The Unspoken Elephant in the Room of Netanyahu’s Intent in Gaza

Is this punishment on Gaza’s civilian population, prompted by desire for vengeance? Or is it an outpouring of eschatological rage and determination?

By Alastair Crooke

The point about the Gaza crisis is that should everyone agree to stick their head in the sand and ignore the ‘elephant in the room’, it’s easy enough so to do. The meaning to a severe crisis is only properly understood when someone notices ‘the elephant’, and says look out; there’s an elephant stamping here. That’s where we are today. Slowly, the West is beginning to take notice. The rest of world however, is transfixed by it, and is being transformed by it.

What is the ‘elephant’ (or elephants) in the room? Blinken’s recent regional diplomacy was ‘a bust’. None of the regional leaders that Blinken met would talk further about Gaza beyond demanding stridently, ‘no Palestinian population displacement into Egypt’ a ‘stop to this madness’ – the carpet bombing of Gazans – and the demand for an immediate ceasefire.

And Biden’s calls for a ‘pause’ – softly, at first, and the more strident now – is being bluntly ignored by the Israeli government. The spectre of President Carter’s impotence during the Iran hostage crisis hangs ever more soberly in the backdrop.

The truth is that the White House cannot force Israel to do its will – the Israeli lobby holds the more clout in Congress than any White House team. Thus, ‘no exit’ from the Israeli crisis is readily to be seen. Biden ‘made his bed’ with the Netanyahu cabinet and must live with consequences.

Impotence then, as the Democratic Party fractures beyond the simplistic division between centrists versus progressives. The polarisation emanating from the ‘no ceasefire stance’ is having stark destabilising effects on politics, both in the U.S. and Europe.

Impotence then, as the shape of the Middle East crystallises into sharp antagonism towards the West’s perceived accommodation of the mass slaughter of Palestinian women, children and civilians. The die may be too far ‘cast’ to brake the ongoing tectonic reset already underway. Western double standards are just too inescapably obvious now to the Global Majority.

The large ‘elephant’ is this: Israel has dropped more than 25,000 tons of high explosives since 7 October (the 1945 Hiroshima nuke was 15,000 tons equivalent). What exactly is Netanyahu and his war cabinet’s aim here? Ostensibly, the earlier military operation in Jabalia Camp was about targeting a Hamas leader suspected of lurking under the camp – but six 2,000 lb bombs for one Hamas ‘target’ in a crowded refugee camp? And why too the attacks on water cisterns, hospital solar energy panels and hospital entrances, roads, schools and bakeries?

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Bread has almost disappeared in Gaza. The UN says all bakeries in northern Gaza have closed following the bombing of the last bakeries. Clean water is desperately short, and thousands of bodies are slowly decomposing under rubble. Disease and epidemic are appearing, whilst humanitarian supplies are being tightly restricted as a bargaining tool toward further hostage releases..

Editor of Haaretz, Aluf Benn, puts the Israeli strategy very plainly:

“The expulsion of the Palestinian residents, transformation of their homes into piles of construction rubble, and the restriction of the entry of supplies and fuel into Gaza are the “tiebreaking move” employed by Israel in the current conflict, unlike all previous rounds of fighting in the Strip”.

Of what are we talking here? This clearly is not about avoiding collateral civilian deaths occurring as the IDF battles with Hamas. There have been no street battles in Jabalia, or in and around the hospitals – as one soldier commented: “All we’ve done is ride around in our armored vehicles. The boots on the ground stuff will come later”. The pretext of a ‘humanitarian evacuation’ therefore is bogus.

Hamas’ main forces are sitting deep underground, for the right moment to engage the IDF (i.e. when they are on foot amidst the rubble). For now, the IDF are staying in their tanks. But sooner or later, they will have to engage with Hamas on foot. So, the fight with Hamas has barely begun.

Israeli soldiers complain that they ‘barely see’ Hamas fighters. Well, that is because they are not present at street level, except in one or two-man raiding parties that exit the underground tunnels to attach an explosive device to a tank, or to fire a rocket at it. The Hamas operatives then quickly return to the tunnel from which they emerged. Some tunnels are constructed only for this purpose – as ‘once and done’ structures. As soon as the raiding soldier returns, the tunnel is collapsed so that Israeli forces cannot enter or follow. New ‘throw-away’ tunnels are continually being constructed.

