Hamas, the proscribed Palestinian terrorist organisation which has controlled Gaza since 2007, launched a well-organised and planned assault on Israel over the weekend which has resulted in over 1,000 deaths, and counting, on both sides.
In doing so it has signed its own death warrant.
The ferocious and indiscriminate nature of its attack into Israeli territory, in which civilians and festival-goers have been mown down and taken hostage without mercy, has brought international condemnation, and rightly so. Only the deranged and deluded could countenance such an action let along support it.
Hamas has, wittingly or unwittingly, sown the wind, but is now about to reap the whirlwind. Israel has declared war on it, quite understandably, and the Hamas planners and militants are now dead men walking. Israel’s retaliation will be swift and terrible and will lead, eventually, to the elimination of Hamas and its allies.
This may take some time, but I have no doubt that it will happen. The terrorists will make it as difficult as possible of course, skulking in their tunnels and bravely hiding behind the innocents who inhabit Gaza, but they will be hunted down. If they’re lucky they will end up in prison, if not so lucky then somewhere else.
I have little sympathy for such a barbaric and mediaeval organisation and they’re going to get what’s coming to them. And good riddance to them when they are gone.
We should take a moment, however, to consider the broader context here. The Hamas onslaught has implications for other confrontations across the globe. Locally, Israel has been quick to reinforce its border with Lebanon, where Iranian-backed Hezbollah has been a thorn in their side for many years.
Hezbollah, another proscribed terrorist organisation, might seek to take advantage of Israel’s new discomfort in Gaza and launch its own actions on the northern border. Or Israel might take advantage of its own re-energised military muscle and decide to deal with Hezbollah as part of a wider regional conflict. Time will tell.
Israel’s greatest ally is, of course, the USA, where there is a vociferous and powerful pro-Israel Jewish lobby. Although I think it unlikely the US will become involved directly in Gaza, we should note that they have reinforced their military air assets in the region and are moving a carrier battlegroup closer in the eastern Mediterranean. The latter, however, has probably more to do with the potential evacuation of US citizens than any real intent of military intervention.
What will be interesting to see, though, is whether the current conflagration will have any effect on support for Ukraine, and in particular American support. Although the USA has already committed to supplying additional arms to Israel, there is a sense that the American public is becoming weary of supporting yet more foreign wars.
It may also distract the US from its current focus on the Taiwan- China confrontation in the Far East. Even the world’s only true superpower has a limit to how far its resources can stretch, and its commitments globally are costing it many billions of dollars annually. With the Presidential elections looming next year it must be a concern whether the USA can maintain all its military commitments for any length of time.
And then there is Iran. The Iranian people have been ruled by a repressive Islamic theocracy since the overthrow of the last Shah in 1979, and the country is the declared enemy of the USA – which it has long referred to by the derogatory epithet of “the Great Satan” – and of Israel, which it wishes to see totally destroyed.
Iran and the USA are constantly at loggerheads over such matters as sea passage through the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz, where the gunboats of the Iranian Republican National Guard constantly play chicken with naval vessels of the US and its allies which guard and escort civilian traffic.
Iran has also funded and supported many terrorist organisations in the Middle East and elsewhere and is generally regarded as a malign actor in the region. As I have written before, the US will have to confront and deal with Iran sooner or later, and although now is probably not the optimum time, the recent “hijab protests” in Tehran and elsewhere may indicate that the Iranian people would welcome a new, secular, government. This too will have to be addressed in due course.
The final question to be answered is whether the events in Gaza are likely to lead to a global conflict. I suspect not, because its is in none of the potential adversaries interests to allow it to become so – for the time being at least.
What will happen in the short term? I expect Israel to crush Hamas without mercy and re-occupy Gaza. We will watch with bated breath as events unfold over the next few days.
Lt Col Stuart Crawford is a defence analyst and former army officer. Sign up for his podcasts and newsletters at http://www.DefenceReview.uk
Lt Col Stuart Crawford is a defence analyst and former army officer. Sign up for his podcasts and newsletters at www.DefenceReview.uk
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