‘Al-Aqsa Flood’: The surprise is that some are surprised

11:22 12.10.2023 •

Pic.: Al Mayadeen

The writing was clearly written on the wall. Two years ago, a missile campaign was unleashed from Gaza on "Tel Aviv" in response to the Temple Mount Movement’s religious zealotry and invasion of Al-Aqsa mosque, writes ‘Al Mayadeen’ from Lebanon.

Operation Al-Aqsa Flood has caught "Israel" and the US by complete surprise. Americans are calling it ‘Israel’s Pearl Harbour’ moment – and an attack on America too). Nikki Haley (running for election) is succinct: To Netanyahu: “Finish them”.

Al-Aqsa Flood is held to be "Israel’s" greatest ‘intelligence failure’. Maybe so, but if Israeli and American intelligence did not see the attack coming, it is because of their Western mechanical, literal way of thinking. If I, and probably thousands of Al Mayadeen readers, broadly knew that this was in the works (but not of course, of its operational details), why was "Israel" blind to it?

The writing was clearly written on the wall. Two years ago, a missile campaign was unleashed from Gaza on "Tel Aviv" in response to the Temple Mount Movement’s religious zealotry and invasion of Al-Aqsa mosque.

Palestinians rallied to the call to safeguard the Holy Mosque. It was not just Hamas; it was West Bank Palestinians and (for the first time, too, 1948 Palestinians who have Israeli passports) who all rose up to protect Al-Aqsa. Just to be clear, the rallying cry was not for Hamas; it was not for Palestinian nationalism. It was for Al-Aqsa – an icon that goes to the heart of what it is to be Muslim (Sunni or Shi’a). It was a cry that resonated across the entire Islamic sphere.

Did the West not get it?  Apparently not. It was right under their nose, but super high-tech Intel doesn’t do symbolic meaning. That was true for the 2006 Lebanon war too, by the way; "Israel" could not grasp the symbolism of Hezballah’s ‘Karbala’ stand.

In the intervening period, "Israel" has shattered into two equally weighted factions holding to two irreconcilable visions of "Israel’s" future; two mutually opposing readings of history and of what it means to be Jewish.

The fissure could not be more complete. Except it is. One faction, which holds a majority in parliament, is broadly Mizrahi – a former underclass in Israeli society; and the other, largely well-to-do liberal Ashkenazi.

So, what has this to do with Al-Aqsa Flood? Well, the Right in Netanyahu’s government has two long-standing commitments. One is to rebuild the (Jewish) Temple on ‘Temple Mount’ (Haram al-Shariff).

Just to be clear, that would entail demolishing Al-Aqsa.

The second overriding commitment is to the founding of "Israel", on the "Land of Israel". And again, to be clear, this (in their view) would entail clearing Palestinians from the West Bank. Indeed, the settlers have been cleansing Palestinians from swaths of the West Bank over the past year (notably between Ramallah and Jehrico).

On Thursday morning (two days preceding Al-Aqsa Flood), more than 800 settlers stormed the Mosque Compound, under the full protection of Israeli forces. The drumbeat of such provocations is rising.

This is nothing new. The First Intifada was triggered by (then) PM Sharon making a provocative visit into the mosque. I was a part of Senator George Mitchell’s Presidential Committee investigating that incident. Even then, it was clear that Sharon intended the visit to fuel the fire of Religious nationalism. At that time, the Temple Mount Movement was a minnow; today it has ministers in Cabinet and in key security positions – and has promised its followers to build the ‘Third Temple’.

So, the threat to Al-Aqsa has been building for two decades, and today is reaching an apex.  And yet US and Israeli intelligence didn’t see resistance coming, and nor did they see the settler violence building in the West Bank?

What happened on Saturday was widely expected and clearly extensively planned. So what’s next?

At what point might Hezbollah intervene? Is it ‘game on’? We do not know. However, “all resistance combat units throughout Syria and Lebanon have been put on war alert”, according to a Hezbollah statement.

The bottom line is that very likely, "Israel" will try to move to an emergency ‘Unity Government’ – at least for the period of the ‘war’. One aim (strongly advocated in Washington) behind moving to a unity government is to evict the Right from power – but recall that Netanyahu’s only hope of escaping indictment and prison lies with his coalition partners on the Right.

At present, the liberal press are insisting that the lack of forewarning to Saturday stems from the Israeli Mizrahi Right having egregiously “distracted” the security Establishment from their job. The Coalition members, however, will probably point out that any failure predominantly was in the hands of the Ashkenazi security High Command.

A Unity Government perhaps, but the underlying internal Israeli rupture will not vanish.

Gaza has endured a harsh economic blockade for more than 18 years. Palestinians are lynched at the hand of the illegal ultra-Jewish colonizers in cities like Hawara and Hebron. The burning of Palestinian cars, homes, and business, under the official protection of the Israeli occupying army and direct support from Israeli racist ministers have become a daily occurrence, stresses Jamal Kanj, an author of Children of Catastrophe: Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America, and other books.

Additionally, more than 5,000 Palestinians continue to languish in Israeli jails. The racist Israeli government has introduced new harsh measures, including extended isolation, limited family contact, restricted access to medical treatment, etc. This does not even account for the 1,200 individuals held under administrative detention, which means imprisoned without charge.

The international community’s silence has granted Israel impunity and has perpetuated the normalization of the Israeli apartheid occupation, imposing a way of life that Palestinians are forced to endure and tolerate.

