The narrative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using to compare Hamas to Daesh and insisting that Hamas will be crushed just as Daesh is useful to him for various reasons. This narrative helps garner international support, including political and military backing from other countries, like Italy and the repetition of the statement by its foreign minister.
Netanyahu has also been using the narrative to create a coalition, saying “Hamas should be treated exactly the way Daesh was treated” and that “Hamas is worse than Daesh. Just as the whole civilised world united to fight Daesh, the world must unite to help us fight Hamas”. Even more, he is seeking to isolate Hamas, as he also said “Hamas should be treated exactly the way Daesh was treated. They should be spit out from the community of nations. No leader should meet them, no country should harbour them and those that do should be sanctioned.”
This approach from Israel appears to have worked, as the fear of Daesh is still present in the West. Israel appears to have been given the green light to move strongly against Hamas in Gaza, but with continuous Israeli raids and the horrible images of civilian victims coming out of Gaza, they may not have the world’s backing for long.
There are various reasons that have driven the Israelis to take such strong military action. October 7 was not only a military and intelligence shock for Israel, as the impact goes farther. Even after this settles down, it is unlikely settlers will want to return to settlements around Gaza. Hamas may have created a sphere of fear that will impact the Israeli map. Israelis need to restore the sense of security by achieving real change on both the demographic and geographic levels in these areas.
Israel’s continuous raids are designed to create an atmosphere that pushes people out of the north of Gaza, while also destroying infrastructure that might be used by Hamas. This is why Israel is not in a hurry to start ground operations, as the more time passes, the more the crisis is deepening, and a humanitarian crisis will push people out of the area under attack. It will also increase the pressure on Egypt to open its borders to resolve part of this humanitarian crisis.
As the Israeli military campaign progresses, there is no real achievement on the ground. Israeli intelligence might focus on a campaign of assassinations of leaders of Hamas. Perhaps not just in Gaza, but also Lebanon, Syria and Iran itself. This could lead to new military fronts, but it might also be the only way for the Israelis to restore the trust in their intelligence system for their citizens.
The risks of a long-term Israeli military operation will not just create a human catastrophe, but also will keep the region on the precipice of a crisis. A real Israeli victory cannot be achieved just in Gaza, so Israel might be forced to widen its confrontation. We are seeing this with Israeli aerial attacks on Damascus and Aleppo airports. US military support for Israel will also bolster their desire to widen the battlefield and make use of this exceptional, unlimited support to achieve the maximum targets that Israel has always wanted.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh