US drawn onto Israeli path — one difficult to exit without catastrophe

One man — a retired Maj. General Brik, a highly respected military officer — warned PM Netanyahu personally that a quagmire trap in Gaza was a true risk.

Whilst Israeli Security Minister Gallant talks about close to another year of fighting in Gaza, the IDF Southern Command’s plans estimate the conflict at one to two years, with more forces deployed along the border with Gaza, and more troops being stationed along the Lebanese border throughout 2024 – “even if there is no further escalation”.

What is being said here is plain enough: The Israelis thought its war on Hamas in Gaza would be quick and easy, given its immense firepower and past experience. Instead, they are shocked to find themselves struggling to stay afloat in a deepening rubble quagmire — in Gaza, in the north, and in the West Bank too.

One man — a retired Maj. General Brik, a highly respected military officer — warned PM Netanyahu personally that a quagmire trap in Gaza was a true risk. The military establishment did not like hearing his warning.  Now it is clear; Major General Brik was right. He said a few days ago that ‘the number of Hamas casualties on the ground is much lower than what the IDF reports. It is evident that the IDF spokesperson and the security echelon seek to falsely portray the war as a great victory. For this purpose, they bring in recruited media from major television channels to Gaza to film [fake] victory scenes’.

Another retired Israeli General said of Hamas:

“I cannot see any signs of collapse of the military abilities of Hamas – nor in their political strength with in Gaza”.

In addition, Israel has another quagmire-like problem in the north: Israel began its provocation against Hizbullah from the outset of the war in Gaza — hoping to prepare the ground for American support for a parallel attack to cripple Hizbullah.

Hizbullah, however, responded by shelling the northern territories of “Israel”, forcing up to 230,000 Israelis to evacuate their homes. And now, those residents flatly refuse to return home until Hizbullah is removed from the Lebanese border area.

Israeli Defence Minister Gallant promised them this would be done (Hizbullah displaced to north of the Litani River), and the US acquiesced to this initiative, subject only to the attempt to achieve it, first, by diplomatic means — a highly unlikely prospect. In sum, The Israelis and the Biden Administration are being slowly, but surely, drawn into a conflict with Hizbullah.

Indeed, the Biden Administration is drawn into conflicts with Ansar Allah over their siege of Israeli-linked shipping traversing the Red Sea; and in Iraq, with US military retribution for Iraqi militia assaults on US bases both in Syria and Iraq.

The war fronts are multiplying, and the domestic Israeli schism too, has been aggravated by the 8-7 Supreme Court ruling on 31 December, led by its President Esther Huyut on her last day in office in the Supreme Court.  The ruling restored the clause allowing the Court to overturn any decision by Parliament and the government it deems ‘unreasonable’ (on the basis of a private petition to the Court).  One implication is that further petitions might centre on government conduct in anticipation of — and during — the war. The Justices might well find that conduct too to be ‘unreasonable’.

The ruling underlines an Israeli society both split down the middle, and floundering. Even as it finds itself drawn deeper, and for longer, into military quagmires from which it lacks any off-ramp.

Israeli historian, Professor Moshe Zimmerman, has pointed out the underlying cause to the state of deep angst in “Israel”. He writes:

“The event of October 7, a pogrom on the soil of Israel, in the State of Israel, is a turning point in our assessment of the success of Zionism, and a turning point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … I look at what happened and I say: The Zionist solution is not [really] a solution. We are arriving at a situation in which the Jewish people who live in Zion live in a condition of total insecurity, and not for the first time …” .

“The moment a pogrom against Jews takes place in the Jewish state, the Zionist state, both the state and Zionism are testifying to their own failure. Because the idea underlying the establishment of a Zionist state was to prevent a situation like that”.

And what is the cause?

“Jewish nationhood in the Land of Israel went through a process of nationalism, racialism and ethnocentrism. It created a situation of being unable to reach a modus vivendi with the neighbouring world”.

He warns:

“… The story of ‘Greater Israel’ and the settlements is the story of a society that is becoming a hostage to a biblical romanticism that is sweeping the whole society to perdition. And that is the problem: Once you have embarked on the path, it’s difficult to leave it without undergoing another catastrophe. That happened to Germany in 1945 in the most drastic way. We obviously do not want a catastrophe like that”.

It is onto this path — without any sustained peaceful end — that America is being drawn. Professor Zimmerman’s point about states’ deviation from course causing them to eschew a modus vivendi with the world around them has perhaps, a wider pertinence.—-one-difficult-to-exit-without

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