The Dead Sea and the Fate of Israel: a Syrian War on a Damned Right-Handed Regime
I traveled to the Dead Sea to meet with some of the many survivors of Kibbutz Be’eri, a place with over a thousand residents and nearly 300 children. It was one of the places that was hardest hit by Hamas as it killed more than 130 people in addition to many others who were kidnapped and injured. The Israeli government has moved most survivors of the kibbutz across the country to the Dead Sea, where they are now starting their own schools in the hotel ballroom.
Israel is facing threats from a set of enemies who combine medieval theocratic heritage with 21st century weaponry, and are no longer organized as small bands of militiamen, but as large armies with brigades and battalions. I am talking about Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic militias in Iraq, and even the openly Hamas-embracing Vladimir Putin. These foes have long been there, but all of them seemed to surface together like dragons during this conflict, threatening Israel with a 360-degree war all at once.
So far, Israel has rebuffed the notion. Even the U.S. calls last week for a limited humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza, while wholly insufficient in scope, were quickly rejected by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel granted some concessions, agreeing to allow $30 million a month in aid from Qatar into the Gaza Strip and increase the number of permits for Gazans to work in Israel.
Moreover, the alternative offered by the Palestinian Authority, sustained via security cooperation with Israel, has been discredited in the eyes of most Palestinians by the entrenchment and intensification of Israeli occupation, including a more than fourfold increase in illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank since the Oslo process began.
It would not be a solution to the violence in the near term, as Mr. Binden offered no clues about how it would be implemented. If Israel were to end Hamas’s rule in Gaza, restoring the Palestinian Authority to power would not be easy. Its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is deeply unpopular. Many Palestinians view him as corrupt and say his attempts to win independence through peace talks have failed.
This society is much better than its leader. It is very bad that it took war to get that home. The founder of Brothers in Arms is a retired member of Israels most elite special forces unit, who is also a survivor of Netanyahu’s judicial coup. Immediately after the Hamas invasion, Brothers in Arms pivoted to organizing reservists and aid workers to get to the front — left, right, religious, secular, it didn’t matter — many hours before this incompetent government did.
The goal was for the accords to pave the way for a two-state solution. The Palestinian Authority, envisioned as a Palestinian government in waiting, had limited authority over parts of the West Bank and remained officially committed to negotiating an end to the conflict.
Hamas, meanwhile, effectively sought to undo history, starting with 1948, when more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in what would become Israel during the war surrounding the foundation of the Jewish state.
The idea that Hamas prioritized governing over battle was strengthened by it. Twice the group stayed out of clashes with Israel started by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas’s political leaders were trying through mediators in Qatar to increase the aid going into Gaza and the number of laborers going out to work in Israel, according to diplomats involved in the discussions.
During his time as leader of Hamas in Gaza in 2017, Mr. Sinwar sometimes projected an interest in reaching an agreement with Israel. He gave an interview to an Italian journalist for an Israeli newspaper and appealed for a cease-fire in Gaza.
“I am not saying I won’t fight anymore,” he said. “I am saying that I don’t want war anymore. I want the end of the siege. At sunset you see a group of teens talking on the shore and wondering what the world looks like as they stroll down the beach. He said what life looks like. I want them to be free.
What is the fate of Israel and Palestine, and what does it tell us about Israel and Israel? Israeli and Palestinian perspectives on the two-state solution
Hamas also issued a political program in 2017 that allowed for the possibility of a two-state solution, while still not recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
The Israelis only focused on how to get rid of the Palestinian cause. Mr. Hamdan said. “They were heading in that direction and not even thinking about the Palestinians. If the Palestinians did not engage in resistance, all of that could have taken place.
Still, in 2021, Israeli military intelligence and the National Security Council thought that Hamas wanted to avoid another war, according to people familiar with the assessments.
It was thought by many in Israel’s security establishment that it was possible to keep Hamas contained because of its complex border defenses.
A report by American and other Western analysts claims that Hamas has as many as 40,000 fighters with 15,000 rockets and most of them manufactured in Gaza. The group had mortars, anti-tank missiles and portable air-defense systems as well, they said.
Mr. Sinwar had also restored the group’s ties to its longtime backer, Iran, which had frayed in 2012, when Hamas shuttered its office in Syria, a close Iranian ally, amid Syria’s civil war.
There was no turning to bombs. He was studying the Holocaust, learning Hebrew and seeing the humanity of the soldiers at the West Bank checkpoint.
He said that she had said that they did not have hearts like ours and they hate their children because they send them to the army. But she met an Israeli mom who told of losing her child to a Palestinian, and soon they were both sobbing and embracing.
I told him that the organizations promoting mutual understanding were mostly from the peace process between Germany and Japan in the 19th century. Now that process is in hibernation, if not dead. Parents Circle holds camps for Israeli and Palestinian children to get to know each other, but how is it that the lives of people on both sides of the Gaza border are saved?
He said that the chapter of history is long. Germany tried to wipe out the Jews. Some day Israel and Palestine will coexist as states, he said, and the question is simply how many corpses will pile up before that happens.
He said the land should be shared between one state or two states. “Otherwise, we will share this same piece of land as the graveyards of our kids.”
He said that they needed to include the Palestinian people’s voices in post-crisis governance in Gaza. It must include Palestinian-led governance of Gaza and the West Bank.
But President Biden can only sustainably generate the support Israel needs if Israel is ready to engage in some kind of a wartime diplomatic initiative directed at the Palestinians in the West Bank — and hopefully in a post-Hamas Gaza — that indicates Israel will discuss some kind of two-state solutions if Palestinian officials can get their political house unified and in order.
