10 Lessons we Have Learnt from the War in Gaza

100 days since the events of 7 Oct there are 10 things we have learnt
Umar Ahmed23rd January 202418 min

The war in Palestine has now passed 100 days. The world continues to watch in horror as Israel bombs hospitals, residential areas and ambulances due to its right to self-defence. The regional rulers have been forced on the defensive as their people take to the streets demanding action. The global powers have all come out in support of Israel’s right to defend itself, whilst in private they have pressured Israel’s right-wing government with deadlines and restraint. 100 days since the events of 7 Oct there are 10 things we have learnt. 

1. Genocidal Intentions

The UN defines genocide as the intentional destruction of a people in whole or part. Throughout much of Israel’s existence, Zionist officials have made clear they want the whole of Palestine and have made numerous genocidal statements of how they planned to deal with the indigenous people to achieve this. After the 7th of October Israeli officials have been falling over themselves highlighting whatt they would like to see happen to the Palestinian people.

It began with Israel’s Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant making clear “We are fighting human animals,” and described Israel’s military response just days after the 7th October attack as: “We will eliminate everything – they will regret it.”  Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, evoked a biblical analogy referring to the Israelites’ enemy, largely interpreted as a genocidal call to wipe out Gaza. “You must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible – we do remember,” he said during an official video statement. Ghassan Alian, who heads the Israeli army’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Palestinian Territories (COGAT), declared: “There will be no electricity and no water (in Gaza), there will only be destruction. You wanted hell, you will get hell.

Moshe Feiglin, the founder of Israel’s right-wing Zehut Party and former Likud representative in Israel’s parliament, called for the complete destruction of Gaza. “There is one and only (one) solution, which is to completely destroy Gaza before invading it. I mean destruction like what happened in Dresden and Hiroshima, without nuclear weapons.” In another statement, Feiglin said Israel’s end goal should not be to eliminate Hamas, but rather, “Gaza should be razed and Israel’s rule should be restored to the place. This is our country“. Not to be outdone, Amit Halevi, a Likud member of parliament, said, “There should be two goals for this victory: One, there is no more Muslim land in the land of Israel … After we make it the land of Israel, Gaza should be left as a monument, like Sodom.”

Ariel Kallner, a member of Israel’s parliament, said, “Nakba to the enemy now! This day is our Pearl Harbour. We will still learn the lessons. Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 48. A Nakba in Gaza and a Nakba for anyone who dares to join! Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu went further in a radio interview, auguring that dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza was a possible tactic Israel could employ.

Genocidal rhetoric has been a constant feature throughout the Zionist occupation of Palestine. Today there are countless Zionist statements promoting expulsion and genocide, with little condemnation from Western nations against such speech. Dehumanisation has been a major tactic before prior genocides, it’s used to inflame tensions and provoke violence. Once the language of genocide is normalised and becomes mainstream the physical act of genocide is a certainty.

2. Israel has always wanted to seize all of Palestine

Israel has always seen its future security through seizing all of historic Palestine and expelling the indigenous people. The challenge for Israel on its birth was it lacked the capabilities to achieve this. For this reason, she joined America in its Cold War strategy and became the lynchpin in the Middle East against Communist expansion.

Israel was forced to accept the two-state solution after the 1973 war, despite US assurances that it would get regional nations to normalise relations with her. Israel accepted the two-state solution at the time as she believed her worst nightmare was about to come true in the 1973 war. Israel needed US intervention. But ever since, Israel has done everything to scupper and undermine the two state solution by building and expanding settlements. The West Bank is now a labyrinth of settlements that cuts off Palestinian towns to each other and requires permits for Palestinians to move about.

For strategic reasons Israel cannot allow the West Bank to become a separate state as the West Bank is a large territory and higher land that overlooks the core of Israel which is the area from Haifa in the north along the coast down to the Gaza strip. For security reasons Israel needs to control the West Bank, as an independent state will have the advantage of possessing the higher ground and it would be beyond Israel’s capabilities to defend herself.  

This is why despite all the talk of two states, Israel has been expanding its territory and uses every opportunity, flare up and tactic to kill the two-state solution and seize more of historic Palestine. We have a situation today where the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the regional Arab rulers all accept the two-state solution and Israel is the only one that doesn’t support it for its own security and strategic reasons.

