Gaza Conflict: End Game Not in Sight

Your humble blogger is not feeling so hot, so forgive my being a bit cursory. But it seems important to register where things are in the Gaza conflict and where they look set to go next, give that the pause/ceasefire will end and Israel will resume its assault, supposedly on Hamas, but really on Gaza residents, if nothing else by making Gaza even more uninhabitable than it has become. And that is before the extermination of those residents looking very much like a feature and not a bug. Fresh evidence supports this view:

As discussed below, once the ceasefire ends, Gaza will presumably soon run out of fuel, which again means photos and reports out of Gaza will fall to close to zero due to lack of power and Internet connectivity. The last time that happened, since Americans have the memories of goldfish, Gaza outrage on Twitter and the media dropped markedly (admittedly, protest numbers did seem to hold up, but the blackout hadn’t been operative all that long before the “pause” and reporting resumed). Given that the US holiday season, and with it, reduced news engagement, is coming soon, Israel probably feels it has a lot of room to operate once Gaza goes dark again through at least the new year.

Aaron Mate suggested that the pause was due in significant degree to domestic pressure. Perhaps readers have some news snippets to indicate whether the Israel public thinks hostage exchanges have gone far enough, or whether the Netanyhu government might find it prudent to have a later pause? This of course has the side benefit of dampening down international criticism a tad:

Keep in mind the longer-term outcome is still indeterminate, since there are a lot of wild cards, such what happens if Biden slips a cog, or Israel very much mis-manages its response to the Turkiye-sponsored 1000 boat flotilla the Times of Israel reported as supposedly coming to Gaza to deliver aid.1

This tweet seemed useful as a point of departure:

I am not convinced. I see the tweet Bertrand highlighted as weak tea. Yes, it is a positioning shift but Biden and the Democrats generally have been under a tremendous amount of pressure for their dogged support of Israel and the very limited actions they have taken to curb the assault on Gaza and get aid in.

Keep in mind that Biden personally is very much a champion of Israel. Former British ambassador Alastair Crooke pointed out Biden has done the least of any recent US president to promote the two-state solution. Biden gave away all of his leverage by fully backing the Israel government as the war started. John Mearsheimer has said no two countries are so joined at the hip in history as the US and Israel. And not that this tweet even rose to the level of being a commitment, but Biden has made important commitments and then quickly took action that amounted to a repudiation, witness his empty words to Xi about hewing to the US “one China” policy.

Even though US support for Israel in the conflict has fallen in recent weeks. But showing how much poll results depend on the phrasing and ordering of the questions, another recent poll claimed much higher support for Israel, but with the backing falling substantially in younger age cohorts

We’ve been saying for years that Israel ought to know its US sponsorship was set to fade over time. In IIRC 2004, Peter Beinhart described how young Jews didn’t identify much with Israel. That mean the Israel lobby’s ability to muster donations and votes was set to weaken over time. One might think that could create pressure among those who noticed this trend to establish the most favorable facts on the ground in Israel and the region before the influence of the Israel lobby started to wane as its base inevitably shrank.2

And aside from Biden’s established loyalty to Israel, his poor performance in polls, the fact that Biden needs as many votes as he can get in Congress to get his various initiatives funded once the stopgap expires and the fact that Democratic primaries will soon be upon us3 means Biden could pay a real cost if he is seen as going too far in pressing the Israel government. As M.K.Bhadrakumar put it:

The elites fear that the Lobby will target them if there are any signs of them wavering in their support for Israel. Put differently, the political elites do not place American national interests above their own personal or career interests. Thus, the Israel Lobby always wins on the Palestinian issue and in extracting generous financial support for Israel with no strings attached. Make no mistake that the Lobby will go to any extent to have its way whenever the crunch time comes, such as today.

Biden is hardly in a position to displease or annoy the Israel Lobby on a day of reckoning. So, why is he making big promises to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt that “under no circumstances will the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, or the besiegement of Gaza, or the redrawing of the borders of Gaza”?

The answer is simple: these are fait accompli that have been forced upon the US and Israel by the Arab States in their finest hour of collective security, none of whom is willing to legitimise Israel’s genocide or its roadmap of ethnic cleansing. Didn’t even little Jordan say ‘no’ to Biden?

Biden is making hollow promises. In reality, what matters is that the Israel Lobby will go to extraordinary length to protect the emerging Greater Israel. Again, it costs Biden nothing by affirming support for a two-state solution. He knows it will be aeons before such a vision takes life, if at all, and if South Africa’s experience is anything to go by, the journey will be fraught with much bloodshed.

There is the question of what Israel’s aims are. Many see Israel caught up in a revenge-spasm, as the US was after 9/11. That is true but may not be the operative truth. Alastair Crooke on Judge Napolitano described how the Mizrahim have come to have the majority in the Knesset, and how they are committed to Israel retaking historical Israel, as in more territory than the current state boundaries, and razing the Al Aqsa mosque and rebuilding the Temple Mount on that site. Keep in mind Al Aqsa is the third holiest site in the Muslim faith.

Given the difficulty of finding material on YouTube, forgive me for going from memory. But Crooke described, in some detail, how in the weeks/months before the attempt to desecrate Al Aqsa by sacrificing a goat in it (!!!). the Israel cabinet had met underneath it (yes, Israel has been digging below the mosque) and resolved, “This is our land. We are taking it.”

Now this sounds a tad suicidal. But if you hold an even dimmer view of Palestinian and Arab capabilities than we did of Russia before the SMO, it no doubt seems perfectly reasonable as well as of course endorsed by God.

And so far, Israelis must be telling themselves that their bet is paying off since none of the Muslim countries in the ‘hood has intervened in a serious way to stop the slaughter of Palestinians. Crooke has pointed out Gaza is not habitable long-term with no hospitals. And it won’t take that more residence/infrastructure destruction to make it uninhabitable in the short term. Disease, dehydration, lack of food and exposure will greatly increase the death count in Gaza.

