Israel's Withdrawal from Gaza: Did Hamas Win the Battle for Hearts and Minds?

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Israel's Withdrawal from Gaza: Did Hamas Win the Battle for Hearts and Minds?
Israel's Withdrawal from Gaza: Did Hamas Win the Battle for Hearts and Minds?

By: H. Zaïm-Bashi



In a significant turn of events on Sunday, April 7, the Israeli army announced its withdrawal from substantial areas of the Gaza Strip, notably Khan Yunis. Ostensibly, this move was attributed to the necessity of preparing for an imminent large-scale offensive on Rafah. However, beneath the veneer of official statements lies a deeper truth that demands critical reflection.

The observers' gaze, currently fixated on Israel, reveals a regime in a conspicuous state of political decline and moral decay. This descent into disrepute can be chiefly ascribed to the harrowing genocides perpetrated in Gaza, alongside a litany of egregious transgressions against humanity. Attempts by the Israeli regime to vindicate its war crimes through references to alleged provocations by Hamas on October 7, 2023, stand as feeble excuses that fail to sway anyone beyond the confines of their own echo chamber.

The wanton brutality that has unfurled over the past six months, resulting in the tragic demise of nearly 33,000 civilians, including children, women, journalists, medical personnel, the elderly, and clergymen, has effectively dismantled the tenuous justifications Israel has clung to, often invoking the specter of Holocaust literature.

Internally, the political landscape finds itself besieged by mounting pressures and a resurgent tide of social dissent manifested in widespread public protests demanding Prime Minister Netanyahu’s immediate resignation. The initial objectives delineated by Israel upon waging the war on Gaza—namely, the dismantling of Hamas and the safe return of hostages—stand glaringly unfulfilled in the wake of six protracted months of unabated strife and bloodshed.

Contrary to professed aims, high-ranking Hamas leaders persist unscathed, while approximately 130 Israeli hostages, with 99 presumed to be alive, languish within Gaza's confines. The toll exacted by the conflict in Gaza paints a dystopian tableau: as per reports from the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, over 33,000 Palestinians, a substantial number of whom are children, have been murdered thus far. Moreover, a staggering 75,000 civilians have sustained injuries, with over a million teetering on the brink of starvation, prompting dire warnings from international bodies of an impending famine.

The shifting sands of political support, once seemingly bolstered by an American ally apprehensive of the Israeli regime's very survival, have markedly dwindled. Recent polls, notably from Gallup, reveal a precipitous decline in support for the war within the US, with 75% of Democratic Party adherents opposing the conflict. Republican backing has also waned, plummeting from 71% to 64%, with an overarching sentiment of disapproval pervading 55% of all American citizens. This seismic shift in public opinion hints at a potential recalibration in the US government's stance, exemplified by its recent abstention during a critical UN Security Council vote on a ceasefire resolution, a move that Biden’s administration found itself unable to veto. Evidently, a fissure has emerged within the hitherto unwavering support Israel once commanded from Washington.

Confronted with this mounting pressure and a landscape rife with diplomatic quandaries, Netanyahu and his cadre of hardliners have been compelled to reassess their military strategies. The chorus of dissent, both domestically and abroad, underscored by intensified opposition demonstrations and admonitions from European and American officials, has necessitated a reevaluation of Tel Aviv’s warmongering trajectory.

As Netanyahu grapples with the ramifications of these evolving dynamics, resorting to provocative measures such as the airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus to stoke the embers of conflict, the repercussions have been manifold. Not only has internal dissent swelled, but international censure has mounted, with the UN and European countries issuing stern rebukes against Israel's state-sponsored terrorism.

In light of these unfolding developments, it becomes increasingly apparent that the perpetuation of Israeli war crimes in Gaza only serves to bolster the political legitimacy and global sympathy extended towards the Palestinian resistance embodied by Hamas. Israel’s disgraceful retreat from Khan Yunis and large swathes of the Gaza Strip, albeit not indicative of a ceasefire or conclusive end to the conflict, can be construed as an ultimate victory for the Palestinian resistance. This retreat not only fortifies Palestinian resistance but, in fact, lays the groundwork for the influx of international aid to reconstruct war-torn areas vacated by the Zionists.
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