You will not find any Hamas fighters in the Gaza civil hospitals either; their own hospital is in the main facilities deep underground (along with dormitories, stores to last several months, armouries and excavating equipment to dig new tunnels). And the Hamas cadre is not to be found in the basements of the main Gaza hospitals.

Haaretz defence correspondent, Amos Harel, writes that Israel is only now coming to understand the scope and sophistication of the underground Hamas facilities. He acknowledges that the ‘military brass’ – unlike the cabinet circles – “is not talking about eradicating the seed of Amalek” (a biblical reference to the extermination of the Amalek people) – i.e. genocide. But even the IDF military leaders are not sure about their ‘end-purpose’, he notes.

So, the Elephant in the room for inhabitants of the Middle East – watching the destruction of the above-ground, civil structure – is what exactly is the objective of this killing? Hamas are deep below the ground. And although the IDF claims many successes, where are the bodies? We don’t see them. The bombing therefore must be to force an evacuation of civilians – a second Nakba.

And the intent lying behind the expulsion? Benn says it is to create a sense that they will never return home:

“Even if some cease-fire is soon declared under American pressure, Israel will be in no hurry to withdraw and allow the population to return to the northern Strip. And if they do come back – what will they come back to? After all, they will have no homes, streets, educational institutions, shops or any of the infrastructure of a modern city”.

Is this punishment on Gaza’s civilian population, prompted by desire for vengeance? Or is it an outpouring of eschatological rage and determination? No one can say.

This is the ‘Elephant’. And on its clarification hangs the issue of whether the U.S. too will be tainted by a crime. On this clarification, hangs whether some sustained diplomatic accommodation can be found, or not (if Israel is indeed returning to Biblical, eschatological root-justification).

It is this issue which will come to haunt Biden personally, and the West collectively in the future. Whatever timeline Biden may have had in mind, time is rapidly slipping away from him, amid rising international outrage, as the focus of the Israel-Gaza conflict is now primarily centred around Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, and no longer the 7 October attack.

It may seem implausible, yet Gaza, with an area of only 360 sq. kms is determining our global geo-politics. This sliver of land – Gaza – also, to an extent, controls what comes next.

“We will not stop”, Netanyahu has said; “there will be no ceasefire”. Whilst, in the White House, an Administration insider admits:

“They’re watching a train wreck, and they can’t do anything about it. The train wreck is in Gaza, but the explosion is in the region. They know [they can’t] actually stop the Israelis from what they’re doing”.

Time is running out. And this precisely is the obverse side to the ‘elephant paradox’. But how much time is there before time runs out? That is a moot question.

This obverse side to the conundrum appears to have caused confusion in the West, and in Israel too. Did Seyed Nasrallah’s speech last Sunday lower the risk of war widening beyond Israel, and thus imply that ‘time’ might be more flexible, and give more space for White House deconflicting? Or did it send a different message?

Just to be clear: It did answer the question of whether WW3 was about break-out. Nasrallah was clear that full regional war is not sought by any member of the united resistance front. Yet ‘all options remain on the table’, contingent upon U.S. and Israel future moves, Nasrallah underlined.

The following context to Nasrallah’s address is vital to its full understanding. On this occasion, uniquely, his speech reflected wide consultation amongst all axis ‘fronts’. There were, in short, multiple consultations and inputs to its final shape. The address therefore did not reflect the singularity of Hizbullah’s position alone. This is why it is possible to say there is a consensus against rushing headlong into all-out regional war.

The address, as a composite work, was highly nuanced – which might account for some mis-conceptualisations. As usual, the MSM just wanted ‘the key takeaway’. So, ‘Hizbullah did not declare war’ became the easy, to-hand ‘take-away’.

The first essential point from Seyed Nasrallah’s address nonetheless, was that he effectively made Hizbullah the ‘guarantor’ of Hamas’ survival (specifically, identifying Hamas by name, rather than referring to ‘the resistance’ as a generic entity).