But Israel probably also thinks it has to at least seriously bloody Hamas on top of the less difficult task of depopulating Gaza. Douglas Macgregor, in an otherwise fine new piece at The American Conservative, ignores the possibility that the slaughter of civilians has a motive other than revenge. Did he miss that Israel has a long-standing policy of disproportionate retaliation? Scott Ritter has described other savage Israel practices, like breaking the arms of Palestinian kids that taunt soldiers, taking them into custody and making sure the arms are set badly so the children will be crippled.

Magregor says that if Israel is not willing to negotiate (and I see no reason it will be absent suffering strategic defeats), a wider war will result:

More to the point, is Israel’s desired end state an “Arab-Free Israeli State from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean?”

To survive a regional war of decision, Israel will have to transform its society into a heavily armed fortress, a nation in arms with the capacity to withstand a long, devastating siege. Israelis knew from Israel’s inception that a Jewish State in the Middle East could only be sustained through force of arms, but transformation into a fortress is new. It turns Israel into a battleship with very limited maneuver room.

In war and peace, the priorities for a battleship, (or for a modern aircraft carrier), are, in order, to stay afloat, stay afloat, and stay afloat. To stay afloat in a region that is incurably hostile to the Jewish State, Israel must judge what they can achieve with military power (including U.S. military power) against what they may lose in terms of public support….

Given that national survival is Israel’s strategic imperative or top priority, it is hard to imagine how the nation-in-arms policy would succeed. Israel’s economy is already fragile. Without substantial infusions of cash from Washington, the Israeli State will implode. It would also be a serious mistake to dismiss the seriousness of Turkey’s President Erdogan’s vow to bring Jerusalem to justice over “crimes committed in the Gaza Strip,” along with his insistence that Turkish soldiers will one day fight in Gaza.

Israel has already had 300,000 people leave, which is a big number in a small country. In addition, the reservists being called up are disproportionately urban/secular Jews, since young Haredi are exempt from service. So a protracted war would increase internal fissures.

The Cradle argues that the military operation in Gaza has not gotten very far. The discussion below is consistent with the observation that Israel says it has killed 1,000 Hamas fighters, out of an estimated force of 30,000 to 40,000. From The Cradel:

This picture reveals, to a large extent, the results of Israel’s ground operation: civilian massacres and infrastructural destruction galore, but with little damage to the military structure of the Palestinian resistance. A number of its leaders have indeed been killed – most recently Al-Qassam’s northern commander and military council member Ahmed al-Ghandour – but its command and control system still ticks on effectively….

Before the 24 November truce, the occupation army had exhausted its ability to maneuver on the ground, having already deployed the majority of its regular combat forces in the northern and western axes.

It will need to search for innovative solutions if it seeks to advance toward densely populated areas in northern Gaza, such as Jabalia refugee camp, the Al-Zaytoun and Al-Shuja’iya neighborhoods, Al-Shati beach camp, and other vital places the Israelis have failed to penetrate. These areas are the ground zero of the Palestinian resistance, in which these forces have prepared themselves – and their tunnel infrastructure – for fierce and protracted confrontations.

The main reason the occupation government agreed to a short truce is that its ground incursion had hit this wall – in addition to other factors such as US pressure to release American captives. Simply put, the Israeli army needs

This may seem to be a bold claim, but that does not make it untrue. And Israel, for the perceived safety of its citizens as well as to preserve a thin veneer of international credibility, needs to subdue Gaza from a military standpoint, and not merely kill all its civilians. Some have argued that Hamas is a dead man walking due to its inability to resupply. But how much can the get in from the tunnels that go to Egypt?

There are still a lot of known unknowns, at least for observers. Perhaps the fog of war will clear a bit in upcoming weeks.


1 Over my pay grade, but I wonder if Israel can prevent them from using the port, as opposed to trying to block their approach.

2 It was striking to see how some Israel lobbyists were taken aback as the lack of support for Israel among the young in the US generally. Gee, if young Jews don’t identify much with Israel, why would you expect to fare better with young Gentiles? However, arms merchants are in theory fellow travelers, but for them, any threat is a good horse to ride.

3 The Israel Lobby has proven effective in marking up unsupportive candidates by backing primary opponents, so that even they win, they’ve spent so much doing so that they go into the general election weakened.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. john

    The Biden administration top echelon starting to feel the heat from possible war crimes charges against them, which at this moment are very real….by the way Id like to thank the “me too” movement for doing absolutely nothing as 5200 defenseless Gazan women were slaughtered as well as the other shyster movement, “Black lives matter”..also silent as many black gazans massacred.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      *Sigh*. The US is not a party to the International Criminal Court, so its rulings have no effect on US citizens as long as they are careful where they travel. And I doubt the court would ever issue a warrant against Biden as it was so quick to do against Putin. All an effort to get a case before the Court is likely to do is discredit it as a US/Collective West toady.

      1. leaf

        also America literally has a law that says they will sanction and invade the ICC if they ever attempt to put an American soldier on trial

    2. TBone

      Well, John, those protesting against UNITED STATES POLICE DEPARTMENTS killing people of color, and women protesting sexual harassment and predation here in the US, might not see the utility of raising their voices against a foreign government that has agency and responsibility for its own actions. Unlike you, we know when to STFU and let experts and government agents do the talking.

    3. Joe Well

      Black Lives Matter activists have frequently made statements supporting the Palestinian cause for years.

      A ton has been written about this, here’s just one article.

      At any rate, it’s not a centralized organization so there is no such thing as an “official” position.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Biden is compromised with Israel in all sorts of ways. When Joe Biden met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet during his visit to Israel, he told them: ‘I don’t believe you have to be a Jew to be a Zionist, and I am a Zionist.’ I suspect however his devotion to Israel comes down to money. You go all in on Israel and AIPAC will financially support you and attack your enemies for you. But even he is feeling the political pressure of stopping this massacre occurring because it is now threatening his 2024 political campaign. And Biden may promise President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt that no Gazans will be forced into his country but the Chinese may have given him a heads-up on what a Biden promise is worth.