3. International Law can be Abandoned at the Drop of a Hat

When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022 international law was used against Moscow. In a December 2021 joint statement by Presidents Biden and Macron, they stated: “The Presidents strongly condemn Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine and stress that intentionally targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure constitutes war crimes whose perpetrators must be held accountable.” 

Western leaders have fallen over themselves in condemning Hamas and condoning Israel’s right to self-defence. The West is happy to use the most strong and robust language to describe the crimes against humanity of the Russian President, but not when it comes to describing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

In January 2023 Amnesty International published a report highlighting the West’s double standards on global human rights. In the report Amnesty said: “States cannot criticise human rights violations one minute and in the next condone similar abuses in other countries just because their interests are at stake. It’s unconscionable and undermines the entire fabric of universal human rights.

International law as we have it today has its origins in the aftermath of WW2 and the establishment of the United Nations by the victors of the war. As the permanent members make the rules, they also decide when to enforce them and even when they will abide by them. Russia has felt the full force of international law since its invasion of Ukraine, whilst Israel can’t seem to ever break international law. What this shows is international law can be dropped and picked up whenever it’s in Western interests.

4. Israel’s Information War Requires the Complete Abandonment of all Context and History

The Israeli propaganda war went into overdrive soon after the events of the 7th October. We are being told by Israel and its supporters in western governments and in the media that Israel is acting in self-defence in Gaza. Its objective is to free hostages held by Hamas, and to re-establish order and security by destroying Hamas’ military capabilities. It is doing all this in the most careful and humane manner possible.

But many can see a large discrepancy between what is heard on the one hand, and what is seen happening on the ground to ordinary Gazans. What everyone is seeing is the complete destruction of Gaza. From the 7th of October to the 1st of November, Israel struck over 12,000 targets in the area, dropping over 25,000 tonnes of explosives. In comparison, the Little Boy nuclear bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima during World War II was the equivalent of 15,000 tonnes of explosives.

The self-defence narrative and the ‘do you condemn Hamas’ narrative tries to erase context and history in the conversation on Israel’s war on Gaza. It does not allow conversations about context and history, because once the conversations go down this path, they will eventually reach 1948 and the Nakba. This explains why even the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was attacked harshly by Zionist officials when he said, “It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum” and “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation”. Zionist officials described his remarks as a justification of terrorism and murder and called for him to resign.

5. What do we know and what do we not know about the 7th of October?

Israel’s key position in its information war is the condemnation of Hamas for its attack. On social media and mainstream media all supporters of Palestine are forced to condemn Hamas and declare their condemnation. On Piers Morgan’s nightly uncensored show the former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbynn was asked multiple times if he condemned the actions of Hamas, to which he attempted to explain the broader context of the occupation.

After months have gone by we still do not know the details of the attack and most of the details we do know are the views of Israeli officials, who as a participant in the conflict and have an interest in projecting a particular narrative of the day. Israel’s war is based entirely on that Hamas attack and any questioning or subsequent alternative interpretation would blow apart the whole justification of the Israeli response.

The Israeli narrative is Hamas committed untold horrors. More than 1,200 civilians were killed (this figure was subsequently reduced) and 248 taken as hostages. Hamas was accused of raping, beheading babies, ripping out babies from pregnant women and carrying out a massacre.

As the weeks have gone by, a clearer picture of what happened on that day has emerged. In an investigation by the Hebrew newspaper Haaretz, they concluded almost half the people killed were in fact combatants – soldiers or police. The investigation recognised its account was incomplete as it had not gained all the figures and data. It found that with the data it did have, which was over half the deaths, there was no recorded deaths of children under the age of three, which throws into question the Zionist narrative that babies were targeted by Palestinian resistance fighters. The investigation also found the breakout was not limited to Hamas forces alone; numerous armed fighters belonging to other factions also took part as well as some Palestinians unaffiliated with any organisation.

The rape claims went viral almost immediately with even US President Joe Biden alleging, during a speech a few days after the attack, that Israeli women were “…raped, assaulted, paraded as trophies…” by Hamas fighters. The White House later confirmed this was incorrect. An article by The Forward’s on the 11th of October reported that the Israeli military acknowledged they had no evidence of such allegations at that point. Reuters reported regarding the allegations of decapitations, foot amputations and rape, that the “…the military personnel overseeing the identification process didn’t present any forensic evidence in the form of pictures or medical records.

Israel’s narrative of a bloody massacre at Kibbutz Be’eri has also been undermined by numerous outlets. ABC News photographed artillery pieces resembling Israeli munitions outside bombed-out homes. Videos of the scene showed homes that appear to have been struck by munitions that Hamas fighters did not possess. We now know that the IDF shelled houses with all their occupants inside in order to eliminate ‘terrorists’ along with the hostages. A grayzone investigative report that contained first hand testimony confirmed this. Testimony by inexperienced Israeli tank operators have revealed they were ordered to open fire upon Israeli communities by “panicked” superiors whether they contained civilians or not. 

What we know about the attack is that we know very little of the facts of what took place. Israel’s narrative continues to be undermined and it’s likely, as we are in the fog of war, many details will be revealed after the war. 

6. Muslim Rulers: All Bark and no Bite  

The Muslim rulers have for long spoken for the Palestinian people. Iran and Syria have in the past provided arms and supported Palestinian fighters. Saudi Arabia provided aid and organised conferences for the Palestininans. Turkey’s Erdogan has for long criticised Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. Palestine was one thing the Muslim rulers had some semblance of unity.

However, as they were making these statements, we know behind the scenes many of these rulers had cordial relations with Israel. Many had a commercial relationship, whilst others have been trying to normalise relations with her. This is why it should not be surprising when it comes to delivering on their statements the rulers have fallen short.

The Muslim rulers never planned to make good on their statements as they were just that, statements. When it came to making good on their statements they never planned to. This is why Erdogan of Turkey told a rally regarding Israel’s slaughter in Gaza, “…we will proclaim you as a war criminal to the world”. These words were enough for Israel to recall its ambassador. But there were no diplomatic repercussions and Turkey has ignored the plight of Gazans and pressed ahead with its multifaceted relationship with Israel. Saudi Arabia wants to focus on “de-escalation” and resumption of normalisation efforts with Israel once the war is over.  Both Jordan and Egypt are more concerned about the refugee spillover than actually physically helping the Palestinians in their time of need. Iran and Hezbollah who for long supported Hamas has seen Hassan Nasrullah in a speech confirm he would only intervene if events moved beyond Gaza. During an impromptu meeting with the leadership of Hamas in Tehran, Iran’s supreme leader admonished Hamas, remonstrating the lack of warning justifying their lack of support. 

7. For 2 billion Muslims the National Borders are Irrelevant

The Muslim world has shown their borders do not matter when it comes to Palestine. Since the beginning of the Israeli onslaught protests have taken place across the Muslim world. From the Muslims in the region in support of the Palestinians to those as far as Indonesia. Even across the Western world protests and demonstrations in support of the Palestinians take place regularly.

For the ummah, Palestine is blessed and the people there are her ummah. This outpouring of support and unity has put the Muslim rulers in a bind. They need to be seen to support the sentiments of their people, but at the same time they do not want to help the people of Palestine for their own narrow interests, which is mainly to maintain their own thrones. Due to this, the rulers across the Muslim world have resorted to cracking down upon their own people who support the ummah in Palestine.

Many of these rulers initially supported protests for Palestine as this showed the rulers were in line with the people’s sentiments. But as the months went by other grievances began to emerge and intertwine with the protests demands. These range from the state of the domestic economy, authoritarianism, and the lack of development. This has been the case in Egypt where the regime initially supported the protests, but in order to prevent protests from becoming anti-government demonstrations, Egyptian authorities began cracking down on dissenting protestors. Sissi’s regime fears the Palestinian issue, one that many ordinary people living in the Middle East deeply sympathise with, could threaten the political status quo. 

The national borders and the rulers having the top spot is of the utmost importance for them. Their regime’s survival is paramount. For the people, it’s not.

