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Israel, Palestine |  Israel and Hamas: What happens next?

Israel, Palestine | Israel and Hamas: What happens next?

comment Expresses the writer’s opinions.

The war launched by the United States against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in 2003 was a disaster by all standards. The justification for the war was a lie. Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction.

But the worst part is that the United States had absolutely no plans for what would happen after it won this war.

President George W. Bush Jr. Perhaps his naive idea was that a prosperous, Western-oriented democracy would emerge in the country, so to speak, once the dictator disappeared. It didn’t work out that way.

The country was divided into three, between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in the south and Kurds in the north. They then fought a devastating war against ISIS before today returning to the original three-part conflict.

The country is characterized by terrorist attacks, corruption, and a dysfunctional government that is unable to protect its citizens or create a good life for them.

Anders Magnus

Anders Magnus has been a journalist for more than 40 years and has been, among other things, a foreign correspondent for NRK on three continents: Africa, Asia and America. His last assignment was to Washington, D.C., where he covered most of Donald Trump’s term — and the beginning of Joe Biden’s term.

Magnus was also a journalist at Bergens Tidende and at TV2 – where he led the PS and M programmes.

What will happen when the enemy is defeated?

The lesson is: If you’re going to attack someone, and you intend to win, the most important thing is to plan for what happens after you achieve victory.

At the present time, Israel does not seem to have been convinced by this wisdom.

When US President Joe Biden visits Israel, this is the most important thing he can do: talk frankly about how the Americans failed miserably in Iraq. Instead of securing the region, on the contrary, they set it on fire – and also contributed to the creation of the terrorist organization ISIS, which continues to threaten countries and peoples beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria.

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It is completely understandable that the Israelis want revenge for the horrific terrorist attack, in which children, women, men, the elderly and the sick were slaughtered or taken hostage.

We hear of horrific scenes and horrors, with Hamas soldiers behaving in the same brutal way that we have seen before from ISIS fighters.

But the horrific scenes have now moved to Gaza, where Israel is bombing non-stop, and where children, women, men, the elderly and the sick are being killed. At the same time, residents are running out of water, food, electricity, fuel, medicine, and hospitals, because Israel has closed access to them and does not allow the borders to be opened.

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“Remove Hamas permanently.”

The whole world is now waiting in horror for the fifth largest military force in the world to allow its tanks to penetrate Gaza, in order to “remove Hamas once and for all.” This is of course not possible. But this is exactly what Israel’s greatest enemies hope will happen.

Hamas launched its terrorist attack precisely to obtain this response. They can then fight to the last man and impose huge costs on Israel, both financially and personnel, through long urban warfare of alleys and tunnels.

Hezbollah will also be enthusiastic. The Islamic Shiite militia in Lebanon has 150,000 missiles directed towards Israel. And strong military support from Iran, which lurks in the background and hopes for a large-scale war that could weaken Israel militarily, economically and morally.

Right now, Israel has a kind of moral upper hand, and strong support from large parts of the world. This support will quickly disappear if television broadcasts and social media are filled with dead, hungry, wounded and sick children in Gaza in the next few days.

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Disgust with Israel’s actions is likely greater than ever. Exactly as Hamas planned and wanted.

Israel also faces another big problem: Who will rule Gaza after expelling Hamas?

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is incompetent and corrupt under President Mahmoud Abbas, unable even to govern its own territory – let alone deal with the enormous challenges it will face in Gaza once the guns fall silent.

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It is time to settle the situation

The worst that could happen

At present, there are also no signs that other Arab countries in the Middle East might consider stepping in as interim administrators.

Although perhaps Israel should ask for help from these partners just to get Gaza back on its feet after the severe damage the people and the region have already suffered during the war. This, unfortunately, will continue.

Establishing a new, legitimate and peaceful leadership in Gaza is the greatest challenge facing Israel. This is a task on which they should spend much more resources than they spend on invading the Palestinian territories.

The new Israeli occupation of Gaza is perhaps the worst thing that could happen. This could lead to a major armed conflict in the Middle East that would not only harm Israel militarily, economically, and its reputation. It will also weaken the United States and its efforts to achieve normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In addition, the United States would then have to spend more money on Israel and less money on Ukraine. A result that Russian dictator Putin will be very happy with.

Joe Biden warned Israel that it would be a big mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again. Let’s hope he can turn up the pressure on inappropriate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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And let us hope that the Norwegian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in all their talks with the Israelis will be able to contribute to such pressure.

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The best thing that could happen

Because this is the best scenario we can imagine in the coming days: Israel refrains from invading Gaza, but continues to fight Hamas through special operations and strikes against its military units hidden in basements and tunnels.

It can take a long time and must be planned well. At the same time, planning is being made for what will happen in Gaza once the war ends, hopefully.

Such a decision would be completely devastating to Hamas and Hezbollah, and not least to Iran. Putin will be angry.

The same thing is wanted by Israel’s more right-wing warmongers, who, even before the terrorist attack, were keen to occupy Gaza and (re)introduce Israeli settlers into this area as well.

But the rest of the world will breathe a sigh of relief and acknowledge that Israel did the right thing. Even the country’s residents will eventually understand the wisdom of such a decision.

When Israel can once again build good relations with its Muslim neighbors and once again receive support from the global community that has witnessed their suffering, but does not want to see their brutality.

If Joe Biden can convince the Israelis of such a plan, he will go down in history as one of the best foreign policy presidents the United States has had in recent times.

Read more comments from Anders Magnus here