On October 7th, a large group of armed fighters broke out of the Gaza Strip to launch an unprecedented attack – by air, land, and sea – in southern Israel, thousands of rockets were launched, military bases as well as kibbutzim were targeted and briefly seized.
During the operation, dubbed Al-Aqsa Flood, over a thousand people were slaughtered, including hundreds of military personnel and innocent civilians. In order to secure concessions such as the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by the Israeli authorities, more than 200 prisoners including some soldiers were taken back to Gaza to be used as bargaining chips amid Israel’s ongoing relentless airstrikes.
Israel has occupied Palestine longer than the Soviet Union occupied Eastern Europe. The so-called “Palestinian Authority” (PA) is trained and supported by the Tel Aviv, London, and Washington, not the people. Essentially trustees in an Israeli prison, the PA is not a sovereign state of any kind. The people of Palestine live under a foreign military occupation.
Gaza, on the other hand, is a concentration camp which measures only 25 miles in length and five miles in width making it one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Crammed inside the camp are 2.3 million Palestinians, refugees in their own ancestral lands along with their descendants.
Since 2007, Israel has imposed a full blockade on Gaza from the air, land, and sea. Gaza is completely controlled by the Israeli military. For more than 15 years, food, potable water, electricity, medicine, building materials, etc. have been severely restricted by Tel Aviv. All the while, Palestinians besieged in the coastal enclave are routinely subjected to small as well as large-scale indiscriminate bombing campaigns.
This recent terrorist attack in Israel which saw so many civilians killed – including in crossfire with Israeli forces – was in fact a prison break led by Hamas, the armed militia which rules the Strip.
This horrible attack was blatantly, if unintentionally, provoked by Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and his ruling coalition full of extremist settlers and Jewish supremacists bent on the de jure annexation of the entire West Bank, or “Judea and Samaria” as they call it.
It does not have to be this way at all.
Killing the Peace Process
Beginning in 1979 at Camp David, Israel promised to let the Palestinians have a sovereign state on the 22 percent of Palestine left after Zionist forces ethnically cleansed 750,000 Palestinian Muslims and Christians off their land in 1948, this was known as the “Nakba” or catastrophe. What remained was the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip illegally occupied by Tel Aviv since 1967.
By 1988, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Leader Yasser Arafat, who headed the Fatah party, had recognized Israel within its 1967 borders. The Oslo Accords “peace process” began in 1993 and was supposed to implement this two-state reality.
It was a sham. All the while, even though the Fourth Geneva Convention says that it is illegal for one nation to transfer their own civilian populations into land seized in war and United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 says that Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories, hundreds of thousands of the Israeli Jewish colonists or “settlers” moved to the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which they consider part of greater Israel. This has effectively made a sovereign state there impossible.
The Israeli government under Netanyahu, who used to play along with the narrative of an eventual two-state solution, in the last decade officially canceled the illusion that he would ever let this occur.
In fact, Netanyahu said in 2015 that, “I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands is giving attack grounds to radical Islam against the state of Israel. Anyone who ignores this is sticking his head in the sand. The left does this time and time again. We are realistic and understand.”
Netanyahu was then asked specifically whether he meant that a Palestinian state would not be established if he were reelected prime minister. He answered, “correct.”
Even though he temporarily relented on official annexation of the Jordan river valley, Netanyahu still vowed in 2020 that “Israel will retain security control on the entire area west of the Jordan River.” In other words, from the River to the Mediterranean Sea, Palestine will never be free.
So this is why B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International all finally came out in 2021–2022, after the 40-year illusion of “independence someday instead of freedom today” had finally crumbled, and officially declared that Israel was an “apartheid state.”
Jimmy Carter warned that if Israel did not let the Palestinians go, they would be stuck in this apartheid corner. So did former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
If the whites of 1920s Jim Crow Mississippi had said, “we will not end segregation and our two-tiered ‘rule of law,’ but we will let northern Mississippi become an independent black nation someday instead,” but then they never did that, that would be where Israel-Palestine is right now.
Ever since then, Western liberals – regulated by the Israel lobby – have only paid lip service to the two-state solution while Israel created “facts on the ground,” with the ever expanding settlements relegating Palestinians to noncontiguous Bantustans cut off from each other with the separation wall and networks of checkpoints run by Israeli occupation forces.
