Israeli Threats: Causes and Potential Scenarios

Sep 04, 2023 09:31 am
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Hassan Abdo

Two variables, Palestinian and Israeli, prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, to threaten to assassinate Hamas leaders, most notably the Deputy of Hamas' Political Office, Saleh Al-Arouri, and the official of the settlement file in the occupied West Bank.

The First Variable: The expansion of the resistance's presence to cover the entire geography of the West Bank. It is no longer confined to its northern regions but has extended to reach the city of Hebron in the far south. It hit the areas of Jericho and Aqaba in the far east and reached as far as Tulkarm in the extreme west.

This geographical expansion, which covers the entirety of the West Bank, including Jerusalem, is accompanied by a significant qualitative development in terms of capabilities and combat skills.

The resistance has achieved significant successes in encountering the widespread invasion carried out by the Israeli occupation army in the city of Jenin and its camp. The Israeli occupation army, with the participation of numerous brigades and special forces, as well as air force support inside Jenin, penetrated through with substantial forces but failed to achieve any of the objectives it set for itself, most notably the elimination of the resistance.

In addition to that, there are successful resistance operations in cities such as Jenin, Hawara, and Hebron, along with preceding operations throughout the West Bank. These operations have shifted the security environment from one that is favorable to settlement expansion, facilitated by security agreements with the Palestinian Authority, to one that is unfavorable to settlement expansion, shaped by the resistance. This is what concerns the fascist Zionist right, which seeks to persist with its five-year plan aimed at Judaizing Jerusalem and annexing the entire West Bank.

The success of the resistance and its widespread presence throughout the West Bank signifies the failure of the right wing in achieving its aspirations. This has prompted Netanyahu and his defense minister to issue threats and assign blame for the resistance in Jerusalem and the West Bank to external entities and specific individuals. The obvious truth, however, is that the occupation and its criminal, racist practices against the Palestinian people and their holy sites, as well as its plans to uproot the Palestinian people from their homeland, are the driving forces behind the escalation.

The second variable: The internal instability in Israel. The Israeli occupation continues to grapple with its internal crisis and has not been able to resolve it. This crisis has been described as historic, casting it a long shadow over various aspects of military, political, economic, and security affairs.

On the military level, Israeli leaders have been discussing the army's lack of readiness and its declining capabilities, as well as internal cohesion issues due to rebellion within military units and service refusal in protest against the judicial coup. This is happening amid increasing security and military risks and challenges both inside and outside occupied Palestine.

According to the American newspaper "The New York Times," the Israeli military's Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, informed Israeli government leaders that the number of reserve soldiers performing their duties has decreased to the point where "the army" is on the verge of reducing the scale of operational activities.

On a political level, Israel's political divide is widening for the first time since its founding, and the right-wing appears determined to change the state's identity, believing that its narrow majority provides a mandate for change. Meanwhile, liberal and secular forces oppose this viewpoint.

In the midst of this legal, constitutional, and judicial conflict, pressure on Netanyahu is increasing, both from within the far-right camp, which wants him to continue and from liberal forces within the military and security apparatus, as well as from American pressures, which want national reconciliation and the abandonment of judicial amendments. In this scenario, Netanyahu may decide to embark on an external military adventure, believing that it will provide an alternative to the internal Israeli conflict.

Here are the possible scenarios for Israeli escalation:

The First Scenario: Israel carries out an assassination operation on Lebanese territory against the leader of Hamas, Saleh al-Arouri, or other leaders of Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Assassination in this manner puts the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance ahead of their self-promised commitments. Strong reactions from Lebanese and Palestinian resistance to Israeli assassinations will pave the way for a regional war between the Israeli occupation on the one hand and multiple fronts from within Palestine and beyond on the other. The Israeli occupation would be the loser in this scenario.

The United States, currently engaged in major conflicts related to its status in the international system, does not want this confrontation and does not want to open a new front in the Middle East. It is expected that the U.S. administration will exert pressure to prevent this scenario and stop the regional deterioration of the situation.

The Second Scenario: Israel conducts a treacherous assassination operation, with the first strike in Gaza targeting senior leaders of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's armed wing, similar to its previous covert assassination operation in May of this year against three leaders of the Al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad movement's armed wing. The Palestinian resistance is expected to respond strongly from Gaza, the West Bank, and southern Lebanon. The aggression may last longer, but it is unlikely to escalate into a regional conflict involving all fronts.

The Third Scenario: Netanyahu backs down from carrying out his assassination threats in exchange for escalating tensions in Jerusalem, politically isolating it from its surroundings, increasing incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, intensifying settlement activities, and increasing assassinations in the West Bank. This scenario is considered the most likely as it satisfies the radical settlers and maintains the cohesion of the right-wing coalition dominating Israeli politics.