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The war on Gaza: where did the resistance go wrong?

September 23, 2014 at 11:23 am

It is neither worthwhile nor sufficient for the Palestinian resistance to celebrate its great show of resistance during the war on Gaza and its success in preventing the success of Zionist schemes and Israeli aggressions on Gaza. On the contrary, it must consider the value of its military operations and consider its shortcomings as well as the path of the war and its consequences. The most important factor to remember is that the Palestinian resistance was dragged into a war during the most unfavourable regional and internal conditions to occur in the history of the Palestinian cause.

One may argue that this war was imposed on the Palestinian resistance because it forced it to respond to Israel’s targeted assassinations of Palestinian political figures; however, this is a shallow explanation that does not reflect what is required to wage the best form of resistance while preventing losses. This analysis does not refer to the discussion of this subject prior to this article because calling on Israel to respond to Palestinian resistance with political assassinations would lead to a full-scale war in an environment with a rather impossible situation.

Forces of the resistance exhibited a heroic fight by demonstrating a willingness to use unconventional and heroic tactics on the battlefield. The absence of these tactics would have led to a Zionist victory. More importantly, regional leaders who had placed their bets on a Zionist victory failed to achieve their goals due to the steadfastness of Palestinian resistance forces that refuse to remove themselves from the equation of the battle with the Zionist enemy. And yet, regional conditions did not work in the resistance’s favour.

There is no doubt that regional conditions proved to be a challenge for the resistance and its forces, as no other Arab party was prepared to support Palestinian factions and this prolonged the conflict. In fact, it is due to the region’s political atmosphere that the Palestinians were unable to have their demands met. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed this when he boasted that the regional environment made war conditions ideal. There is no need to quote what he said verbatim.

A simple comparison between the 2012 and 2014 confrontations between the resistance and Zionist forces reveals how much the regional atmosphere impacts the trajectory of war. For example, despite the fact that Israel is under the same leadership today as it was in 2012, regional factors helped shorten the length of the war in 2012 to eight days and also allowed the Palestinian resistance to achieve certain gains that could be felt by the average Palestinian citizen.

What applies to the regional atmosphere can also be applied to the international atmosphere because factors in the international arena allowed the United States and Europe to justify Israeli acts of aggression by saying that Israel has the right to defend itself against rocket fire. At the same time, the path of the previous war led us to ask this very important question: Is the Gaza Strip a sufficient location to confront the Israeli occupation on its own?

The three wars of 2008, 2012 and 2014 proved that the demographic and geographic realities of the Gaza Strip increase the amount of the Palestinian resistance’s losses by default. The reason for this is that Israel has clearly used the high population density found in the Gaza Strip as an opportunity to create as much damage as possible to Palestine’s human, material and cultural capital. Thus, one can conclude that Israel continues to seek an opportunity to cause havoc in its attempt to pressure the resistance to halt all activity and cease rocket fire.

While it is true that the political reality that has prevailed in the Gaza Strip after July 2007 has created the ideal environment to enhance Palestinian resistance in Gaza as opposed to the West Bank, one must also keep in mind that the resistance has the responsibility of creating multiple opportunities for resistance operations in order to relieve some of the pressure that is placed on Gaza. The Palestinian resistance made a mistake when it allowed itself to participate in reducing its own margins of political leverage by making demands that would have been near impossible for Israel to agree to, especially in light of the region’s hostile environment, which lead to the prolongation of the war and reaped many losses.

For example, it is not Israel alone that rejects the resistance’s demands of building a Palestinian airport and marina in Gaza. In fact, it is the Palestinian Authority, which supposedly acts as the only true representative of the Palestinian people that has expressed its rejection of this demand. Thus, it would be naïve to think that Israel would accept a condition that is so wholly rejected by the Palestinian Authority. It was a serious mistake for the Palestinian resistance to demand an airport and water port. Instead, they should have demanded something far more tangible such as lifting the siege off of the Gaza Strip.

On the other hand, many say that placing pressure on Israel to meet any such demands was impossible to begin with because it is far-fetched to assume that one side of a conflict could ever force the other side, which is capable of waging an all out war on them and causing destruction, could ever be forced to meet all of the opposing side’s conditions. Needless to say, these demands (the demands of the resistance) would have been impossible to meet given the current geo-political reality, which sways overwhelmingly in Israel’s favour.

It is for this reason that the resistance’s ability to thwart Zionist strategy constitutes a tremendous achievement in itself. One of the biggest mistakes made by the Palestinian resistance is its underestimation of the efforts made by Netanyahu’s government and the tremendous influence that Zionist ideology has on Israel’s military strategy.

Israel’s current government is the most right-wing government in the country’s history and it is for this reason that there is currently a mass Zionist force behind the current government, especially during the war, which Netanyahu was able to frame as something that was imposed on Israel. Yet, this in no way diminishes the gains made by the Palestinian resistance during the last confrontation, which undoubtedly shook the confidence of Zionist forces. Israel itself recognised that the amount of force that was used in the recent war on Gaza was not comparable to any other confrontation except the war of 1973. This means that despite heightened Zionist aggression, Palestinian resistance forces continued to counter Israeli aggression and fired rockets until the very end that is, until the official ceasefire.

Needless to say, the confidence of Zionist forces and settlers in general would not have been shaken were it not for the remarkable steadfastness of the Palestinian resistance. However, we must not ignore the half of the glass that remains empty because the Palestinian resistance needs to pin-point its areas of weakness if it wants to bring an end to the occupation.

Translated from Felesteen newspaper, 18 September, 2014

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.