The events of October 7 were terrible with a brutality and viciousness rarely witnessed. The subsequent rallies in support of Palestine were littered with antisemitic chanting and the MSM have encouraged Israeli ‘restraint’ whilst showing pictures of Gaza residents, especially children, in hospital. Incredibly, some of the footage is accompanied by a Hamas spokesperson commenting on the lack of medical supplies (seen on SBS). Many western leaders have commented that Israel has an absolute right to defend itself whilst urging a ‘measured’ response.
Hamas has drip-fed hostages (four to date of approximately 200) back to Israel at the apparent urging of the Saudi and Qatari governments (which is almost ironic given who has been financially supporting Hamas). Meanwhile, Israel massed some 350,000+ additional military with the firm intention of launching a ground offensive into Gaza and finishing off Hamas once and for all.
There have been a litany of events or comments in Australia and overseas that chill our blood in the overt support of “the Palestinian cause” and even some emergent support of Hamas. I never imagined I would ever hear, under any circumstances, anybody chant “gas the Jews” – but we live in disturbing times. Even Local Government has shown itself to be willing to dive into international affairs. Precious few seem to have any awareness of previous efforts to establish peace between Israel and the Palestinians – or choose to ignore it. Since 2001, rocket and mortar attacks on Israel have numbered in the hundreds or thousands every year. Yet everyone from the Sydney Lord Mayor to the Secretary General of the United Nations appears to suffer selective amnesia.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained something of a balancing act in the past three weeks. He is driven by a powerful requirement to protect Israel and avenge the ruthless slaughter of 1400 men, women and children. He must also send an unmistakable message that Israel will extract a huge price against those who dare to attack her. And whilst his generals plan the military response, Netanyahu consoles families of the victims and remains hopeful that more hostages can be recovered.
Netanyahu has also been under pressure by world leaders to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza but he knows that many so-called civilians are fully supportive of Hamas. “From the rivers to the sea” is not some idle chant. If there are, in fact, forty kilometers of Hamas tunnels under Gaza, that will be an especially formidable undertaking for the Israeli military.
Until recently. Israeli military action has been largely confined to the Israeli Air Force selectively targeting Hamas command and control centres in addition to responding to periodic rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank. Syrian airports have also been pre-emptively hit. It now appears that the next stage of the Israeli response in Gaza has commenced or is imminent.
A few days ago, our own Dover used the term Axis of Resistance referring to those forces that could join with Hamas such as Hezbollah, Syria, Iraqi Shia militias, Yemeni Houthi and Iran. Other potential participants included Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.
At first pass, it seems very unlikely that most of Israel’s neighbours would openly engage Israel. In part, this may be due to two US carrier battle groups loitering in the Eastern Mediterranean but mainly the immediate and potentially irreparable damage to relations between the US and Saudi Arabia and Turkey especially, but also Jordan and even Egypt. Syria could not act in isolation.
If Saudi was openly at war with Israel, American actions to ensure global oil supplies has grave implications for the Saudis. As much as Saudi may sympathize with their Islamic brethren, some things are just more important. Like Saudi maintaining its money, lifestyle and sovereignty. Agreements and alliances are fine, but never underestimate personal and national self-interest.
As for Turkey and Jordan, it’s hard to imagine any scenario that would justify their direct engagement as a nation state as the economic, military and global fallout would be epic. If nothing else, Turkey is a member of NATO, however sometimes recalcitrant, and Jordan won’t want to get involved because they’re not foolish. Ditto for Egypt.
As much as Iran likes to rattle their saber, and as lunatic as the Mullahs may be, they cannot be so absurdly naive to not expect a full-throated response from both Israel and the United States should Iran decide to act as a nation state and attack Israel.
Ditto with Iran’s oft stated threat to mine the Straits of Hormuz. This would be interpreted as an act of war as global economies reel at the oil-price shock and the Americans, likely supported by a coalition of other nations, would respond to restore and secure oil supplies. If Iran attacked the mine sweeping operations, the US response would be withering.
Iran is allies with both Russia and China, but neither will risk everything, and I mean everything, to support Iran and go to war with the west over a Hamas initiated action in Israel.
Therefore, allowing that Hamas are bloodthirsty terrorists, it is likely that even the dimmest member must have considered Israel’s probable response. How did Hamas intend to fight off an enraged Israel?
Perhaps Hamas envisaged a great uprising of terrorist groups to defeat Israel? That even if others did not, Iran and Syria would throw their (covert) support behind Hamas, Hezbollah and others? The Hamas preparations for the assault were months in the making – did Hamas envisage that the chant “from the rivers to the sea” would ultimately be possible? A final solution, so to speak. Or, was this all about scuttling the Saudi – Israel talks and leveraging the release of the Hamas brethren from Israeli prisons? All of the above?
As expected, the inevitable has now happened and Hamas are offering to release the hostages in return for the release of Hamas prisoners from Israeli jails and, a ceasefire. At a minimum, a ceasefire would be interpreted, by Hamas at least, as a partial victory. The release of thousands of Hamas fighters back into the arms of their comrades would cement the perception of victory whilst humbling Israel’s much vaunted military capacity. That the Hamas attack even occurred is already a major slap to Israel’s intelligence community.
Netanyahu knows the importance of hostage recovery to his country but he is in a difficult position. A ground invasion of Gaza will likely mean the immediate murder by Hamas of any remaining hostages – and probably livestreamed. What will be the reaction of the Israeli public? Is the price of destroying Hamas 200 more Israeli innocents? What a ghastly decision. Gaza is a tiny strip of land that has been quarantined and, because of Hamas, has incurred the righteous wrath of Israel. We can be certain that Israel wants to extract revenge no matter who Hamas thinks they can rely upon, but Israel also wants the hostages back. We will soon find out whether Israel will pay the price demanded by Hamas before it undertakes a military response.