The unexpected and brutal attack on Israel by Hamas has left the world in shock. The assault, which involved thousands of rockets and fighters attacking from land, sea, and air, has resulted in the death of hundreds of innocent people and the capture of numerous hostages. The Israeli Defense Forces are now faced with the challenge of responding to this atrocity.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has promised a severe response, but this comes with significant risks. A ground invasion of Gaza could lead to intense urban warfare and put the hostages in danger. The longer the conflict continues, the higher the risk of violence spreading to the West Bank or Lebanon. Civilian casualties in Gaza could also damage Israel’s international reputation.
This attack has shattered the long-held belief in Israel that Palestinian aspirations for sovereignty could be indefinitely ignored. The assault has challenged three key assumptions. Firstly, that Israelis could remain safe even if the Palestinian issue was neglected. Secondly, that the existence of Hamas would weaken Fatah, the Palestinian party that governs the West Bank. Lastly, that Israel could improve its position in the Middle East through regional diplomacy while ignoring the Palestinian issue.
The upcoming operation against Hamas will likely reinforce the need for a new approach. However, there are no easy alternatives. The IDF does not want to occupy Gaza, and the idea of an international peacekeeping force is unlikely. If Hamas is destroyed and the IDF withdraws, it’s uncertain what forces might fill the power vacuum.
The Path Forward
The path forward is fraught with challenges. The attack will likely create a new generation of Israelis who cannot envision peace with the Palestinians. However, Israel must confront the reality that they need to engage with the Palestinians to ensure their security. The future will largely depend on who holds power in Jerusalem, but it’s clear that the Palestinians can no longer be ignored.
Read more at The Economist.
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