Israel’s war of vengeance

Hamas, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, will more likely walk stronger, taller and more confident from this war

Inam Ul Haque May 30, 2024
The writer is a retired major general and has an interest in International Relations and Political Sociology. He can be reached at and tweets @20_Inam


Wars are never prosecuted with vengeance, as a war of vengeance is genocide for the weaker side. The ICJ is yet to decide if the prosecution of war by the Israeli Military (IDF) under political direction of Israel’s right-wing extremist government is genocide; and the evidence is overwhelming. Legal experts believe that for genocide, ‘intent’ and ‘actions’ are taken into account. First the ‘intent’. The language of hate that has been consistently coming out of the Israeli leadership against Palestinians…from ‘human animals’ to ‘nuking them’ to more recently ‘driving them into Sinai being the will of God’, is dehumanising, racist at core, and stigmatic to the rule-based-order in the 21st Century world.

As far as ‘actions’ go, the recent bombing of Rafah refugee camp, the last option of refuge, forcing Palestinians into Egypt’s Sinai desert under sweltering heat; the killing of around 36,000 men, women and mostly children by a professional IDF, using the US-supplied 2000 pounds bombs; the obliteration of once thronging cities in Gaza and the West Bank; the repeated displacement of people into cramped spaces with fast deteriorating conditions; blocking humanitarian aid to this hapless humanity; arbitrary detention and execution of Palestinians without mercy by ‘gleeful’ IDF soldiers posing with corpses and devastation; and the consistent defiance of humanitarian laws are actions justifying ‘genocide’ and ‘war crimes’. And this will haunt Israel and the World Jewry…in not-too-distant future. The present Israeli state will take down a lot with it.

Israel’s declared war objectives are: a) safe release of its remaining hostages, and b) military defeat (rather extermination) of Hamas. The implied objectives could be land grab, reviving Egyptian-Palestinian discord by pushing Palestinians into Sinai desert, mocking Arab impotence by continuing to dominate the ‘escalation ladder’, killing of the two-state solution, and political survival of Netanyahu by escaping indictment on corruption charges etc…in whatever order.

Let’s cross-check the results so far. Military defeat of Hamas. After over seven months of the most brutal one-sided conflict where the IDF is having overwhelming military superiority, Hamas is far from being defeated. Its leadership is intact and in communications, hostages are still in Hamas custody, and its fighters are facing off IDF. And Hamas still rules, sort of, the bombed wasteland of Gaza. And militarily speaking, Hamas extermination, if and when, will never enhance Israel’s security. The barbarity of this conflict will create hundreds of Hamas, in not-so-distant future. One is aghast as to why a professional military like IDF cannot see the obvious, and make it seen by the vengeful politicians in Knesset.

Second, hostages. The 252 mostly civilian hostages, consequent to the Hamas’s October 7 operation (reprehensible), are now down to 125. For all its technological superiority, Israel with full American and Western intelligence support has not been able to sieve its nationals from a narrow strip of land. And with an angry Israel, bent upon vengeful destruction, the chances of safe release of these innocent people are getting remote. One cannot avoid thinking Netanyahu using these hostages as pawns in his sinister game of political survival, by preferring war over negotiations.

So, on both accounts, IDF’s military campaign is faltering. Militarily speaking, if the weaker side denies the attainment of objectives to the stronger side, the weaker side wins the conflict. So, Hamas, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, will more likely walk stronger, taller and more confident from this war.

Third, the failure of Israel’s geo-strategy. IDF always used ‘domination of the escalation ladder’ as a strategy, successfully in dealing with a hostile neighborhood. This envisages unacceptably high retaliation for any action against Israel by an aggressor. And this created a ‘deterrence’, which had ensured relative peace for Israel. Hamas’s October 7 offensive shattered that deterrence, rubbishing Israel’s traditional ‘domination of the escalation ladder’ for future. Because unacceptably excessive retaliation, under the full glare of social media, has more disadvantages for Israel, as being witnessed.

Fourth, Israel’s isolation. The cited retaliation against unarmed Palestinians has hit at response-legitimacy, triggering profound sympathy for Palestinians, and Israel’s overwhelming isolation. This has far-reaching consequences for the World Jewry and the American power. Additionally, it has put the two-state solution squarely back on the table. Today 140 out of 193 UN member states recognise the Palestinian statehood, with Ireland, Spain and Norway the recent ones to do so.

The ICC outlawed Israeli incursion into Rafah in its verdict on May 24, and Israel’s persistence in proceeding with the attack, puts it on the wrong side of International Law. Technically the IDF after the verdict can also not restrict aid supply to Gaza. This in turn puts Israel’s very few international friends in a quandary…to uphold a rule-based-world-order or go with the Israeli defiance. To save some moral space, most Western commentators scapegoat Netanyahu for all of Israel’s troubles, arguing his removal will resolve the deadlock. Whereas in fact, support for Israeli brutalities runs deeper into the Israeli body politics, substantiating this being a war of vengeance.

Fifth, the future of US-Israel ‘special relationship’ is under greater stress today than ever. Campus sentiment in the US is clearly in favour of Palestine and will likely force a major rethink on American voters during the coming elections. Although Israel still enjoys bipartisan US support, the younger Democratic Party voters and leaders are drifting away from the pro-Jewish cause and caucus. The effects of Israel’s persistent recalcitrance to change course, and America’s fateful appeasement would likely set the future direction of this ‘special relationship’, for which the die is cast. Likewise, today public opinion in most Western capitals drives the Israeli-Palestinian discourse.

Sixth, anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head not because of steps taken by the non-Jewish gentiles, but by the missteps of Jews and Semites. Four US university chancellors were forced to resign for failing to stem on-campus pro-Palestine protests. Thirteen Harvard University pro-Palestine students were denied degrees during May 23 graduation. During the event, it was ironical to see Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi, walking off the stage in protest, after another speaker, the Nobel laureate Maria Ressa, referred to ‘power and money’, that the Rabbi considered as anti-Semitic.

Imposition of gags and restrictions seem to have backfired. It seems that under the largely gullible top of pro-Israeli Gentiles in the West Plus, a massive wave of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is bursting banks. And the World Jewry is not genuinely helping the situation, other than browbeating, intimidating and using leverages negatively.


Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2024.

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