Two Months That Shook the World: The First Phase of the Gaza War

On Friday morning, Israel resumed its bombing campaign against Gaza, and the civilian death toll is once again rising. Both Hamas and Israel accused the other of violating the temporary truce. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has promised, “We will fight in the entire [Gaza] Strip.” Despite meekly worded suggestions from Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel make an effort to reduce civilian deaths, the U.S. position remains one of full-throttled support for a military campaign that has killed more than 15,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of them children and other civilians.

In this special episode of Intercepted, political analyst Mouin Rabbani, co-editor of the Arab Studies Institute’s ezine Jadaliyya, offers a provocative analysis of the current situation. In a discussion with Jeremy Scahill and Murtaza Hussain, Rabbani suggests that behind the belligerent rhetoric and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proclamations he will eradicate Hamas, Israel may already be heading for a bloody quagmire it is unlikely to transform into an accomplishment of its stated goals. “We’re now well into the second month of this war, and the most Israel has been able to achieve is to raise the Israeli flag on a hospital. It’s not exactly Iwo Jima,” Rabbani says. The “Israeli military is a very effective killing machine when it’s dropping 2,000-pound bombs from the air, but a rather mediocre fighting force when it comes to ground operations.” Rabbani describes the evolution of Hamas’s strategy and tactics over the past decades and maps out several scenarios that might emerge in the coming period. “The idea that you can wipe [Hamas] out, even if you fully succeed in conquering every last square inch of the Gaza Strip, is an illusion,” he says. “It is effectively impossible to resume this war without regional escalation.”

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