It is striking to see how politicians, pundits, the press, and even key figures discuss the obvious trajectory of what Israel is doing to Gaza and its population. “Humanitarian crisis” winds up being inadequate since it averts attention from the deliberate steps Israel is taking to make living in Gaza untenable. “Genocide” is more apt but without describing the clear program Israel is launching, it can be depicted as overwrought.
Israel will reduce Gaza to a place where it is impossible to live, at least until if and when Israel decides to decides to repossess it bit by bit and rebuild. It is indifferent to the question of whether neighboring countries will relent in the face of escalating starvation, dehydration, and disease and take Palestinians in. It just wants them dispatched by whatever means necessary.
Israel plans first to reduce Gaza to rubble, as anyone could see when it started bombing apartment buildings on an indiscriminate basis. The excuse is it needs to do that as a preliminary to a ground operation to rout Hamas from the underground tunnels that survive the bombing campaign. Note military experts such as Scott Ritter have said that any clearing operation in Gaza would be a dangerous and high-casualty enterprise even for a military with the right equipment and equipment, and the IDF is not that. More important, Ritter and others have argued that the destruction of the buildings is likely to make any effort to wipe out the Hamas forces in Gaza more difficult.
So one has to question the military justification, particularly since there are also commentators who are arguing that the Israeli government is now in an internal debate over the invasion plan, given its high risks and certain high costs. Or this may be a function of poor planning:
But it is clear to me that there is no consensus on what to do, how to do it, or what the second order effects of that might mean.
Israel should have turned to Arab neighbours and brought them in to finally take down Hamas. Instead it drove them all away, and isolated itself.
— Michael Stephens (@MikeRStephens) October 19, 2023
Regardless of how you feel about this conflict or who you support, Israel has played its hand shambolically. At the macro level its regional policy is in tatters, at the micro level it has achieved none of its stated aims.
They’re in a no man’s land of sub-optimal choices.
— Michael Stephens (@MikeRStephens) October 19, 2023
The pretext is that Israel needs to be Doing Something and needs more time to prepare, not just because the ground operation hasn’t been sorted out, but also because Iran cleared its throat and said it would intervene in that event. And the Arab world + Iran is largely sitting on its hands as the building destruction proceeds apace.1
The latest Seymour Hersh article describes the current Israel plan, which again could be inferred from actions and other statements. But Hersh usefully gets on the record the malignant intent, per the boldfaced section:
Netanyahu’s attitude, as assessed by the intelligence analysts, I was told, amounts to a determination “to wipe out Hamas.” One knowledgeable official told me that “Gaza City is in the process of being turned into Hiroshima with no nuclear weapons used.” At some point, he said, American-made bombs in the Israeli arsenal, including those known as “bunker busters,” may be targeted on the underground tunnel systems where Hamas manufactured the weapons and conducted planning for the horrific attacks in southern Israel on October 7.
If you have any doubts, see the additional detail today from the BBC, in Israel aims to cut Gaza ties after war with Hamas:
Israel has suggested that the long-term aim of its military campaign in Gaza is to sever all links with the territory.
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that once Hamas had been defeated, Israel would end its “responsibility for life in the Gaza Strip”.
Before the conflict, Israel supplied Gaza with most of its energy needs and monitored imports into the territory….
On Friday, Mr Gallant told a parliamentary committee that the first stage of the campaign was meant to destroy Hamas’s infrastructure, according to a statement from his office.
Israeli forces, he added, would then launch “operations at lower intensity” to eliminate “pockets of resistance”.
The third phase, he said, “will require the removal of Israel’s responsibility for life in the Gaza Strip, and the establishment of a new security reality for the citizens of Israel”.
Although Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the UN regards the strip – along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem – as occupied land and considers Israel responsible for the basic needs of its population.
In other words, the elimination of Hamas from Gaza is the fig leaf for clearing Gaza of all Palestinians permanently. It would be impossible to resume water supplies or operate a hospital with no electricity. It’s been obvious this is the plan. The Israelis are now making it official. So why are officials and pundits mincing words?
1 Or they may just be starting to escalate:
🎗️Update: in the past 24 hours:
🔴 An attack occurred on the US base in Syria’s Conoco gas field.
🔴 The US base in Syria’s Tanf area was targeted.
🔴 The US base at Iraq’s Ain al-Assad airbase faced an attack.
🔴 A US Navy warship in Yemen’s waters was also attacked. pic.twitter.com/jkpQeDwr3w
— Jordan L’Orèal (@loreal_jordan) October 20, 2023