War’s Not Over!

The October 7 attack on Israel highlights the consequence of hubris, as Israel, in both 1973 and recent years, believed it was invincible, dismissing the Palestinian right to live and exist.

By Syed Zain Abbas Rizvi | November 2023

The morning of October 7th brought an astonishing and unprecedented attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel. This audacious assault involved firing a salvo of rockets, infiltrating militants into Israeli territory, and taking hostages. The toll has been grim, with at least 700 Israelis dead and 1,400 wounded, prompting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare his country “at war.” In response, Israeli forces inflicted significant casualties on Palestinian soil, resulting in around 400 Palestinian deaths and approximately 2,400 wounded. To grasp the gravity of these events, it is essential to consider the historical context that sets them apart.

Israel has faced numerous conflicts and security threats in recent decades. The Palestinians have predominantly suffered the brunt as of late. However, what distinguishes this crisis is its sheer magnitude and the apparent failure of Israel’s security apparatus. Israel had long prided itself on its ability to monitor Palestinian activities through sophisticated surveillance techniques closely. It invested substantially in constructing a formidable barrier between Gaza and Israeli communities, believing this would deter major attacks. Confidence prevailed that Hamas had shifted its focus towards a long-term cease-fire approach - one that brought economic benefits and stability to the impoverished enclave.

Tragicomically, these beliefs were exposed as illusions.

The shock that has swept through Israeli society is reminiscent of the bewilderment that engulfed Americans in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Both incidents have sparked the same question: How a determined (yet weathered) group of militants could completely outmaneuver well-established intelligence communities and powerful armed forces?

But why did Hamas choose this moment for such a bold offensive?
The answer is straightforward if you have been following Middle Eastern politics closely! The Arab world had gradually accepted Israel’s existence, with Saudi Arabia considering normalizing relations. The United States pressed Israel to make concessions to the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’ rival. This threatened to isolate Hamas and its alleged Iranian backers. Disrupting this progress served the interests of both Hamas and Iran, challenging the emerging regional order. While Hamas may not exactly puppet dictation from Iran, coordination does exist, and both entities aimed to prove their ability to inflict military pain on Israel, tarnishing the reputation of Arab leaders pursuing peace with the Zionist nation.

The ongoing talks regarding a peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, coupled with discussions about US security guarantees for Saudi Arabia, gave Hamas and Iran strong motivation to disrupt this deal, as it jeopardized their standing in the region. The current conflict effectively derails these prospects, at least in the short term. As the Palestinian issue returns to the forefront and Arab populations witness the Palestinian death toll at the hands of American-supplied Israeli forces, strong reactions are inevitable. Leaders like Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), are unlikely to stand up to such opposition during this crisis.

Was it really necessary?
On its face, this may look like an attack planned to weaken Israel and its exceedingly friendly overtures in the Arab world. That is simplistically true. However, you would be dismissing (or somewhat underestimating) the element of suffering the Israeli establishment poured down upon innocent Palestinians.

According to a statement by Tor Wennesland - United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process - to the UN Security Council, the Israeli government has been expediting settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He pointed out that the Israeli authorities have “advanced plans for 6,300 housing units in Area C, and approximately 3,580 housing units in East Jerusalem, “ which violates international law.

He further noted that 68 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces and 10 Israelis by Palestinians in related attacks and other incidents. “In a continuing trend, many Palestinians, including children, left their communities citing violence by settlers and shrinking grazing land,” he concluded. How is this injustice warranted? Is this war one-sided or ingeniously provoked in the guise of pseudo-legal cover to annex Palestinian homes?

In a prelude to the Hamas offensive, Israel had already killed 242 Palestinians in the occupied territories this year, justified in the name of ‘counteroffensive raids.’ Is the world blind to this sheer atrocity? No dignified human being would ever support killing innocent women and children, regardless of race, nationality, and ethnicity, be it Israeli or Palestinian. The world is bawling over Israel’s loss. But somehow, this same world missed that, as of August this year, Israeli forces had killed at least 34 Palestinian children in the West Bank. Was that really necessary?

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