Op-Ed / Middle East & North Africa 1 minutes

No Exit From Gaza

Why Israel—and the United States—Has Only Bad Options for the Day After

Hamas’s October 7 attack shattered Israel’s sense of security and humiliated its intelligence and security apparatus. It also laid bare the infeasibility of the country’s dual approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had worked hard over the years to keep the Palestinian house divided by playing Hamas against the Palestinian Authority. He also convinced Arab regimes that it would be in their benefit to normalize relations with the Jewish state without the precondition of Israel’s first making peace with the Palestinians.

More than a month into their war, Israel and Hamas are both trying to break the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to do so definitively. Hamas appears to have hoped its attack would provoke Israel to resort to overreach, thereby putting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict back on the international agenda. Israel responded by seeking to eradicate Hamas’s military capability and rule over the Gaza Strip once and for all rather than keeping the militant group contained there, a strategy it referred to as “mowing the grass.” The cost has been staggering: Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis on October 7 and took over 200 hostages. The death toll from Israel’s subsequent assault on Gaza continues to mount, at last count exceeding 12,000, at least 5,000 of them children. Much of northern Gaza is flattened, more than two-thirds of all Gazans are displaced, and the entire population of 2.3 million is struggling to find clean water, food, or medicine. 

To read the full article, access it on the Foreign Affairs website.

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