Gaza: Israel alone?

Phumlani Majozi writes on the apparent softening of Western support for the war against Hamas

I last visited Israel on November 2018, with a group of South African journalists who had been invited for a study of Israel and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Visiting Israel, I was moved by its remarkable history, and its perseverance in a region that is hostile to its existence.

To this day, I keep telling people that the visits to Calvary, Western Wall, and Yad Vashem, were the most memorable experiences for me when I was in Israel.

I’m a Christian brought up by Christian parents in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. I wrote this column with my Holy Bible next to me on my study desk in Johannesburg. Having said that, I must stress that I do not let my Christian faith influence my views on the politics of the Middle East, especially with regards to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

In fact, I’m neutral on the Israel-Palestine conflict. I do not support Hamas terrorists; I support the ordinary people of Palestine.

As Israel fights Hamas, with the objective to decimate it, there are millions of people around the world who refuse to commend Israel’s courage and its unwaning fortitude in the war. Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, Hezbollah terrorists, and the Houthis terrorists, all backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Last month, London's The Economist magazine published a cover story titled “Israel alone”. In that story, The Economist argued that Israel is pursuing an ill-thought strategy in Gaza; that the US should help Israel find a better strategy.

The Economist writes, the US “should dispense more humanitarian aid unilaterally and decline to supply weapons for an invasion of Rafah, given the lack of civilian provision. It should broaden sanctions against settlers and right-wing fanatics to show Israeli voters that America underwrites their security but not extremism or permanent occupation. And it should continue to signal that it is keen to recognise Palestine as part of a two-state peace negotiation.”

The US can be keen to recognise Palestine as part of a two-state solution, I have no issues with that. But the notion that the US should decline to supply weapons to Israel to fight terrorists is ridiculous. Israel’s fight against terrorists is in the interest of the US and the whole world.

My view is that Israel isn’t alone as The Economist argues in its story. Arab nations tacitly support Israel’s fight against Hamas. They want Hamas that’s backed by Iran decimated. So the regional politics of the Middle East are at play as well in the Gaza war.

The US’s decision to abstain at the last UN Security Council ceasefire resolution vote last month was a PR stunt. The US can’t stop supporting Israel in its fight against terrorists in the Middle East. Hence, two weeks ago, Biden’s administration quietly authorised a transfer of weapons to Israel.

Biden and Netanyahu are now at loggerheads over Gaza war though. The White House objects to Israel’s plans to invade Rafah – where it’s reported there are still thousands of Hamas soldiers stationed.

We must be realistic: if Israel does not go into Rafah, then its mission to totally decimate Hamas’ infrastructure would have been a failure, and they would have sacrificed their citizens still held captive by Hamas.

Hamas knew very well that there would be a retaliation from Israel after October 7 attacks, but they didn't care. They did not care about Palestinian civilians who would die when Israel retaliated. Hamas doesn’t care about Palestinian civilians.

As famed author Douglas Murray said recently, when he was in South Africa, whenever a war is started, there are always repercussions. What we are witnessing are the repercussions of a war that was started by Hamas on October 7. Hamas must be held responsible for the death of civilians on October 7 and civilians currently dying in Gaza.

Will Netanyahu last?

Big question. Netanyahu’s coalition government faces enormous pressures and there is a real risk that it could collapse sometime this year, according to some in the media, including Professor Niall Ferguson who recently said,  “I'm more sympathetic to BB Netanyahu than you Bret; but I think it's going to be extremely hard to keep this coalition in one piece in the course of this year.”

Netanyahu objects to the two-state solution, saying “Israel will continue to oppose unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.”

What is also important to highlight, is that according to the Gallup poll after October 7, 65% of Israelis oppose the two-state solution. The support for the two-state solution was already declining before October 7. So, the opposition to the two-state solution is not only Netanyahu’s thing in Israel at this point. Netanyahu and his people are aligned.

On the Palestinian side, the hatred for Israel is real. According to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), 93% of Palestinians “believe that Hamas did not commit atrocities during its mass invasion of southern Israel on Oct. 7, and 72% support the attack,”. Saddening.

The criticism directed at Netanyahu has been with regards to his administration's failure to foresee and prevent the October 7 attacks. Fair criticism? Yes. Netanyahu’s intelligence agencies failed the people of Israel.

If Trump was US President and South Africa

I do not believe the South African government would have accused Israel of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) were the White House occupied by Donald Trump. Trump's support for Israel is much stronger than Biden's. Trump's work in normalising relations between Israel and the Arab world produced the Abraham Accords.

Trump was determined to ensure that Israel is accepted in the Middle East. He was courageous enough to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and that decision became controversial worldwide. So, Trump would have reacted to the ICJ case swiftly, directly, with negative consequences for South Africa.

One thing to remember as well, is that Trump is unpredictable. Because of his unpredictability, South Africans would have never taken a chance with respect to the genocide accusations at the ICJ.

Whatever the outcome is in US’s election later this year, one thing is clear, South Africa has peeved US lawmakers across both parties Democrats and Republicans, as it supports Hamas and Iran. There is now a proposal in the US legislature to review US-South Africa relations. Regardless of who occupies the White House the review process will advance. That will not be good for South Africa.

In conclusion

If Israel does succumb to international pressures and does not enter Rafah, Hamas would have won this round. With the passing of the UN ceasefire resolution, Hamas celebrated. The UN ceasefire resolution places no obligation on Hamas. However, with the October 7 attacks, Hamas lost the battle. It’s now highly unlikely that Palestinians will get their state anytime soon. Hence, October 7 was a miscalculation by Hamas.

Israel will beef up security and continue to normalise relations with Arab nations, and Palestinians will continue to be used by Iran to no long-term benefit. Simply put, Hamas blew it for the people of Palestine.

People worldwide must understand that Israel is going nowhere. It exists as a nation, and it's here to stay.

Let’s pray for Israel as it fights terrorists in the Middle East. Terrorists are evil, vicious people who have no place in our world. The world needs peace and there can be no peace with terrorists. Let’s also pray that one day, a two-state solution will come into existence.

Phumlani M. Majozi is author of a new book “Lessons from Past Heroes” and a macroeconomist and political analyst. He’s the host of The Phumlani Majozi Show on YouTube. Subscribe to his show here: Phumlani M. Majozi - YouTube.