Israel: Missiles and Wailing Walls

(To Gino Lanzara)
12/05/21

The Israeli-Palestinian dispute is back on top; reportage and relaunched images bring back a conflictual situation where, however, ideological motivations and interpretations are grafted which, net of evaluations techniques, they are affected by particular lability. The reason for the dispute originated in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheickh Jarrah, due to the concrete possibility of evacuation of housing units by the Israeli authorities, currently occupied by Palestinian families who have refused transactions and agreements. The decision of the Israeli Supreme Court to instruct the procedure anyway, ignited the Palestinian anger that led first to violent clashes with the Israeli police forces, and then the indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza on the main Jewish population centers, which led to the prompt response of the IDF.

The facts underlie many other issues that cannot be overlooked. Beyond the comparison on Sheikh Jarrah, which also has deep historical roots1, dynamics emerge that were only waiting for the trigger to be able to explode; the connections with aspects and interpretations of international law are hardly compatible with the property rights claimed by the Israelis, who oppose the acquisitions made at the time by the Jordanians.

Just this? No. It is obvious that a potential conflict can hardly explode for unpaid rents, as it is evident that the events have evolved and directed such as to make it impossible not to grasp a precise organization now highlighted by the unfolding of the clashes, by the places of refuge, by the saturation of Israeli air defenses, engaged by multiple launches, which made use of the anti-missile system Iron Dome. The request for postponement of the trial on the matter by the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, however, is unprecedented in a civil case to which the government is not a party, and gives the general framework a politicization functional to Hamas' objectives. For his part, Ismail Haniyeh, currently at the top of Hamas, together with Khaled Mash'al and the military leader Muhammad Deif, had threatened a tough intervention in the event of the execution of the evictions in Sheickh Jarrah.

Violence could only manifest itself in Jerusalem Day2, on the Temple Mount, the Jewish Temple Mount near the al-Aqsa Mosque, where the Israeli police broke in after the third night of riots, and where the alleged protagonists of the same clashes had found refuge.

While Netanyahu was clear when he said that an impassable red line had been crossed, on the other, Hamas' Ezzedin al-Kassam brigade did not stop the firing of rockets towards Jerusalem. The current uncertainty is linked to the lingering feeling that the worst is yet to come, as Israel has announced one "Fierce reaction, which will last days"; Hidai Zilberman, spokesman for the army, announced that Israeli forces are preparing for a very wide range of possibilities, including a larger conflict.

Nothing can be excluded while the alarm sirens sound in Jerusalem and the clashes also take place at the Damascus gate; the police evacuated the faithful to the Western Wall, and even the deputies of the Knesset left the parliamentary hall; meanwhile the Israeli police have diverted the path of a march of Jewish ultranationalists: an attempt to avoid possible contact with Palestinian protesters.

According to a routine script, international protests have arisen, starting with Turkey, increasingly lowered into the role of Sunni tutelary deity, to which the Jordanian Crown has been added, still shaken by institutional tremors caused by the alleged coup attempt of Prince Hamzah3, and at this juncture agrees with an interlocutor with whom, in general, the harmony is difficult.

It should be remembered that Jordan4, wary of a pervasive Turkish intervention in the Middle East, as responsible for the custody of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Christian holy places, did not fail to express his deep concerns to Washington which, in function of the substantial aid it provides and of the political and military relations that it ensures, it would aspire to have a share and at its side in preserving East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state, also in function of the fear induced by another possible Palestinian mass migration to a kingdom where most of the subjects they are descended from Palestinian immigrants and refugees.

It is difficult to forget that Hamas, struggling to manage the Palestinian economic crisis despite the exploitation of the parallel economy of the tunnels5 - partly closed by the Egyptians - and eager to conform to the efficient organization of Hezbollah, is in relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, supported by Turkey, Iran and Qatar, and that these relations have contributed to exacerbate the liaisons between Jordan and Turkey, moreover viewed with further suspicion in light of the interventions in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Political expediency, however, led Amman to a cautious silence, as Ankara recognized its custody of Jerusalem.

The games of politics then make us forget how evanescent the compactness of the Palestinian front really is; Hamas itself, which also had electorally benefited from the corruption episodes relating to Fatah, has in fact become the protagonist of initiatives that have exacerbated social relations within the Gaza Strip6, and which found their sublimation in the postponement, even after 15 years, of the legislative and presidential elections previously proclaimed by the president of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas (in the photo the last on the right in the foreground).

To the general uncertainty is added the controversy concerning Marwan Barghouti who, detained in Israel, after severing relations with Fatah7, intends to run against Abbas with an independent list. As reported by the Jerusalem Post, which claimed that "Israel's Jerusalem District Police Chief Doron Turgeman demanded that the flag parade route, which usually runs through the Old City of Jerusalem, be hijacked ...", would seem to give reason to believe in the consolidation of a dangerously less careful policy on the Israeli side, supported by the assessments of the Shin Bet and the Minister of Defense Gantz8.

