‘Al-Aqsa Flood’: The surprise is that some are surprised

The cry for Al-Aqsa resonated across the entire Islamic sphere. Why did the West not get it?

Operation Al-Aqsa Flood has caught “Israel” and the US by complete surprise. Americans are calling it ‘Israel’s Pearl Harbour’ moment –and an attack on America too). Nikki Haley (running for election) is succinct: To Netanyahu: “Finish them”.

Al-Aqsa Flood is held to be “Israel’s” greatest ‘intelligence failure’. Maybe so, but if Israeli and American intelligence did not see the attack coming, it is because of their Western mechanical, literal way of thinking. If I, and probably thousands of Al Mayadeen readers, broadly knew that this was in the works (but not of course, of its operational details), why was “Israel” blind to it?

The writing was clearly written on the wall. Two years ago, a missile campaign was unleashed from Gaza on “Tel Aviv” in response to the Temple Mount Movement’s religious zealotry and invasion of Al-Aqsa mosque.

Palestinians rallied to the call to safeguard the Holy Mosque. It was not just Hamas; it was West Bank Palestinians and (for the first time, too, 1948 Palestinians who have Israeli passports) who all rose up to protect Al-Aqsa. Just to be clear, the rallying cry was not for Hamas; it was not for Palestinian nationalism. It was for Al-Aqsa — an icon that goes to the heart of what it is to be Muslim (Sunni or Shi’a). It was a cry that resonated across the entire Islamic sphere.

Did the West not get it?  Apparently not. It was right under their nose, but super high-tech Intel doesn’t do symbolic meaning. That was true for the 2006 Lebanon war too, by the way; “Israel” could not grasp the symbolism of Hezballah’s ‘Karbala’ stand.

In the intervening period, “Israel” has shattered into two equally weighted factions holding to two irreconcilable visions of “Israel’s” future; two mutually opposing readings of history and of what it means to be Jewish.

The fissure could not be more complete. Except it is. One faction, which holds a majority in parliament, is broadly Mizrahi — a former underclass in Israeli society; and the other, largely well-to-do liberal Ashkenazi.

So, what has this to do with Al-Aqsa Flood? Well, the Right in Netanyahu’s government has two long-standing commitments. One is to rebuild the (Jewish) Temple on ‘Temple Mount’ (Haram al-Shariff).

Just to be clear, that would entail demolishing Al-Aqsa.

The second overriding commitment is to the founding of “Israel”, on the “Land of Israel”. And again, to be clear, this (in their view) would entail clearing Palestinians from the West Bank. Indeed, the settlers have been cleansing Palestinians from swaths of the West Bank over the past year (notably between Ramallah and Jehrico).

On Thursday morning (two days preceding Al-Aqsa Flood), more than 800 settlers stormed the Mosque Compound, under the full protection of Israeli forces. The drumbeat of such provocations is rising.

This is nothing new. The First Intifada was triggered by (then) PM Sharon making a provocative visit into the mosque. I was a part of Senator George Mitchell’s Presidential Committee investigating that incident. Even then, it was clear that Sharon intended the visit to fuel the fire of Religious nationalism. At that time, the Temple Mount Movement was a minnow; today it has ministers in Cabinet and in key security positions — and has promised its followers to build the ‘Third Temple’.

So, the threat to Al-Aqsa has been building for two decades, and today is reaching an apex.  And yet US and Israeli intelligence didn’t see resistance coming, and nor did they see the settler violence building in the West Bank?

What happened on Saturday was widely expected and clearly extensively planned. So what’s next?

It is too early (at the time of writing) to say. Netanyahu says he is recruiting for a major ground operation in Gaza: “The IDF will immediately use all its strength to destroy Hamas’s capabilities. We will destroy them and will forcefully avenge this dark day that they have forced on Israel and its citizens. As Bialik wrote: ‘Revenge for the blood of a little child has yet been devised by Satan’.  All of the places in which Hamas is deployed, hiding and operating – in that wicked city: We will turn them into rubble”.

Doing what Netanyahu threatens will not be easy. There are reportedly some 100-200 Israeli hostages held and dispersed across Gaza who will be at risk should “Israe”l mount a major ground operation into Gaza. And fighting in urban Gaza will be very costly for the IOF.

At what point might Hezbollah intervene? Is it ‘game on’? We do not know. However, “all resistance combat units throughout Syria and Lebanon have been put on war alert”, according to a Hezbollah statement.

The bottom line is that very likely, “Israel” will try to move to an emergency ‘Unity Government’ — at least for the period of the ‘war’. One aim (strongly advocated in Washington) behind moving to a unity government is to evict the Right from power — but recall that Netanyahu’s only hope of escaping indictment and prison lies with his coalition partners on the Right.

At present, the liberal press are insisting that the lack of forewarning to Saturday stems from the Israeli Mizrahi Right having egregiously “distracted” the security Establishment from their job. The Coalition members, however, will probably point out that any failure predominantly was in the hands of the Ashkenazi security High Command.

A Unity Government perhaps, but the underlying internal Israeli rupture will not vanish.



One thought on “‘Al-Aqsa Flood’: The surprise is that some are surprised

  • Botched_Lobotomy

    Mr. Crooke has been unbiased and factual about what’s happening in Ukraine and his view of world events has been more reliably accurate than the nonsense fed to The West by Corporate News.

    I’m assuming that the 800 settlers storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque “under the full protection of Israeli forces” was a surprise to Hamas otherwise I’d expect that they’d have opposed the settlers and Israeli forces at that time. I haven’t seen any reports that anyone died during this storming.

    Mr. Crooke says that such a provocative action was sure to enflame Palestinians and muslims throughout the region. I have no reason to doubt him. But the response, including the killing of women and children, the decapitating of babies and the holding of hostages, seems wildly disproportionate to the initial provocation.

    Obviously there is a long history between the two combatants. I understand the claims that Israel is an apartheid state, Gaza is an open air prison and that there have been many prior occasions where Palestinian women and children have been killed by Israelis. I also understand that Israel claims similar prior violations and killings by Palestinians. Seems to me to be an insolvable situation. And with each side relying on past acts, going back decades if necessary, to justify current slaughter it appears the violence will continue to escalate forever.

    Unless, of course, one side is able to annihilate the other. If Israel genocides the Palestinians then certainly the Arab nations will try to respond in kind. At that point, particularly if Iran is involved, then the US will get involved. That will inevitably cause Russia to get involved and away we go into WWIII.

    For those who do not want to die in a nuclear armageddon, the hope must be that Israel does not try to wipe out Gaza and that Hezbollah, Syria and Lebanon stay out of the fray. Otherwise, all bets are off.


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