By Sa’dollah Zarei
Sa’dollah Zarei is a professor of political science at Allameh Tabatabaei University and an expert on international issues.
The Palestinians’ victory in the recent war was predictable because the Zionist regime had not won any wars in the last 16 years, neither in Lebanon nor in the Gaza Strip.
On the other hand, the regime’s hands were totally revealed to the Palestinian resistance. Israel could only invade Gaza City and inflict casualties at a level that was itself a point of weakness as it deprived those supporting the attacks of defending the regime’s criminal acts. Five points should be mentioned about this war:
1) The Zionist regime basically did not expect to be targeted by the Palestinian side without attacking them in Gaza, and therefore it considered the war an Israeli call. In fact, in the past two years, the regime failed to realize the gradual readiness of the Palestinians to attack it. As a result, Zionist circles and even those within the army, began to hit out at the Israeli military intelligence service immediately after the war began on Monday, May 10, with the firing of missiles from Gaza towards “mercenary settlements.” Actually, this unpredictability is Israel’s first defeat in this war.
2) The second point was the absolute passivity of the Zionist regime in this war. When rockets were fired from Gaza at Jewish settlements in Jerusalem al-Quds, the regime immediately resolved the three causes of the outbreak of the war to satisfy the resistance movement. Namely, it suspended the Supreme Court ruling against the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, withdrew troops from the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and vowed to prevent Jewish settlers from harming the Muslim residents of al-Quds. The regime hoped that with this hasty measure, the situation in al-Quds and the West Bank would calm down and the crisis would subside, but it did not as the residents of al-Quds and the West Bank clashed with the regime’s military forces in various parts, all a testament to the outbreak of a widespread intifada.
After a six-hour delay, the regime launched strikes on Gaza, but at the same time tried in the early hours to act in a way not to cause civilian casualties, because by experience, it had realized that the less the number of martyrs, especially among women and children, the easier it would be for it to manage the war. But the war had begun, and the statements by the commander-in-chief of the army signaled the regime had decided to achieve a quick victory. The army commander even talked about the need for a ground attack on Gaza. This is while the Israeli regime had in fact reached a consensus on neither expanding the scope of the war nor initiating a ground invasion.
Meanwhile, the commander of the Israeli army announced that hitting 250 positions in Gaza was on the agenda. He thought that in the course of a few hours, the attacks could both remove the resistance brigades from the scene and end the war. However, it was clear that such a position and military action were not based on accurate information and decision-making, because when the resistance brigades naturally entered the operation, they had already thought about moving their equipment and forces. Here, Israel found itself caught in the same situation it faced during the 33-day war with Hezbollah; there, too, Hezbollah had relocated its equipment and forces before the start of the war, so the bombings could not damage its ability.
Two hours after the start of the war, Israel hit 250 positions, but the intensity of the Palestinian missile strikes targeting various areas was not reduced. Thus, from the very first day, Israel contacted the Egyptian and Qatari authorities for a ceasefire. Here, too, the army entered into negotiations with the Egyptians based on the past miscalculations, but the Palestinian side had raised the ceiling of its demands and was trying to get concessions from the regime. The Israelis entered Cairo with a request for a ceasefire and left the city empty-handed in the face of new demands by the Palestinian side.
3) The war took place at the “right time” and this shows the smartness of the Palestinian side that came as a surprise to the Israeli side. The Zionist regime faced the war at a time, when differences among its parties and agencies had escalated due to its failure to form a new cabinet despite holding the fourth parliamentary elections in two years. The war could not unite them around a single position because it was the time to elect a cabinet. Despite the fact that the war was initiated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Israeli attacks were directed at Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the army, rather than the Palestinian resistance movements.
Another point is that this war started when the Arab sides supporting the Zionist regime were in a weak position and the normalization process had reached a deadlock. War this time outshined the option of the failed normalization process. Hence, the choice of the “proper time” in the war deepened the crisis within Israel and prevented the Arab normalization parties from playing a role in the Palestinian issue. By all indications, the Israeli regime and its army commanders did not expect at all that they would face a war, and that at this time, initiated by the Palestinians.
4) This war for the Palestinian side was an occasion for a “show of force”. The submission of the Israeli regime to the conditions of the Palestinian resistance was due to the effectiveness of the Palestinian side’s show of force strategy. Until now, any war was the show of force by the Zionist regime, and hence, the maximum demand of the Palestinian side was to establish a “ceasefire”. But here the balance was reversed.
The Palestinian side launched the war, using a variety of weapons with different ranges and warheads. It attacked the entire geography of the regime for 12 consecutive days, sending about 5 million Jews to shelters with a capacity of only two million people. The Palestinian resistance was able to redraw the balance of the fire. This is while the attacks of the Israeli army targeted only Gaza City, not the entire Strip. The Palestinian side acted cohesively in this war, both in terms of the unity of the resistance brigades – affiliated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah – and in terms of the decisive support of the Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank, al-Quds, the occupied 1948 territories and those residing in camps. The Israeli side was completely divided, with anti-Netanyahu demonstrations and clashes between Muslims and Jews in the 1984 territories raging on during the war.
5) An important point is that the Zionist regime is waiting for the next war from today on. It has accepted the fact that the Palestinians can also initiate and manage a war and bring it to a conclusion. This issue deprives the Israeli army of security. Earlier, the leaders of the Zionist army introduced Iran and Hezbollah as their first and second threats, something which is true, but this war showed that the main threat is much closer than they imagined. This threat lies within the Palestinian borders from its owners. Of course, this does not mean to write off the regime’s concerns about Iran and Hezbollah, it means that Palestine itself has become the first threat to Israel, and this is a new phenomenon.
It should be noted that for Iran and Hezbollah to take any action against the regime, there is need for an acceptable excuse. However, the Palestinian side has hundreds of reasons to start a war right now, so the war could happen at any moment, something which strongly renders the regime’s policy-making shaky. A regime that is waiting for the start of a war at any moment and rocket fire on its cities from north to south, how can it plan for its future and hope for its implementation? So to sum up, we can say that the Zionist regime no longer has stability, has no peace of mind, has no future, and collapse is the most common word in its lexicon from now on.