Imagine if someone said about South Africa in 1983 that, “DeClerk and the whites of South Africa have a right to exist. And they have the right to defend themselves. And the blacks, well they have the right to aspirations of having those rights.” This simply will not do.
Hamas Is the Likud’s Strategic Ally
That is not to say that Hamas is secretly controlled by Israel, but their seemingly antithetical interests are in fact closely aligned and serve each other’s purposes. As Brian McGlinchey, Andrew Higgins, Robert Sale, and others have exhaustively detailed, for decades, Israel has provided Hamas and its precursors with both direct and indirect financial support.
The day after the October 7th attack, Tal Schneider railed against this policy in Times Of Israel,
For years, the various governments led by [Netanyahu] took an approach that divided power between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank – bringing [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas to his knees while making moves that propped up the Hamas terror group.
The idea was to prevent Abbas – or anyone else in the [PA’s] West Bank government – from advancing toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Originally borne out of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the right-wing Islamist movement was seen by Israeli leadership as an instrument to undercut the dominant opposition to the occupation, Arafat’s secular leftist PLO.
Beginning in the 1970s, Israel’s backing of Hamas and its predecessor, Mujama Al-Islamiya, or the Islamic Center, “was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,” a former senior CIA official told Sale.
According to U.S. intelligence officials speaking with Sale, “funds for the movement came from the oil-producing states and directly and indirectly from Israel.”
In the early 1980s, the Islamist movement began radicalizing. This was precipitated by the rise of Hezbollah in opposition to the Israeli invasion and nearly two decade occupation of southern Lebanon, as well as the overthrow of the Shah Reza Pahlavi, the CIA-installed dictator in Iran, and the subsequent founding of the Islamic Republic.
The group known today as Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, was officially founded in 1987 and flourished during the First Intifada, or violent uprising against the occupation in Palestine.
Despite the group’s refusal for many years to ever recognize Israel’s “right to exist,” along with the PLO dropping that maximalist demand themselves, Israeli aid to Hamas continued apace.
This is because “the thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the other groups, if they gained control, would refuse to have anything to do with the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place,” a U.S. official told Sale. Indeed, Hamas condemned the PLO as traitors for going to the negotiating table with Tel Aviv in an attempt to work out a two-state solution.
As Higgins later wrote in the Wall Street Journal,
When it became clear in the early 1990s that Gaza’s Islamists had mutated from a religious group into a fighting force aimed at Israel – particularly after they turned to suicide bombings in 1994 – Israel cracked down with ferocious force. But each military assault only increased Hamas’s appeal to ordinary Palestinians.
Fatah also cracked down on Hamas during the 1990s over their tactics including suicide bombings, which led to further clashes and bad blood.
Following the Second Intifada, in which over 1,000 Israelis and 4,500 Palestinians were killed, Likudnik Prime Minister Ariel Sharon initiated a policy known as “disengagement” in the Gaza Strip. In the summer of 2005, Tel Aviv set about removing thousands of settlers and occupying forces.
The Israeli army was redeployed in the areas surrounding Gaza instead. On the surface, this may look like a concession, but Likud’s goal was to decisively kill the peace process and with it any hopes Palestinians had for their right of return or a future state.
The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.
The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.
The disengagement plan makes it possible for Israel to park conveniently in an interim situation that distances us as far as possible from political pressure. It legitimizes our contention that there is no negotiating with the Palestinians.
And we educated the world to understand that there is no one to talk to. And we received a no-one-to-talk-to certificate. That certificate says: (1) There is no one to talk to. (2) As long as there is no one to talk to, the geographic status quo remains intact. (3) The certificate will be revoked only when this-and-this happens – when Palestine becomes Finland. (4) See you then, and shalom.
Hamas achieved a plurality victory against Fatah – now led by Abbas in the wake of Arafat’s death – in the Palestinian territories’ 2006 parliamentary elections. But before a coalition government could be instituted based on the results, George W. Bush and his neocon retinue – displeased with the results of the democratic election they had encouraged – attempted a coup, supporting Fatah against Hamas.
As David Rose reported in Vanity Fair,
[This outlet] has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by [Muhammad Dahlan, Fatah’s long-time resident strongman in Gaza], and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power…
But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.
As a result of this proxy war, came Hamas’ complete takeover in Gaza which has been used to justify the blockade and the rest of Tel Aviv’s illegal collective punishment policies.