As the conflict entered its second month, the remarks made by Mr. Blinken reflected the anxiety inside the White House. The rush to defend an ally has evolved into a much more difficult diplomatic challenge for the president as he tries to define an alternative to war in the Middle East.
“We don’t have it all figured out right now,” John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said Wednesday on CNN. I don’t know if it would be reasonable to think that we could solve the conflict in a month. But we know that it has to be something different than what it was under Hamas.”
But as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza deepens, Mr. Biden has tried to balance his support for Israel with calls for the protection of Palestinian noncombatants and for “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting.
In his comments on Wednesday, Mr. Blinken made no reference to the presence of Israeli forces remaining inside Gaza, home to about 2 million Palestinians.
As a result, there is a conviction that the army must demonstrate to Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, the Islamic militias in Iraq, and the Hamas in the West Bank, that they will not stop at nothing, and that they will take down all of them. While the army insists that it is hewing to the laws of war, it wants to show that no one can out-crazy Israel to drive them from this region — even if the Israeli military has to defy the U.S. and even if they do not have any solid plan for governing Gaza the morning after the war.
Yoav Gallant was Israel’s defense minister and told reporters on Wednesday that Israel cannot accept an active threat on its borders. The idea of living side by side in the Middle East was destroyed by Hamas.
If Netanyahu persists in his message to the world, Biden will not be able to help Israel build a coalition of US, European and moderate Arab partners to defeat Hamas.
Kiryat Shmona, Israel, a Jewish village devastated by the Oct. 7 gunman slaughter: When would Israel and Israel go back?
One of the most important Israeli towns is Kiryat Shmona. The father said his family had left the northern fence line with thousands of other families after pro-Iranian Hezbollah and the Palestinian militias in southern Lebanon started to shell each other.
When might they go back? They had no idea what was happening. Like other Israelis, they have taken refuge in hotels or friends across the nine million people of this small country. It only took a few weeks for Israelis to increase their real estate prices in central Israeli towns. That alone is a mission accomplished for Hezbollah. Along with Hamas, they are managing to shrink Israel.
I asked Liat Admati, 35, a survivor of the Hamas attack who ran a clinic for facial cosmetics for 11 years in Be’eri, what would make it possible for her go back to her Gaza border home, where she was raised.
“The main thing for me to go back is to feel safe,” she said. “Before this situation I felt I have trust in the army. Now I feel the trust is broken. I don’t want to feel that we are covering ourselves in walls and shelters all the time, while behind this fence there are people who can one day do this again. I really don’t know at this point what the solution is.”
Before Oct. 7, she and her neighbors thought the threat was rockets, she said, so they built safe rooms — but now that Hamas gunmen came over and burned parents and kids in their safe rooms, who knows what is safe? “The safe room was designed to keep you safe from rockets — not from another human who would come and kill you for who you are,” she said. She said that it appeared that some Gazans who worked on the kibbutz gave Hamas maps of the layout.
There are a lot of Israelis who listened to the recording, published by The Times of Israel, of a Hamas gunman who took part in the Oct. 7 onslaught, identified by his father as “Mahmoud,” calling his parents from the phone of a Jewish woman he’d just murdered, and imploring them to check his WhatsApp messages to see the pictures he took of some of the 10 Jews he alone killed in Mefalsim, a kibbutz near the Gaza border.
“Look how many I killed with my own hands! According to an English translation, he says that his son killed Jews. He then says that his son is a hero. His parents can be heard seemingly rejoicing.
Israel was built so that such a thing could never happen, which is why the homemade sign that I saw on a sidewalk in Jerusalem explained: It’s either us or them.
This conflict is now back to its most biblical and primordial roots. It seems that this is a time to look at eyes and teeth. The morning-after thinking will need to wait for the mourning.
Really? According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 9.450 million people live in Israel at the end of 2021, including Israelis in the West Bank. 70 percent of those are Jews, 21 percent are Arab and 5 percent are neither. The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics puts the West Bank Palestinian population at a little over three million, and the Gaza population at just over two million.”
So, Netanyahu is saying that seven million Jews are going to indefinitely control the lives of five million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza — while offering them no political horizon, nothing, by way of statehood one day on any demilitarized conditions.
After being slammed by the public for digitally stabbing his army and intelligence chiefs in the back in the middle of a war, Netanyahu published a new tweet. “I was wrong,” he wrote, adding that “the things I said following the press conference should not have been said, and I apologize for that. I support Israel’s security services.
The damage was done. If the Gaza campaign stalls, how much trust do those military leaders have in Netanyahu? What leader would do that at the start of a war of survival?
It is a tale of grass-roots activism that showed how much solidarity is still buried in this place and was unlocked by a different prime minister who was a uniter, not a divider. When going to the front, you are overwhelmed by the power of what has been lost.
Hussein al-Sheikh of the Palestinian Authority: What can the U.S. take to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict?
The Palestinian Authority has told the Biden administration that it is open to a governance role in post-Hamas Gaza if the United States commits to a full-fledged two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a top official of its parent, the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Hussein al-Sheikh told Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken that the Palestinians wanted a commitment of a political decision from the U.S. administration.
His message is both a relief and a challenge to the White House, which has been groping for a path out of the worst violence in decades between Israel and Hamas, the extremist group that controls Gaza. American officials say the Palestinian Authority must play a central role in Gaza after Israel completes its military mission to destroy Hamas, which the authorities say killed 1,400 civilians and soldiers in its Oct. 7 attacks.
It would be necessary to resolve core issues of peace, including the status of East Jerusalem and Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank, according to Mr. al-Sheikh.
Mr. al-Sheikh said he had no confidence that the current Israeli government, which has pushed to annex large parts of the West Bank, would agree to those terms. “Where is the partner on the Israeli side?” he asked.