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5th in the series, Israel and Hamas updates.
There will be no cease fire, without justice and the end of Hamas
Happy weekend to all. Today’s TAT, rare for a Saturday, is largely a weekend update on the developments around the war in Israel with Hamas. As addressed in the preceding reports, this war, is as complicated strategically as it is brutal for everyone. The barbaric Hamas attack two weeks ago today against mostly against innocent civilians and the unspeakable acts they committed in the process, has set off a firestorm of immense proportions and of enormous strategic importance.
As you can see in the graphic below and that I published with the initial report, there is plenty of blame to go around. Every action taken or ignored by the six entities in the numbered boxes, send ripple effects around the world. First, let us get one thing straight, this is not a religious war and no matter how hard much media wants to draw some bizarre equivalency between Israel’s response and the Hamas massacre, just stop, you are making things worse.
We need to be frank with news consumers, and with all the facts, expressed in context. If not, we will just see more of the already disastrous flood of conspiracy theories and propaganda about the conflict. A good example would be how that media, good and bad just accepted the word of a Hamas mouthpiece that it was Israel’s fault, when in fact it was quite the opposite. This drove world opinion in a counterproductive direction for a couple of critical days.
Narratives about the war, some carried over from similar past conflicts, since Israel’s founding, are still dominating media narratives. This also is dangerous. Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia, and China, all are deeply involved in Narrative Warfare, influence operations around the Gaza crisis and Ukraine, which is indirectly tied to the Hamas attack. We must remember that narratives are not about information, but about the meaning of information. Once established are extremely difficult to alter. When people fully believe a narrative, it becomes real to them. No fact-checking will change that.
When news media reports a story and do not have or do not tell the truth, people will form their own meaning for a story, based on their identity. Propagandists try to be the first news story out, so that they can create their own meaning for what is reported. This is exactly what happened in the hospital bombing case. This dynamic is dangerous when there is such a volatile, emotional conflict, ongoing, because if false narratives take hold first, it most often drives further conflict, even in other parts of the world. The case of campus protests and regional protests have seen an uptick in negative responses, often violent and always threatening. Media must remember this when reporting. There is such a thing as journalism standards.
All casualties are catastrophic for innocents, and in all conflicts. In this case, Israel does all possible to avoid civilian casualties, while that Hamas sacrifices their fellow Palestinians, by using them as human shields and propaganda points. Before this war is over, far more civilian and combatants, will die. Only one side though, will do their utmost to avoid the civilian casualties, and it is not Hamas.
There is no way that this conflict will not get much worse. To this end, those fleeing the combat zone or unable to leave it, require large scale humanitarian support. So far, the Arab world is dragging their feet, while that outside governments, including the US have already stepped up. Now that Egypt is allowing aid in, through the Rafah Gate on the southern border of Gaza, shared with Egypt, relief is in sight. Egypt also may be allowing aid in, but that gate is closed for anyone wishing to leave. The Palestinians are just stuck.
The hostages still held by Hamas, are a major stumbling block for the IDF’s plans to invade. More than a couple of nations are involved in hostage negotiations, and this will delay or limit the ground assault. There are several reasons that Hamas allowed two American hostages go free today. Not the least of which, is for PR purposes.
Speaking of PR, this entire conflict will be just as violent in the competition between influence campaigns. There are many players here too. Influence, of which propaganda is a part, is critically important in this fight and from big strategic communications or at local levels in small towns from Kansas to Israel.
China, Russia, Iran and both Hamas and Hezbollah, are skilled operators in influence ops. Every minute of every day all these co-collaborators, try to turn public opinion against Israel. This enables and empowers Hamas. Russia, China, and Iran do this because it is to their advantage strategically. Sadly, we have little to offer in this realm and only because this critical vulnerability in our national defense, has been failing, without improvement for at least four decades. This is for another time. Israel on the other hand, is quite skilled in influence, especially when it comes to fights like this one. Their prioritization of effective influence operations is because unlike the US, they know that it is indispensable to their success.
