13.10.2023 Author: Alexandr Svaranc

Is the Israeli crisis a harbinger of global catastrophe or a solution to the Palestinian question?

Is the Israeli crisis a harbinger of global catastrophe or a solution to the Palestinian question?

The October tension in the Middle East this year was supplemented by a new flash point in the smoldering Arab-Israeli conflict. During the first week of this month, Syria and Israel turned out to be the epicenters of military escalation. After the terrorist attack in Ankara on October 1 this year, the Turkish authorities, in order to suppress the militant cells of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) banned in Turkey, actually started a military operation in the north and north-west of Syria. Then, on October 7 of this year, Hamas militants suddenly launched massive rocket attacks on the border of the Gaza Strip with southern Israel.

Thousands of rockets were fired toward Ashkelon, Tel Aviv, Yavneh, Kfar Aviv and other cities in the south and center of the country. During the first three days of fighting, both sides suffered grievous losses – hundreds killed, thousands of wounded and captured (including members of the command staff, civilians, children and women), more than a hundred thousand refugees, and great material destruction. The IDF launched Operation Iron Swords and the Israeli Air Force carried out massive bombing strikes on neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip, returning previously lost military positions and settlements to Israeli control.

The attack on Israel came as a surprise to most capitals around the world, particularly to Tel Aviv itself. Many Israeli and foreign experts began to justifiably accuse the previously praised system of Israel’s intelligence services of incompetence and inefficiency because the military intelligence “Aman” and political intelligence “Mossad” together with the rest of the security agencies literally slept through such a serious and large-scale offensive by Hamas.

The representatives of the Israeli intelligence services themselves either do not comment on their own failure due to the lack of proactive information about the designs and plans of the main enemy, or they attribute any obvious shortcomings to the political mistakes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In particular, Bibi has been accused of embarking on a foolhardy judicial reform and thereby diverting significant intelligence forces and resources to ensure internal security and preserve the ruling regime.

Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom said in a BBC interview that Israel’s security tactics on Saturday, October 7, had “utterly failed.” In his opinion, the Hamas attack took Israel by surprise, as it did 50 years ago, and the country’s second level of defense was insufficient.

Meanwhile, information leaked to the media that representatives of Egypt’s intelligence services allegedly warned their Israeli colleagues about an imminent serious military provocation by Hamas in the south near the Gaza Strip. However, Tel Aviv either distrusted Cairo’s opinion or Israeli intelligence considered it disinformation and expected a probable strike in the West of the Jordan River. In any case, Israel’s intelligence and counterintelligence services fell short and lost the start of this new war against Hamas and the outside forces behind the movement. This does not mean that Israeli intelligence is demoralized and inexperienced, though.

Regarding the effectiveness of the intelligence services in connection with Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel, it should be recognized that American intelligence (including the CIA, DIA and NSA) were also fooled by the Palestinians. The fact is that the US is Israel’s main strategic ally, which provides not only economic and military-technical assistance to Tel Aviv, but also actively cooperates with its Israeli counterparts on the intelligence side as well. Obviously, the CIA also overlooked the preparation of such a major military operation, which had been ongoing for about two years.

The invasion of Israel by the Palestinian movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad was condemned by more than 80 nations, led by the United States. Washington immediately expressed political support for Israel, recognizing its right to self-defense, allocated $8 billion to help its ally and sent the world’s largest and most expensive aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald Ford, to Israeli shores. European countries are predominantly supportive of Israel, too. Of the Muslim countries, only two have expressed support for Tel Aviv – the UAE and Azerbaijan. Abu Dhabi apparently favors peace and counts on economic partnership with the high-tech Jewish state. Baku, in turn, is compelled to support Tel Aviv because of its high dependence on Israeli military technology and advanced weaponry, diplomatic support and as a customer of Azerbaijan’s oil and gas resources.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has expressed hope that this war against Israel will end in a “decisive victory for the Palestinian resistance.” Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of Muslim countries supported the Palestinians and called on Tel Aviv to end its occupation of Palestinian territories and recognize Palestine as an independent state under the 1967 UN decision, with Jerusalem as its capital.

