( Middle East Monitor ) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted: “The war is exacting a very heavy price, but we have no choice but to continue fighting.”
This woeful statement underscores Netanyahu’s blinkered determination to exact maximum carnage and an unwillingness to engage in diplomacy.
Foremost, this war has forced the most exorbitant price on civilians in Gaza. The death toll, mainly comprising women and children, has exceeded 20,000. According to Middle East Monitor, there are more than 23,000 orphans in Gaza. These astounding figures merely scrape the surface of human suffering. The United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) has warned of a looming famine as starvation permeates the Gaza Strip.
There have been reports of civilians massacred after being rounded up in fields, as well as point-blank shootings of women and children seeking shelter in UN schools. The iniquitous objectives of this war clearly extend beyond eliminating Hamas.
The premise that fighting must continue to ensure Israel’s security is deceptive and counterintuitive. Seeds are being planted today in future generations who will likely seek vengeance. Netanyahu is sacrificing the lives of young, highly impressionable Israeli soldiers and hostages whose plight has become secondary at best, as well as prospects of a peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.
It is lamentable that not even the UN Security Council has been able to demand a ceasefire. Those directly responsible for the carnage, as well as those who intercepted calls for a ceasefire, will not be forgotten. Future election results will reverberate opinions formed from this war. The clock is ticking for those on the wrong side of history. Israel’s Military Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi further echoed Netanyahu’s stance that Israel’s war on Hamas will continue “for many months”.
To envisage Gaza in three months, if Israeli aggression persists unperturbed, is unfathomable. The death toll would exceed 50,000 from air and ground strikes, disease and starvation. The Gaza Strip would need to be rebuilt from scratch, and it is extremely doubtful that Israel would foot the bill. Rebuilding would take years, especially as construction materials are blocked from entering the Strip, but would instead fall in the hands of the European Union to fund. Aid agencies would invariably provide band-aid solutions until the next flare-up whilst the UN appeases Israel against a hostile backdrop from the Israeli government, who feel unfairly criticised.
At least 40 per cent of the population in Gaza comprises children under 18 years of age. Prior to 7 October, unemployment was already extremely high, linked to restrictions imposed by the siege. Disenfranchisement was pervasive. How will children in Gaza recover physically and psychologically to restore hope?
Israel argues it must dismantle tunnels and demolish the ordnance of Hamas. Meanwhile, the Israeli government is handing out guns to its own civilian population, like lollies to children. It should be noted that tunnels served as a lifeline for Gazans under siege during peaceful stretches between hostilities. They enabled a passageway for construction and goods otherwise prevented from crossing into Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would have to knock on every door in Gaza to locate all Hamas affiliates. It is an insurmountable task to identify the political persuasion and ideology of more than two million individuals at a glance. The IDF tragically mistook the identity of three of its own hostages for Hamas fighters, which resulted in their untimely demise. Additionally, Hamas is not confined to Gaza – will Israel seek to assassinate all Hamas leaders abroad? Already, this war has trickled over to Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, drawing in international players to the Red Sea.
It has stirred global outrage. How much longer will unequivocal support be granted to Israel in favour of averting a broader regional conflict or even World War III?
Netanyahu and his cabinet are fuelled by vengeance; it is like watching inconsolable toddlers throwing tantrums, but in this case, the consequences are irreversible and far-reaching. No voice of reason is capable of harnessing Israel as it unleashes its deadly rampage. Indigenous Palestinians are being nudged into the desert. Israel is attempting to rip the land from under the feet of Gazans or bury them beneath the soil.
When US President Joe Biden warned Netanyahu against making the same mistakes as the US in Iraq prior to the ground incursion, an opportunity existed to take heed. This fell on deaf ears and Biden cow-towed by supplying endless weapons. As war rages, with no foreseeable end in sight, 2024 and the future look bleak.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.