Will Hezbollah jump into the fray? This is the operative question and a potential game-changer, either way. Hezbollah joining the fray along the northern border, while Hamas fights in the south, will create a two-front war for Israel. There are several aspects to the answer of Hezbollah giving it a go.
First of all, Russia owns Syria and Assad along with it. Hezbollah has fought alongside of Syrian troops and Russian troops, for Assad’s generation long civil war. Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, and Russia are as thick as thieves and that could be formidable if all of them were willing to fight. This is where things break down for the bad guys. Iran never does her own fighting. They prefer to use their best troops to brutally oppress Iranians and to destabilize good guys, all over the world. They are also an FTO or a Foreign Terrorist Organization, responsible for heinous, mass-murder events of civilians, as far away as Buenas Aires.
Hezbollah in Lebanon has found a home for their extremism there. In fact, they have moved in, settled down and over the pas
t few decades, pretty much own much of Lebanon and importantly, the part adjacent to Israel. Iran may continue to support Assad, Hezbollah, and Putin, but they are not in a position, to go to war themselves. Against any western technology and platforms, they lose, nor can they afford it.
Putin desperately needs this major diversion from his genocidal war against neighboring Ukraine. He’s Syria’s biggest supporter and Iran is his attack dog, but… he cannot afford for Iran to use up their arsenal of anything, because he needs it and he needs Iran to be healthy and remain potent. He cannot pay for Hezbollah’s efforts, nor can he resupply them. He needs every man, bullet and bean these days. Without enough support from Putin and Iran, it is not likely that Hezbollah does anything stupid.
Hezbollah will though, remain more of a thorn in the side in the north than a serious wound. Their response will also include a great deal of chest thumping and making lots of noise. This does not mean no fighting, but I do not foresee a full-scale fight in the north. Hezbollah will also play hard in influence operations. Israel can handle that, but they also need influence support at the strategic level from the major players. Again, our failure to be effective in influence, makes it much harder to defend Israel in the court of public opinion.
We must steel ourselves for what the ground invasion will be. Unless Israel has created some remarkable tactics and technology that will help with the underground tunnel system, crisscrossing Gaza, fighting above and below ground with the estimated 50,000 fighters, will be a bloody and savage affair. The loss of life will be high on both sides. Tragically, the Hamas will still ensure that civilians come between themselves, and the IDF.
Finally, Israel has no choice but to take this action. Hamas’ threat cannot be tolerated after their barbarity and scale of attack. Their capacity to inflict harm must be reduced to rubble. As many of their fighters, must be eliminated as possible. Putin, Iran, and Hezbollah must also learn that the world has had enough of their sub-human thuggery. Eliminating Hamas will also be a significant step forward for US and regional security. Right now, between Hezbollah, Syria, Hamas and Iran, Israel is nearly surrounded by enemies, who over the years have made major advances in their capability to do serious damage to Israel. This must change.
At the regional level, depriving Tehran of their southern attack dog, Hamas, lessens the bite, although Iran will always participate in bellicose BS, as a strategic communication’s strategy.
At the strategic level, Putin may get a temporary diversion, but I can see no real, enduring advantage. Although for Xi’s purpose, Putin will still be there to enable his world domination plan but this whole situation may work to his long-term detriment. Previously, China and Israel have had cozy relations. Time will tell if Israel holds a grudge.
Well, my friends, it is late, and my head is spinning from all the facts, thoughts, analysis etc. running through it. I hope this has been helpful to bring a bit of clarity to the murkiness of who is on who’s side in this mess. I will finish with this though, we can do all possible for the innocent Palestinians stuck in the middle of this self-inflicted wound by Hamas, while concurrently treating Hamas like a pack of rats, needing to be done away with. They are not mutually exclusive.
Enjoy the weekend and we’ll meet again next Monday.