Hizbullah therefore restricts itself, for the interim, to (undefined) and limited operations on the Lebanese border environs – so long as Hamas’ survival is not at risk. The Party nonetheless promises to directly intervene in some way, should Hamas’ survival be imperilled.

This is a ‘red line’ that will worry the White House. Clearly, Netanyahu’s objective of the extirpation of Hamas runs directly counter to Hizbullah’s ‘red line’, and risks the direct engagement of Hizbullah.

However, the ‘strategic shift’ in this key policy statement on behalf of the full Axis is the shift to perceiving U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East as keystone to the Region’s ills.

Instead of perceiving Israel as author of the present crisis, the latter was down-graded by Nasrallah, from independent actor, to that of being but one U.S. military protectorate, among others.

In plain terms, Seyed Nasrallah directly challenged not just the occupation of Palestine, but the U.S. in the round, as ultimately at the root of what has befallen the region – from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq to Palestine. In some respects, in this respect, Nasrallah echoed President Putin’s 2007 Munich warning to a West which was in the process of massing NATO forces on Russia’s borders. Putin’s riposte at that time was: “Challenge accepted”.

So too, as the U.S. masses significant naval marine forces around the Region – to ‘deter Hizbullah and Iran’ – but the latter declined to be deterred. Nasrallah said of the U.S. warships: “We have prepared for them something” (and later in week the Party unveiled its shore-to-ship missile capabilities).

The bottom line is that a united front of states and armed actors are warning of a wider challenge to U.S. hegemony. They effectively are saying, ‘Challenge accepted’ too.

Their demand is clear: Stop the killing of civilians; stop the attacks and bring about a ceasefire. No expulsions; no new Nakba. In specific terms, the U.S. was warned to ‘expect pain’ if the attack on Gaza is not quickly stopped. How much time is left to bring this cessation about (if it is even possible)? There are no timeline specifics.

What is meant by ‘pain’? That is not clear. But look around: the Houthis are sending waves of cruise missiles aimed at Israel (some don’t make it and are shot down; how many is unknown.) U.S. bases in Iraq are regularly (currently daily) under attack; many American soldiers have been injured. And Hizbullah and Israel are, for now, in limited war across the Lebanese border.

Not all out war – but if Israel’s attacks on Gaza continue over the coming week(s), we should expect a managed escalatory tightening of the screw across different fronts – which of course risks slipping out of control.

Alastair Crooke, Former British diplomat, founder and director of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum. Via Strategic Culture Foundation.

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Views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.





21 responses to “The Unspoken Elephant in the Room of Netanyahu’s Intent in Gaza”

  1. paul edwards Avatar

    That the U.S. can’t stop the Israelis is wrongly put; it won’t stop them. It chooses not to because it’s government is backed and owned by enormous Zionist money, and because it wants the same thing: dominance for purulent Capitalism and control of the Arab nations. The Empire, decayed, morally dead, and desperate for a vanished glory, is failing and dying, and provoking the massive war that will destroy it.

    1. braithwa842 Avatar

      This might have something to do with it!

      Youtube silenced this 5 minute video, but you can watch it on Rumble:-
      ” U.K. Prime Minister’s Family To Rake In BILLIONS From Gaza Oil”

      UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will make a fortune out of this war. Rishi’s father in law signed a
      $1.5B deal with BP, who have been awarded a license from Israel to exploit Palestinean gas resource.

      I wonder how many other politicians have a personal stake in this genocide?

      1. Prometheus Avatar

        I’d imagine Jacob Rees-Mogg will be putting a few rungs on his ladder from BAe.
        But as a former dip£omat of ye o£de Brutish Vampire Alastair might think that, but couldn’t possibly comment.

    2. Woopy Avatar

      True that the Washington DC plutocracy is owned and operated by the world Jewish council, Zionism, Rothschilds banking system, and white supremacy. It has been that way for at least 200 years but now much worse.

      1. Prometheus Avatar

        It has been owned by European feudal warlord loot since Columbus hit the Caribbean, and that wee pile has been accumulating since Romu£U$ was on the wolf’s teat.

