The collapse of the temporary Gaza truce was expected, although some who do not like to acknowledge the facts were optimistic about a near-miracle, while the time for miracles has passed.
However, the glaring truth indicated from the beginning was the need of both sides in this unbalanced war for a “warrior’s break,” in which both claim tactical victories, refocus psychological targeting, strengthen logistical mobilization and capitalize on the changes imposed on the ground, not to mention trying to give “moderation” a chance through prisoner and detainee exchange deals.
The Israeli side, which has historically enjoyed an amazing ability to paint itself as the victim, was undoubtedly able to win the battle of the political decision-making corridors in most of the world’s influential capitals. This achievement was further enhanced by its victory in the war of financial and communication blackmail — the clearest evidence of which was the visit of US billionaire Elon Musk to Israel, where he was humbly subservient to Benjamin Netanyahu after major international companies decided to boycott advertising on Musk’s X platform.
On the other hand, the eruption of global mass movements demanding an end to the Gaza war came more as a reaction to the ferocity of the bombing and the horror of the tragedies, than as a result of the skills of Hamas leaders in managing the public relations battle regarding what happened on Oct. 7 and its aftermath. In fact, some of the statements made by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders were disastrous, whether in terms of the arrogant handling of the humanitarian catastrophe across the Gaza Strip, or in their ignorance of the background and details of the war.
Meanwhile, the Israeli propaganda machine went far beyond its “declared” goal of eliminating Hamas to the de facto implementation of its permanent strategy, which is the complete displacement of the Palestinian people and the liquidation of a cause that is impossible to liquidate without eliminating its people. Indeed, even before the collapse of the temporary truce, there was a competition between the content of Israeli official statements and the blatant threats, exaggerations, provocations, fabrications and gloating spread by its “electronic army” on social media.
Even in the middle of the prisoner and detainee exchange process, the uprooting and displacement plans were an open secret. There was no doubt among those who were following up on the “advice” given to the residents of the northern part of the Gaza Strip to leave it and head south, that the south — also targeted — was nothing but a temporary stop, whose turn will later come.
The actions and stances of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken were not reassuring for Arab countries.
The words of Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Yoav Gallant — not to mention Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich — were clear and unambiguous. Although the Arab countries continued to bet patiently on a US stance that would rein in the Likud arrogance, the actions and stances of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken were never reassuring. Instead, they confirmed time and time again that Washington, despite its tendency to express “reservations” about the fate and results of the Israeli war, stands fully behind Netanyahu and his government.
Of course, the ready-made pretext to justify US condemnations of Hamas began with the Oct. 7 attack and continued with Hamas holding a number of hostages who could not be released during the first — and perhaps last — truce.
Certainly, what contributed most to ensuring full US support for Netanyahu was the occurrence of individual violent incidents in the West Bank, some of which Hamas claimed responsibility for. However, despite this, save timid condemnations of the violations of armed settlers, one could say that Washington ignored the Israeli forces’ repeated violations of the temporary truce by launching killing and arrest operations in several areas of the West Bank. This got to the point that the number of Palestinians detained, killed or injured during the truce period was greater than the number of released prisoners.
Consequently, what we are facing now is the reality that Washington remains the nurturing, supporting and sponsoring power behind the Israeli scheme, and seems determined to follow it through. Here, it is explicitly supporting the Israeli “handling” of Gaza’s residents, and perhaps the residents of the West Bank in the future, without taking into account the concerns of most of its friends in the region.
It forgets, or chooses to forget — according to an Arab politician and diplomat well versed in the file of Israeli-Arab relations — that the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank “have practically been living in a large prison besieged by Israel for about 20 years, left to their suffering without any political horizon.” A situation that truly forewarned of a serious explosion.
Washington also still insists on monopolizing the file of Israeli-Arab relations, even though it has completely abandoned putting forward any peace initiatives since 2014, during the days of former Secretary of State John Kerry. Hence, by its reluctance to undertake any serious political effort aimed at peace, it has turned the idea of a two-state solution into an absurd and useless distraction. Instead of objective, responsible work to encourage peaceful approaches and strengthen them by giving them political credibility, the region has been thrown into the illusion of the Abraham Accords, from which only one party benefited.
Eyad Abu Shakra is managing editor of Asharq Al-Awsat.
Source: Arab News