In Gaza, hope is a fantasy

Biden et al may claim, at least publicly, to ask Israel to stop the looming carnage. Netanyahu will not be deterred by their empty ‘warnings’.

People mourn as they receive the bodies of victims of an Israeli attack on February 8, 2024 in Rafah, Gaza
People mourn as they receive the bodies of victims of an Israeli attack on February 8, 2024 in Rafah, Gaza [Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images]

I wanted to be wrong, but it turns out that I was right.

Since early October, I have been sure that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has had one aim all along: to erase Gaza.

Spurred on by a rabid cabinet that believes that Palestinians are worthless “vermin”, Netanyahu has done what I suspect he has always wanted to do: dispense with the incremental destruction of a people and a strip of land and, instead, engineer a genocide in Gaza with ruthless and oh so satisfying efficiency.

By now, this fact should be clear. That is the “victory” Netanyahu has and will continue to pursue until he has achieved it – to turn Gaza into dust and memory permanently.

There will be no “pause in fighting”, no “lasting” ceasefire, no truce, no end to the genocide because Netanyahu has no reason or incentive to stop.

And Netanyahu knows that no one inside or outside Israel is prepared, willing or able to stop him.

Hope has been extinguished.

Every day, Palestinians hope, in vain, that the horrors and outrages will end. Every day, we hope, in vain, for a faint sign that the murderous madness will end, that reason and diplomacy will prevail, that the captives – on both sides – will be reunited with their aching families.

Hope is a fantasy, snuffed out by men and forces who thrive on causing chaos and despair in their “killing rage”.

Netanyahu may be unpopular. Still, what he is doing and how he is going about doing it in defiance of proportionate scale, decency, and international law has the overwhelming support of Israelis who, apparently, would also be content to see Gaza reduced to dust and memory – permanently.

Polls show that most Israelis want Netanyahu to use more force, more “firepower” in Gaza and beyond. Damn decency, international law, and the mushrooming number of casualties day after dreadful day.

The pain and suffering of Palestinians is irrelevant. The right and duty of Israel to defend itself is the only thing that counts.

It’s hardly surprising then that polls show, as well, that despite the rampant hunger, disease, and desperate need, most Israelis want fellow Israelis to continue blocking trucks carrying food, water, and medicine from reaching Gaza until the Hamas-held captives are released.

Palestinians are expendable. Israelis are not.

As for the “future” of Gaza, 93 percent of Israelis reportedly agree with Netanyahu: the two-state “solution” is dead on arrival since all of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River belongs to them. The intent is to have Israeli settlers take the place of Palestinians in Gaza. Another Nakba is already afoot – literally.

I am convinced most of Israel’s confederates abroad – whether they admit it publicly or not – also embrace these egregious beliefs and subscribe, wholeheartedly, to Netanyahu’s modus operandi and definition of “victory”.

So, far from being “damaged” or “weakened”, Netanyahu has been emboldened as a “wartime” prime minister and by an “international community” that has encouraged him to do what he has done in Gaza and the occupied West Bank without remorse or restraint.

Netanyahu will survive as prime minister for as long as Israel goes about doing what it is doing in Gaza and perhaps longer. Ever the calculating Machiavellian, he has rebuffed predictions of his imminent political demise or forced exit by wishful-thinking columnists, “experts”, and former presidential candidates.

Again and again, the “international community” has said it is “concerned” by what their man in Tel Aviv is doing in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. Again and again, these expressions of “concern” have proven to be hollow bits of performative nonsense.

On reliable cue, US President Joe Biden described what Israel is doing in Gaza as being “over the top”.

“I’ve been pushing really hard, really hard, to get humanitarian assistance into Gaza. There are a lot of innocent people who are starving, a lot of innocent people who are in trouble and dying, and it’s gotta stop. Number one,” Biden told reporters earlier this week.

It won’t stop. How can it stop when Biden and his complicit allies in London, Paris, Berlin, and Ottawa keep arming Israel to the brim and refusing – even in the blatant face of Israel’s “over the top” onslaught and the deepening humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza – to demand an immediate ceasefire?

The calamitous course was set when Biden and the other presidents, chancellors, and prime ministers rushed to Tel Aviv in “solidarity” pilgrimages to “stand firmly” by Netanyahu’s side.

It’s too late to apply the stock, talking-point-ephemeral brake since Netanyahu isn’t listening.

He isn’t abiding by the International Court of Justice’s damning ruling which called on the Israeli government to stop what it is doing in Gaza after South African lawyers and diplomats made a persuasive and “plausible” case that Palestinians are victims of genocide and Israel is the perpetrator.

Rafah is in Netanyahu’s crosshairs. The so-called “safe haven” and the more than a million Palestinians who have taken refuge there in tents and makeshift “homes” will endure the inevitable lethal consequences of the major Western powers’ unconditional backing of Israel.

Exhausted and petrified Palestinians, including mothers, wives, and their sons and daughters, will not be spared Israel’s wrath. Their already precarious lives hang on the precipice of Netanyahu’s – for the moment and only for the moment – delayed designs.

Biden et al may claim, at least publicly, to ask Israel to stop the looming carnage. Netanyahu will not be deterred by their empty, delivered-behind-a-lectern “warnings”. He is calling the geopolitical shots, not Biden et al.

While America was preoccupied with a football game on Sunday night, Netanyahu gave Palestinians in Rafah a taste of the terror to come –  firing a shower of shells that killed and dismembered dozens of sleeping children, women and men.

Finally, a cocksure Netanyahu understands the value of patience. Biden looks and sounds like an old man who is poised to become yesterday’s man – gone, inconsequential and forgotten.

The November presidential election approaches just on the horizon. Another doddering old man, Donald Trump, has a better than even chance of returning to the Oval Office.

If that happens, Trump will enshrine Israel’s licence to commit genocide without his predecessor’s meaningless rhetorical “reservations”.

Either way, America has morphed, in effect, into Israel’s proxy. The dynamic has shifted.

Israel will decide what will happen in Gaza today and tomorrow and America will salute in approval and help pay for the pleasure of doing its captain’s bidding – happily, willingly, and enthusiastically.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.