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Israel-US Relations and Hamas' war Doctrine

Israel and the US find themselves caught in a carefully planned trap by Hamas, leading their relations to reach a critical point. A recent announcement revealed that the US government is pushing for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state without Israeli consent. Furthermore, Biden's criticism against Netanyahu has escalated to an unprecedented level. He has made a distinction between the Israeli populace and its government—a differentiation usually reserved for autocratic regimes. Despite this, Biden has promised to never cease military aid to Israel. Nevertheless, this assurance has caused significant concern within Israel.


Israel may have overlooked a pivotal shift in Hamas's tactics. After dismantling most of its military structure (with Rafah as an exception), Hamas has shifted its focus towards leveraging soft power through diplomatic, political, legal, and civilian channels, complemented by guerrilla warfare in Gaza. Hamas views the extension of the conflict as a means to weaken Israel's economy, undermine its social cohesion, marginalize it on the international stage, and drive a wedge between it and its principal ally, the United States.


The escalating tension between Israel and the US aligns precisely with Sinwar's anticipations, serving as a critical motivator for Hamas's choice to extend the conflict and heighten tensions during Ramadan, thus worsening the situation further. The overt disputes between the US and Israel, which might align with the political interests of both Biden and Netanyahu, push the possibility of a hostage exchange deal and ceasefire further away.


Although Israel faces criticisms centered on humanitarian issues, it has adhered to almost all of the American demands. This includes 'withstanding' decisions enforced upon it, like enabling aid airlifts to Gaza and agreeing to the US's initiative to set up a port for humanitarian aid, under Israeli security.


It must be candidly stated that it is questionable whether any alternative Israeli government could navigate the Hamas conflict differently. Hamas's military doctrine, leveraging Gazans as human shields, leaves little room for variance. After enduring the severest military setback in its history, Israel is inexorably descending into its deepest diplomatic and state-level trough.


Five insights Re Israel's Strategic Options


  1. Israel is urged to articulate a regional political agenda. The humanitarian-focused critique of Israel is notably magnified by its hesitance to define a regional political strategy. We contend that an agenda aligning with the Israeli consensus is feasible and could garner international acceptance (as elaborated here).

  2.  Prioritizing coordination with the US is imperative. We maintain that such alignment does not imply compromise on security interests, as evidenced by various alternatives we have suggested. 

  3. The exposure of Israel's diplomatic-political vulnerability. Shifting the conflict's focus to soft power unveils the neglect of Israel's foreign diplomatic-political apparatus. Israel lacks a “diplomatic-military IDF”, capable of orchestrating complex maneuvers.

  4. The multifaceted Iranian threat. Israeli decisions in the Palestinian sphere will influence its capacity to confront Iranian challenges. A permanent military presence in Gaza might afford Israel a more secure position but risk isolating it in its confrontation with Iran and its affiliates. Alternatively, transferring control of Gaza to a Palestinian authority could pose strategic security risks but might also enable Israel to forge regional alliances and secure US and NATO support.

  5. In search for leadership. Israel stands at a pivotal crossroads, requiring resolute leadership decisions. The Israeli government's indecision effectively constitutes a decision, exacting a toll on the nation. (read here on the dilemmas).



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