    There may be moves to extend this truce but there was a report on TV tonight that hard-righters in Israel are chomping at the bit to continue this war and don’t want the truce to continue, hostages be damned. But continuing this war has its own problems as sending in Israeli conscript soldiers into Gaza city means that they are vulnerable to attacks by Hamas soldiers. Yesterday there was a link how two officers did a runner when they were under attack. You have a situation where Israeli soldiers don’t want to die in Gaza are coming up against Hamas soldiers who want to kill Israeli soldiers out of revenge. Guess who has the better motivation. This war will take a very long time to wind down and I think that that is something that worries Biden’s political calculations.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      There are stories in The Hill and The Cradle about the campaign resuming, as well as Israel definitively declaring that the pause will only be temporary. So I don’t think there is any doubt the fighting will start again. The question is whether Israel is muscled into another pause (1 day or more) in anything less than say a couple of months.

      OMG I can see it now….a pause just before the State of the Union to give Biden a talking point.

  3. Louis Fyne

    “…It will need to search for innovative solutions…”

    Unless the US is hiding a warehouse of mech suits in Area 51, there is no innovative solution beyond a certain point in war….someone has to go where the enemy is, find them, neutralize them.

    will be incredibly bloody (and it is a reasonable hypothesis that the IDF is right now hiding casualty figures), all the while waiting for the Hezbollah swordof Damocles to fall.

    And the longer the war drags on, the odds of “black swan” regime change in Jordan increases (Gaza war + hypothetical future recession = bad news for King Abdullah)

    50 years from now, going into Gaza will be seen as the moment Israel crippled itself, just as when the US went into Iraq in 2003

    1. Paradan

      Innovative Solution #001: Israel uses Horizontal drilling rigs to place nukes under the dense urban areas. The explosions are completely contained underground, but each one collapses a crater 1000 meters wide.

      1. Kevin Smith

        NUKEMAP is a web-based nuclear weapons effects simulator. I created it in 2012 (and did all programming, design, and research on it). Since then it has had many updates to its effects model and capabilities. It has been used by over 20 million people globally, and has been featured in both academic and general-audience publications and television shows for depicting nuclear weapons effects. “The scariest site on the Internet isn’t lurking on the dark web, but hiding in plain sight at,” says The Washington Post.

        A screenshot of NUKEMAP, showing a vast fallout plume over the northeast United States, with a calculation of over three million deaths and even more injured
        A screenshot from NUKEMAP, showing the effects of the first hydrogen bomb ever tested, had it been detonated on the island of Manhattan. The fallout plume is visible, and the fatalities and injuries are calculated in the many millions.
        NUKEMAP is essentially a “mash-up” of Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan’s The Effects of Nuclear Weapons (1977) and online map programs (initially Google Maps, but now MapBox). It allows a user to simulate a nuclear detonation (with several possible parameters, including explosive yield and height of burst) anywhere on the world. It gives information about the ranges of prompt effects (blast, heat, acute ionizing radiation), delayed effects (fallout contamination), and calculates estimates as to the numbers of possible casualties based on an underlying database of global ambient population density.

      2. Mark A

        They’ve already built a tunnel under the Al Aqsa mosque. Netanyhu and his regime held a cabinet meeting directly under it threatening the same thing you are. I guess it depends if they can get America to pay for it, this ‘Aid package’ maybe? Maybe it’ll screw up a canal entrance being turned into an estuary, who knows.

    2. hk

      Didn’t Zaluzhny ask for those mechanical suits? Or, were they quantum torpedoes (since photon torpedoes are so yesterday…)

  4. .Tom

    Wrt @RnaudBertrand’s long tweet, I think the racist tendencies (anti arab / muslim / browner, pro european / whiter) in politicians that are getting elected are part and parcel of the empire and militarism he mentioned earlier in the tweet. In recent years we’ve repeatedly seen how hard it is for the ruling fascist liberals to stay on the liberal message (the Hunka incident in the Canadian parliament was a dramatic example). It was always there but in times when the empire was strong, prosperous and more equitable, maintaining the liberal story was much easier. But now the empire is in obvious decline and the ruling class are seeking to extract as much as they can from its remains for themselves, rather than rebuilding it in a more democratic form, the fascist part of fascist liberal becomes more visible. Per PlutoniumKun’s post on the Dublin riots, they may also be well funded fringe fascist plots afoot, probably coming from the USA, which kinda reminds me of 1930/40s.

  5. Socal Rhino

    I agree that Bertrand’s tweet involved wishful thinking, but I also saw it retweeted by a billionaire fund manager who said he hadn’t predicted November 28 as the day Biden joined Hamas.

    Also yesterday, the sale of high end Russian fighters to Iran was announced, with speculation that they might be getting (or already started receiving) the domestic version rather than the for export model.

    1. jan

      Same old playbook. Criticize Ukraine and you’re pro-Putin. Criticize Israel and you’re pro-hamas.
      Don’t people get tired of that nonsense?

      1. JonnyJames

        Criticize Israel and get called nasty names: “Anti-Semite”, “Self-Hating Jew” “Holocaust Denier” etc.
        They have to resort to childish ad hom attacks because they have no factual arguments.

  6. Es s Ce tera

    I hope at some point Jewish principles will kick in and Jews worldwide will reassert the humanitarian side of Judaism, the side which holds all life to be precious and all the children of god. Because this is so very far from the Judaism I know. The question for me right now is will it.

  7. Vicky Cookies

    With regard to the military situation, I wonder how close the Israeli war cabinets’ perceptions of their capabilities are to their public statements. If they significantly overlap, and the cabinet is buying a bit of its’ own propaganda, prospects for peace would seem limited to the defeat and withdrawal of the ground forces. If there are voices of (relative) reason in Israeli leadership, we can hope for extensions of the ceasefire based on, yes, mounting domestic and international pressure, as well as the strains of mobilizing a large chunk of the workforce, but also due to what I read as an unsuccessful and costly ground operation with unachievable objectives.

    The beliefs and perceptions of the resistance organizations are also important: do they see themselves being able to evict the ground invasion? How strong, or weak, do they believe the IOF to be, and how long do they calculate the bombardment being able to continue, after the ceasefire is ended?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      A problem is that….let’s say Israel stops combat operations in a month or two because it realizes it’s too hard. Perhaps Netanyahu is sacked as cover. After all, he was the genius behind funding and promoting Hamas.

