old Hostage Abigail Edan Released, Now In Israel

President Joe Biden spoke to the nation today from the White Elephant Hotel in Nantucket, addressing the recent release of hostages, including 4-year-old Abigail Edan, from Gaza. Abigail Edan, one of the 13 hostages released on Sunday, is now in Israel, according to President Biden. He empathized with her, acknowledging the “terrible trauma” she endured…

Biden And Netanyahu Discuss “Tactical Pauses” In Gaza Military Campaign

President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talked on the phone on Monday regarding “tactical pauses” in Israel’s military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. According to the White House, the two leaders discussed the “possibility of tactical pauses to provide civilians with opportunities to safely depart from areas of ongoing fighting,…

Scott Benowitz is a staff writer for Afterimage Review. He holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from The London School of Economics & Political Science and a B.A. in International Studies from Reed...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *