Gaza Genocide, New Phase: Winding Down or Total War?

David Finkel

Posted July 6, 2024

Fires in northern Israel and the occupied Syrian Golan following the launch of hundreds of rockets and drones from Lebanon July 4, 2024. (Photo: Palestine Chronicle)

IT’S DIFFICULT TO look past the pure sadistic savagery of the continuing U.S.-enabled Israeli genocide in Gaza, where each new set of atrocities exceeds the previous ones — mass execution sites at destroyed hospitals, systematic targeting of medical staff, journalists and aid workers, starvation as a weapon for deliberate destruction of multiple generations of an entire society with no escape route.

The daily news is shattering, even for those of us who thought we had few remaining illusions about what imperialism does and how cynical it can be.

But what I’d like to briefly explore here, momentarily leaving aside all moral questions and the necessary revulsion felt by all decent people, is where this catastrophe is leading from a “strategic” standpoint.

First, what’s clear even from the public statements of Israeli generals themselves, is that their attainable military goals in Gaza have been achieved. Most of Hamas’ battalion-strength forces no longer exist, and its capacity for “another October 7” negated.

At the same time, contrary to Netanyahu’s promises, Hamas’ capacity for guerilla-style resistance remains, and its status as an “idea” and symbol of resistance within the Palestinian people and the broader region cannot be obliterated by military methods. (Ultimately, of course, it’s for the Palestinian people to declare their verdict on Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and all other leadership forces — that’s another discussion.)

The onslaught continues, in short, because Netanyahu needs it to continue to preserve his wretched government coalition. This is why there is no cease-fire and no prisoner exchange to release the Israeli captives in Gaza. Ordinary Israeli Jewish citizens of most political stripes fully understand this and are pouring into the streets in protest, while far-right settlers and the military escalate the brutal ethnic cleansing campaign in the West Bank.

Second, as this situation becomes increasingly disastrous for U.S. imperialism and its project of forging an anti-Iran alliance of Israel and Arab state kingdoms, as well as Biden’s sinking election prospects, the administration hopes to exert enough leverage to secure a hostage release deal.

At the moment of writing (July 5), Netanyahu has been compelled by domestic and U.S. pressure to send negotiators to Qatar, which acts as mediator. It remains to be seen what mischief he might perform to sabotage a deal — and whether the Genocide Joe Biden administration will continue Washington’s wretched lie about how “the deal is there — it’s up to Hamas to take it.” That’s their story, and it’s sticking to them.

Wider War?

Third, Netanyahu’s squalid cornered-rat political calculations are also escalating the risk of an Armageddon-scale regional war, which no rational state or political actor wants. It is still a low-probability event, but with unimaginable consequences were it to break out.

There are around 60,000 displaced Israeli citizens from the Israel-Lebanon border area, and around twice as many Lebanese whose villages are being destroyed every day, who cannot return home while the Israel-Hezbollah medium-intensity exchanges of missiles, artillery, drones and (in Israel’s case) aerial bombing continue.

With Hezbollah performing its front-line “axis of resistance” role, this destructive and ultimately pointless attrition cannot end unless and until there’s a Gaza ceasefire. Without this, Israel’s demand for a 10-kilometer Hezbollah “withdrawal” has the character of a war ultimatum, and the far right’s demand grows for a major military operation in Lebanon.

Israel’s generals openly complain that their forces are already severely stressed by nine months of fighting in Gaza, and facing weapons shortages without continual U.S. resupply. If Israel actually launched an attack on Lebanon, it would likely entail full-scale bombing, followed by a massive Hezbollah response with its tens of thousands of rockets and missiles, and the real danger of uncontrollable escalation.

Israeli analysts openly admit that not only the border areas, but also population and critical infrastructure in the center of the country. would be at risk. And the military leadership says Lebanon will be “bombed back to the Stone Age.”

In most such circumstances, and hopefully this one, events don’t unfold to such ultimate outcomes. But we need to understand the implications of such a disaster, if it occurred.

Israel would not “win” such a war, but it would survive as a less wealthy, less secure and globally more discredited country. Lebanon, in its already fragile condition, might or might not survive. Palestine, I’m afraid, would not survive in its homeland — as the genocidal implications are too horrible to think about.

Fourth, the greatest failure, in this catastrophic scenario, would be that of United States policy, with its sickening embrace of Israel’s decades of ethnic cleansing and militarism. What might come next is anyone’s guess.

As a side note here, Genocide Joe’s debate performance might be a gold-wrapped gift to the Democratic Party — if they have the guts to move him out. That would not solve any fundamental problems, of course, but it could just save them from their pending electoral debacle.


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