      But…I can’t see Israel rebuilding Gaza for Palestinians. I absolutely cannot see them letting Muslim states do that or assist in doing that.

      So the Gazans die if they are not allowed to leave….and they won’t be. The right-wingers still substantially advance their goal of making the territory of Israel a purely Jewish state.

      The Israelis could even pretend to be negotiating outside help to foot drag long enough to let nature (as in disease and dehydration) further take their course.

      Having said that, and I neglected to mention it in the post, is a wild card Macgregor keeps mentioning, that Erdogon has threatened to enter if the punishment of Gaza does not stop, and Turkiye is the one country in the theater with a large and competent enough military to beat Israel. Turkiye making serious aggressive moves would change the dynamic.

      1. ISL

        Its worth noting that both Hezbollah and Iran have enough missiles to devastate Israel completely, and without functioning airfields, Israel will be unable to (non-Samson option) respond.

        There also are serious questions, per Scott Ritter and Oct. 7 as a military op, how a missile-devastated weekend-warrior Israel (without air power) would fare against even a combined Hezbollah and Hamas force (and I would be surprised if reinforcements have not been arriving in Gaza via tunnels) – I have seen enough credible reports from sources that match my estimates to suggest Israel has lost a militarily significant portion of its armor, probably enough to factor in the truce decision – Hezbollah missiles clearly are capable of destroying IDF armor (Israel seems not to have built armor protective concrete bunkers per Ukraine).

        Meanwhile, the West lost its spare military hardware in Ukraine, a lot of its core hardware, with its supposedly cutting edge useless – Iranian and now Russian drones have taken a massive toll.

        Would the West really demilitarize itself for Israel’s sake while NATO loses to Russia – which US World and News now rates the number one military in the world? That would horribly weaken the US negotiating position on security measures in Europe!

        1. John k

          Imo many now see nato as a paper tiger, certainly wrt Russia. No troops, little artillery, and imo Russian missile defenses can keep west from having air superiority. Imo the west has demilitarized itself, not just by sending so much stuff the the Ukraine landfill and sacrificing Ukraine armies but demonstrating west wonder weapons are inferior.
          Imo we’ve returned to the post ww2 era when Russia attained nuclear parity.
          I’d like to think after this we don’t pivot to Taiwan where we might get to demo the uselessness of carriers facing peers, but seems no limit to stupid.

          1. ISL

            Interestingly, Larry Wilkerson on the Duran, compared the US military to that of Bangladesh. Hyperbole? Sort of. The US military of the Iraq war no longer exists after decades of bombing wedding parties and losing to sandal-clad goat herders with an AK47.

            With the S550 and maneuverable hypersonics, EW capabilities, and field experience of combined arms warfare, Russia has exceeded the US.

            Alarmingly, Larry Johnson argues that in a nuclear war, Russia would survive, the US not. Given rumors about the S600, MAD, if it exists at the moment, will not for long, and the US cannot afford a weapons race given the bloat in pentagon procurement and lack of accountability.

      2. Socal Rhino

        He’s been saying that but I haven’t heard it from anyone else. I also saw him retweet someone who in near real time claimed they had verified that the Niagara explosion was a terrorist attack, while others were advising waiting for the truth to emerge.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          He has been watching Erdogan’s speeches and has said everyone has been wrong to dismiss Erdogan as bluffing. Of course this would lead to Turkiye effectively abandoning NATO (NATO does not have a mechanism to expel a member state). Maybe he is ready to cross that bridge.

          The 1000 boat Turkiye-sponsored flotilla has barely been reported. This looks like a win-win for Erdogan. Either he forces Israel to accept the aid or creates a causus belli.

          I don’t put much stock in conventional wisdom. No one saw the Hamas raid or the SMO coming either.

      3. Kouros

        Israel never invested on areas occupied by Palestinians. At most, they allowed Gulf money to reach the Palestinians. The refugee camps in Egypt envisioned in early October were supposed to be paid off by Qatar….

        In order for Gazan to get some breathing space and open the access to the world, several hundreds of thousands wil need to die, to really horrify everyone (normal) and make impossible US cover up and backing. Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank now have to walk through the Valley of Death and not think they will survive in order for them to have any long term future. And Hamas has to continue fighting.

      4. clarky90

        Journalist casualties in the Israel-Gaza war
        November 29, 2023

        “… at least 57 journalists and media workers were among the more than 16,000 killed since the war began on October 7….”

        “The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told Reuters and Agence France Press news agencies that it could not guarantee the safety of their journalists operating in the Gaza Strip, after they had sought assurances that their journalists would not be targeted by Israeli strikes, Reuters reported on October 27…”

        During the mass murders committed by the NKVD in the late 1930s, and during the mass murders committed by Einsatzgruppen in the early 1940s ……

        much care was taken by the perpetrators, to keep curious local observers far far away from the killing pits.
        (no witnesses)

        Any locals who did coincidentally observe, were usually killed.
        “Helpers” (recruited from the doomed peoples) as grave diggers, body disposers, clothing sorters, document/photo burners of the already dead….. were in turn, murdered when their tasks were finished. (No witnesses, no contrary narratives)

        In 2023, Journalists send out easily traceable signals from their cellphones, video cameras and links to the internet.

        Therefore, it would be easy to protect journalists (put them on a do not kill list). It seems that the opposite has happened….?

    2. vao

      what I read as an unsuccessful and costly ground operation with unachievable objectives.

      The beliefs and perceptions of the resistance organizations are also important: do they see themselves being able to evict the ground invasion?

      A recent, comparable operation is the siege and conquest of Raqqa in 2017. In the course of the battle, the city was levelled.

      That was a battleground 10 times smaller than the Gaza strip, with a population 4 times smaller. The attacking force was 10 times smaller than what the Israeli mobilized, and the besieged ISIS 10 times smaller than what Hamas can muster in Gaza. The operation took 4 months, one week, and 4 days of uninterrupted shelling (by NATO troops) and fighting (by SDF troops).

