On the 14th day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a savage assault against Palestinian worshipers inside Al-Aqsa Mosque, knowing well that the Palestinians would respond. Netanyahu’s motivation ought to be clear. He intended to draw attention away from the massive demonstrations that have split Israeli society along ideological and political lines in ways that have never been seen before, shaking Israel since January.
Netanyahu set his eyes on the Al-Aqsa Mosque because he was unwilling to give up his hard-won, right-wing electoral triumph and coalition government. He also feared that if he made significant concessions to his political enemies, the alliance may fall apart.
Israeli assaults on Palestinian sacred sites have historically prompted a reaction from the Palestinians. Netanyahu and his extreme far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir believed that the electoral benefits of unifying Israelis from all political backgrounds behind them outweighed the cost of Palestinian reprisal. Ben-Gvir in particular understood that an assault on Al-Aqsa would convince his far-right religious supporters of his determination to enforcing full Israeli Jewish sovereignty over Palestinian Muslim and Christian holy sites in the city of Jerusalem that they were not being abandoned.
The severity of the Palestinian response, however, may not have been what Netanyahu and his friends had in mind. Thousands of missiles were launched at Israel’s north and south.
Albeit some harm was accounted for, the rocket reaction was a political huge advantage. For the first time in a long time, fighters from two Arab nations coordinated and simultaneously retaliated against Israel.
It will be hard for Netanyahu to guarantee any sort of triumph after this, except if he takes his country to a significant conflict on two fronts; three, if we consider the rise of armed resistance in the Palestinian West Bank, which is occupied by Israel.
Nevertheless, even a major conflict could backfire. During Israel’s assault against Gaza in 2014, the occupation state attempted to support a solitary military front as the conflict endured 51 days, prompting an Israeli arms and ammo emergency. Were it not for the choice of the Barack Obama organization to deliver supplies of weapons to Israel to top off its exhausted munitions stockpile, Israel might have ended up in exceptional trouble.
However, due to its own ammunition shortage as a result of the Ukraine conflict, the United States is no longer able to fulfill the role of emergency weapons supplier, at least not at this time. Israel was accordingly mindful so as to restrict its reaction to the Palestinian and Lebanese rockets. This episode will demonstrate definitive, as it will engage Israel’s territorial adversaries and, rather than supporting Netanyahu’s believability inside his own conservative camp, it can possibly sabotage it.
How is it that Israel’s most capable political pioneer commit such an undeniable key mistake? Netanyahu, like other Israeli leaders, miscalculated the significance of the spiritual aspect of the Palestinian struggle and its connection to Arab and Muslim solidarity with Palestine. He made the desperate decision to attack Al-Aqsa, likely under pressure from Ben-Gvir and the equally extreme far-right Bezalel Smotrich.
While what’s going on in Palestine is certainly not a strict conflict, a few Israeli authorities and ideological groups are quick to have one. Religious discourses have been the most prevalent since the development of Israel’s founding ideology, Zionism, in the late 19th century, despite warnings against “religious wars” in Palestine and the entire region being mostly linked to Israel’s current “most right-wing government in history.”
Interestingly, despite the fact that Zionism has historically been rooted in religion, the majority of its founders were atheists. They used religion as a political tool to unite Jews around the world around their new ideology and to romanticize their followers’ perceptions of what was really a violent settler-colonial movement.