Even if Israel emerges from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a limited military victory, it remains the loser of the conflict. Following its intense campaign against Gaza post-Oct. 7, Israel either failed or chose not to seize the greatest historical opportunity since its establishment. Today, it grapples with an ontological security crisis and profound regional and global status anxieties on a scale unseen since 1948.
Alongside Israel, another significant loser is the United States. Washington’s unquestioning support for Israel and its silence in the face of Israel’s unrestrained aggression have deepened and expanded anti-American sentiments in the Middle East and beyond, leading to the collapse of President Joe Biden’s policy aimed at establishing a new Middle East order centered on the Arab-Israeli axis.
Israel’s strategic losses
Post-Oct. 7, Israel faces multiple fronts of defeat and must grapple with these consequences in the years ahead. Among the first strategic repercussions is the erosion of its security doctrine. Militarily, Israel’s security doctrine rests on four pillars. Foremost among these is military deterrence, the primary weapon before defense.
The attacks on Oct. 7, coupled with the Israeli army’s vulnerabilities in sustaining war efforts, led to the collapse of the deterrence myth. Early warning capabilities, grounded in a country’s superior intelligence to predict enemy actions, proved imperfect on Oct. 7, reminiscent of 1973. Israel’s defense capability, intended as the primary force for defense when deterrence fails, faltered in Gaza, highlighting difficulties in fighting as a proficient army. The fourth pillar, a decisive victory, initially aimed at the destruction of Hamas, has shifted under the Benjamin Netanyahu administration from “destroying” to “weakening” Hamas, as achieving the former became evidently unattainable.
The altered dynamics in conventional warfare and the war environment, alongside shifts in actors and the nature of war, raise doubts about the efficacy of Israel’s deterrence and security strategies in the future Middle East, particularly in the context of the increasing disruptive role of Iran in Syria and Lebanon.
Theologic drift of the Netanyahu government
Israel’s losses extend beyond the military realm. When a country’s core interests and fears are more religious than rational or worldly, normal conduct in international relations becomes unattainable.
Daesh serves as an example: driven by religious, not worldly, concerns, disregarding rules. Israel’s non-compliant attacks in Gaza have positioned it as a state operating outside international law, culminating in the “Gaza genocide” post-Oct. 7, staining Israel’s international reputation.
The religious references by the Netanyahu government and supporters reveal deeper issues, proving Israel’s supposedly secular political regime as empty rhetoric, painting it as a messianic nation operationalizing war through religious narratives. Consequently, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has entrenched Israel as a radical nation, unwilling to abide by international law.
Another loss is Israel’s transition into a radical state sanctifying its actions and disregarding rules, leading to societal disintegration. The Oct. 7 events profoundly shook Israel’s sense of security, both as a state and a society. Framing the attacks in terms of the “Holocaust” intensified insecurities and social concerns. Israel is gradually veering away from democratic practices, embracing authoritarianism under extremism. The constant drive for superiority in politics renders political and societal normalization impossible, reinforcing exclusionary discourses and reconstructing the public sphere around nationalist Jewish and religious identity axes. This trajectory further entrenches Israel into a hardline stance on the Palestinian issue, rendering the two-state solution unattainable.
Key setback beyond all
In addition to military, political and societal losses, Israel’s most critical setback is its regional geopolitical position. The pre-Oct. 7 regional normalization presented an opportunity for Israel to break historical isolation. However, its zero-sum perception of the Palestinian issue and hostile stance towards regional players resulted in isolation. Numerous strategic opportunities, including Arab-Israeli normalization, regional economic endeavors and energy partnerships, dissolved due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rebuilding this opportunity space won’t be straightforward, potentially leading Israel to harden its stance in Syria and Lebanon or force it into a compromise in regional equations.
In summary, Israel’s disproportionate actions in Gaza have led to the erosion of its politics, society and already tattered regional and global image. Israel finds itself more isolated and insecure in the Middle East compared to the past. Consequently, Gaza is more costly than before Oct. 7.
In this article
- 24 November 2023 | Gaza Ceasefire
- 24 November 2023 | Israeli-Palestinian Prisoner Exchange
- 7 October 2023 Israel's Attack on Gaza with Disproportionate Force
- Benjamin Netanyahu
- Cease-fire | Ceasefire
- Israel-Palestine Conflict
- Israeli Prime Minister
- Israeli War Crimes
- Israeli–Palestinian Conflict
- Middle East
- The Palestine File
- War Crime