      2. scrdmgl Avatar

        This is an excellent opportunity to comment on an astonishing fact. How is it possible that theoretically ultra nationalist MAGA supporters of Donald Trump, do not find his movement a betrayal of his America First rants, while at the same time surrendering America’s sovereignty to a foreign power, in this case Zionist Israel. I’m not too smart or maybe I’m missing something in that equation since this is a contradiction in terms. However is vital, since Trump will be the one at the helm come 2024 and he’s even a more rabid Zionist supporter than Biden if such thing is actually possible! Something is very wrong somewhere. America First = Israel First?

        1. braithwa842 Avatar

          Hi George, you might want to browse my rant below about the Five Eyes, because it complements your comment.

          1. scrdmgl Avatar

            Done. Besides the great George Galloway in YouTube, as well as John Ritter, Col. Macgregor and a few others, to illuminate the World’s Geopolitical picture, I sincerely recommend subscribing to Sean Foo, this young broker from Singapore offers a wealth of information on these issues with numbers, charts and related political comments.

  2. Gaze Avatar

    For more than seven decades, the Palestinian people have been subjugated by the Jews (and their U.S.-Western supporters) to a slow-paced Genocide, a hidden holocaust that is suddenly becoming public in Gaza. More than 17000 Palestinian civilians have been needlessly killed, including more than 5000 children and babies have been murdered. The UN Secretary General Guterres said: Israeli Jews have turned “Gaza into a graveyard for children.”
    Jews cannot acknowledge that the vast majority of the world disagrees with them for particularly good reasons, not because of “antisemitism”, but because of the violence they are subjugated the Palestinians to. Arabs are the real Semitic people and Jews are the truly the anti-Semite Zionists.
    Western media and Western politicians cannot imagine HAMAS being noble and chivalrous fighters, and Israelis being cowardly child-killing terrorists, though such is obviously the case.
    It does not make sense and you cannot win war by killing women and children unless the aim is Genocide, a real and in broad daylight Holocaust.
    Here in Australia, the country with the most Nazis-like draconian anti-Muslims laws, the regime and the media (without exception) are fully behind the Israeli Nazis and make it noticeably clear that they are proud of being complicit in the ongoing Israeli Genocide in Gaza. The words Palestinians and Palestine have been removed from the Australian vocabulary and are no longer in use here. Instead, the media and politicians are using HAMAS. Showing sympathy by using the words Palestine and Palestinians is unacceptable and have dire consequences.

    1. braithwa842 Avatar

      The Five Eyes intelligence alliance comprises Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. In practice, it means that if you live in Au, NZ, Canada, or UK, then the USA has intelligence centres in your country to tap your phone, monitor internet activity etc. And the raw data is sent to the USA for processing.

      If Au etc wants to know something, they have to apply to their masters in Washington to get a report about someone or something of interest. In summary, Washington collects the raw information processes it, and is therefore privy to all the information. Washington gives some of it the processed information back to the host countries ,at its discretion, when they request it.

      But there is a sixth eye, and it is not the brown eye. The sixth eye is Israel. Israel is NOT one of the five eyes, but Israel is privy to the raw information, i.e. all the information collected from five eyes countries. Its just what Israel needs for blackmail etc. Do you imagine that they would hesitate to use it.

      You and I are both Australian, but where is our sovereignty?

      1. Gaze Avatar

        I agree. Israel is part of the U.S. The Jewish regime has access to all information collected by the U.S. and privy (in advance) to all war crimes to be committed by the Washington Mafia.

      2. scrdmgl Avatar

        How true, the Yanks got you by the balls brother, the US base Pine Gap near Nevil Shute’s beloved Alice Springs, installed to monitor and spy into China location so classified that not even your own PM can enter. We are very fortunate in the fact that except for NORAD we don’t entertain US troops in Canada, the reason being that the Canadian Armed forces are an extension of the Pentagon who run the show from the US. How the world has changed, during WWII, Canada built its own tanks, rifles, sidearms including the Browning HP under Belgium license, the BREN light machine gun, planes and everything that you can imagine. Today the opposite is true we buy American, the same was true for OZ during the war but today American stuff is the preferred option.

