Roar Staff Writer Charley Dennis argues that the inadequacy of Israel’s response to the events of Al-Aqsa Flood can be pinned on one man, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Following the atrocities of Al-Aqsa Flood, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has, once again, turned into open warfare. The terror witnessed in Southern Israel on October 6th has spurred Israel into a full-scale military response–firstly, a widespread missile bombardment, now accompanied by a ground assault into the Gaza Strip. Over 10,000 Palestinian civilians have reportedly been killed in the IDF’s military response, igniting debate within the international community. The conflict’s escalation has presented a daunting challenge for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, one which he has proven unequal to, with drastic consequences.
Netanyahu has launched a military campaign which now appears to be aimed at surrounding Gaza City and completely exterminating Hamas command. The hunt for these individuals is an understandable goal. However, the lengths to which the IDF has gone in accomplishing this end must be questioned. Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip has caused a severe humanitarian crisis for the Palestinian people, dramatically exasperated by the nature of these strikes. The UN has reported 120 Israeli attacks on health care facilities and the destruction of least 45% of housing units in Gaza. It is clear that Israel’s indiscriminate bombing is having horrific consequences for innocents affected by this campaign.
Beyond the damage to infrastructure, the carpet bombing of the Gaza strip has led to atrocious causalities among children; it has been termed a ‘graveyard for children’ as some reports claim over 4,000 Palestinian children have been slaughtered since the beginning of the IDF’s response. If confirmed, these numbers suggest the perpetration of war crimes, which warrant investigation.
Netanyahu has justified this campaign through the continuing hostage situation – with 242 hostages still being held prisoner by Hamas. Israel has every right to protect the safety of its citizens; to this end, the carpet-bombing of Gaza makes little sense, not just ethically, but also strategically. With Hamas militants claiming that hostages are being kept in Gaza’s tunnel systems, IDF missiles now pose a potential threat to Israeli hostages. Their families are calling for Netanyahu to initiate genuine negotiations for the release of hostages and upgrade the type of concessions on offer in a prospective agreement.
Given the Israeli refusal of a ceasefire without the release of hostages, and Hamas’ refusal to release these same hostages without an ex-ante pause in fighting, there is no end in sight to the fighting. While Israel has announced the elimination of dozens of Hamas commanders and has destroyed an estimated 130 tunnels, the long-term viability of an sustained operation in Gaza remains in question.
Netanyahu’s inability to offer any other solution that an indiscriminate bombing campaign and ground assault is testament to his inability to properly ensure a resolution to the conflict and provide for Israel’s safety. Prolonging the conflict promises nothing other than the extermination of the remaining hostages, the radicalisation of a whole new generation of Palestinian children and the destabilisation of the Middle East at large.
The long-time prime minister’s rash and incendiary actions have undermined stability in the broader region. Militant groups throughout the region have renewed purpose, with Hezbollah militants already firing missiles into Northern Israel. To deter the threat posed by Iranian-backed proxies, two American aircraft carriers have been parked in Israeli waters. Normalisation talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel, which promised a greater degree of regional pacification, have been put on hold, perhaps indefinitely in light of the brutality of the Israeli offensive in Gaza. The destabilisation of the region will contribute nothing but increased risk to the Israeli people – but it seems Netanyahu has come to view him and his country as indomitable.
However, with his political reputation creaking under the weight of hypocrisy and failure, Netanyahu’s time may be up; there have been widespread protests – both globally and within Israel – calling for a change in strategy for the sake of both Palestinian civilians and Israeli hostages. Although Netanyahu’s aggressive reaction to the events of October 7th may resonate with the leaders of a few Western powers, it has yielded very little at the expense of substantial civilian casualties. The longer it takes for his backers at home and abroad to realize that he is a liability, the more lasting the damage will be. Ultimately, one thing is clear. Netanyahu has led Israel headfirst into the carnage, chaos, and hatred of war. He must be held to account before it is too late.