Israel’s latest massacre

Netanyahu thinks he can save his political skin by stepping up the slaughter

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to extricate himself from his domestic crises by reverting to the policy of assassinations and mass killings in the Gaza Strip. His 40-plane raid in the early hours of Tuesday targeting three Islamic Jihad leaders and their families, in which 12 civilians mostly women and children were killed, was also a bid to cause a rift between the movement and its partner Hamas. But this massacre will not achieve its objectives. It will backfire, and could even trigger a regional war.

These air raids and assassinations do not reflect Israel’s strength but its desperation and incoherence. They are also a major embarrassment for go-between Egypt, where the three leaders have been preparing to travel for talks. Cairo had been given assurances by Israel as part of the deal it brokered last May to halt Islamic Jihad missile attacks in retaliation for the arrest of leading members in Jenin in the West Bank. The group has reportedly been refusing to take calls from Egyptian authorities urging calm, indicating that it is intent on retaliating forcefully.

Israel’s targeting of Islamic Jihad members in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the exclusion of other resistance groups, especially Hamas, is a blatant and cynical ploy to sow discord between them. Hamas should be smart enough not to fall into this trap. It was heavily criticised by its Palestinian constituency for leaving Islamic Jihad to confront last year’s assault alone.

This time, Hamas will be compelled to join in the retaliation, because the latest Israeli massacre did not only kill the three Jihad leaders but 12 civilians too, violating the terms of the truce agreed with the movement, which is obliged as the governing authority in the Gaza Strip to safeguard the lives of people living under its rule.

Netanyahu could well have ordered this massacre to exploit any Palestinian retaliation as a pretext for an all-out assault on the Gaza Strip aimed at wiping out the resistance groups. But this would be an act of folly that would incur huge political and military losses. It would trigger a repeat, on a larger scale and with greater efficacy, of the 2021 Sword of Jerusalem campaign that cut Israel off from the outside world, closed down its airports, and sent millions of is settlers scurrying into shelters.

Back then, Netanyahu turned to US President Joe Biden to halt the missiles and implored the Egyptians to intercede. But he won’t be met by either if he sends his tanks into the Gaza Strip. He’ll be met by Kornet rockets and a barrage of upgraded missiles targeting Israeli-occupied cities and potentially causing heavy casualties. That could spell the end of him and his fascist government, and start the countdown to the end of the Israeli occupation state.

Israel’s latest massacre

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