The general picture is made even more complex by the internal political situation in Israel, grappling with the latest electoral results, unable to deliver a large and governing majority to the country; a majority that, in the light of events, may not be able to materialize even this time despite the efforts of Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, as conditioned by the support that should have been ensured by Mansour Abbas, head of the Ra'am (United Arab List )9, and holder of 5 key seats.

What could the risks of the ongoing escalation translate into? Cognitive war, already underway, and a multi-theater conflict, characterized by an operational environment on which the technological, military, social and political developments of the last decades converge, to which the risk of the involvement of Hezbollah from Lebanon is not extraneous, and in which is to be considered both the war doctrine of the IDF10, which is reinforcing armored and infantry units in the south, and which interprets maneuvering warfare as a multidimensional process, both the assessment expressed by the INSS11 about the devastating consequences of perceptible internal social attrition.

A high-intensity conflict would see numerous fronts open, from Lebanon against Hezbollah, against Syrian and Iraqi forces, probably also from Iran, and preserving the need to defend the central region of Israel, with control of both the Judean mountain ridge and the of Samaria, and of the main roads that lead from west to east and which are essential to allow the free movement of the Israeli armed forces towards the border area.

Conclusions. The current crisis is useful for various actors: Fatah postpones the elections, therefore it cannot lose the power it has acquired; Islamic Jihad is fueling the fire as desired by Iran, while Hamas gains support in the West Bank, all according to a script that demands constant tension and war, on pain of loss of international interest for a cause that seems to thrill only in words. The Arab signatories of the Abrahamic Agreements will only have to wait for the passage of the umpteenth storm, while the Turkey of Naqshbandiyya12 it will be able to present itself as defensor fidei Muslim, with the smile of the Ayatollahs in the background, and with Saudi Arabia dedicated to resolving the diplomatic impasses with Syria, Qatar, a supporter of Hamas, and Iran.

The context offers new ideas, which make the evolution of the dynamics quite unpredictable, starting with the main interpreters: Israelis, veterans of the fourth round of elections and driven by different souls, radicals and progressives, Palestinians, who have instead shrewdly avoided the elections , while thus provoking a dangerous increase in social and political pressure which, somewhere and in some way, must find an outlet favored by the Jerusalem events which, opportunely, channel elsewhere the attention already traditionally placed on the notice by the end of Ramadan.

Abroad. Apart from the US, whose administration is tested in choosing between supporting Israel and reopening the JCPOA, Iran supports the jihad in Gaza and has a link with Hamas, so it can focus on the rhetorical aspects useful to strengthen a consistently uncompromising stance against Israel; Hezbollah in Beirut and the pro-Iranian Iraqi forces, despite the fire of the Tehran diplomatic representation in Kerbala in Iraq, can more easily divert attention from serious economic crises.

Despite the constant evolution of events, which help to conceal the difficulties of Ankara and the failures of Tehran, it seems to be possible to say that the first defeated are precisely the Palestinians, interpreters of a military initiative that will lead to heavy and lasting consequences, especially in negotiation key.

The Palestinian question, starting from 48, did not enjoy a distinct recognition from the Arab one, which led the Arabs to begin to recognize Israel, while the Palestinians, in often choosing unreliable allies, continue to remain alone and entrusted, moreover, to non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Turks.

However, there are still strong doubts about the dynamics underlying this escalation; the first concerns the Israeli "surprise": a country that has made Intelligence and operational readiness its creed cannot be caught unprepared; probably the protracted electoral contest has distracted attention and resources which, at other times, would have had the opportunity and time to prevent problems of this importance. The second concerns the Israeli capabilities of situational analysis, which are still considered to be of the first level: if there has been a short circuit, as it seems, it is necessary to identify it elsewhere, and even quickly. The third, no less serious, has to do with American political management which, while understandably requiring elements of discontinuity, has not considered the inescapability of the third principle of dynamics.13, which is associated with the image of an uninviting Pandora's box whose openings, operating according to an effective realist spirit, should be sealed as soon as possible.

1 Between 1875 and 1982 the land saw the acquisition by the Jewish side, the subsequent Jordanian control with the occupation of the houses, a renewed registration in favor of a Jewish organization, and the recognition of the property by the tenants, for whom it was established the eviction in case of arrears

2 On this occasion, the Israelis remember the day East Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 and subsequently annexed to Israel

3 Hamzah bin Hussein, half-brother of King Abdullah

4 the kingdom is officially at peace with Israel by the Wadi Araba treaty, signed in 1994 under the auspices of the USA

5 The tunnels, as well as for the guerrillas, were functional to smuggling activities and the "taxation" imposed on them

6 More than one source cites a Hamas "extortion racket" that now extends to Jerusalem affairs in the same way as the Arab Bedouin "protection rackets" that spread to Israel many years ago.

7 Fatah and Hamas reached a reconciliation agreement in January this year

8 Times of Israel

9 Represents the Arabs and Bedouins of southern Israel

10 Israel Defense Forces

11 Institute for National Security Studies

12 it is one of the most important Islamic Sufi mystical brotherhoods.

13 The third law of dynamics, or the principle of action and reaction, establishes that every action has an equal and opposite reaction

Photo: Twitter / Israel GPO / The White House / IDF