Netanyahu is making Israel radioactive

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Reuters/Ronen Zvulun/file photo

Israel is in grave danger today. like with enemies Hamas, Hezbollah, Houthis and IranIsrael should enjoy the sympathy of most countries of the world. but do not. the way the prime minister is benjamin netanyahu And its extremist coalition is waging a war in the Gaza Strip and occupying the West Bank, Israel is becoming radioactive, and Diaspora Jewish communities everywhere are becoming increasingly unsafe.

I’m afraid it’s going to get worse.

After the Hamas attack on October 7 that killed nearly 1,200 Israelis in a single day, no impartial person could deny Israel the right to self-defense. Women faced sexual exploitation; Children were murdered in front of their parents and parents in front of their children. Dozens of kidnapped Israeli men, women, children and elderly people have been held in horrific conditions for more than 150 days.

But no impartial person can look at the Israeli campaign to destroy Hamas, which has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza, and not conclude that something has gone terribly wrong there. The dead included thousands of children and many orphans among the survivors. Much of Gaza is now a wasteland of death and destruction, hunger and ruined homes. Urban warfare brings out the worst in people, and that is certainly true for Israel in Gaza. This is a stain on the Jewish state.

But Israel is not alone in causing this tragedy. The stain on Hamas is also black.

This Islamic militia began the conflict on October 7 without any warning, protection or shelter for Palestinian civilians, and knowing well from experience that Israel would respond by bombing Hamas strongholds dug beneath homes, mosques and hospitals. . Hamas showed complete disregard not only for Israeli lives, but also for Palestinian lives. But Hamas has already been declared a terrorist organization. It is not an affiliate of usa and never claimed to practice “purity of weapons”.

All that said, Israel’s standing in the world may soon take another major hit because of something that has made me wary of its invasion from the beginning: Netanyahu has sent Israel Defense Forces into Gaza without any coherent plan for governing it after the elimination of Hamas or a permanent ceasefire.

In my opinion, there is only one thing worse for Israel, let alone the Palestinians, than a Gaza controlled by Hamas: a Gaza where no one is in charge, a Gaza where the world expects Israel to provide order. Would hope, but Israel can’t do this or this. no, then it happens An enduring and massive humanitarian crisis.

My recent visit to the Gaza border suggested to me that this is where we are headed. On March 2, I accompanied General Michael Kurila, commander of US CENTCOM, on a visit to the Erez border point between Israel and Gaza. Kurilla was in charge of the American humanitarian food airdrop that was about to take place.

Smoke is seen rising from an explosion in Gaza amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas. Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rollins

With the sound of drones flying overhead and artillery thundering in the distance, a local Israeli commander reported that most Israeli forces in northern Gaza, including its largest urban area, Gaza City, had withdrawn to Israeli border areas or along the highway. They went. , Which divides Gaza from north to south. Another senior Israeli official said, from now on, Israeli troops and special forces will only go in and out of northern Gaza to attack specific Hamas threats, but basically no civilians left behind in day-to-day governance. Was not providing, except for a few hundred Hamas fighters and local gang leaders.

I immediately understood how the chaotic scene had arisen during the food distribution two days earlier. Israel is wresting control from Hamas but refusing to accept responsibility for civilian administration in Gaza with its military and refusing to recruit Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which has thousands of employees in Gaza to accomplish that task. He is behaving this way because Netanyahu does not want the Palestinian Authority to become the Palestinian government in the West Bank and Gaza, which could give him a credible chance of one day becoming an independent Palestinian state there.

In other words, Israel has a Prime Minister who would clearly prefer Gaza to become Somalia ruled by warlords, and risk Israel’s military advantage by eliminating Hamas, rather than partnering with the Palestinian Authority or any legitimate Palestinian government. Will put in. and broad-based non-Hamas. body, because his own far-right allies in the cabinet, who dream of Israel controlling all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including Gaza, would oust him from power if he did so.

Obviously, the government of Netanyahu hopes to recruit local Palestinian clan leaders to go after Hamas in Gaza, but I seriously doubt this will work. Israel tried and failed that strategy in the West Bank in the 1980s, as these locals were often stigmatized as collaborators and never found a place in the government.

I admit that while I was thinking all this from the border, I had two flashbacks that were like daytime nightmares.

The first was to remember how the United States invaded Iraq with the aim of creating a new democratic system to replace tyranny. Saddam HusseinWhich I supported. But when it came to implementation, the Bush administration bankrupted the Iraqi military and the ruling Ba’ath Party without a coherent plan to create a better alternative regime. This turned many anti-Saddam Iraqis against the United States and created the conditions for an anti-American insurgency.

I summarized all this in a column published on April 9, 2003. It had been 20 days since the US invasion of Iraq and I had entered the country with a Kuwaiti Red Cross team that was delivering medical supplies to a hospital in the country’s main port. , , Umm Qasr.

There were three things I noticed almost immediately: how few American or Allied troops there were to maintain order, how much chaos this was creating, and how irritable the people were.

I wrote it this way: “It’s hard to smile when there’s no water. It’s hard to clap when you’re scared. It’s hard to say, “Thank you for setting me free,” when freedom means looters ransacked everything from grain stores to the local school, where they even took the blackboard. …It would be foolish to even ask Iraqis here how they feel about politics. They are in a primitive and pre-political state of nature. For now, Saddam has been replaced by Hobbs, not Bush.”

I wrote that I went with a Kuwaiti relief team, “who, taking pity on the Iraqis, threw extra food out the window of the bus as we were leaving. Residents of Umm Qasr rushed to look for that food… There was a jostling for breadcrumbs. It was a scene of humiliation, not liberation. We have to do better.”

I concluded: “The United States destroyed Iraq; The United States now owns Iraq and has primary responsibility for its normalization. If water doesn’t flow, if food doesn’t come, if it doesn’t rain and if the sun doesn’t shine, it’s now America’s fault. “We better get used to it, we better get it right, we better get it done sooner and we better get all the help we can.”

Flashback No. 2: It’s May 22, 2018, and I’m writing a column near the Gaza border with Israel titled “Hamas, Netanyahu and Mother Nature”, Based on data from Israeli and Palestinian environmentalists, I wrote how (due to Hamas’ mismanagement of Gaza’s economy and the diversion of construction materials to dig tunnels to enter Israel) Gaza was suffering from a critical infrastructure deficit ., especially from waste water treatment plants. Thus, Palestinians discharge approximately 100 million liters of untreated sewage into the Mediterranean Sea every day.

Why should Israelis care? After all, Gaza is “over there” behind a fence. Meet Mother Nature. Due to the prevailing current in the Mediterranean Sea, much of Gaza’s untreated sewage flows into the Mediterranean Sea and flows north towards the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon, home to Israel’s second largest desalination plant. About 80% of Israel’s drinking water comes from desalination and 15% of its drinking water comes from the Ashkelon plant alone.

As a result of debris floating off Gaza, the Ashkelon desalination plant had to be shut down several times to clear dirt from its filters.

Israelis and Palestinians depend on each other. Lost there, felt here. The only question is whether they will ever be able to build healthy interdependence or whether they will be doomed to unhealthy interdependence. But they will be interdependent. Every community needs a leader whose actions are inspired by that fundamental truth. Right now, neither of us have one.

© The New York Times 2024

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