Monday, April 15, 2024

Has Israel walked into a Hamas trap? 

It’s ten days since Hamas attacked but Israel hasn’t begun the promised ground invasion of Gaza Strip. 

Is it a Hamas trap waiting for Israel to walk in? 

This much is established that Hamas had prepared long for the attack, they knew that Israel would bring hell on the Palestinians, they were well aware it would tantamount to a genocide. 

Yet they went ahead with a spectacular attack which showed Israel vulnerable, made a mockery that it was the strongest military state in the region. 

Why would Hamas do that? 

Well, this much is easy that Hamas was uncomfortable by Arabs lining up to embrace the Israelis. 

The UAE and Bahrain recognized Israel’s sovereignty in 2020, to go with Egypt and Jordan’s diplomatic ties, and lately Saudi Arabia and Israel’s ministers have been touring each other’s country. Why, Saudi Arabia even agreed to an IMEC (India-Middle East-Europe Corridor) with Israel being a major stakeholder. 

But there’s more to it. 

Hamas had taken Israel by surprise in its attack and there is no way to discount that they haven’t turned Gaza virtually into a fortress with hundreds of tunnels which are impossible to identify or eliminate. To go with maze of underground tunnels, their snipers, Kornet anti-tank missiles, formidable fighters in a concrete jungle of rubble, would be waiting. 

If Israel invades Gaza, they would be mired down in an urban guerrilla war which, as we all know, doesn’t end quickly enough.

The longer Israel is bogged down in this mission, the bigger would be the body hauls returning home, the bigger casualties of civilian Palestinians, the bigger international cry to account Israel for war crimes. 

With Israel engaged in north Gaza, it would open itself to attack from Hezbollah in the north which, even by a conservative estimate, has over 150,000 rockets and missiles, precision-guided, which could reach anywhere in Israel. Hezbollah’s fighters are feared as are its impressive military drones. Then you have to worry about the rest of Lebanon, Syria and of course Iran which essentially is the master orchestrator in the background. 

Iran foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has already warned: “If the Zionist entity (Israel) decides to enter Gaza, the resistance leaders will turn it into a graveyard of the occupation soldiers.”

It’s the fear of Iran, and not Hamas, that has made the United States send two Carrier battlegroups in the Mediterranean. The US has got 2,000 marines ready in case this nightmare becomes a reality. 

A Hell Would Unfold For Israel

Israel, by invading Gaza, would have more trouble coming. 

One, nearly two million Palestinians would either die in Gaza (impossible), or would scramble across borders to Egypt and Jordan which already are overburdened with these refugees and are as good as bankrupt states. 

These open borders, with teeming Palestinians, would make Israel vulnerable from all corners. 

Not to say the 9.2 million Palestinians which they already have amongst their own population by way of seizures since 1948.

It could easily turn into a civil war. 

Only, if this was limited to it. 

It Would Tie Washington In Knots

If such an eventuality comes to a pass, and Palestinians are clearly seen as victims of war crimes, it would be difficult for Washington to defend its “human rights” facade. 

What the United States finds wrong in the Ukraine situation, or in Hamas attack on innocent Israelis, it won’t be able to explain why Israel’s atrocities on Palestinians is any different. 

The US can’t send weapons and bombs to kill Palestinians and yet ask others to exercise restraint. 

Besides, if Israel is mired in ground invasion of Gaza, we are talking of unprecedented refugee crisis in Middle East which already has Europe groaning under the weight of uninvited presence on their coasts. 

We are talking of a situation when not just the neighbouring Arab countries; or UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia which had recently warmed up to Israel; but even the likes of Qatar, Iraq or Turkey turning hostile to Israel for that’s what the sentiments of their masses would dictate. 

Elsewhere, Pakistan and Indonesia won’t be any different or for that matter the  sizeable Muslims in India.

Everyday, we are hearing of thousands in European capitals hitting the streets in protest against the brutal Israeli retaliation, most of them immigrants or refugees from the Middle East itself. The UK even issued prohibitory orders but it had no effect on the swelling humanity which hit the London roads. 

Even the Muslims in the US won’t be sitting idle and it would be more than just law and order issue—it would impact the US presidential elections itself next year. 

Such were the compulsions when Donald Trump opted against retaliation for the attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaid refineries in 2019. 

In essence, Israel’s invasion of Gaza would bring the Muslims of this world under one umbrella. 

With Benjamin Netanyahu already confirming that extremely sophisticated anti-tank weapons which were supplied by the US to Ukraine are now with the Palestinians, the Biden administration is facing heat at home: After all, the money and arms procured in the name of Kiev aren’t all ending up there! The fiasco in Afghanistan is still fresh too. 

That’s why Israel is having second thoughts on invading Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu might have domestic compulsion to do what he is doing but for the United States it would be a pure disaster. 

It could kiss goodbye to the Global South it is coveting and beneficiaries would be no other than Russia and China. 

Besides, the region is the ultimate supplier of energy and a key shipping passageway. If this conflict gets out of hand and the US is seen as a complicit hostile force, it would make the Global South hostile, hit by the commercial blockade. 

That’s why Secretary of State Antony Blinker went to Tel Aviv and that’s why Joe Biden is planning to visit Israel to knock sense in its belligerent allies’ head. 

Israel would be asked to accept its losses, now that the two sides had almost even casualties, and someone would broker to have the Jews hostages released from the Hamas’ control. 

But if all this doesn’t happen, we are looking at a terrible, terrible eventuality which would be worse than two World Wars. For all we know, Ukraine, that is State 404, would disappear and China could go beyond just rhetoric and straighten up Taiwan. 

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