The resistance is winning

Israel’s threats to Lebanon are a mark of its defeat in Gaza

We didn’t need experts writing in the leading academic journal Foreign Affairs to tell us that nine months into its war of annihilation in Gaza, Israel has not defeated the Hamas-led resistance but quite the opposite: the resistance is winning and getting stronger.

Benjamin Netanyahu and his generals have started increasingly in recent days to search for a face-saving way to exit the Gaza Strip with the minimum losses. They seem to have found one by leaking claims that they have already achieved the aims of their assault on Rafah and succeeded in eliminating Hamas’ military wing. The other pretext being repeatedly rolled out these days is that they must withdraw from the Gaza Strip soon to focus on the impending war on the northern front to ‘neutralise’ the growing threat posed by Hezbollah to Israel’s security, stability, and existence.

Hamas’ military wing has become stronger than ever. It is in military control of most parts of the Gaza Strip, and not a day passes without the guerilla war it is waging under its new strategy inflicting more Israeli casualties in ambushes against tanks or troops. That demonstrably disproves the Israeli claims which nobody, not even in the military establishment, believes any longer.

The US political scientist and national security expert Prof. Robert Pape reasons that the biggest mistake made by Netanyahu and his generals is not the failure of their tactics or failure to place political or moral constraints on military action, but their utter failure to understand the sources of Hamas’ strength. He notes that Israel claims to have killed 14,000 out of 40,000 Hamas fighters, while Hamas concedes the loss of 6,000 and US intelligence estimates the number to be around 10,000. But the gauge of Hamas’s strength, he argues, is not the number of dead — it is its continued strong hold on the Strip, the massive popular support that sustains it, and the fact that 80% of its tunnels remain useable.

He might have added that during this time tens of thousands of volunteers have joined the armed resistance, especially Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and begun clandestine arms training in secret locations. Most are young people aged 18 to 24.

Previous estimates of Hamas and Islamic Jihad losses need to be re-evaluated in light of this development.

Moreover, the war of extermination waged by Israeli forces in Gaza will not only further radicalise Hamas’ leadership and base, but could spawn the emergence of even more radical groups in future bent on avenging the more than 38,000 mothers, fathers, and children slaughtered so far.

Meanwhile, all the talk over the past nine months about finding alternatives to Hamas rule in Gaza has subsided. Instead, we’ve heard serving and retired Israeli generals say that eradicating the resistance in the Gaza Strip is impossible because Hamas is an ‘idea’ that cannot be destroyed by military means.

The Biden Administration’s spokespeople have been publicly assuring Israel of US support should war erupt in South Lebanon amid the rising tensions. But this is aimed at placating the anxious Israeli public. Behind the scenes US officials are exerting enormous pressure on Netanyahu and his generals to avoid being dragged into a northern front war against Hezbollah that would bring disaster to the occupier-state.

Israeli reserve general Itzhak Brik said in a recent TV appearance that the war on Lebanon would amount to “collective suicide” for Israel. “It is impossible to separate what is happening in the Gaza Strip from South Lebanon,” he said. “The two fronts are interconnected, Hezbollah launched tens of missiles and drones which our air defences failed to intercept, neither the Iron Dome nor planes. We must also remember that there are 200,000 evacuees from the northern settlements and the number is growing.”

The longer Hezbollah’s war of attrition and Hamas’ resistance persist, the faster the occupier-state heads for defeat or even total collapse. It is losing on the battlefields has lost the psychological war, and has become hated in most of the world, especially after it intensified its war of famine in Gaza in an age when verified facts and images of starving children can no longer be concealed.
The coming together of south Lebanon, the Yemeni maritime war, and the Iraqi resistance’s missiles in one front in support of Gaza’s resistance has begun to change all the rules of engagement in the region, and even the world. These are historic moments.

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