Tue. May 21st, 2024

The streets of Tel Aviv are deserted, schools are closed, flights are canceled, and a major gas field is shut down. Israel is preparing for a military operation to destroy Hamas’s infrastructure in the Gaza Strip following a deadly attack that killed hundreds of Israelis, mostly civilians. Despite political divisions that have fueled anti-government protests for the past nine months, there is now a sense of unity in the face of Hamas’s brutal actions and fears of the conflict spreading to Lebanon.

Opposition groups are engaging in discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form an emergency unity government. The protest movement that previously focused on opposing the government’s efforts to weaken the Supreme Court has shifted its attention to raising funds and supporting families and soldiers in the south, cooperating with the authorities they had previously criticized.

However, the sustainability of the country’s unity remains uncertain. While Netanyahu is expected to remain in power, the intelligence and security failures have shaken the nation, and he is likely to face political consequences, similar to Golda Meir’s resignation following the 1973 war. According to Yoel Esteron, founder and publisher of Israeli business daily Calcalist, protests brought Meir down after the war, and he believes a similar outcome is possible in this situation.

Instead of dwelling on the mistakes that led to the attack, Israelis are now focusing on how to proceed. The investigation into the failure to prevent the attack will follow. The international community is already scrutinizing Israel’s response, with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressing concern over plans for a retaliatory siege of Gaza.

The talk of unity has grown due to fears that Hezbollah in Lebanon might launch a similar assault following the surprise attack by Hamas. Both groups receive significant support from Iran, Israel’s main enemy, and possess thousands of missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv. The Biden administration has deployed the USS Gerald Ford aircraft carrier and accompanying warships to the Mediterranean to deter any such attacks.

The horrific attack, which took place during the Sabbath and a Jewish holiday, has united the entire nation. The footage of child abductions and summary executions on Israeli streets has left a lasting impact on the people. Hamas fighters crossed the border fence into Israel, using various means such as paragliders, motorbikes, and boats to carry out the attack. Eyewitnesses reported that they went from house to house, kidnapping or killing residents.

Two days after the attack, some families are still trapped in their homes in southern Israel due to Hamas fighters preventing them from leaving. There is growing concern that Hamas fighters have made their way to Tel Aviv and are hiding in the city. Around 100 Israelis, including children and elderly women, have been taken hostage by Hamas and other militant groups. There are fears that the hostages could become victims of the ongoing conflict.

Israel has a history of protecting its soldiers and civilians held captive by enemies and making efforts to secure their release. However, considering the current fury, analysts believe negotiations for the hostages’ release might not be possible. A Hamas spokesperson warned that for every civilian building bombed by Israel without warning, an Israeli hostage would be killed every hour.

Gaza, already impoverished and devastated by previous conflicts, is expected to endure extensive bombardment as Israel aims to dismantle the Hamas infrastructure and prevent future attacks. The ongoing military campaign has resulted in the deaths of around 560 Palestinians. Israeli strikes on buildings in populated areas make it difficult for residents to find safety. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced that Gaza would be completely closed off.

It is unclear whether residents in Gaza will be given any warnings before bombings occur. The Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson declined to provide details, emphasizing that this is a war situation and Hamas fighters did not offer any warnings when they entered Israel.

Prior to the attack, Netanyahu was facing political troubles due to his populist policies, which sparked street demonstrations. However, he seemed to be on a path to political redemption with a potential deal involving the US, Saudi Arabia, and normalization of relations in exchange for security guarantees. Those talks are now on hold as Israel focuses on the military campaign. The resumption of negotiations, with or without Netanyahu, remains uncertain in the midst of ongoing conflict.

Criticism is mounting domestically against the government for claiming to be better equipped at ensuring the country’s safety. Some argue that Netanyahu’s emphasis on protecting and promoting Jewish settlements in the West Bank led to a higher concentration of troops there, leaving Gaza vulnerable. The failure to anticipate the attack is seen as a conceptual mistake, underestimating the enemy’s willingness to take action. In recent years, Hamas has portrayed itself as more focused on governance in Gaza rather than armed resistance, which led many to believe it was less likely to engage in conflict.

By admin