by Zaakir Ahmed Mayet (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 46, No. 7, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1438)
There appears to be blood across the Israeli flag as politicians, the security establishment and parties with vested interests battle it out to direct the future of the colonial state. As fighting continues an inevitability has dawned on all the major players including hardliners, that the current trajectory of Israeli policy mirrors that of Apartheid South Africa. The end result will be a one state solution which means the dismantling of the colonial outpost to reflect a democratic state representative of all the people.
Statements at the Herzliya conference (May 2017) reflect a deeply fractured Israeli landscape. Former Israeli Prime Minister (one-time defence minister) Ehud Barak stated at the conference that current policy “will surely result in a ‘one-state solution’ which will either be an ‘Apartheid State’… or a ‘bi-national state’ in which the Jews will become a minority within a couple of generations, and will most likely be in a continuous civil war.” This was not the only attack on the hard-line coalition. The erstwhile former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni added to the chorus, “The decision of whether to work toward a two-state solution or toward a single united nation should be a national one, in order to ‘take back our democratic Jewish Israel.’” The recent publication of the “Security First” report authored by over 200 former Israeli generals, Shabak, and Mossad figures, and the Center For A New American Security report paint a similar picture of polarisation. The recognition by the Israeli security establishment that military force can no longer solve the problems Israel faces is a damning indictment of the failure of Israeli policy. Therefore, the current discourse revolves around a two-state or one-state solution, the latter lifting the veil on the apartheid nature of Israel which is being exhibited by the current right-wing regime. As the political crisis continues, Israel faces a far more serious challenge.
The State of Israel was founded on the basis of terror and disproportionate force. The first signs of this entrenched policy emerged in the massacres of Deir Yassin, which were characterised with such brutality that it served as a primer for the mass exodus and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population. Menachem Begin stated, “Without what was done at Deir Yassin there would not have been a State of Israel.” He added, “While the Haganah [the Jewish terrorist group] was carrying out successful attacks on the other fronts… The Arabs began fleeing in panic, shouting ‘Deir Yassin’.”
This policy has remained the cornerstone of Israeli militarism. History is often written by the victors and the public narrative of the June 1967 war is no exception. Israel was portrayed as a victim, bullied and bludgeoned by its larger Arab neighbours. The 1967 victory was projected as a miracle confirming alleged divine help and the justness of Zionist occupation.
Occasionally, the true narrative pierces the proverbial propaganda veil and truth filters through. The catalytic deterrence capacity policy was the prime motivator for the first strike Israel conducted to spark the 1967 war. Ariel Sharon, a divisional commander at the time stated “deterrence capability… our main weapon — the fear of us.” The deterrence capacity policy of Israel has been characterised as one of deterrence by punishment which constitutes disproportionate force and punishment.
This particular shade of Israel’s deterrence doctrine was incorporated by the Israeli military with adoption of the Dahiya doctrine. Major General (ret) Giora Eiland who is thought to be the real mastermind behind this doctrine argued the “impossibility of defeating Hizbullah.” He devised a policy that would “lead to the elimination of the Lebanese military, the destruction of the national infrastructure, and intense suffering among the population,” so much so that “the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people are consequences that can influence Hizbullah’s behaviour more than anything else.” The diabolical playbook of disproportionate force was utilised by the then head of Israel’s Northern Command, Gadi Eizenkot who stated,
What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on… We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases…
This doctrine is premised on the fact that the sheer magnitude of destruction would discourage further engagement on the battlefield and reinforce three concepts: that the Israeli military has the capacity to wipe out the opposition merely with the might of its bombardment (shock and awe). Second, that Israel would act viciously against anyone, be they civilian or combatant, once they had commenced bombardment and finally, that their conduct should serve as a signifier of the fate that will await any who cross their path.
This doctrine of deterrence via punishment was successful in all major Israeli-Arabian wars, particularly the 1967 war. Adoption of Israeli policy of deterrence was also hinged on shorter and increasingly brutal engagements. The aim of these shortened engagements is to project deterrence while preventing a war of attrition. This rubric, however, was rewritten with the war against the Hizbullah in 2006 with the first effective failure of the cornerstone of Israeli militarism and deterrence capacity. This came on the back of Israel’s forced abandonment of a portion of Lebanon in 2000 due to Hizbullah’s heroic resistance. In a public lecture under the auspices of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, Major General Uzi Dayan delivered a striking blow to the deterrence doctrine and the outward edifice of success that Israel was projecting post-2006. He stated that Israel lost a lot of deterrence in the last war in Lebanon (2006), this being a turning point not only for Israel but other resistance movements. This acknowledgement emerged from the then opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu who stated, “The greatest failure as a result of the war is that Israel’s deterrent capability has been severely harmed.”