Ever since the siege was imposed, the fact that the Palestinians in Gaza voted for Hamas years ago is predictably trotted to justify Israel’s wars against the Palestinians trapped in the enclave. Gaza has no air defense, army, navy, or air force to speak of, but thousands of Palestinian civilians have been killed amid these canned hunts.
Half of the population in Gaza – approximately 1.15 million people – are children who were not even alive when Hamas won in 2006, and there was never another election.
As Israeli journalist Meron Rapaport has extensively chronicled, this is exactly what Likud wanted.
“The split between Abbas’ Judea and Samaria and Hamas’ Gaza is optimal for Israel. When necessary, we can strike Hamas in Gaza and not be forced to withdraw to the Auschwitz borders in Judea and Samaria,” Erez Tadmor, a former head of Likud information campaigns, posted on Twitter.
“[Netanyahu] succeeded in disconnecting between Gaza and Judea and Samaria, and effectively shattered the vision of a Palestinian state in these two areas. Part of the achievement is linked to the Qatari money that comes to Hamas every month,” said Yonatana Orich, one of Netanyahu’s advisers and another Likudnik campaign manager.
Distal Abtaryan, former minister of information and current Likudnik member of the Knesset, put it this way,
Every home needs a balcony, and Israel is a home. The balcony of this home is Samaria… if Hamas crumbles, Mahmoud Abbas may rule [Gaza]. If he rules it, voices on the left will encourage negotiations, a political settlement, and a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria as well… this is the real reason Netanyahu doesn’t annihilate Hamas, everything else is bullshit.
In 2019, Gershon Hacohen, a major general in reserves and an associate of Netanyahu, said, “We need to tell the truth. Netanyahu’s strategy is to prevent the option of two states, so he is turning Hamas into his closest partner. Openly Hamas is an enemy. Covertly, it’s an ally.”
That same year, Netanyahu boasted to members of his party in the Knesset,
Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas… This is part of our strategy – to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in the West Bank.
Bezalel Smotrich, leader of Israel’s Religious Zionist Party and the current Finance Minister was even more explicit,
The [PA] is a burden and Hamas is an asset. On the same international field, in this game of delegitimization, and think about it for a moment, the [PA] is a burden and Hamas is an asset. It’s a terrorist organization. No one will recognize it. No one will give it status at the [International Criminal Court]. No one will let it put forth a resolution at the UN security council. Then would we need an American veto? Or would we not need an American veto? … Given that the main game, the central court, where we play now, is the international delegitimization, there [Abbas] is beating us in significant spaces. And Hamas, at this point in my opinion, will be an asset. I don’t think I have to worry about [Hamas].
The Netanyahu Doctrine
They thought it would work so well. In March, Smotrich proclaimed that there is “no such thing as a Palestinian people.” Last month, Netanyahu even presented a map of “The New Middle East” to the UN General Assembly with Palestine, from the river to the sea, completely erased.
“There’s no question: the Abraham Accords heralded the dawn of a new age of peace,” Netanyahu announced. “I believe we’re on the cusp of a more dramatic breakthrough: a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”He continued, emphasizing “we must not give the Palestinians a veto over new peace treaties with Arab states.”
The Donald Trump and Joe Biden administrations, along with Netanyahu, also believed the Palestinians could be erased. They envisioned a Middle East where Washington’s long-time Arab dictatorship vassals would finally plant the Palestinians firmly under the bus, recognize Israel, and sign phony peace deals in exchange for American arms as well as other favors.
For instance, in 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain became signatories of the Abraham Accords which is a thinly veiled foundation for a regional military coalition led by the US and Israel eyeing Iran.
Under the accords, Gulf capitals such as Abu Dhabi or Manama recognize Israel – absent a Palestinian state or end to the apartheid regime – so they can receive increased access to advanced weapon systems manufactured by the US military-industrial complex.
Before Israel began its latest war on Gaza, killing hundreds of Palestinians every day, recent polling had already shown that as a result of Israeli massacres and war crimes committed against the Palestinians, the Abraham Accords have become increasingly unpopular among the populace in Bahrain and the UAE.
In July, with the support of the Joe Biden administration, Israel’s security forces invaded and bombed the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, killing a dozen people including five children. Israeli bulldozers tore up the camp’s roads, electricity, and water networks. 1,000 troops participated in the raid, along with Apache helicopters, drones, and 150 armored vehicles.