This background sets the stage for Palestinians to, for perhaps the first time, to grab the initiative from the Israeli occupation forces by raiding the prison posts that kept Gaza under blockade, in the world’s largest open-air prison, for nearly two decades.

Keeping that in mind, it is disheartening to witness the biased coverage by American TV networks and their one-sided pundits, rendering FOX, CNN, and MSNBC indistinguishable in their hypocritical handling of today’s events as well as the 75-year Israeli occupation and the dispossession of Palestinian land.

Alas, American/Western media and political pundits won’t hesitate describing the Palestinian retaliation against the Gaza economic blockade, the murdering of Palestinians, the defilement of holly sites, the building of Jewish only colonies on illegally occupied land, as merely a “terrorist” attack, and Israeli prisoners taken to Gaza as “hostages.”

Meanwhile, the same media industrial complex never ascribed the term hostage for Palestinian, men, women and children taken half naked in the middle of the night from their bedrooms by the Israeli army. The pundits in CNN, FOX, and MSNBC never called the 1200 non charged Palestinians held indefinitely (under 6 months renewable sentence) as hostages.

Palestinians are well aware that their actions against the Israeli guard posts of the largest open-air prison might come at a significant cost. They face the greatest technology by the most rudimentary weapon system. Palestinians realize they have no match to the American supplied Israeli military might. However, the latest battle has also demonstrated the unmatched bravery of the Palestinian fighters who went fishing for Israeli soldiers hiding inside the most expensive, and most sophisticated military tanks.

Following the slaughter of hundreds of innocent Israelis at the hands of Hamas terrorists this past weekend, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called for a cease-fire to hostilities as the world’s lone Jewish state began launching its counterattack, notes ‘The Federalist’.

In a post published on Sunday evening, Blinken informed his X (formerly Twitter) followers that he spoke with the foreign minister of Turkey regarding Hamas’ onslaught against Israel. In the post, the U.S.’ leading diplomat stated that he encouraged Turkey to advocate for “a cease-fire,” as well as “the release of all hostages held” by Hamas — an Iranian-backed terrorist organization — “immediately.”

The now-unavailable post was shared “just as Israel began responding” to Hamas’ Saturday attacks, according to the New York Post.

Blinken’s tweet was not the first instance in which the Biden administration openly pressured Israeli leadership to avoid militarily responding to what has arguably been the worst terrorist attack in their nation’s history. Hours after Hamas started slaughtering innocent Israeli civilians, the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs tweeted, “We urge all sides [emphasis added] to refrain from violence and retaliatory attacks. Terror and violence solve nothing.”

The Biden administration’s demand that Israel — which radical Islamists have been attempting to annihilate since its founding — lay down its arms and negotiate with terrorists is stunning when considering that these same officials have openly encouraged the exact opposite policy when it comes to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While giving a speech in Finland in June, for example, Blinken pressed U.S. allies to not support a cease-fire or peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow, arguing that Ukraine must be “stronger” and “capable of deterring and defending against any future aggression” before it can, as the Associated Press described, “negotiate on its own terms.” The U.S. secretary of state also claimed in March that countries’ push for a cease-fire in Ukraine could be “a very cynical trap” allowing Moscow to maintain control of Ukrainian territory it acquired during its invasion.

So, why is the Biden administration demanding a cease-fire in Gaza but not Ukraine? Sure, the situations are different, but if peace is the ultimate objective, shouldn’t Biden and his team be pushing Ukraine to make peace with Russia in the same way they’re encouraging Israel to engage with Hamas?

What the Palestinian Resistance wants from Netanyahu is too high a price for the embattled prime minister to pay. Statement after statement, starting with that of Al-Qassam Brigades’ top commander, Mohammed Deif – followed by Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’s political bureau, and later Ziad al-Nakhla of the Islamic Jihad – showed that the Palestinian demands are both clear and precise:

‘Freeing all prisoners; respecting the sanctity of Palestinian holy sites in Jerusalem, ending the siege on Gaza and more,’ states Ramzy Baroud, a journalist and the editor of ‘The Palestine Chronicle’.

Those demands, although should be considered reasonable, are nearly impossible for Netanyahu and his far-right government to meet. If he concedes, his government will quickly collapse, sending Israeli politics once more into another tailspin.

Either way, that collapse seems imminent.

Indeed, one of the achievements of the Resistance in Gaza is marginalizing such notorious characters, who acted with impunity against unarmed Palestinian civilians in Jerusalem, at Al-Aqsa Mosque, even in Israel’s many prisons.

But a new coalition in Israel would complicate Netanyahu’s mission even more. The cabinet has already declared a state of war, and potential new ministers want Netanyahu to commit that he must link that declaration of war to ending Hamas. Forever.

This is the first real Gaza war, they say. They also want it to be the last.

But if Netanyahu carried on killing civilians in Gaza, through airstrikes and shelling, as he and other Israeli leaders have done in previous military operations, neither Hamas, nor any other group would be eliminated.

The Palestinian Resistance is too careful to present themselves as easy targets for Israeli warplanes, drones and snipers. Their operations are conducted almost entirely underground.

It follows that destroying the Resistance would require a massive land invasion.

Not only has the Resistance anticipated all scenarios, including the land incursion, but an invasion of Gaza would surely lead to thousands of Israeli deaths; let alone, the harvesting of tens of thousands of Palestinian lives.

If Israel takes charge of Gaza again, it will have to fight that same Palestinian Resistance daily, and possibly for years to come.


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