Israel’s inability to adapt to the changing environment resulted in the further implementation of the doctrine in Gaza during 2008. The stated aim of Operation Protective Edge was to put an end to Hamas rocket fire, a feeble attempt at restoring Israel’s deterrence capacity. On the contrary, global opinion shifted dramatically against Israel and calls for the prosecution of Israeli leaders for war crimes grew louder. The finding of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission was a severe blow to Israel in the global arena. Further engagements occurred inside the Gaza Strip. Despite the brutality of Operation Cast Lead, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas rolled out extensive rocket and mortar attacks on Israel in 2014. The record of prior engagements regardless of whether initiated by Israel or Palestinians evidences the fact that the deterrence or fear of Israel has not been re-established. According to the Washington Institute “Over time, deterrence in the Gaza situation will likely fail. Deterrence works best in essentially stable situations, wherein the sides clearly understand each other’s calculus.”
The continued siege of Gaza fuels instability that creates an appetite for resistance. The equation that follows is that but for Israel’s occupation, there would be no need to resist. In fact, instead of deterring escalation, according to US analysis, the resistance in Gaza is becoming stronger. The same report by the Washington Institute stated, “The military capabilities of the Qassam Brigades and other organisations have increased, perhaps making them more confident as well as more dangerous. This may lead to sharper fighting along the buffer zone — and inevitably to more casualties, including IDF — along with increased pressure on the IDF to respond with greater force.” This deterrence failure was further captured in a Congressional Service Report by analyst Jim Zanotti in which it was stated,
Teams of engineers, chemists, and machinists have improved the range and payload of the Qassam series rockets over time, and Israeli military raids have targeted several individuals and facilities associated with rocket research and production operations. Over the years, rockets have expanded in range beyond relatively small Israeli communities near the Gaza border, such as the town of Sderot (population est. 24,000), to the larger coastal cities of Ashqelon (population est. 120,000) and Ashdod (population est. 200,000) and to the Negev city of Beersheva (population est. 185,000). Mid-range Gradstyle rockets (thought to be smuggled into Gaza) that travel farther than Qassam rockets have been fired from Gaza by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (al-Quds series) and the Popular Resistance Committees (Nasir series).
The alleged success of Iron Dome appears to be fraudulent. According to Theodore Postol, missile expert from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Iron Dome is only intercepting 5% or less of Hamas projectiles. Further supporting evidence comes from the comments of Major General Uzi Dayan when he related the story of an Israeli who stated that if Israel cannot stop Hamas, what chance do they have of stopping Iran. Hamas’ challenge was magnified in the last conflict via the penetration of resistance forces into Israeli territory via the sea. Footage appears to have leaked showing Hamas frogmen infiltrating Zikim beach military facility. The troops opened a new era of warfare which exposed a military threat to Israel from the Mediterranean. This new front of operations is now open from the north via Hizbullah after they targeted the Israeli navy’s missile corvette, one of the most sophisticated pieces of Israeli military equipment; the Saar-5 during the 2006 Lebanon war. In February of 2017, the Times of Israel ran a story stating that Hizbullah had acquired sophisticated anti-ship missiles during the Syrian conflict. This weapon in the hands of the Hizbullah as per the Israeli source would be a game changer thus severely constraining Israeli’s dominance. Therefore a pincer-like threat engulfs Israel from both the north and south thus compromising the western borders of the Zionist State and poses a tangible threat to Israel’s access to its gas fields. This was communicated in March of this year by Dr. Efraim Inbar, who is Director of the BESA Center (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies) and professor-emeritus of political science at Bar-Ilan University.
The defeat of Israel in 2006 set the bar for Hamas and an opaque reference to the same was made in the aforementioned report,
The Iran-backed Hizbullah movement in Lebanon provides military training as well as financial and moral support and has acted in some ways as a mentor or role model for Hamas, which has sought to emulate the Lebanese group’s political and media success.
There was a distancing of Hamas from Iran during the Syrian conflict, which weakened the axis of resistance. However, post the elections within Hamas, there has been an embracing of Hamas by both Iran and Hizbullah. It has been reported that in the most recent speech of Sayyid Hasan Nasrullah of Hizbullah he honoured Hamas, which symbolised an important rapprochement. The meeting in 2016 between Iran and Hamas was of particular importance as one of the key meetings was between Hamas and Major General Qasem Soleimani, the Commander of the Quds Forces. This marked a realignment of forces once again directed at the Zionist occupation of Israel. This reignited the fears of Israel and the United States as Israel is indeed an extension of its hegemonic policy in the Muslim East. The threat to the existence of Israel was communicated in the erstwhile congressional report that said,
Israel also fears that Iran, Syria, and possibly other actors in the region might use Hamas’s proximity to Israel either to facilitate a coordinated multi-front military attack or to mobilize regional and international political pressure against Israel through the precipitation of crises and causes célèbres.
Zaakir Ahmed Mayet is Chairman of the Media Review Network of Pretoria, South Africa.