Israel has been at war in Gaza for nearly four months and having failed to pull off any major military victories, it has turned its focus outwards, carrying out a number of military operations that are clearly designed to force a larger regional confrontation. Despite the evident danger posed by such an escalation, the US Biden administration continues to twiddle its thumbs.
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, began his latest Middle East tour over the weekend, having failed to succeed in securing any of the goals that both Washington and Tel Aviv set forward in October last year. The Israeli-US war coalition set out to “completely destroy” Hamas in Gaza and to free Israeli prisoners — taken captive by Palestinian fighters on October 7 — by force. Although Israel is now claiming that it managed to secure complete operational control in Northern Gaza, this has been proven false as the Palestinian armed groups continue to utilize their advance network of tunnels in order to carry out qualitative military operations against the invading Israeli army.
To give a brief summary of Israel’s claims, as of this week, they have alleged the following: That they have killed anywhere between 8,000 to 9,000 Hamas fighters, have uncovered up to 1,500 tunnels and have completely destroyed the Hamas command and control structure in Northern Gaza. These achievements sound impressive, except they lack any supporting evidence beyond the claims themselves, while a wealth of evidence exists to prove the opposite. For instance, the death toll in Gaza, which consists of roughly 70% women and children, who make up the some 30,000 people that Israel has murdered in its campaign so far. Israel also claimed, shortly after October 7, to have uncovered the bodies of some 1,500 Hamas fighters on Israeli territory, before walking back the claim. They now refrain from mentioning it, likely out of fear that there will be requests to reveal the evidence of such allegations.
As for Israel’s claims regarding it having uncovered and destroyed some 1,500 tunnels in Gaza, not only have they only released a handful of highly edited videos — which do not clearly show where the tunnels are — it also stated from the outset of the war that the total number of tunnels in the entire Palestinian occupied territory was around 1,500. This would mean that Israel is effectively claiming to have neutralized the majority of the Hamas tunnels, yet every single day there are dozens of attacks launched from tunnels on Israeli forces throughout Gaza. On Monday, Hamas also managed to fire more rockets into Tel Aviv, launching them from Northern Gaza once again, where Israel has now withdrawn from almost entirely.
Even if we were to assume that Israel’s statistics were correct, which have likely just been plucked from thin air, Israel is not even close to dismantling the Palestinian armed groups in Gaza. Hamas, according to Israeli estimates, consists of a fighting force that is roughly 30,000 to 40,000 men strong, which means that even if the invading Israeli armed forces actually killed 8,000, they are not close to completely destroying the Palestinian group. On top of that, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement has even more fighters that Hamas does, although the quality of their forces do not match those of Hamas. In addition to this, there are around a dozen other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, all of which continue to announce operations and release video content showcasing their achievements on the battlefield.
Israel has failed in at least three separate attempts — using special forces units — to recapture its detained soldiers in Gaza, two of which were repelled by the Qasssam Brigades [Hamas armed wing] and one by the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades [PFLP armed wing]. Israel has even murdered three of its hostages who were running towards them with White flags raised (one of them 15 minutes after the other two) because Israeli soldiers apparently mistook them for Palestinian civilians who they have been given shoot to kill orders against. On Monday, things got even worse for the Israeli military, as they suffered their “worst day” of losses since the beginning of the army’s ground incursion into Gaza.
Despite the various claims of the Israeli military and political leaderships, they have not achieved anything beyond a mass murder campaign that was designed to inflict “maximum damage” and not accuracy. Hamas and the other Palestinian groups operate throughout every part of the Gaza Strip, emerging from the ground amonst Israeli forces in areas they claim to have secured. The Israelis have only killed their own prisoners, failing to free any of them by force, while the leadership of Hamas in Gaza remains untouched and is able to effectively coordinate dozens of operations every single day and release documentation of their attacks. Meanwhile, Israel has released a single video which clearly shows them killing a Hamas fighter, which ended up doing to opposite of destroying Palestinian morale, after viewers watched on in awe of how the fighter spent his last moments.
Israel is also covering up its casualties, placing military censors on its domestic media and in every single hospital that is treating wounded soldiers, which Israeli media outlets like Haaretz have reported has led to drastic under-counting of casualties. Between all of the Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, they have claimed to have struck and either completely or partially destroyed over 1,000 Israeli military vehicles. During the first few weeks of the ground incursion, Israel would announce the numbers of vehicles it was losing and these numbers matched with the numbers released by Hamas at the time, but has since stopped. Roughly 30,000 Israeli soldiers have been withdrawn from Gaza also, as the majority of the Northern portion of the besieged coastal enclave has been abandoned after the fierce combat placed too much pressure on Israeli battalions operating there.
