Watch: Is Israel winning the war in Gaza?

Is this way of fighting helping Israel meet its objectives? Has Israel defeated Hamas?

Updated - May 30, 2024 07:44 pm IST

Published - May 30, 2024 06:54 pm IST

The International Court of Justice, on May 24, ruled that Israel must immediately stop its military offensive in Rafah, the southernmost city of Gaza, where over 1.4 million Palestinians, most of them displaced people, were camping. Two days later, Israel carried out devastating air strikes on Rafah, targeting tent camps of the displaced in areas that were designated as humanitarian corridors, killing at least 45 Palestinians, half of them children, women and older people, creating a global. Outrage.

Hello everyone, this is Stanly Johny, The Hindu’s International Affairs Editor

The Gaza war is in its eighth month. In January, while hearing a genocide case against Israel that was filed by South Africa, the ICJ, the United Nation’s top court, had asked Tel Aviv to take necessary measures to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza. It was a momentous ruling, as The Hindu’s Editorial noted on January 29. But the ruling did not have any effect on the way the Jewish state is conducting the war.

On March 25, the UN Security Council demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. But Israel not just continued the war defying the UNSC resolution, but expanded it in May by invading Rafah, displacing the displaced again. 

The ICJ, which refused to order a ceasefire in January, came to the conclusion this month that the Rafah offensive could lead to a complete or partial destruction of the Palestinian population in the city. The court also asked Israel to keep the Rafah crossing with Egypt open for aid delivery and allow UN investigators to gather evidence about alleged war crimes, besides demanding an immediate release of all hostages.

The ICJ ruling came days after the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, claimed that Israeli and Hamas leaders had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, He has sought arrest warrants against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh.

None of these developments seem have to deterred Israel. If so, the May 26 Rafah massacre would not have taken place. The ICJ rulings are legally binding, but the world court lacks the mechanisms to implement them. In the 24 hours since the ICJ issued its ruling, Israeli air strikes killed at least 190 civilians across the Gaza Strip, pushing the overall toll since the war began to 36,000. Roughly 80,000 Palestinians have been wounded. Almost all of Gaza’s population has been displaced. The enclave doesn’t enough food, medicines, shelter or medical facilities. And the hungry, sick, displaced and wounded Palestinians, who live in tent camps and UN shelters, continue to be bombed by the Israeli Defence Forces.

Is this way of fighting helping Israel meet its objectives? 

More than seven months after the war began, which was triggered by Hamas’s October 7 cross border attack on Israel in which at least 1,200 people were killed, Tel Aviv seems to be fighting in the dark. When it launched the war, Mr. Netanyahu said he would crush Hamas and release hostages. True, Israel possesses enormous fire power to inflict damage on Gaza and kill Palestinians sleeping inside their tent camps.

But has Israel defeated Hamas? 

Today, Israel is fighting Hamas even in northern and central parts of Gaza where it had earlier declared victory. That Hamas launched rockets into Tel Aviv over the weekend even after seven months of fighting in a besieged enclave raises serious questions about the way the war is being fought. At least 120 hostages, most of them feared dead, are still in Hamas’s captivity.

The war is marked not just by the incompetence of the Israeli Defence Forces but also its cruelty. Its disproportionate use of force on Gaza has turned the strip into a graveyard, as the UN termed it. The world cannot ignore the Palestine question any more and move on, having witnessed this calamity in Gaza and West Bank. Last week’s decision by Norway, Ireland and Spain to recognise the state of Palestine shows how the line of thinking is changing even in the West.

The May 26 Rafah massacre has triggered sharp responses from world leaders, even from Israel’s allies. French President Emmanuel Macron was “outraged” by the attack. Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the “barbaric” attack and vowed to hold Israel accountable. The U.S., Israel’s strongest ally, did not condemn the attack, but asked Israel to do everything to protect civilian lives.    

Mr. Netanyahu appears to be irrationally adamant today. His only focus is on a war that has done little to bolster Israel’s security. Israel has not met its military objectives; its deterrence has been broken twice — first by Hamas and then by Iran ; peace with Arabs stands shattered (Saudi Arabia today says “it is absolutely necessary that Israel accepts that it cannot exist without the existence of a Palestinian State”; it stands isolated in the world, there could be an arrest warrant against Ms netanyahu and Gollant in the coming days; and there IS a ruling by the ICJ against the way it is conducting the war.

As The Hindu noted in an editorial on May 27, by seeking to punish the entire Palestinian population in Gaza for what Hamas did on October 7, Mr. Netanyahu is rendering Israel’s global standing weaker.

Presentation & Script: Stanly Johny

Production : Gayatri Menon

Video: Thamodharan B

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