31/03/2024 strategic-culture.su  8 min 🇬🇧 #245911

Hamas Is Intact, So Has Israel Lost?

Six months after Al-Aqsa Flood, Israel has made little progress in eradicating Hamas or its capabilities, and its Gaza war only fueled and expanded support for resistance. Tel Aviv has miscalculated badly; you can't fight ideology with guns.

By Xavier VILLAR

Six months into Israel's blitzkrieg on Gaza, the occupation state's military intelligence has reluctantly acknowledged what many had suspected: achieving a decisive victory over Hamas is an unattainable goal. Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's initial rhetoric of total annihilation, the reality on the ground speaks differently.

Tzachi Hanegbi, head of Israel's national security, had previously declared that nothing short of ' total victory' would suffice. Yet, as military Spokesperson Daniel Hagari conceded on 18 March, Hamas continues to persist, regrouping - he alleges - around Al-Shifa hospital in the northern Strip.

As US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan  pointed out last week: "Israel cleared Shifa once. Hamas came back into Shifa, which raises questions about how to ensure a sustainable campaign against Hamas so that it cannot regenerate, cannot retake territory."

Mission impossible

From a political standpoint, this suggests that the occupation army can neither eradicate the Palestinian resistance movement nor assert control over the besieged territory.

Reserve General Itzhak Brik, who has previously  criticized the "total chaos" among the ranks of Israeli soldiers in Gaza, has long warned that "the complete destruction of Hamas is not feasible, and Benjamin Netanyahu's statements regarding this matter are only intended to deceive others."

Tel Aviv's failure to dismantle Hamas's extensive tunnel network further highlights the inadequacy of its military efforts. Israeli authorities have confirmed that around 80 percent of Hamas' tunnel system remains intact despite months of airstrikes and ground operations.

This network, according to  Iranian defense ministry officials speaking on condition of anonymity, is estimated to stretch for between 350 to 450 miles - an astonishing feat, given that Gaza's longest point is 25 miles. Two officials also assessed that there are close to 5,700 separate shafts leading to these tunnels.

Israeli boasts of repeatedly bombing Hamas tunnels ring untrue in light of these discoveries. Even advanced munitions like GBU-28 'deep penetration' bombs have proven to be ineffective against the tunnels' depth and complexity.

The evidence of Israel's inability to break through Hamas defenses continues to mount. In a 12 March speech, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei revealed that he had received a message from the Palestinian resistance saying that "90 percent of our capabilities are intact."

According to US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, the Israeli army was at most able to destroy  less than a third of the Hamas tunnel network, adding: "The idea that you're going to eliminate every Hamas fighter, I don't think is a realistic goal."

It's abundantly clear that Israel's stated objective of destroying Hamas has not been achieved, nor will it be in the future. Even the  Wall Street Journal, in a 29 February article lauding the occupation army's successful strikes on Hamas forces, acknowledged that "Israel is still far from its declared war aim of eliminating Hamas as a significant military and political entity."

Israel's failures can be analyzed from two distinct perspectives. Firstly, Hamas's form of military resistance is asymmetrical, allowing it to inflict damage on a much larger adversary without bearing significant casualties.

Understanding the necessity to safeguard its dual political-military structure, Hamas organizes military operations into independent cells under the authority of the Al-Qassam Brigades.

Secondly, Hamas consists of not only a fighting force but an ideology deeply rooted in the Palestinian struggle for national liberation within the Islamic notion of  jihad - or "meritorious effort." The potency of this anti-colonial movement, and particularly its broad, entrenched popularity among the people, renders eradicating it a near-impossible task.

In contrast to the Fatah-led, US-Israeli-backed Palestinian Authority's (PA) acceptance of self-government with numerous constraints - exemplified by the Oslo Accords - Hamas's rejection of such agreements reflects its steadfast opposition to Israel's colonial vision and offers an attractive  alternative political stance.

Assessing war as a tool of politics

In short, threats to annihilate Hamas and destroy Gaza are futile. From the rational perspective of the Palestinian resistance group, it is understood that the consequences would be far more severe if they were to submit to Israel's demands.

This same logic of resistance, which is fundamental, is shared by the overwhelming majority of Hamas followers, including secular ones. Furthermore, the logic of anti-colonial resistance is passed down from one generation to the next, and the genocidal dynamics of Zionism only serve to perpetuate this same logic.

The acknowledged failure of Zionism's pursuit of 'total victory' over Hamas must be comprehended from a political perspective. As long as Israel's colonial occupation persists in its objectives of displacement and conquest in Palestine, the ideology of resistance, epitomized by Hamas today, will maintain its dominance among the colonized.

Polls conducted among Palestinians corroborate this analysis. A  survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in December 2023 indicates growing support for Hamas across all occupied Palestinian territories, alongside stunningly diminished support for the PA.

The data further reveals widespread endorsement of Hamas' actions, including the 7 October resistance operation Al-Aqsa Flood, and a significant demand for the resignation of Mahmoud Abbas, the PA's president.

The statement from the Former Deputy Chairman of the Israeli National Security Council, acknowledging that "there are no military solutions to the conflicts Israel is engaged in, particularly in the southern region," confirms the political blindness of the current Israeli status quo.

Understanding the Axis of Resistance

It is important to note that, at times, it is assumed that an ideology may be subordinate to a set of political interests, which could lead to that ideology modifying its political objectives at some point. However, this is not the case with Hamas, nor is it when analyzing the reasons for Hezbollah and Iran's opposition to Israel.

Neither Hamas nor the rest of the members of the Axis of Resistance can be threatened or bombed into submission, as these autonomous groups have their  own political agenda that they consider non-negotiable even in the face of Israel's genocidal campaign. As Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah emphasized repeatedly in a  16 February televised speech:

We are before two choices - resistance or surrender - and the price of surrender... means submission, humiliation, slavery, and disdain for our elders, our children, our honor, and our wealth... The price of surrender in Lebanon meant Israel's political and economic hegemony over our country.

To illustrate, consider Iran's steadfast commitment to Palestine despite the internal risks it poses to Iranian national security in confronting both the US and Israel. Yet, these risks and threats hold no sway over Tehran's regional political strategy, which is rooted firmly in its revolutionary vision.

This marks a fundamental difference with classic western military coalitions created ad hoc by like-minded states to combat a common threat without long-term commitments. The " collapse" of the lackluster US-led coalition aimed at countering Yemen's anti-Israel naval operations in the Red Sea is a case in point.

In contrast, the Axis of Resistance is more than just a coalition of groups; it is anchored by an anti-colonial ideology that shares non-negotiable objectives but allows for different strategies to achieve them.

In other words, all the groups that comprise the Axis of Resistance - whether Sunni, Shia, Arab, non-Arab, secular, or Islamist - are capable of reaching occasional agreements and disagreements using the same language of the anti-colonial Islamic tradition.

As the war on Gaza has raged for half of a year, the unprecedented toll on Palestinian lives and infrastructure has been devastating. Despite some tactical advances by the occupation forces, it's becoming increasingly clear that Israel is headed towards a  strategic defeat.

Its failure to achieve its objectives contrasts sharply with the unwavering resolve of the Palestinian resistance, bolstered by a regional alliance united in its uncompromising stance against the occupation state.

Original article:  thecradle.co



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