After six months of war, Israel’s isolation continues to grow with no end in sight


JERUSALEM (AP) — When Israel declared war It rallied domestically against Hamas last October and received widespread support around the world following an unprecedented attack by the Islamic terrorist group.

Six months later, Israel finds itself in a different place: trapped in Gaza, divided domestically, isolated internationally and with growing differences. closest associate, The risk of widespread regional war remains real.

Despite Israel’s fierce military offensive, Hamas is still standing, albeit significantly weakened. The offensive has pushed Gaza into a humanitarian crisis, with more than 80% of the population displaced and more than 1 million people homeless on the verge of starvation, Yet Israel has not presented any post-war approach acceptable to its partners, and ceasefire talks have stalled.

Here are six takeaways from the first six months of the war.

Israel declared war in response to Hamas’ October 7 cross-border attack, in which the terrorist group killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and abducted about 250 others.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set two goals: destroying Hamas and bringing the hostages home. Despite his repeated pledges to achieve “total victory”, his goals remain elusive.

Israeli ground troops are in a holding pattern marked on a smaller scale, after continuing to capture most of Gaza in a massive offensive tactical operations And there is uncertainty over whether troops will march into southern Gaza City RefaThe last important stronghold of Hamas.

Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to attack Rafah, but he faces widespread international opposition, including from the United States, as hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians have taken refuge there. Netanyahu claims he has a plan to evacuate civiliansBut it is not clear whether it is ready or will satisfy the americans,

Even if Israel attacks Rafah, there is no guarantee of long-term success. Although Hamas appears to have suffered heavy losses, its forces have managed to regroup in areas abandoned by Israel.

At the same time, Israel has not been able to stop daily attacks from the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah on its northern front. Unlike Hamas, Hezbollah’s vast arsenal remains intact, leaving tens of thousands of thousands of uprooted citizens But on both sides of the border up in the air. There is a risk of tensions rising in Iran, which sponsors Hezbollah, especially after two Iranian generals were killed in an Israeli airstrike. in neighboring Syria This week.

Israel received widespread international support after the October 7 massacre, the deadliest attack against Jews since the Holocaust. However, as conditions in Gaza have deteriorated, that goodwill has been replaced by impatience and resentment.

More than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, about two-thirds of whom are women and children, according to Palestinian health officials, with the death toll not distinguishing between civilians and combatants. International aid officials say about a third of Gaza’s population is suffering from catastrophic hunger.

Initial expressions of solidarity from Israel’s allies have given way to calls to stop the fighting. Meanwhile, the United Nations World Court is watching Genocide allegations against Israel, has ordered Israel to do more protect the citizens of Gaza,

This isolation appeared to peak on March 25, when the UN Security Council passed a resolution over Israel’s objections. Demand for immediate ceasefire, The US angered Israel by allowing the resolution to pass.

Things have gotten worse for Israel since then, especially after his assassination seven aid workers It said it was a mistaken air strike. six of the victims There were volunteers from countries allied with Israel, protesting them and angering US President Joe Biden. The alleged Israeli airstrike on Iran’s embassy in Syria and Netanyahu’s efforts to shut down the Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera have further isolated the allies.

After a period of broad unity at the beginning of the war, Israel has returned to its position divided self – with its polarizing leader at the center of the storm.

Weekly protests against the government have increased and are attracting thousands of people. They are rooted in long-standing grievances against Netanyahu – from his political alliances with far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties to his open-mindedness corruption case, However, his failure to bring the hostages back home gives him new strength. About half the hostages were released during a week-long ceasefire in November. But Israel says 134 are still in captivity.

Israel has already declared more than 30 hostages dead – and there are widespread fears that the real number is higher and will continue to rise as long as they remain hostages.

The plight of the hostages and the plight of their families have deeply moved the Israeli public. Some hostage families were among thousands of people who took to the streets this week demanding the government resign. It was the largest anti-government demonstration since the war began.

netanyahu is not going anywhere

Netanyahu’s popularity has declined since the war began, with many blaming him for the intelligence and security failures that led to the October 7 attack. Yet he has rejected calls to resign or launch an investigation into what went wrong.

Netanyahu faces no immediate threat to his rule. For now, his coalition partners, who are facing a possible loss in the elections, remain firmly behind him.

The irony is that the biggest immediate threat to Netanyahu is related only to war. Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered a halt to the long-controversial system Exemption to the ultra-Orthodox Men from compulsory military service.

With more than 600 soldiers killed since October 7, it will be difficult for Netanyahu to continue this system. But if he tries to push religious people into military service, he could lose the support of his ultra-Orthodox allies and be forced to early elections,

Haaretz columnist and Netanyahu biographer Anshel Pfeffer wrote, “Netanyahu is incapable of feeling shame or taking responsibility.” “He has no intention of resigning of his own free will.”

Hamas is not going anywhere

caused by israeli attack mass destruction across Gaza and inflicted heavy damage on Hamas. Israel claims to have killed approximately 13,000 Hamas fighters and destroyed the group’s military capabilities across much of Gaza.

Yet even if these claims were true, Hamas still remains intact in Rafah, and its fighters have regrouped in areas where Israel had previously declared victory. Although there have been small demonstrations of public discontent towards Hamas in Gaza, there have been no public signs of widespread opposition to the group.

Palestinian analyst Khalil Sayegh said that Hamas continues to re-emerge and Israel has not allowed any alternative to emerge.

He said, “When you’re fighting a guerrilla war, I think the ultimate success or failure is whether you’re able to survive or not.” “So if Hamas survives as a governing body, it will be a success.”

Former high-ranking Israeli military intelligence officer Michael Milshtein, now an expert on Palestinian studies at Tel Aviv University, says Israel faces two unexpected choices: Accept a hostage-taking and ceasefire agreement that acknowledges that Hamas survived. Yes, or move on. Military campaign and conquest of Gaza in the hope that Hamas will eventually be destroyed.

He said the expectation that the Israeli military’s current approach could destroy Hamas or force it to surrender is “wishful thinking”.

There is no consensus regarding the future of Gaza.

Netanyahu has presented a vague vision of what is needed open israeli control of the region, administering day-to-day affairs with local Palestinian partners in Gaza. Israel hopes that reconstruction will be funded by the international community, including the wealthy Arab Gulf states.

However, these plans conflict with each other VISIONS Promoted by the US, other international partners, and the Palestinians.

The US has called for the return of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, which Hamas ousted from Gaza in 2007, and a renewed effort to establish an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza . The PA based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank recently appointed a new prime minister To address the American call for reform.

Netanyahu opposes any role for a Palestinian state or the PA. Meanwhile, there is little appetite among donor countries to contribute to reconstruction without political consensus. For example, the United Arab Emirates says it will not fund reconstruction without a viable two-state approach.

Ofer Shelah, a former lawmaker who is now a senior researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, said that without a diplomatic vision, battlefield successes are “almost meaningless.”

“The real threat to Hamas will not be Israeli tanks or warplanes. It is an alternative to making a living in post-war Gaza,” he said.

Associated Press journalists Melanie Lidman and Julia Frankel contributed.

Copyright 2024 The associated Press, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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