An asymmetric war

October 15, 2023

It is feared that Israel will turn the latest fighting into an opportunity to reoccupy Gaza and displace hundreds of thousands of Palestinians

An asymmetric war


s events unfolded on the Gaza-Israel front it was hard to keep track of the rapidly-changing situation. After nearly a week of intense fighting, dozens of bodies were still being found among burned-out houses. Among the rubble in Gaza there was scattered furniture and charred cars.

International media remained divided in its coverage. The US and European media was clearly sympathetic towards Israel even after its relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip and a total blockade of nearly 2.5 million people of which at least 1.5 million are children, elderly and women. Aljazeera presented a more balanced picture of the unfolding tragedy.

In Israel, rescue workers were able to go from house to house to take away the dead. In Gaza there were too many destroyed buildings with just rubble and no structure left to go into and look for the dead and the injured. Watching on TV, one could imagine the stench of bodies, emanating from the destroyed houses that were too many to count. Soon there will be no electricity as fuel supplies run out fast. There is no way the Gaza people can access essential items such as food, medicines and water.

The story is old and there is no space here to recount how Israel has been destroying entire farming communities, houses and livelihoods of Palestinians for decades. People who had been living in those communities for centuries, have been displaced with impunity as the world looked the other way. Israel has bombarded the Palestinians and the West has defended the crime as Israel’s right to defence. Whenever Palestinians have retaliated, their resistance has been dubbed as aggression and terrorism. Now the world is witnessing the worst Israeli attack on Gaza in decades. There is apparently no one to stop Israel.

What outcomes can one expect from the episode? Lots of civilians will be killed in Gaza, many of them in their homes. The Hamas fighters who unleashed the attack knew fairly well that attacking civilians, including children and women, will show them as equally — if not more — immoral as Israeli forces that have been targeting Palestinian children and women too. Two wrongs do not make a right.

In the coming days and weeks, there will be horrifying scenes in Gaza but there will hardly be anyone to report from there as the ground campaign is likely to be a full-fledged assault with armoured vehicles and tanks razing most of Gaza to ground. The OIC and the UN will watch passively. Israel is unlikely to show mercy now that the Hama attack have given it an excuse to reduce Gaza to rubble. It has already killed nearly half a dozen journalists.

There will be bloated bodies on the ground and smoke will cover the starving civilians. People will run for their lives and forget about their belongings. Many of them will be blown out of their houses by explosives.

What impact it all will have on the Palestinian aspirations for an independent state? How will the regional and world politics shape up over the coming weeks and months? Some scenarios are more likely than others.

For the people of Gaza it will herald a near complete doom. Whatever little they had will evaporate in thick air and smoke. Their hospitals, mosques, schools, shelters and civic services will come to a halt. Their aspirations for a peaceful life will become even more distant. Their children will grow more anti-Israel. Their education will be in doldrums. The youth will miss the opportunities that might have come their way.

Hamas will become more isolated both regionally and internationally. It was already an unwelcome force on the world stage. It will lose some of the potential allies. For a long time to come, it will lose the power and strength to strike Israel from Gaza.

Israel will try to turn the attack into an opportunity to reoccupy Gaza and displace hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. The state of Israel will try to capitalise on a perception of ‘victimhood.’ Prime Minister Netanyahu has received a shot in the arm to stay in power and score more political victories with his military incursions into Gaza.

Regional politics is also likely to reshape itself. There may be a temporary halt to Israel’s efforts to establish diplomatic relations with more Arab and Muslim countries that have been insisting on a two-state solution. Countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE that were on a normalisation path with Israel will have to stop their bonhomie with the Zionist government for the near future. The Middle East will see even more spending on arms and ammunitions as more countries will feel a need to better arm themselves for another Arab-Israel War.

The US will blatantly support Israel in all its atrocities.

The two-state solution that Israel has been resisting even after signing agreements at Camp David, Cairo and Oslo is a distant dream. All hopes for peace in near future are dashed.

The writer is an author, columnist, and educator. He can be reached at He tweets @NaazirMahmood

An asymmetric war