  3. Subhuti37 Avatar

    Israelis are mentally ill. This genocide is misplaced revenge for the German genocide and earlier pogroms that Jews faced in Europe. So they reenact what was done to them, even clearly stating before this attack on Gaza that Palestinians are not fully human, or simply don’t even exist. Also, they take revenge as they did against Amelikites. Yet, they were the invaders back then as well. This is mass psychosis.

    1. Woopy Avatar

      Subhut the boshevik revolution around 1917 was when Bolsheviks, who were mostly Jews murdered anywhere from an estimated 30 to 50 million Russians and Eastern Europeans trying to create a white supremacy of utopia for themselves. This was probably the worst Holocaust to ever occur on this planet and mostly funded by New York Jews. Maybe the Europeans should be reinacting murder on the white supremacy Jews that have promoted a Holocaust upon the middle east for 70 years.

      1. Prometheus Avatar

        I think maybe you need to read a few more books, Woopy.
        Mein Kampf is not the most objective tome in the library.
        Poor old Adolf never did recover from his trench damage. You seem to have caught a dose of his simplistics. More rest and recreation might help clear your fever and let the racist bee out of your bonnet.

        1. Woopy Avatar

          Hi Prometheus, if white supremacist Jews are a “race” as you say, then you are correct that they have caught my attention. People from New York, Florida, New Jersey, Russia, EU and other places who are given airline tickets to Palestine to murder Palestinians, for sure sticks in my bonnet. When the white supremacists from these various places around the globe shoot the owners of the land, throw white prosperous on their children then bulldoze the home, it really does cause me to be firmly against what you refer to as a “race”. When the Palestinians try to get their land back from the hostile occupiers they are called “terrorists. People like you go merrily along your way thinking nothing of it. If the people you call a “race” come to your home and shoot your family, steal your home and land; would that give you a wakeup call? When you try to get your home back, we’ll call you a terrorist. That should work in your type of mental arrangement huh?

  4. Prometheus Avatar

    “And Biden’s calls for a ‘pause’ – softly, at first, and the more strident now – is being bluntly ignored by the Israeli government. The spectre of President Carter’s impotence during the Iran hostage crisis hangs ever more soberly in the backdrop.”

    Might that be because Biden’s whisper is drowned out by the ru$t£l€ of the extra $14.5bn, on top of the annual £3.8bn bung, Washington drops to it’s attacKKK dog on the oil reservoirs and Suez extractive jugular, and the two carrier fleets assure Netanyahu understands that sugardaddy Uncle Joe is just calling for a pause for electoral salvage purposes?

    As for Carter’s ‘impotence’, Reagan and Kissinger ensured the hostages were kept in captivity with the Contra arms deal to Tehran under the counter until the election was sealed.

    The parallels are there, but not quite as presented. There are dinosaurs as well as elephants galloping round the room.
    And dinosaurs Joe and Blinken are losing the room, to TrumposaurU$ Rex, Bibi’s bestest.

    1. braithwa842 Avatar

      Trumpasaurus Rex, you say. Will it be Tyrantasaurus?

      1. scrdmgl Avatar

        As good old Jefferson recommended ‘To sustain the Republic we must have a revolution every 20 YEARS’ Twenty years guys, so America has fallen behind 200 plus years since revolution is a word never used by anybody around no matter who they are. Taboo word.

  5. Pip Avatar

    YOUTUBE: Guess What The Israel-Palestine War Is REALLY About!
    The Jimmy Dore Show
    1.25M subscribers
    Nov 15, 2023 #TheJimmyDoreShow
    You probably don’t know that off the coast of Gaza sits $453 billion in liquefied natural gas. But you probably CAN guess why many observers who do know about these LNG deposits are suggesting that Israel’s interest in driving the Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip may have more to do with money than religion or terrorism.
    When I heard of what happened on the 7th October 2023, I smelled a RAT.
    No one was questioning the FACTS. A Rave was allowed and the Security was no where to be seen. It seemed to me to be a TRAP. Remember Israel had an INFORMER in HAMAS and was he getting the rockets from Ukraine via Israel and so the TRAP was set. Netanyahu needed the ATTACK to justify what he intended to do! The young HAMAS fighters were used as bait and the IDF murdered JEWS & ARABS to create the CHAOS.
    We need to REFLECT about the REAL reason for the attack,

  6. Pip Avatar

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