8. Subverting Support for Palestine

Despite all the talk of freedom of speech, when it comes to support for Palestine in the West the media, officials and the corporate world have used draconian measures from accusations of antisemitism, suspensions in the workplace and the law against support for Palestine. In the UK the former Home Secretary Suella Braverman labelled the regular weekend demonstrations in London for Palestine as ‘hate marches.’ The authorities in Austria, Hungary and Switzerland have prohibited pro-Palestinian protest. In France, a court overturned a blanket ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations, but they can still be banned case by case. In Germany, numerous pro-Palestinian protests have been blocked, where they have gone ahead authorities restricted the number of Palestinian flags that could be waved.

In the US, the advocacy organisation Palestine Legal reports that they’ve responded to over 260 cases of people’s “livelihoods or careers” being targeted. In many cases people have been fired due to social media posts criticising Israel or highlighting the Palestinian plight. Artforum’s top editor David Velasco was fired by his publisher, Penske Media, after posting an open letter on the site calling for a cease-fire and suggesting Israel is responsible for the beginning of a genocide. Michael Eisen was removed as editor-in-chief of the science journal eLife after retweeting a satirical article critical of Israel. Maha Dakhil, a top executive at the Hollywood talent firm Creative Artists Agency, stepped back from leadership roles after reposting an Instagram story that implied Israel was committing genocide.

When Russia invaded Ukraine the corporate world, the education sector, celebrities and organisations that had nothing to do with politics all took positions in support of Ukraine. The Ukrainian flag became the symbol of resistance. When Israel commits a genocide, freedom of speech clearly doesn’t extend to the Palestinians.

9. Israel v US

As Israel’s massacre in Gaza has continued, talk of what the solution will be when the bombs end have begun and differences are emerging. Netanyahu made clear when asked who should “govern” Gaza after fighting ends, Netanyahu told ABC News in an interview “Those who don’t want to continue the way of Hamas.” He continued “Israel will for an indefinite period … have the overall security responsibility [in Gaza] because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have that security responsibility.

Netanyahu’s foreign minister and the US hit back that Israel would play no role and that either an Arab force or a UN force will have security responsibility. The US has since the Hamas attack dispatched regularly the Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin, the defence secretary Lloyed Austin and the CIA chief Jake Sullivan to Israel and the region to manage things in line with US interests. In fact Blinkin and Austin have been sitting in Israeli cabinet meetings and directing Israeli actions. Israel was looking at a full-scale invasion of Gaza, but they were forced to carry out incursions only. The Jerusalem Post confirmed in mid-December that the US has given Israel a month to bring its war to an end as the US will begin international summits on the post war situation.

What this shows is the US is publicly supporting Israel in its war, but privately she is restricting and altering the Israeli right wing government genocidal agenda. This is because the expulsion of the Gazans from the Gaza strip would not be in US interests for the region.

10. Israeli Victory Looks as Elusive as Ever

The war narrative on Gaza has been controlled by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the country’s ministry of defence. Israel’s international reputation may have plummeted with the wanton destruction but the IDF sold a plausible narrative that Hamas was weakening and victory was close. But this aura is now breaking.

US intelligence officials estimate Israel is nowhere close to its goal of eliminating Hamas after over three months of relentless airstrikes and ground operations in Gaza, The Wall Street Journal reported. US intelligence agencies estimate between 20% and 30% of Hamas fighters have been killed. The US estimates the group has about 25,000-30,000 militants and a few thousand police and other types of forces. There are also other militant groups inside Gaza, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The report came after a member of Israel’s war cabinet, Gadi Eisenkot, suggested the goal of eradicating Hamas is unrealistic. “Whoever speaks of the absolute defeat [of Hamas in Gaza] and of it no longer having the will or the capability [to harm Israel], is not speaking the truth. That is why we should not tell tall tales,” said Eisenkot, a former head of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) whose son died fighting in Gaza in December.

The IDF is still following the well-rehearsed Dahiya doctrine of massive force in responding to irregular war, causing extensive social and economic damage, undermining the will of the insurgents to fight while deterring future threats to Israel’s security. But after 100 days, despite the destruction, there is nothing Israel can refer to that looks like victory or success. Israel’s war is not going according to plan.   

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