The future of Gaza, Palestinians and warfare

Israel’s military drawdown in Gaza is because the IDF have demilitarised Gaza

Ozer Khalid April 24, 2024
The writer is a senior consultant, foreign policy expert and a columnist. He can be contacted at and tweets @OzerKhalid


This year, Eid was observed in a somber manner with the current Palestinian genocide etched in our hearts. How can any human contain their anger when confronted with the live-streamed massacre of children for over six months? Pro-Zionist security analysts boast that Hamas is dismantled and demilitarised. This may be momentarily and “tactically” true, but it is a long-term strategic oversight. Prematurely writing Hamas’ obituary is short-sighted. Hamas may have lost the ‘battle’ but it is winning the ‘war’.

As the IDF’s 98th Ha-Esh Paratroopers Division departed from Khan Younis, Israel now has only one brigade remaining in Gaza, a significant reduction from the previous five. Only the Nahal Infantry Brigade remains to secure Netzarim’s passageway (the IDF’s east-to-west passage across Gaza). The Nahal Infantry’s patrolling Netzarim is one of the reasons why Israel’s latest ceasefire proposal was rejected by Hamas. Israel’s military drawdown in Gaza is because the IDF have demilitarised Gaza. Out of 24 al-Qassam battalions, 19 are decimated. Hamas is no longer a military. Its combatants aren’t gone but are no longer under command-and-control.

The above is de jure only physically true but not psychologically in the hearts and minds of Palestinians, where the real battle should’ve been waged from inception. Palestinians may have lost lives, limbs, livelihoods, land and legacies; they may have lost tactical battles but not the long-term strategic war.

The IDF’s victory in the 2023-24 Operation Swords of Iron is, at best, pyrrhic. In terms of “ideological wars of perception”, Israel lost it all. Even their 130 hostages haven’t returned home. Wars are never won just militarily. Israel, for generations to come, will be a textbook case-study on “how not to win a battle.”

Hamas was an Israeli intelligence-led Frankenstein concocted to neuter the secular Palestinian Authority. Many moderate, sane citizens don’t desire Hamas to operationally survive, dismissing them as Violent Non-State Actors (VSNA), but they also know that IDF’s butchering of innumerable women and children is morally reprehensible.

Even militarily, the al-Qassam brigades’ guerilla-asymmetric warfare debunked the myth of the IDF’s invincibility. Hamas combatants exposed the vulnerabilities of Israel’s weaponry, from its multi-billion-dollar Iron Dome radar defence system to Merkava Mark VI MBTs. Hamas inundated the Iron Dome with a Salvo rocket assault. In 2024, Hamas illustrates that home-made, second-hand, Soviet-era weaponry is lethally effective in damaging multi-billion-dollar defence system — a classic David-versus-Goliath paradigm.

The Palestinians’ relentless activism proved that fifth-generation warfare conducted via non-kinetic battleground tactics like social engineering, social-media narrative-shaping, live-streaming atrocities, cyber-attacks and domestically-made autonomous weapons are more fatal than battlefield-warfare alone.

Israel is regionally cornered (Hamas remnants southward, Hezbollah northward, Houthis eastward), legally charged (South Africa’s ICJ lawfare), and economically hamstrung (Israel’s economy tanked by 20% last quarter as GDP dipped to 2%). Tel-Aviv is internationally isolated and diplomatically alienated (Abrahamic Accords delayed). Israel is militarily compromised as Canada, Spain, Belgium, Japan and the Netherlands suspended arms exports to Tel-Aviv. Türkiye hammered 54 product-export restrictions on Israel.

All this cracks a superficially-manufactured pro-Israel consensus in the US. Pro-Israeli GOP approval ratings over Gaza’s invasion plummeted by 10 points in March. Even influential right-wing US conservative commentarial stalwarts like Tucker Carlson and Candace Owens are critical of the IDF. Polls indicate that new-generation evangelicals are less inclined to back Israel compared to their parents and pastors.

US Christians now know Zionism’s menace to Palestinian Christians, from Bethlehem to Gaza to occupied Jerusalem. Pastor Munther Isaac eloquently dismantled Zionism, assisting the American entity Sabeel to build bridges between churches in the US and Palestine. One cannot forecast if this ideological sea-change will give rise to a foreign policy shift but the ground-work is laid.

All the Zionist lobby does is fling money at the problem, achieving zilch. Israel’s reputation is irreversibly damaged. Its settler-colonialism, apartheid-ethnocide is scathingly critiqued; its predatory Orwellian technology over-reach criticised; its brands are increasingly under BDS regimes in a re-aligned multipolar world order. Israel’s allies have lost the global South in a polarised geopolitical contest theater.

Hamas is far from eliminated. It’s not Hamas’ Qassam battalions that empower them, it is the idea of freedom from occupation they embody. Ideas are bulletproof, transcending generations. You obliterate one battalion and a new one surfaces like a hydra-headed monster.

For example, when Pakistan cracked downed on Lashkar-e-Taiba, it rebranded as Jama’at-ud-Da’awa which, when suppressed, reincarnated as Falah-e-Insaniat. Radical ideas aren’t extinguished militarily, they are overcome in the competitive marketplace of ideas.

Israel has assassinated top-brass Hamas combatants but their replacements will likely emerge. New figures like Marwan Issa, Ayman Nofals and Saleh-Al-Arouri could arise from the aftermath of the conflict. Similarly, reincarnated units such as the Nukhba special ops and the Central Jabaliya Battalions, though currently crippled, may resurface from the debris of the IDF’s actions in Gaza.

Tel Aviv will issue lucrative gas exploration licences, illegally profiteer from Gaza’s mineral resources; ramp up settlements; insert Egyptian intelligence amongst Gazans; exploit a nascent tourism industry along Gaza’s pristine coastline; and develop prime-beachfront real-estate villas.

Tel Aviv will drag out the genocide to Rafah as that is Netanyahu’s only stay out-of-prison lifeline. Israel will delay a two-state solution, installing pre-paid puppet regimes to rule over Gaza. Parts of Gaza will be under PA, EU and UN monitoring. However, this will be short-lived.

Israel’s unconscionable atrocities in Gaza will haunt it for generations. The IDF’s carnage gave birth to countless orphans who will readily be recruited by future militants to avenge their families. They will rise like a phoenix from the ashes, unafraid of death.

True revolutionaries aren’t only radicalised as they lose their own flesh and blood. They embody revolution in the sense that every death weighs on them as if it were their own. The orphans of today are the fighters of tomorrow. Hamas has won this war on multiple fronts. Israel’s genocide will give birth to rebranded neo-Hamas outfits. Daunting radicalism threatens Israel till their occupation ceases. Thousands will suffer until Israel’s inhumane blockade stops.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2024.

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