The recent attack by Hamas on Israel has sent shockwaves across the region, drawing comparisons to the 1973 Yom Kippur War. As Israel reels from the assault, questions arise about Hamas’ motives and whether its objectives can be achieved.
Hamas, a guerrilla movement that has ruled Gaza since 2007, staged a surprise attack on Israel, temporarily taking control of military installations and towns. The magnitude of this assault is unprecedented, with more than 600 Israeli casualties, mostly civilians, and about 100 Israelis believed to be held hostage in Gaza.
Divergence from 1973:
While the 1973 Yom Kippur War was a conventional conflict between well-armed militaries, the current situation is different. Hamas, a guerrilla movement, has no intentions of occupying territory. Instead, it executed a large-scale raid aiming to kill, destroy, and take prisoners. This attack bears resemblance to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s actions in the 1970s but on a much larger scale.
Hamas appears to be seeking negotiations with Israel, similar to Egypt’s aim in 1973. However, the geopolitical context is less favorable today. Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar had previously proposed a long-term truce to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018. While some pressure on Gaza eased, long-term demands, such as a prisoner swap, ending the siege, and establishing a port and airport, were rejected.
Complex International Climate:
Hamas faces an inhospitable international climate, especially after an attack resulting in numerous civilian casualties and hostages. Israel’s hard-right government seems uninterested in a negotiated settlement, and calls for re-occupation of Gaza are growing louder.
Reoccupying Gaza would carry a significant human cost and place Israel directly in control of the Gaza Strip. Conversely, mounting pressure within Israeli public opinion to secure hostages’ release could necessitate an agreement with Hamas, involving prisoner releases and further concessions in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Potential Palestinian Leadership Shift:
Some suggest that Hamas’ attack aims to position itself as the dominant Palestinian leadership for the future, even if it risks unpredictable consequences. As tensions escalate in the region, the outcome remains uncertain, and the path to resolution grows dim.
In summary, Hamas’ recent actions have set off a new phase of conflict in the region, challenging the status quo and raising questions about the future of Palestinian leadership and the possibility of negotiations with Israel.