Israel stated that the Islamic Jihad was its sole aim when it started a campaign against the Gaza Strip in August 2022. In actuality, neither Hamas nor the other Gaza-based organizations took part in the combat directly. The conflict then led to more questions than it did solutions.
Israel seldom makes a distinction between different Palestinian groups. Any act of Palestinian resistance is regarded by Tel Aviv as terrorism or, at most, as provocation. Targeting one organization while ignoring other purportedly “terrorist groups” reveals some Israeli reluctance to engage in simultaneous combat with all Gaza-based Palestinian factions.
Wars in Gaza have proven to be harder for Israel over time. For instance, Israel’s ‘Protective Edge’ operation in 2014 cost a great deal of casualties among the occupying forces. The ‘Breaking Dawn’ was an even larger failure in May 2021. That conflict failed to significantly advance Israeli military objectives while uniting the Palestinians and dealing a strategic damage to Israel.
Despite providing logistical support to the Islamic Jihad in August 2022, the Gaza organizations abstained from taking part in the conflict directly. This came as a surprise to some Palestinians, who saw it as a sign of their own frailty, divisiveness, and even political opportunism.
After the shocking footage of Israeli police brutally beating peaceful Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque on the 14th day of the holy month of Ramadan was made public nearly a year later, another war loomed. Palestinians rose in unison, just like in May 2021. This time, it was Opposition bunches in Gaza and, in the end, Lebanon and Syria that fired rockets at Israel first.
Even though Israel struck back at a variety of targets, it was clear that Tel Aviv did not want to fight the Palestinians on multiple fronts to avoid a repeat of the disaster in 2021.
The Israeli military’s frequent and violent raids on Al Aqsa, as well as its limited but deadly attacks on Jenin, Nablus, and other parts of the West Bank, were intended to generate political capital for Benjamin Netanyahu‘s beleaguered government. However, Israel’s ability to confine the violence to a few isolated areas is necessary for this strategy to be successful.
In recent years, Israel has found that carrying out extensive and prolonged military operations is pointless. Similar to its previous failure in South Lebanon, it has failed repeatedly in Gaza. From the perspective of Israel, the unavoidable shift in strategy was also costly because it gave the Palestinian Resistance more power and denied Israel its so-called deterrence capabilities.
In point of fact, the political discourse that has recently come from Israel is quite novel. On April 9, Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid left a security briefing with Netanyahu with ominous remarks. Netanyahu was worried when I went to the briefing, and I was even more worried when I got home.”
He continued, “What our enemies see before them, in all arenas, is an incompetent government… We’re losing our deterrence.” Lapid was also quoted as saying, “Israel is losing the support of the United States and the international community,” according to the Times of Israel.
Despite the fact that Israeli politics is by nature divided, politicians have always been able to agree on “security.” Israelis frequently displayed unity during war, and ideological differences appeared to be largely irrelevant. The deterioration of Tel Aviv’s political front is further highlighted by Lapid’s willingness to publicly expose Israel’s weaknesses for political gain.
However, Israel’s loss of deterrence poses a greater threat.