The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has exposed the stark reality that Israel’s goal of eliminating Hamas is far from attainable. Despite seven weeks of war and a recent truce, Hamas remains a resilient and elusive force. It is crucial for the United States to acknowledge this fact and shift its approach towards a more realistic and sustainable solution. By recognizing Hamas’s survival in Gaza, the international community can pave the way for meaningful negotiations and a long-term ceasefire. Here, the subjects that arise are why Israel’s military pressure has failed to eradicate Hamas, why the public opinion changed, what are the economic toll on Israel, and why we need a new approach that factors in Hamas’s existence.
The Failure of Military Pressure
Israel’s war cabinet has insisted that the truce with Hamas is a result of the military pressure it exerted on the group. However, the reality on the ground tells a different story. Despite Israel’s air and ground assault, Palestinian fighters continue to launch rockets at Israeli cities and ambush Israeli positions. The massive bombing campaign aimed at weakening Hamas’s capabilities has proven ineffective. Even the siege and raid of Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital, which was supposed to reveal a Hamas-operated command center, failed to provide conclusive evidence. It is clear that Israel’s actions have not succeeded in uprooting Hamas from Gaza.
What the World Thinks
The international community’s tolerance for Israel’s actions in the conflict is waning. French President Emmanuel Macron became the first G-7 leader to call for a ceasefire, and the prime ministers of Spain and Belgium condemned Israel’s indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians. In the United States, public opinion is also turning in favor of a permanent ceasefire. Mass demonstrations across the country and resolutions passed by major cities reflect a growing sentiment that the Biden administration should prioritize ending the conflict. A recent poll shows that only 32 percent of Americans believe their country should support Israel in its war on Gaza. The pressure from the public is influencing both Washington and the Israeli government.
Economic Toll on Israel
The ongoing war is taking a heavy toll on the Israeli economy. The country is losing over a quarter billion dollars per day, and it is expected to contract by 1.5 percent in 2024. The disruption of air travel and cargo, coupled with the recent hijacking of an Israeli-linked ship, further exacerbates the economic challenges. Tens of thousands of Israelis living near the Gaza and Lebanon borders have been displaced, and the families of the hostages are calling for their release. The truce has demonstrated that hostages can be freed without resorting to military force. These factors, combined with the mounting economic losses and the deaths of Israeli soldiers, may push the Israeli government to reconsider its stance on continuing the war.
The Need for a New Approach
Israel’s insistence on continuing the war without a clear endgame acceptable to its allies, including the United States, is counterproductive. The idea of expelling the Palestinian population into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and claiming indefinite “security responsibility” in Gaza has been met with resistance. The Biden administration’s alternative, for the Palestinian Authority to assume control of the enclave, has been rejected by both Israel and Hamas. It is crucial for the US to abandon the rhetoric of eliminating Hamas and embrace a more realistic and attainable political solution. This includes recognizing Hamas’s political leadership-in-exile and working with mediators like Qatar and Egypt to broker a long-term ceasefire.
Lessons from the Past
There is precedent for including Hamas in negotiations. In 2012, Israel allowed Hamas’s then-leader Khaled Meshaal to return to Gaza as part of a negotiated truce. The current exiled leader, Ismail Haniyeh, could play a similar role in moderating Hamas’s position. However, this would require international support in the form of relief and reconstruction funds. Additionally, the US must commit to reining in Israel’s extremist policies, such as the siege of Gaza and support for settler violence in the occupied territories. Once de-escalation occurs, the international community must uphold its commitment to Gaza’s reconstruction and development, addressing the underlying conditions that contribute to the conflict.
The Realities of Hamas’s Survival
While the idea of Hamas’s long-term survival may strain the imagination, the risks of ignoring this reality are even more unimaginable. Attempts to eradicate a homegrown resistance movement, as seen in Afghanistan, have proven futile. Former government advisor Menachem Klein acknowledges the impossibility of completely destroying Hamas by force. Instead, he suggests including the group in negotiations around a Palestinian state. The suffering endured by the people of Gaza, coupled with growing international and domestic pressure to end the conflict, necessitates a shift in approach. The US can no longer insist that eliminating Hamas is the sole path to ending the war.
Recognizing Hamas’s survival in Gaza is a crucial step towards finding a sustainable solution to the conflict. Israel’s military pressure has failed to eliminate Hamas, and public opinion, both domestically and internationally, is increasingly in favor of a permanent ceasefire. The economic toll on Israel and the mounting deaths of soldiers further highlight the need for a new approach. By working with mediators and embracing a more realistic political solution, the US can help pave the way for meaningful negotiations and a long-term ceasefire. The path to peace lies in acknowledging the realities on the ground and prioritizing the well-being and security of both Palestinians and Israelis.
|The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Al-Sarira.