      Given that the proportionality factors, I fully expect the subduing of Gaza to take at least as much time — and from a couple of declarations by IDF staff officers (I have read 6 months), the Israeli government seems to think so too. The fact that Hamas had years to prepare its fortifications is somewhat compensated by Israel relying upon the heaviest ordnance the USA has in its arsenals.

      1. Vicky Cookies

        Per Al Jazeera, from Oct. 7th to Nov 13th, Israel dropped 25,000 tons (!) of bombs on Gaza. Between Israel and the U.S., do the stockpiles exist to maintain this level of bombardment for five more horrifying months? Does the industrial capacity? And, related, does the military capability, stomach, and political will exist in Israel to put boots on the ground for that long?

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        The one difference is Gaza is fully cordoned. IMHO Israel can destroy infrastructure and let nature run its course. This could become more like an old fashioned siege. Recall in Mariupol, the Azovites eventually left the steel factory because they were running out of supplies. But can they sit back (with low level attacks to look like they are Doing Something) and wait that long?

        I am surprised not to read of more dehydration given the lack of water supplies. Are they using the water in the small river + collecting rainwater?

        This is a long winded way of saying this can be a lose/lose. Israel could kill hundreds of thousands of Gazans, but do great damage to its economy (and of course what cred it had left0. It can greatly advance its own “from the river to the sea” project and still do amazing self-harm.

  8. ciroc

    The IDF probably uses the number of Palestinian deaths as a measure of operational success. McNamara is everywhere….

  9. Prairie Bear

    Very interesting and informative post, as always. There was a bit that made me think of something that has probably been mentioned here before. It was a line out of the McGregor quote:

    “More to the point, is Israel’s desired end state an “Arab-Free Israeli State from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean?”

    So the thing is, there are some indications that some Israelis/Zionists may have a more expansive vision of “Greater Israel.” It goes all the way back to the Book of Deuteronomy in the Bible, specifically Chapter 11, verse 24:

    “ Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

    There is a movement or faction that believes this, but I don’t know how large or influential it is, and I don’t hear or read anybody much talking about it, ever. A week or so ago, Breaking Points mentioned it briefly. Some Israeli official, a woman made some statement along the lines, even going further by saying that Israel should extend to the Nile! But I can’t find the segment again, or remember her name or office.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      It’s worth noting that the nation of Israel, as historically elusive as it is, was never claimed to have actually extended that far.

      Remember that the Torah is a construction wrought by Ezra and his scribes long after Jerusalem’s fall to the Babylonians and decades after Cyrus’s decree that allowed exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem. So I’d say it’s doubtful that the quoted verse includes anything historical that Ezra preserved. Instead, it’s part of Ezra’s narrative that weaves some old Bronze Age stories into a narrative of the birth of a nation. Ezra’s goal was to rehabilitate YHWH, the national god of Israel, establish an essentially new religion of Judaism in place of YHWHism and recreate a fallen, if always poor and weak, nation-state.

      Viewed in its true historical context, that verse is an early version of Manifest Destiny. It never came close to happening in reality. And if there’s a god who made such a promise, he never produced.

  10. Oldtimer

    End game: expulsion of Gaza population and annexation of land, it hasn’t changed since the creation of the apartheid state.
    Eventually all Palestinians will be eliminated.

  11. Alice X

    The Ministry of Propaganda has a piece online today:

    Thomas L. Friedman – Understanding the True Nature of the Hamas-Israel War

    I won’t link it, just these clips:

    The reason the Hamas-Israel war can be hard for outsiders to understand is that three wars are going on at the same time: a war between Israeli Jews and the Palestinians exacerbated by a terrorist group, a war within Israeli and Palestinian societies over the future, and a war between Iran and its proxies and America and its allies.

    It seems to me like points one and two are the same thing, where one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, but why is there a war against Iran?

    Snip, my emphasis:

    The first and most obvious of the three is the latest round of the century-long battle between two indigenous people — Jews and Palestinians — over the same land, but now with a twist: This time the Palestinian side is not being led by the Palestinian Authority, which since Oslo has been committed to reaching a two-state solution based on the borders that existed before the 1967 war. It’s being led by Hamas, a militant Islamist organization dedicated to eradicating any Jewish state.

    That’s where I stopped reading.

    Before 1882, when the Ottomans first allowed foreign ownership in Palestine, the Mizrahim were some 4% of the population. With the pogroms in Russia, some 50,000 Ashkenazi immigrated by 1918, making the jewish population some 8%. Which of those were indigenous when the colonial project began in earnest?

    The call for a return to the 1967 borders has always been an attempt to legitimize the original theft of Palestinian land in 1948.

    Complicating that was the expulsion of the Mizrahim from surrounding Arab states after 1948 and their immigration to Palestine. Now they have a majority in the Knesset and they want all of the land. The West’s colonial project has disrupted the area completely. I can’t imagine the Ministry of Propaganda is going to explain this, but I don’t have the fortitude to finish the piece.

    1. nippersdad

      “…but why is there a war against Iran?”

      I am seeing a lot of efforts to demonize Iran by saying that arguments not favorable to Israeli state interests were propagated by Iran. Iran are the new Russians, with an insatiable appetite for propagandizing the US sheepulation. If they could turn five thousand dollars worth of Buff Bernie ads on FB into a propaganda war capable of turning elections, they think they can now turn zero dollars worth of nothing into an existential threat against Israel.

      My guess is that this is just transferrence to the next neoconservative pet hate in hopes of ginning up yet another war for them to lose.

    2. ChrisPacific

      The ‘indigenous’ argument goes back to the Jewish Biblical state thousands of years ago (Arabs have a similar long history there). Usually followed up by saying that Jews have the superior claim since they were there first.

      Globally this argument is only ever used as an attempt to legitimize the actions of a stronger party that they intended to take anyway. It’s never given much weight in the many cases where the original inhabitants are marginalized or dispossessed. For example, the Australian First Nation peoples have been there many times longer than the Jews in Israel, and nobody is arguing for the deportation of Australians of colonial descent.

      1. Alice X

        The difference is that the Arabs have had a continuous presence while the Jews, except for a small contingent of the Mizrahim, have not.

