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Russia & Hamas: an Israel Needs a Reality Check

Two episodes occurred in the last 24 hours that were a wake-up call for the Israeli leadership.

Russia vs. Israel

Yesterday, the Russian army established a joint position with the Syrian army that overlooks Israel, and in the streets of Beirut, at the Dahiya stronghold of Hezbollah, signs supporting Putin were hung in preparation for the Russian presidential elections at the end of the month. In the background are the evolving relationships ebtween Russia and Iran in light of the war in Ukraine. Russia is increasingly siding with Hamas and the Axis of Resistance and becoming a party to the struggle against Israel.

Why are the Russians turning against Israel?

Russia is changing its approach to Israel due to a number of geopolitical and economic reasons, but first and foremost, Russia is trying to disrupt American hegemony and the world order that the USA created. The Russian concept of a multipolar world order is first and foremost anti-Western and anti-American. Israel is positioned in the Russian discourse as part of the hostile camp that must be fought against. According to the Russians, the transition to a multipolar world will be achieved in a violent and protracted struggle against Western hegemony, and therefore it is Israel's enemies. The tension in relations between Israel and the United States will not change this equation.

Illustration of Russian soldiers at the Golan Heights

The Lessons for Israel

Against the background of the tension between the Biden administration and the Netanyahu government, there are elements in the government who defy the US and thus undermine the national security of the State of Israel. There are also those who convince themselves that Israel needs to leave the American camp, and get closer to Russia, China or India - this is a perception disconnected from reality. The US should not dictate to Israel the way in which it conducts the fighting, but Israel must also include the American position in the set of considerations. A victory in a war is measured over time by the trends it creates, therefore if the American commitment to Israel is damaged as a result of the war, then it will be a victory for Hamas and the axis of resistance.

Hamas against the clans in Gaza

Today Hamas killed a leader of a clan called Da'mesh in Gaza on the background of contacts he had with Israel. Israel is making contact with the leaders of various clans in Gaza in order to convince them to manage the distribution of humanitarian aid in its territory in the hope that they will manage the strip the day after. As far as can be understood, the response of the heads of the clans to Israel is very low, probably due to the still existing fear of Hamas. A few days ago Hamsa issued a warning to the heads of the clans lest they cooperate with Israel. The execution of the clan leader sends a threatening message to other clans.

Who were Supposed to be Israel's Partners?

Members of the Da'mesh clan are known as opponents of Hamas, but they are not fans of Zion. The members of the clan are the ones who founded an organization affiliated with al-Qaeda called the Army of Islam about a decade ago. The members of the clan were also involved in the kidnapping of the soldier Gilad Shalit.

Ilustration of a local militia

Lessons for Israel

Israel has had a very bad experience with attempts to cultivate local leadership. This was the case with a Palestinian leadership in Judea and Samaria in the 1980s and with the SDF in Lebanon. It is unlikely that you will be able to do the same in Gaza. There are 'experts' in Israel who promote a permanent solution based on local Palestinian clans that will replace the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria - this is an illusion.

In light of the relationship with the US and in light of the reality in Gaza, Israel must formulate a realistic political agenda that will be in line with American interests and will be based on a realistic perception of the Palestinian entity with which we are working. As I recall, we think that such an agenda can be reached.


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