Among the countries that supported the Palestinian groups’ attack on Israel, first of all, was Iran. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, as Mehr News Agency notes, said that “Iran supports the right of the Palestinian people to self-defense” and called on Muslim countries to help the Palestinian people. Lebanon and, surprisingly, Colombia were among the supporters of the anti-Israeli action.

Against the backdrop of the general support for Israel on the part of Western countries, the Arab world, with the exception of the UAE so far, has spoken up in support of Palestine. However, Cairo’s position in this regard remains not entirely clear, if information about a possible Hamas offensive in the south was passed to Israeli intelligence on the eve of the events from the Mukhabarat (Egypt’s General Intelligence Service).

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement warned Tel Aviv that if the Israel Defense Forces conduct a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, they will open a “second front” against the Jewish state. In particular, Hashem Safi al-Din, head of Hezbollah’s executive council, threatened to involve “the entire Islamic people” in the Hamas operation. According to him, this will happen if the US and Israel continue to “persist in their stupidity.”  

Afghanistan, represented by the ruling Taliban regime (a terrorist organization banned in Russia), has requested a transport corridor from Iran, Iraq and Jordan to provide military assistance to the Palestinians in taking Jerusalem.

Turkey’s position in this regard was interesting. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on the conflicting parties to moderation and peace (in particular, to “avoid impulsive steps that will lead to further escalation of tension”). At the same time, Erdoğan once again decided to demonstrate Turkey’s mediation mission to the world and proposed a final solution to the Arab-Israeli problem through Tel Aviv’s recognition of Palestinian sovereignty with Jerusalem as its capital.

Meanwhile, there is a certain split among the major political parties in Turkey over the Israeli crisis. The leaders of the opposition parties, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (the People’s Republican Party), Ahmet Davutoğlu (the Future Party), and Temel Karamollaoğlu (the Felicity Party) supported the Palestinians’ right to self-defense and called for the urgent convening of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. At the same time, the leaders of two other opposition forces – in particular, Maral Akşener of the Good Party and Ali Babacan of the Deva Party – advocated peace and criticized Hamas’ terrorist methods of struggle.

Russia maintains a more restrained and rational position, calling for an early cessation of hostilities, restoration of peace and political settlement of all disputed issues between Israel and Palestine on the basis of international law and adopted UN resolutions.

Will such a major military escalation in the Middle East become a harbinger of a global conflict, i.e. World War III? Probably, this question today worries the entire conscious part of the world community. It is no secret that many analysts and experts believe that Iran is behind such a large-scale and sudden attack by Hamas. At the same time, Tehran must realize that Israel will quickly recover from the unexpected strike and be able to deliver a crushing blow to the Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip with the destruction of Hamas. Mobilization has begun in Israel, with 300,000 reservists drafted into the army on the second day. In fact, two days into the war, the Israel Defense Forces have already regained all lost ground and are launching precision bombing strikes against the enemy.

However, Palestinian combat resistance may have a protracted guerrilla character, and the IDF’s move to attack neighboring Lebanon is more likely to internationalize the conflict. The intensified fighting in southern Israel, one way or another, temporarily constrains the IDF’s ability in the north (including active military and military-technical cooperation with Azerbaijan) to provoke a war against Iran. Moreover, Tehran is obviously confident in its military forces not only in the field of long-range artillery and unmanned aviation, but also possibly in terms of creating weapons of mass destruction. That is why the Iranian side threatens a crushing response to Israel in case of provocations against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Whether this military escalation will contribute to accelerating the resolution of the long-standing Palestinian issue is difficult to say. At the same time, we see that the closed operational meeting of the UN Security Council on the Palestinian-Israeli war has not adopted any resolution. It is hardly possible to expect Israeli capitulation and recognition of Palestine with Jerusalem as capital in the foreseeable future. However, Israel’s image has been significantly damaged, and the internationalization of the conflict could threaten the very existence of the Jewish state.

The world community is forced to shift its attention from Ukraine to Israel, and the best way to stabilize the Ukrainian situation is to respect Russia’s interests and a peaceful agreement to end hostilities, taking into account the current territorial realities. Such an approach to the Ukrainian crisis would be an example of localization of the Middle East crisis.


Aleksandr SVARANTS, Doctor in Political Science, professor, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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