Another point of contention in the region is Netanyahu’s policies of setting records this year for settlement expansion and construction in illegal Jewish-only colonies, further eviscerating even the pretense of a future Palestinian state.
Israeli forces and settlers have repeatedly desecrated, the Al-Aqsa Mosque this year. During the holy month of Ramadan, worshipers within, including women and children, were viciously beaten. Members of Netanyahu’s cabinet have also encouraged attacks against Palestinian Christians, which have escalated substantially.
For Palestinians, prior to this month, this year was already one of the deadliest on record. Before the end of September, more than 220 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces, including over three dozen children. That figure included 187 people who were murdered in the occupied territories and another 37 killed – mostly amidst a smaller bombing campaign – in the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu and Biden were dead wrong. Peace in the region must be made with the Palestinians. But never again will any heads of state be foolish enough to believe Palestine and its people can be circumvented, erased, or ignored.
Slaughtering “Human Animals”
Since the October 7th attack led by Hamas, Israel has pummeled Gaza indiscriminately with thousands of bombs so far killing more than 7,000 Palestinians, including nearly 3,000 children. Concurrently, in the West Bank, over 100 Palestinians have been killed by settlers and Israeli occupation forces.
Foreign ministers from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt along with Abraham Accords signatory states the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco published a joint statement condemning Israel’s collective punishment against the Palestinians in Gaza. The diplomats implored the UN Security Council to implement a ceasefire immediately, as almost half of all residential units in the enclave are said to have been obliterated.
After 20 straight days of bombing, Mondoweiss reported,
- Around 219 educational facilities have been hit by Israeli bombardment, including at least 29 UNRWA schools.
- Approximately 1.4 million people in Gaza are internally displaced.
- 24 hospitals have received evacuation notices from Israel in northern Gaza.
- Hospitals are operating at more than 150 percent of their capacity.
- At least 130 neonatal babies dependent on incubators are at risk of death due to lack of electricity.
- There are approximately 166 unsafe births taking place per day in Gaza.
- 101 health personnel have been killed by Israeli strikes, over 100 others wounded.
- Gaza’s population of over 2 million, which continues to be carpet bombed, is still being denied fuel, clean water, and adequate food supply by Israel’s ongoing siege on the enclave.
The death toll of Palestinian civilians in Gaza may soon skyrocket, as Tel Aviv has cut off Gaza’s food, water, electricity, and medicine. William Schomburg, the head of the Gaza mission for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has warned the al-Quds and al-Shifa hospitals, the Strip’s main medical centers, are “rapidly running out of fuel and medical supplies.”
He added, “during our visit to al-Quds hospital there were heavy airstrikes all around us and the entire hospital shook.” A third of Gaza’s hospitals are no longer functioning. The dire lack of fuel, water, and sanitation will soon break the back of Gaza’s healthcare system and may lead to outbreaks of infectious diseases like cholera.
The White House’s unconditional backing of this unprecedented Israeli onslaught against Gaza threatens to drag Americans into a regional war with Hezbollah, Iran, and their Resistance Axis allies including in Iraq and Syria, where U.S. forces illegally occupy a third of the war-torn country.
The destruction of Washington’s Global War on Terror and regime change wars of the last 20 years will likely be dwarfed by such a conflict.
To put this in perspective, the American government’s wars in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia during this century killed and caused the deaths of well over four million people.
Washington should immediately cut all military aid and ties with Tel Aviv, as well as cease its disgraceful diplomatic cover. American forces should not be in harm’s way to “deter” other actors from getting involved, nor to defend this merciless regime. The Israeli government, currently waging siege warfare against Gaza, has declared the Strip is populated by “human animals.”
Tel Aviv is now readying for its ground invasion, the American people must swiftly demand a lifting of the siege and a ceasefire.
Connor Freeman is the assistant editor and a writer at the Libertarian Institute, primarily covering foreign policy. He is a co-host on the Conflicts of Interest podcast. His writing has been featured in media outlets such as Antiwar.com, Counterpunch, and the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He has also appeared on Liberty Weekly, Around the Empire, and Parallax Views. You can follow him on Twitter@FreemansMind96.
Scott Horton is director of the Libertarian Institute, editorial director of Antiwar.com, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2021 book Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, editor of the 2019 book The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019 and the 2022 book Hotter Than The Sun: Time to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. He’s conducted more than 5,800 interviews since 2003. Scott lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, Larisa Alexandrovna Horton.