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Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

What Comes After the War on Gaza?

after gaza war
A Palestinian woman paints during a cultural event organised by the Popular Committee for Palestinian Refugees at the Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip on July 1, 2021. SAID KHATIB / AFP

Majed Kayali

Several factors played an influential role in stopping the war on Gaza. The list includes the sudden courageous performance of the resistance and the current political Arab and international change. This political change is apparent in the current role of Egypt and the American administration that did not encourage Israel to wage war. Another factor was managing the war not under the conflict calculations of the axis of Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah. Nowadays, there is a new axis that comprises Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, and Hamas. Such a move allowed the US administration to manoeuvre, making it easier for this administration to exercise pressure on Israel and its transgressions. Interestingly, it was an opportunity that the US may have been waiting for to settle some scores with Netanyahu.

However, illusions should not be taken to heart with hope, as this war will have its aftermath, after weeks or months, or after a year or a little more. Whoever knows Israel realizes that the story has not ended for it. Israel will not accept what happened, neither if there was an agreement nor without it. For this state, the story is not about this party or that. This arrogant state lives between a truce and another, a war and another. Those who know Israel realize that it has put itself in a permanent conflict with the Palestinians and its surroundings. It has a Spartan security mentality. Such a mentality is a part of its nature as a state that pursues colonial, settlement and racist policies, even towards its Palestinian citizens. The recent confrontations in Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, Galilee, and Umm al-Fahm are mere examples of that mentality.

The war has stopped. Therefore, Palestinians must figure out some crucial questions. The first one is related to the meaning of victory or its definition. In this context, we should not undermine the resistance, as it was able this time to deal with Israel, its security doctrine, and its spirit of arrogance. If this victory should be boasted in pride, exaggerating it is harmful. It can also lead to improper conclusions since we are talking about a victory for a victim that lacks resources and suffers from occupation and siege. It is hard to expect a victory over an enemy that has an excessive military arsenal. In addition, superpowers guarantee Israel’s security, stability, and supremacy, let alone that Tel Aviv has a monopoly over the nuclear weapon plan “Doomsday“. For occupied peoples, it is vital to know that they cannot obtain a victory over their enemy by a single fatal military strike but by points. They get that by having appropriate and favourable conditions for them, subjectively and objectively, internally and externally.

While celebrating this achievement, we should not forget that there is no balance of military forces. Moreover, we have to know that Arab and international facts have not yet changed to the extent that enables the Palestinians to achieve their goals by defeating Israel. Liberation and establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are still unachievable things. We did not even reach the level of forcing Israel to stop its aggression or building settlements.

This war did not break the will of the Palestinians, but it also did not lead to significant political concessions on the part of Israel. The outcome was merely the consolidation of the truce, the pacification, and the cessation of hostilities on both sides. Yet efforts exerted to ease the siege on Gaza – a Palestinian-Egyptian issue more than a Palestinian-Israeli one – have increased. In addition, there are efforts to facilitate reconstructing what was destroyed by the war (or the wars). Accordingly, the last war ended like what happened with Hezbollah in 2006 and Hamas in 2009, 2012 and 2014. In these previous episodes of the conflict, resistance in all its forms has had to stop in exchange for Israel leaving the Gaza Strip alone. Such a thing does not contradict the Israeli orientations. Instead, it was one of the principal Israeli targets of these wars.

Leaving Gaza brings us to the second punch of questions related to the status of the Gaza Strip in the national process. Since the withdrawal of Israel in 2005, Palestinian factions have been neglecting the Gaza strip. We have to ask the following: Is the Gaza Strip still under occupation? Or is it a liberated area? Is it possible to turn Gaza into a base for fighting Israel with missiles and other weapons? Can Gaza bear the burden of liberation? Or is it more beneficial to turn it into a model for a liberated territory that the Palestinians can use to develop their status as a society in education, culture, economy, and politics? These are questions that the Palestinians have had to discuss since the withdrawal of Israel in 2005. Such a thing did not happen due to the Palestinian division. Moreover, Palestinians are not familiar with studying any option before taking it.

Now, these questions re-emerge after the war, which requires the Palestinians to determine the status of the Gaza Strip in the Palestinian national process, carefully study all options, examine its cost, and collectively agree on it responsibly and clearly. They have to do that beyond the factional competitions and bids. Any chosen option has to receive a popular majority because it is the people who pay the price, much more than the factions.

Determining the position of Gaza in the internal Palestinian equations is another issue, especially with the division between the Fatah authority in the West Bank and the Hamas authority in Gaza. One of the most important motives for Israel to wage this last war was to permanently get rid of the Gaza Strip and isolating it from its Palestinian context. Israel wants to put the Gaza Strip out of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict equations and assigning its responsibility to Egypt. Many indicators that accompanied the movement of many Arab, regional and international parties confirm such an approach.

In any case, determining the status of Gaza in the context of the conflict against Israel, or in the internal Palestinian equations, is now subject to what Hamas wants or does not want, especially after this war strengthened its legitimacy and status. The question is: Will this encourage Hamas to move towards ending the division and pursuing unity? Or will this stimulate it to maintain its unilateral authority in the Gaza Strip?

The previous inquiry brings us to the third question, which is related to the position of the official Palestinian leadership – namely the Fatah leadership, the Palestinian Authority, and the PLO. A long time before the last war, it seemed that the Palestinian leadership did not want to take the initiative. During the 14 years of the siege of Gaza, this leadership did not make the appropriate efforts to lift this siege. It, unfortunately, continued to bet on the siege card to put pressure on Hamas to the reunification of the Palestinian political system. However, Hamas was not affected by this siege which was only burdening the Palestinians in the Strip.

These are preliminary questions or observations on the last Gaza war. It is also vital to note that war has political and security repercussions, especially about determining the status of Gaza in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in the internal Palestinian equations, and about the position of the authority in the West Bank and Gaza. On the other hand, the story did not end for Israel as it might have waged this war just as a manoeuvre. For Israel, this war might also be a test by fire that surpasses Gaza to reach its relationship with the Palestinians and the authority in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

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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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