Ever since Israel began its unprecedented bloodbath to exterminate Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, many officials in the US and Israel, followed by journalists, commentators, columnists and representatives of the so-called near-authorities, have become increasingly vocal about the “scenario of the day after tomorrow.” In this case, we are referring to the events that will take place when the guns fall silent and the fog of war dissipates. What will look like, first of all, the Palestinian issue, the general situation in the region and in the entire world, where there is a clear division between those who seek to resolve this difficult situation peacefully at the negotiating table and those who rattle their weapons in the old fashioned way, and know no other way to solve the current problems.
Taking a narrower issue, most scenarios assume that Israel can achieve at least two of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s stated goals of driving Hamas out of Gaza and freeing the Israeli hostages held there. But as the fighting unfolds, with a smaller and worse-armed Hamas delivering sensitive blows to an IDF touted as one of the world’s best armies, after 90 days of Israeli bombing and shelling that even CNN admits is “indiscriminate,” and with more than 60 percent of the buildings in the Gaza Strip destroyed, Israel is far from achieving either goal. The world’s bombing of Gaza has been called the worst since the Vietnam War, when the Americans, after flooding the entire country with chemical weapons (defoliants), failed to achieve victory, fleeing disgracefully in full view of the world. Incidentally, this rehearsed escape was adopted by the US army and then just as infamously repeated in Afghanistan. More than 20,000 residents have been killed in the Gaza Strip and the number is steadily increasing as Netanyahu has made it his mission to eliminate all Palestinians in Gaza. And 70 percent of them, according to the facts of the world press, are women and children. More than 50,000 were injured. Humanitarian aid convoys passing through the Rafah crossing in Egypt are not enough, according to the UN, which also says Palestinians in Gaza are now facing disease and starvation. Thousands of Palestinians are dying because of the cold and lack of medicine, food and clean water, and many more will die for the same reason.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists he will continue to fight until victory is achieved. Now the goal seems unattainable, if not impossible. Calls for his resignation are growing in Israel, while support for the war among Israelis is shrinking by the day. Hamas and its allies continue to fire rockets at Israeli cities, inflicting heavy casualties on the Israeli invasion army. Yes, and Netanyahu himself says that the fight against Hamas will last a few more months, hoping that during that long time the world will forget its crimes against humanity.
Support for Gaza and Palestine has reached record levels around the world, if you don’t count the official spiteful and stubborn stance of the Joe Biden Administration, most of whose officials now, by the way, support calls for a permanent cease-fire. A lot has changed in the last few weeks. Most mainstream Western media now criticize Israel’s conduct of the war, and a growing number of world observers believe Netanyahu is fighting a losing battle, while pointing to his commission of many war crimes. On social media, young people are lining up to condemn the war, or rather the carnage, and express solidarity with the Palestinians. And there are more and more such people around the world every day.
Despite all this, Netanyahu and his extreme right-wing coalition partners stubbornly want the conflict to continue at any cost, even with casualties from the Israeli population. The Israeli leader refuses to listen to the relatives of the hostages who want a deal that will end the war and ensure the safe return of their loved ones. As the Turkish newspaper Milliyet correctly put it, the Prime Minister does not care about the fate of the Israeli hostages, as there are no relatives among them and he does not care what happens to them. For its part, the Biden Administration is losing public support at home as nearly half of the American people, if not more, want an urgent cease-fire. The US is becoming isolated even among its allies, most of whom disagree with giving Israel the green light for “indiscriminate action” in Gaza.
But on the “day after tomorrow,” Netanyahu and the US disagree. Israel’s Prime Minister, who is now fighting for his political fate and perhaps even his life, seems to want an expansion of Israel’s control over Gaza, which means indefinite occupation and further incorporation of the Strip into Israel. But every day more and more Israelis disagree with this view and are trying to find another, peaceful way out of the difficult situation. Yes, and Joe Biden is trying to maneuver ahead of the presidential election and has publicly made some claims about Netanyahu’s position. However, and understandably so, all this “opposition” will end after the presidential election when the US and Israel continue to play the Palestinian piano four-handed.
An Egyptian proposal for a long-term pause in exchange for the release of the hostages while paving the way for joint Hamas and Palestinian Authority control of Gaza, but without specifying details of an Israeli withdrawal, was reportedly rejected by Hamas’ military wing. It is no secret that ending the conflict now would be a crushing defeat for Israel, leading to the collapse of the military government and a reckoning for Netanyahu. We must not forget that the Sword of Damocles hangs over the Prime Minister for his many past transgressions against the law. That is why he is trying his best to continue the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
But most of the possible solutions and scenarios fail to take two factors into account. The first is that Palestinians in Gaza want an immediate end to the war because every day means hell for those who are just lucky enough to survive. Washington’s blind support for Israel means that more Palestinian civilians are dying every minute, every hour and every day, and the international community can no longer tolerate it. The Palestinian problem has been repeatedly discussed at UN Security Council meetings, but each time the US has shamelessly vetoed any decision designed to alleviate the plight of the Palestinians even a little.
The second question is not who will rule Gaza after the bombing stops, but how the international community will intervene to save the millions of displaced people living in catastrophic conditions. Israel cannot be allowed to decide how many aid trucks are authorized to pass through Rafah and other crossings when the lives of millions are at stake. The world must make up for its failure to abide by international humanitarian law and save many thousands of innocent lives because the US and Israel thought that so-called collateral damage was acceptable in this case. Acceptable? For whom? The Palestinians, or for the Israelis and the Americans?
But what is also important and urgent is to conduct an independent investigation into what happened last October 7 and make statements afterwards. Ironically, Karim Khan, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), accepted an invitation to meet with Israeli hostage families, but did not visit the Gaza Strip or meet with Palestinian families, nor did he make a strong statement on Israel’s accusations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing by the Israelis. The credibility of the ICC is now in question as Kareem Khan and the court remain silent on what Israel is doing in Gaza as if it does not concern them. At last count, some 100 journalists and their families were killed by the IDF. Doctors, health workers, university professors, activists, poets, artists, UN employees and thousands of children were killed. Hospitals, universities, schools, mosques, churches, community centers and residential buildings were destroyed. Mass executions of civilians are reported. If Khan is unable to act he should resign. Otherwise, it is not fit for duty and discredits the International Criminal Court and its objectives.
Dozens of cases have been filed with the International Criminal Court concerning the murders of journalists, children, the crimes of Israeli officers and the complicity of senior Israeli political figures in war crimes. Khan cannot ignore these numerous cases, all of which name Israel as the main culprit. “The day after tomorrow” for Gaza is not only a question of who will rule the besieged and now flattened small enclave where 2.1 million Palestinians used to live, 70 percent of whom are already displaced or refugees, having lost their homeland where they and their ancestors were born.
Seeking to evade trial and at the same time, Netanyahu, his lieutenants and generals, who have been arrogant with impunity with US support, are war criminals and their actions and deeds against humanity should be investigated and tried. Those who support this bloodbath, primarily Western countries, must also be named, charged and punished accordingly. In an ideal, and in a normal world, this would be the right and civilized thing to do, a thing worthy of the human evolvement of the twenty-first century. But our world is not perfect, and the carnage in Gaza must set in motion the process of creating a new world order in which warmongers and murderers become pariahs so that a massacre and tragedy like the Palestinian one never happens again.
Victor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.