  12. nippersdad

    “2 It was striking to see how some Israel lobbyists were taken aback as the lack of support for Israel among the young in the US generally. ”

    This has struck me as well. RBN did a short video on a leak from an ADL conference call with AIPAC in which Jonathan Greenblatt told them the problems they are having with the youth vote getting in line:

    Immediately after that, I saw an article in either The Hill or Politico (I can’t remember which) in which they had a Harvard Professor explicitly say that a lot of what they were seeing was a direct result of the conflation of Zionism with Judaism, something that has heretofore been taboo as that was the specific intent of using the Holocaust museum’s definition of what constitutes an anti-semitic act. She had to have had permission from someone to go on the record like that given the actions of donors at Harvard to student protests, they are very strictly policed, so I saw it as a strategic retreat by the forces of AIPAC from a former red line. As it is the ADL that has been collecting instances of anti-semitic hate crimes and how they have risen 300 percent, one has to wonder how they inflated those numbers and if it is not backfiring.

    Today we see Chuck Schumer also trying to deconflate Zionism and Judaism in his speech and op-ed. He is still using the ADL numbers, but I have to wonder if the reports of the hundred twenty million dollars AIPAC is spending to get rid of speed bumps in Congress are not having their effect on his perceptions of what is politically viable anymore. Looks like AIPAC and the various other allied groups may be on their way to having to address the issue of being unregistered foreign agents, and at that point they lose.

    May be wishful thinking on my part, but there appears to be a lot of damage control going on right now behind the scenes.

  13. nippersdad

    “And so far, Israelis must be telling themselves that their bet is paying off since none of the Muslim countries in the ‘hood has intervened in a serious way to stop the slaughter of Palestinians.”

    What are the odds that the aid convoy from Turkey is not meant to create a causus belli for Turkey to attack Israel? Erdogan has been making a lot of noises like he wants to put boots on the ground in Gaza, and given Israel’s track record in attacking such convoys in the past that would be a perfectly predictable response by them. The only real option would be for the US navy in the area to intervene on Israel’s behalf, and to attack a fellow NATO member would not do their position WRT Russia (or NATO itself) much good.

    1. AndrewJ

      Come to think of it, Turkey might be looking at Russia’s experience and getting ideas. The Ukraine SMO hasn’t weakened the Russian military, it’s taught it valuable lessons and created battle-hardened soldiers. As long as the US stays out of the fight, Turkey could get the same experience against a relatively soft target. Hmm.

      1. John k

        Yes, if us stays out turkey might well be able to do a job on israel. Otoh, if us stops the boats, turkey might kick the us out of incerlik and or quit nato. Hobsons choice for us.
        And what would Hizbullah do if turkey takes a role?
        I’m surprised there hasn’t been an oil/gas embargo on the west by now.
        Interesting aipac may be losing clout wrt young Jews. This will get worse. Just as Israel’s secular exodus if and when hostilities die down with Hamas still standing. What’s to stay for? No civil rights or judicial protections now, and little remaining clout clearly will get worse with every exit; and imo israel can’t survive without the seculars.

  14. Eclair

    In some ways, a return to active bombing works to the Palestinians’ advantage, long term. Pro-Palestinian groups can continue to portray the Israeli government as genocidal monsters. A halt in bombing, with hostage exchange, is kind of a ‘blah’ period; hard to get anyone riled up.

    And, there will have to be a much larger swell in anti-Israeli sentiment in the US in order to move on to the demands that Israel halt the Occupation (of Gaza and the West Bank,) and, finally, to the creation of a Palestinian state, with pre-1947 borders. And, that will be a cold day in Hades ….. sigh.

    Maybe consiousness-raising groups, like women formed in the ’70’s, would be a start. A counter to the decades of boomers raised on Leon Uris’s “Exodus.” (In college in the late ’50’s, early 60’s, my friends and I had romantic notions of spending a few years on an Israeli kibbutz. JFK’s creation of the Peace Corps in 1961, scooped away a number of those eager to bring democracy and Western-style prosperity to foreign lands.)

  15. Aurelien

    I think there has perhaps been too much concentration on the US angle in this case. As Crooke correctly points out, the US gave away any leverage it might have had at the start of the conflict, by unequivocally backing Israel. Whatever you think of the morality, this is bad politics and amateurish diplomacy, because it makes you the tail of the dog. By giving Israel all the practical and political support it wants at the start, and without conditions, Biden has made it incredibly difficult for the US to harden its line at all, whereas to have retained a margin of manoeuvre at the start would have required the Israelis to actively lobby for things, not just take them for granted. As it is, Biden has reduced the US to the status of a colony, confirming every joke ever made about him being Netanyahu’s Minister for American Affairs. Not the least of the outcomes of this bloody shambles, I suspect, is going to be a permanent loss of international influence for the US, as a country which can’t even control the behaviour of a tiny state which is entirely dependent on its favour.

    But in any event, I’m not sure that presence or absence of US support is going to make much difference in the end. Yes, the US could send more weapons and ammunition, but we know that the cupboard is increasingly bare, as a result of Ukraine and the financialisation of the defence industry. And beyond a certain point, pounding rubble into dust from the air is less and less effective. If members of the Axis manage to target Israeli cities with missiles, the US, as we’ve seen, doesn’t really have any defences to offer. As suggested above, air bases could also be targeted, although they are much harder to knock out than is often believed, and runways can be repaired quite quickly. (It would be interesting to know, actually just how survivable the bases are: I assume the aircraft are in hardened shelters, but what about maintenance and command and control?)

    Ironically, Biden’s two wars may be the end of illusions about America’s dominance in world affairs, not that that will be any comfort to the inhabitants of Gaza. I fear no-one is going to help them, and that the immediate military objective is the destruction of their society, economy, health service and government. Israel seems well on the way to that.

    1. JonnyJames

      On the other hand: To be simplistic, Israel was initially created to serve British interests, then later: “If Israel didn’t exist, we would have to invent it”. (Joe Biden). Israel is the unsinkable aircraft carrier for the US empire, a dagger aimed at the heart of the ME. Israel’s nuclear weapons are a gun to the head of the other nations of the region and this serves US interests.

