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Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

Wars to Subdue Hamas in Gaza

Wars to Subdue Hamas
Workers clear the remaining rubble of the Hanadi Tower, a building that was leveled in an Israeli attack during the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in May this year, in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, on July 8, 2021. MOHAMMED ABED / AFP

Majed Kayali

In the last thirteen years, Israel launched four devastating wars on the Gaza Strip. These wars occurred in 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2021. Moreover, Israel started fourteen years ago the blockade on two million Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip.

These besieged Palestinians live in a small space that lacks resources. With a length of 41 km and a width ranging between 5 and 15 km, the total area of the Gaza Strip (360 km2) is no more than 14% of the West Bank‘s total area. It also constitutes 1.3% of historical Palestine. As all Palestinian leaderships know, this area mainly depends on Israel for water, electricity, energy supplies, and food supplies. In addition, it suffers from a severe siege.

For example, in the first war that lasted 23 days, more than 1,436 Palestinians were killed, including about 410 children, 104 women, and about 100 elderly. Injured people amounted to 5,400, half of whom were children. On the other hand, Israel announced the death of thirteen Israelis, out of which were ten soldiers. Three hundred others were injured.

In the second war that lasted for eight days, 155 Palestinians died, and hundreds were wounded, compared to losing three Israelis. In the third war that lasted 50 days, 2,174 Palestinians died. 81% of those were civilians. At the same round, 70 Israelis were killed, including 64 soldiers. In the fourth and most recent war that lasted eleven days, about 270 Palestinians died comparing to thirteen Israelis.

To sum it up, more than 4.000 Palestinian martyrs were killed. Tens of thousands were wounded, including thousands of disabled civilians. In addition, homes and personal and public properties faced massive destruction.

The purpose of this presentation is to draw attention to several observations, the most important of which are the following:

Firstly, Israel considers itself in a permanent state of war with the Palestinians. To secure winning the war, it uses its political, economic, security, and administrative means.

Secondly, Israel is always ready to launch a war on the Gaza Strip. It places the Strip under constant threat, not to mention that it launches – from time to time – air or missile raids on people, structures, and specific targets. To avoid being hit by Israel, the leaders or the concerned factions should consider this. By this, they can save Gazans from further tragedies and disasters since what happens does not provide Palestinians with any political results or achievements.

Third, Israel’s considerations for launching any war have nothing to do with the Palestinians’ evaluations. These considerations stem from Israel’s perceptions of its situation and its relations in the region. They are a result of Israel’s understanding of managing its conflict with the Palestinians.

For example, Israel believes that keeping the situation as it is will be better than waging war. For Israel, the Palestinian division drains the Palestinians and disperses their energy. It weakens their credibility to rule themselves in front of the world. Such a situation makes the Gaza Strip look like an independent region. By this, the world will continue to see the problem as a problem between Palestinians. It will no more look like a problem between Israel and the Palestinians.

Fourth, Palestinians – especially Hamas – exaggerate their capabilities and act as if they are in a liberated area (Gaza). Such a perception shows how wrong the Palestinians are in their concept of being strong.

It also has an impact on the image they project to the world. For example, Palestinians presented the Gaza Strip as a place producing fighters, missiles and fighter craft. Instead, they should have shown Gaza as a besieged area suffering from scarce resources, miserable life, and Israeli attacks.

They presented Gaza as a liberated and capable area, with all our knowledge of Israel’s military might and its guaranteed security from the major powers. Therefore, there is absolutely no room to talk about a military balance of forces, and consequently, nor any talk about a balance of terror or reciprocal equations.

Ruling the Gaza Strip is a dilemma for Hamas. Not to mention being exposed to a depletion, Hamas could not strengthen its position on the Palestinian, Arab, or international levels. Thus, Hamas has become subject to multiple pressures. The first of which is pressure from the popular environment that lives under siege. By that, we mean having two million Palestinians in a region that lacks resources.

Such a thing happens in an environment where unemployment became a significant problem. There are also pressures from the Palestinian Authority on Hamas, aimed at removing it from the authority. It is difficult to expect this to be mitigated in light of the ongoing experience and tensions, especially since Hamas has become isolated on more than one front. In addition, the regional and international environments are no longer favourable to Hamas.

All pressures aim at limiting its role and forcing it to adapt to the current situation, either softly or roughly. Moreover, when you look at the previously mentioned pressures, it is obvious that the Palestinian reconciliation will be meaningless without subjugating Hamas in Gaza or subjecting it to regional and international conditions, including Israeli conditions. Such a thing means that the Palestinian conditions are the least influential at this point.

To sum it up, all these wars seek either to subjugate Hamas or to change its policies. The target is forcing Hamas to accept what is related to an international plan that will change the reality of the Strip. Such a plan aims at reducing the authority of Hamas.

Changing the policies of Hamas comes under the name of lifting the siege, holding a truce, or initiating an international plan for economic aid. This aid would include establishing infrastructure, opening a port and crossings to ease up on the Palestinians. However, it would keep the Gaza Strip under threat of war by Israel, be it small wars or major ones.

For all the previously mentioned reasons, all options are burdensome and costly in the prevailing international and Arab conditions.

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The opinions expressed in this publication are those of our bloggers. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Fanack or its Board of Editors.

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written by
Dima Elayache
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