Israel Seeks To Drag The US Into A Regional War
After having failed to achieve even symbolic victory in Gaza, and likely in hopes of distracting from the ICJ investigation into genocide, the Israelis began looking outside of occupied Palestine for their crowning achievements and to transform the war into a multi-front confrontation. In late December, the Israeli air force launched a number of airstrikes against Damascus, the Capital city of Syria, assassinating Iran’s top advisor in Syria, Seyyed Razi Mousavi. In reaction to the attack on their senior figure in Syria, Tehran vowed a response to the act of aggression.
Last Tuesday, Israel took things a step further by assassinating the deputy head of Hamas’ politburo, Saleh Al-Arouri, in Beirut. A total of seven people were killed in the airstrike that was launched, which targeted the Hamas leader in their office. This was a significant escalation for two primary reasons, the first being that it crossed a red line that was previously set by Lebanese Hezbollah’s Secretary General, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, who had warned that a retaliation would come for the assassination of any public figures on Lebanese soil, whether they be Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian or Palestinian. The second reason why the assassination was so provocative was down to the fact that, for the first time since 2006, Israel launched airstrikes at the Shia majority suburb of the Lebanese Capital, Dahiyeh.
Following these two incidents, another development emerged, as a shock terrorist attack in the Iranian city of Kerman, killing over 100 innocent civilians on January 3. Quickly fingers were pointed at Israel, as Iran claimed that Zionists were using terrorists to carry out their goals against the Islamic Republic. It took around 24 hours before ISIS eventually claimed the attack, which is unusual as the terrorist group normally adopts attacks of this nature quickly. An internal investigation that was ordered by Tehran concluded that two suicide bombers had been responsible for the blasts that constituted the worst terrorist attack in the country in decades. Iranian officials are seeming to indicate Israeli Mossad involvement in the terrorist attack, while claiming that they will seek revenge.
Taking things a step further, in the early hours of January 8, the Israeli military launched airstrikes against a civilian car in Southern Lebanon. It emerged soon thereafter that a Hezbollah military commander, Weisam al-Taweel, was driving the vehicle and had been assassinated. All of these attacks, having effectively declared war on Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, seem to be designed to trigger responses that will necessitate a large-scale regional war. In the event that Hezbollah or Iran are to take steps that lead to war, the hope of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is that such an escalation would force the US to participate in assaults on multiple countries in West Asia.
Unfortunately, the US Biden administration has not acted to restrain Tel Aviv at this time. In fact, the American military decided to carry out two acts of aggression themselves. After the US decided to launch strikes at three ships operated by Yemen’s naval forces, killing 10, the Ansarallah-led government in Sana’a announced they would respond to this crime in the Red Sea. Then, in a country where the US claims it is in a security partnership, the US air force carried out a series of drone strikes against an Iraqi base in Baghdad, assassinating Mushtaq al-Jawari, a commander of an Iraqi armed faction that is officially part of the Iraqi security force apparatus.
Instead of giving off the appearance of strength, the US government has acted out of complete arrogance and decided to pursue the same strategy of illegal violence. This decision, to escalate tensions regionally, only serves to benefit the extremist government of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, but represents a serious challenge to the strategic goals of both the US and Israel in West Asia. Diplomacy seems to have been completely sidelined, which will be the only way the conflict in Gaza will end peacefully without a multi-front explosion. At this time, Israeli PM Netanyahu is in deep trouble, he is extremely unpopular and knows his days as Prime Minister are numbered, so he is now turning to the only option he has to prolong his political career. However, this attempt to expand the war and perhaps even drag the US into a regional confrontation, is tantamount to playing Russian Roulette with the future of Israel’s existence and of American hegemony in West Asia.
To put it bluntly, the US cannot win a war with the entire Middle East and neither can Israel. The only option that will be left, if such a war erupts, is the use of nuclear weapons. If either US or Israel use nuclear weapons, it can be guaranteed that Israel will be wiped off the map physically. Iran and its allies maintain an equation of mutually assured destruction with Tel Aviv, so such a trade off will not result in any true winner. The takeaway from all of this is the following, unconditional US support for Israel is not only allowing a genocide to continue in Gaza, but it threatens nuclear war. Washington has to end its support for the Israelis, and AIPAC must be forced to register as a foreign agent, anything less than this is not only a threat to the security of the entirety of West Asia, but also to international order.