      You forgot the other interest groups that benefit from the status-quo, also bribe Congress to support Israel. I don’t think it is as simple as The Israel Lobby controlling US foreign policy, although that is obviously one of the major factors.

    2. nippersdad

      “I fear no-one is going to help them, and that the immediate military objective is the destruction of their society, economy, health service and government. Israel seems well on the way to that.”

      I was just watching MacGregor, and he was saying that Turkey has a two million man army and a large navy that could totally change the calculus in the ME. Ritter has been saying much the same thing for weeks now. Looks to me like Erdogan is just awaiting the opportunity to go in there and clean them out. We do not have the military that can stand up to such an onslaught, especially insofar as they would also have to deal with Hezbollah and potentially Iran as well, so I suspect that is the conversation that the Biden Administration is now having with Netanyahu and why they are so bent against Israel going into the south of Gaza.

      If they try to fulfill their immediate objective they will get the Armageddon that they have been worrying about all of these years and Israel may cease to exist as it is presently configured.

    3. vao

      the US gave away any leverage it might have had at the start of the conflict, by unequivocally backing Israel.

      So did Sunak, Scholz, Meloni, and Macron when each one in turn promptly paid a visit to Netanyahu, declaring to “stand with Israel”.

      For the USA, it may well be a “a permanent loss of international influence”, but Europe probably just wiped out the little consideration it might still have retained on the diplomatic scene.

      As it is, Biden has reduced the US to the status of a colony

      I do not think so. Perhaps you mean that he reduced the USA to the status of a client of Israel (in the sense of a client-patron relation).

    4. ISL

      Looking at how Hezbollah flattened an IDF base in the north with missiles, they can probably flatten airfields too.

      Also wrt fixing runways – the question is how fast is fast. In a war of attrition, sure. OTH, if Hezbollah or Turkish fighters move south – the distances are very small. I mean, if Hezbollah hits each runway with a 1000 lb. missile once every few hours, they could keep them out of service for weeks. If cluster munitions are used, repair crews would be rapidly decimated in a few days.

      1. nippersdad

        From what I have read those fighter planes have an air intake on the underbody that just vacuums up the field. One could only imagine what missed cluster munitions would do to something like that. Then it just wouldn’t be a matter of fixing the field, but the planes as well.

    1. Paradan

      That would start civil war. Think about the political power they wield. The refugees would get priority citizenship, along with financial aid (like $10,000 or more), housing, free health care, and employment (wiping out career opportunities for millions of college grads). While this is going on, they’d all be angry at Americans saying we didn’t support them enough. That they lost their homeland because of us. All this at a time when most Americans can barely pay their bills and feed their families. Right or wrong, much of America is already pissed at the current immigration flood going on. Adding this on top of it would be the final straw.

      America would snap.

      1. Michael Hudson

        Well, look at the bright side. The US THEN would have to give the same deal to all the homeless Americans and unemployed etc.

      2. nippersdad

        Much the same thing we have been seeing in European countries with the Ukraine refugees, and now we are seeing them snap. Having an even less homogenous population that has long suffered from privations unknown in Europe, it wouldn’t take as long ere to see the results, either.

      3. JonnyJames

        Immigration “flood”. Yeah, we have heard the same BS for 150 years or more. The “border crisis” blah blah. Let’s blame the powerless and worship the oligarchy – it’s a great tool to distract the plebs.

        1. nippersdad

          I do not see the parallel. Israeli refugees would bear no resemblance to the four foot tall Mayan women clutching their skeletal babies crossing the border. These people’s destiny would not be limited to changing sheets in a motel or slaughtering chickens for chicken feed.

          1. JonnyJames

            But I’m not referring to Israelis, I am reacting to the cliches and metaphors of immigration “flood” and “border crisis” etc. in US popular discourse. The reason why US folks are more impoverished has nothing to do with powerless immigrants. They are scapegoated to mobilize political support. They are made into the internal Other, to kick around and whip up racial hatred so the plebs will fight among themselves and place blame on the “foreigners” while supporting politicians who are against their interests. It’s a very old political trick, and it works quite well.

            1. nippersdad

              I am with you on the powerless immigrants from South of the border, but to say that they have no effect on our increasingly service oriented economy is not the case. We do have a flood of refugees due to climate change, our destruction of their economies and propensity to start wars there. That is just a fact. It is also a fact that those refugees are used to push down wages here….


              …and that those areas that have such large populations of low paid immigrants are usually represented by the most reprehensible Republican immigration bashers is not lost on me as well.

              Were we to stop intervening in their countries and hold those who hire undocumented immigrants to the law the entire problem would largely dry up. That we have always used immigrants to hold down wages, that we have always intervened in the internal affairs of other countries South of the border and that it is largely heinous Republican operatives that point out the real world effects of policies they are in full agreement with does not render any of that untrue.

              It is an old political trick, it does work well, but that just may be because there is so much truth in it that truthiness will pass for reality in the absence of any effort to change the narrative.

              1. JonnyJames

                I agree, but this is nothing new. If we are honest, the US was founded on brute violence, slavery, exploitation and theft. Unless we are indigenous, we are all immigrants – immigrants have been exploited since DAY ONE of the US project.

                This is not a “flood”, these are humans, not a tsunami, this is a terrible metaphor. Not a flood, it is the status quo. As we have seen, wages can be held down in other ways. I’m not saying that exploitation of the powerless does not help, but it is NOT the only way wages are held down.

                Then we have the problem of the Mexican war which created a ‘border crisis’ for the local and indigenous folks who found themselves on the other side of a border imposed on them by armed thugs. As they say “we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us”

                1. nippersdad


                  Forgive me for using an article from ’09, but they are just so omnipresent that they tend to blur together. I used to get so annoyed by Steve King (R IA) that he is the first guy I tend to think of when this comes up. He was horrid, and IIRC were it not for the immigrants in his district he would have had no district at all. In that he is much like the rest of them, their constituencies are the last thing considered in their careers.

