The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas currently has the Middle East on edge. In the aftermath of the October 7th attacks, Israel immediately conducted military action in the Gaza Strip to root out the terrorist organization.
The Israeli invasion is met with growing international pressure as civilian deaths mount in the operation. Hamas is also attempting to use the remaining hostages as leverage for as long as possible to escape comeuppance on October 7th.
As pressure grows for the war to end as quickly as possible, what lies ahead for both Israel and the Palestinian Territories remains uncertain, along with the regional aftermath that will also ensue.
The Israel-Hamas War
The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has uprooted at least 1.5 million Palestinians, with fronts in Southern Gaza after the clearing of Gaza City. The IDF is currently taking casualties in the ground operation, albeit most of the heavy urban and tunnel fighting is still ongoing.
Hamas is currently losing key senior commanders, and without an actual supplementary intervention by Iran or Hezbollah, the terrorist organization will take years to restructure its chain of command. Nevertheless, the humanitarian situation for the two million residents has reached a catastrophe, with numerous countries and NGOs expressing deep concern over the hostilities and potential cases of war crimes that will emerge from the war.
Gaza Reconstruction and Security Administration
The Gaza Strip is effectively destroyed, and it will take years, or even a decade, to rebuild the coast. Gaza City now resembles cities such as Aleppo, Grozny, Raqqa, and Mosul, cities that are still currently under reconstruction after devastating battles.
Israel has hinted it could take charge of security in Gaza, but this would lead to various implications and consequences.
The Israeli Defense Forces will face ongoing resentment from Gazans and numerous sleeper cells of various militant groups. The insurgency could become deadly enough to convince Israeli public support to withdraw early before the reconstruction is finished, allowing Hamas to rise out of the ashes again potentially.
The United States and European Union will lead the campaign if the international community takes charge of reconstruction. However, there could be significant pushback in the financial rebuilding of a land space where neither the American nor any European militaries were involved in direct fighting. As primary elections approach in North America and Europe, any hasty decision by a Western world leader could lead to falling points against their political rivals.
The Status of Refugees
Displaced Palestinians are already a primary ongoing concern in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israel-Hamas War has only exacerbated problems.
Egypt has vehemently refused to allow a forced displacement, and President Sisi ordered the border to be closed, only allowing aid and foreign citizens through the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan also expressed that any forced expulsion towards their country would be tantamount to a “declaration of war.”
The Israeli government and EU have gone on back-and-forth disputes, with some ministers suggesting European member states could allocate refugees. With an ongoing migrant crisis in Europe, new Palestinian refugees would be highly unfavorable in the union and would only exacerbate more measures that would prop up anti-immigration governments.
The longer the war drags, the more pressure will come on both Israel and the United States to immediately find a permanent solution to Palestinian statehood, regardless of whether Hamas is eradicated or not.
Netanyahu’s Political Blowback
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition, which incorporates the most far-right of Israeli politics, will be under fire after the war is over.
The October 7th attacks are considered to be the worst intelligence failure in Israeli history, eclipsing the Yom Kippur War prelude. News articles have detailed that Shin Bet and Mossad had contingencies over potential wide-scale Hamas attacks, but still, the terrorist organization was able to break through the Israeli intelligence apparatus.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu is already enshrined in controversy between the ongoing corruption charges and the judicial overhaul, which many Israelis still still protest. Israeli Defense Minister Gallant expressed concerns earlier this spring that there would be security gaps in the country as many reservists were also taking part in the protests.
Like Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan, Netanyahu and his coalition will face immense pressure to step down for their security failures that led to the October 7th Attacks.
Along with the security failures, Bibi’s foreign policy will also come into question, as close ties with Vladimir Putin and an attempted rapprochement with Tayyip Erdogan have done Israel little favors. Putin’s Russia is currently arming Israel’s arch-enemy, Iran, and Erdogan’s Islamist rhetoric and whitewashing of Hamas has only exacerbated tensions.
Potential Further Covert and Open Military Action Against IRGC Affiliates
Hamas, though a formidable militia, is only part of the Medusa. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is the head of the snake.
Along with Hamas leaders hiding in exile in countries such as Qatar, Turkey, and Lebanon, IRGC commanders who have trained, armed, and financed Palestinian militias are on Mossad’s radar.
Two IRGC officers were confirmed killed in a targeted airstrike on Damascus, on December 2nd, and Bibi has given authority for more covert global operations related to the October 7th attacks. What could come now is another version of the process, ‘Wrath of God,’ but far more open and more significant than the covert assassinations after the Munich Massacre.
If Hamas is also successfully incapacitated, the IDF can free up valuable resources to secure its northern border with Hezbollah. Israeli troops could also prepare aerial assets to strike Houthi targets in Yemen in revenge for their ballistic missile attacks and ship seizures.
Nevertheless, to prepare for a Hamas-less future, Israel must find a way to subdue the terrorist organization in the present. With a radicalized Gazan population that will be ever-more resentful towards Israelis after the conflict, the biggest challenge will be the aftermath of the war.