Israel Faces Black Days in Gaza

Israel Soldiers Killed
IDF soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip on December 22 and 23, 2023: Top L-R: Master Sgt. (res.) Nadav Issachar Farhi, Master Sgt. (res.) Eliyahu Meir Ohana, Sgt. First Class (res.) Elyassaf Shoshan, Sgt. First Class (res.) Ohad Ashur, Staff Sgt. Roy Elias; middle: Staff Sgt. David Bogdanovskyi, Staff Sgt. Orel Bashan, Staff Sgt. Itamar Shemen, Staff Sgt. Gal Hershko, Cpt. Oshri Moshe Butzhak; bottom: Warrant Officer (res.) Alexander Shpits, Master Sgt. (res.) Shay Termin, Staff Sgt. Birhanu Kassie, Staff Sgt. Nir Rafael Kananian. (Courtesy)

With 14 soldiers killed in different parts of southern Gaza, this is certainly not a good day for Israel. Indeed, it can be termed as a black day for the war-mongering state especially as it flexes its muscles about invading Rafah, a small city that has 1.4 million displaced Palestinians.

Indeed, this is a source of major embarrassment for the Israeli army especially after it boasted of combing the city of Khan Younis out of so-called Hamas “terrorists” according to their propaganda machine under its well-equipped spokesman Daniel Hagari who blurted out the losses.

Many columnists spoke of dark days and nights for Netanyahu and his soldiers that spoke of difficult battles and losses in lives and in which four Merkava tanks and one troop carrier was blown up.

We, and by that I mean the world, including US President Joe Biden and the CIA have long been telling the Israelis “you can’t beat the Palestinian resistance” who are well-equipped, have the maneuverability and come above ground from deep below underground tunnels which Israel is yet to penetrate.

The killing of the 14 soldiers, not to mention those that were injured, strongly suggest the Palestinian resistance movement that includes Izz Al Adin Al Qassam Brigades, Saraya Al Quds and the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades of the Popular Front For the Liberation of Palestine are still going strong after six months of bloody fighting in the Gaza Strip.


Bogged-down

That may actually mean that Israel, which has it on its agenda to enter Rafah, under the pretext of ending Hamas, is still in a game of fanciful ideas because its soldiers are still bogged down in the areas surrounding the second most imported city in the Gaza Strip. The latest battles are in Al Amal and Al Zinna neighborhoods and don’t seem to be ending there.

Granted the Israelis wreaked havoc in Khan Younis with mass destruction of buildings and infrastructure as they did to Gaza City, and the north of the enclave, but the resistance is still going strong. All Israel did in this war is to embarrass itself by killing civilians – standing at 33,000 with over 75,000 injured – and starving the population of 2.2 million to the point of death.

Israel is trying to make up for its failures on the battlefield by emasculating children, women and the old. Already 13,000 children have been killed with the murder of 9000 women according to official sources and with the international media in full throttle about Gazans resorting to animal feed to stay alive. One report pointed to an incident of one child eating a rat to stay alive, a testimony provided by Tess Ingram, UNICEF spokesman in the Gaza Strip.

Such commentary provides further embarrassment to Biden whose country has been the major supplier of weapons to Israel since 7 October. Indeed, without such consistent supplies – over 500 US planes packed with hardware and around 150 ships of guns, trucks, carriers, planes and mass bombs that included one-ton bombs – Israel wouldn’t have been able to continue the war on Gaza for as long as it has.

Terse phone-call

But Biden might be coming back to his senses. In a terse phone call earlier this week, he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the USA government would have to evaluate its policies towards Israel if it does not open up the hermetically-sealed crossing points to the aid trucks that have been lying for weeks and months on the periphery of the enclave and prevented from entering.

It’s a pity such a stand was only made immediately after Israeli big guns fired on an aid convoy that killed six international aid workers and one Palestinian. This sparked a furor because the aid workers included one US citizen, three Britons, a Pole, an Irishman and an Australian.

Killing aid workers

The attack on the World Central Kitchen members got the ball rolling by these countries, and who according to analysts, started to pressure Biden to turn the screws on Netanyahu, telling him in the strongest language yet that he needed to call for a ceasefire on Gaza. This was the first ever time, the US president uttered such a remark to Netanyahu who had hitherto been bombing the Gaza Strip with the most sophisticated US weapons and bombs.  

Thus, the incident is proving an embarrassment for both heads who were in cahoots. Yet today, Biden appears to be distancing himself from Netanyahu, but time will tell whether the latter will heed the latest US instructions and or whether Netanyahu will carry his “lone-wolf” crusade against Hamas and to what great cost.

For sure, many Israelis have continued to call for his resignation and want a peace deal with Hamas to release the rest of the 130-or so hostages or thereabouts for as yet we don’t really know how many are left now because of the constant Israeli bombings of places over the last six months.

What we do know is the pressure to reach a deal is coming from all sides. An Israel team is already in Cairo together with a Hamas team who will talk through am Egyptian delegation for the umpteenth time. Previously such talks have been a “time-waster” largely by Netanyahu but this time with the US breathing down his neck everything can happen, including maybe a ceasefire!

Dr Marwan Asmar is an Amman-based writer on Middle East affairs.

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