      4. Kevin Smith

        Right now, about 1/3 of the Israeli population generate most of the GDP, 1/3 provide most of the top military, and ~1/3 provide most of the top civil service and judiciary. Problem is, it’s the same people in each third.

        Solution: immigrate that 1/3 to the USA and other countries, where they would thrive, and leave the haredi etc to fend for themselves.

        1. The Rev Kev

          It would never work. You would have too many people wanting to be chiefs and none of them wanting to be Indians.

      5. John k

        You’re right, especially the majority coming are the less productive group many of which do very little.
        Presumably though, we’d push our vassals to take millions. And maybe Russia would let them have a little patch in w Ukraine.

  16. JonnyJames

    This is all very painful and depressing as usual. The legalized unlimited political bribery in Congress comes not just from the Israel Lobby, but from other “epistemic communities” (aka different factions of oligarchy) that have converging interests: the MIC, BigOil, BigFinance etc. And, of course, the “intelligence community” is aligned with these groups as well.

    When we have Congress openly bribed and institutionally rotten to the core, I don’t see any change in future. Both factions of the Duopoly dictatorship pledge unconditional support. No matter if the next Puppet Emperor is a D or R, they will fall all over themselves to show who is the biggest supporter of Israel, like it has been for decades.

    In the meantime, we have to sit by and watch the slow-but-steady process where Palestinians are slaughtered and forced into smaller and smaller Bantustans and concentration/death camps in Gaza and the WB.

    In the US, we can expect more govt. “shutdown” drama, more “budget crises”, more theft of SS/Medicare etc., more dysfunction, more distractions and nonsense, while there is always plenty of money and heavy weapons to give away for war crimes and genocide.

    At least we can see through the thick cloud of miasma that the MassMedia/govt spew, and informed folks here on NC can take the piss as well. A sense of humor is more important than ever

  17. Robert Gray

    quoted from The Cradle:

    > It [the IDF] will need to search for innovative solutions if it seeks to advance toward densely populated areas
    > in northern Gaza, such as Jabalia refugee camp, the Al-Zaytoun and Al-Shuja’iya neighborhoods, Al-Shati
    > beach camp, and other vital places the Israelis have failed to penetrate.

    One thing that requires frequent repetition for our geography-challenged fellow citizens is how small Gaza actually is; too many maps nowadays omit the scale, and that doesn’t help. In fact, the area of the Gaza strip is the same as that of the city of Omaha — but Gaza has five times more people. Similarly Las Vegas but with 4x the population. Indeed, the land area of Brooklyn and Queens combined is only slightly larger than Gaza. Imagine a big army ‘seeking to advance’ from Bed-Stuy to Jackson Heights.

  18. Michael Hudson

    I just watched Jeffrey Sachs on Judge Napolitano’s blog. He takes the diametric opposite view from Yves: He proposes a two-state solution in which both sides live happily side by side.
    Alistair Crooke on the same show Monday showed how this is impossible. The two-state solution is dead. Unless only Jewish fundamentalists live in the “Palestinian state.” That is what happened since 1947. There’s no room for Palestinians in a reservation/prison camp statelet. We’ve reached the point of either/or, Crooke says.
    I think that the US neocons still have their eyes on Iran, to make it part of Greater Israel — or at least until there’s fighting to the last Israeli.

    1. Kevin Smith

      Palestinian numbers are increasing a lot faster than Israelis are, and now some Palestinians are proposing that a ONE STATE SOLUTION with equality for all, universal suffrage, etc is their fave solution … and to heck with this nonsense about a two state solution.

    2. John k

      Imo the un committee that designed the 1947 2-state map did a much worse job than the one that did the camel, so it’s important to define what the 2 states would be. Imo israel in the north (hemmed in by Lebanon and Syria) and the p in the south, with south extending north along the Jordan to include e jrtusalem, might have a chance. P would get fresh river water, Red Sea access, and the oil/gas resource off\ Gaza, should be viable, especially with early help from rich gulf states. Clearly not Israel’s pick, but maybe if this war Peters out, food/fuel/water gets in, israel seculars bail out, israel might be forced into something as they weaken.
      Erdogan has been talking tough as mentioned above, maybe he sees himself as a modern day Saladin… if he wants that role he has to walk the walk, not just talk.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The problem is that Israel has created a zillion settlements, and roads between them, that Palestinians are not allowed to cross. The Mizrahim that are now a majority in the Knesset will never accept Israel citizens being expelled from land they now occupy.

  19. ChrisPacific

    He knows it will be aeons before such a vision takes life, if at all, and if South Africa’s experience is anything to go by, the journey will be fraught with much bloodshed.

    It’s worth noting that South Africa is not an example of a two state solution. It’s a single state, representing both parties. Two states would bear a lot more resemblance to apartheid-era South Africa, where blacks were confined to small, resource-poor ‘homeland’ regions.

    So as far as the South Africa comparison is concerned, Israel/Palestine have a lot of work to do even to reach the starting line. The ultimate destination is not even considered in the realm of possibility at present, by either side (except for a marginalized minority).

    1. Synoia

      Two states would bear a lot more resemblance to apartheid-era South Africa, where blacks were confined to small, resource-poor ‘homeland’ regions.

      Umm, No. Not al all similar.

      The various groups had to work together to have a functioning economy. There was no desires on any of the multiple sides to eliminate any of the groups from existence.

      English speaking
      Africans speaking
      The Zulu
      The Shona
      The Indian, Community

      To name some of the groups.

      The also was no desire in any single group to expel or exterminate any of the other groups, to attain purity.

          1. Vladimir

            In order to stop Hamas from future attacks Israelis should move to Ukraine.

            And the reason for this is that Israel and Ukraine lead same kind of war.

            Does any of it it make sense or you are joking?

            1. nippersdad

              I’m sorry, it was a very bad joke referencing a Sixties sitcom.

              The only way that Israel can do anything to prevent future attacks from Hamas is to remove their reason for existing. Israel has proven to be a bad actor and that it will not allow Palestinians self determination. Their is no convergence possible there, so the attacks will continue until one side or the other is defeated.

Comments are closed.