Netanyahu’s war in Gaza- a winning war destined to lose?

4.7/5 (6)

Empires inevitably fall, and when they do, history judges them for the legacies they leave behind

It’s been almost thirty years since Netanyahu first became the youngest prime minister of Israel. Since then he has faced a plethora of challenges, be it personal, political, or national. He survived all these challenges and cemented his place in the list of the greatest political leaders to shape the world as we know it.

As Israel’s longest-serving prime minister and probably the second most influential Israeli leader (After David  Ben- Gurion ), King Bibi has played a pivotal role in shaping the Jewish state into what it is today whether in his role as a soldier, or an ambassador or as the prime minister of the country. Mutual interests between Israel and the West gave Netanyahu an economic advantage while the geographical location of Israel gave him a strategic one. From signing the Abraham Accords to almost normalizing the Saudi–Israel ties, all was going well for him, so why do the majority of Israelis want him out? Why are there growing protests and multiple rallies every day demanding his resignation? Did our  Icarus finally fly too close to the sun?

October 7 attacks

Before the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack, Netanyahu was already facing backlash stemming from his corruption charges and his judicial overhaul bills. Already facing a power grip issue in the Knesset and trying to find a middle ground for his policy acceptance among his ultra-orthodox right-wing coalition, the October 7 attack has made matters worse. 

The October 7 attacks were a colossal intelligence failure for Israel, this does not face good for a country that is expected to have one of the best intelligence agencies in the world – the  Mossad. Adding fuel to the fire, Netanyahu refused to take responsibility for this failure despite reports suggesting that the government, the IDF, Mossad, and the Shin-bet had reports of an impending assault (The Jericho wall document). Several social media outlets within and outside Israel have published reports suggesting almost 70% of Israelis, which include supporters from his own Likud party want him to take the responsibility and want him out.

Deteriorating situation

The status of the hostages abducted by the Hamas remains uncertain. More than 250 were captured. Out of these, a little over 100 have been released, many others unaccounted for. The release of the rest has been stalled due to unrealistic demands from both sides. Many have been feared dead. The families of these hostages have demanded answers. Growing international pressure seems to have no effect on the prime minister. Israel’s strongest ally the United States and President Biden are now in a tough spot. On one hand, Biden has condemned the October 7 attacks and defended Israel’s right to defend itself. On the other, he has shown displeasure with the way Israel has been carrying out its offensive. There have been reports of the US putting sanctions on one particular unit, the Netzah Yehuda (an ultra-orthodox battalion accused of human rights violations in the West Bank, consisting of Haredi Jewish men who serve in the Israeli military while following their religious convictions which otherwise would not be possible in other battalions) which has been conducting operations in the West Bank. Although this sanction won’t directly affect the operations in Gaza, it clearly sends a message to Netanyahu and adds pressure on him.

Netanyahu’s military decisions have been made having political considerations in mind, rather than national interests. The public image of the prime minister is fading but he seems unfazed by it. He refuses to step down, he refuses to settle on a compromise, and he refuses to accept the failure of his leadership. Members of his coalition want him to begin the Rafah offensive and threaten to leave the alliance if not conducted soon whereas the international community, including the US, has warned Netanyahu of dire consequences if he does go with this offensive.

The International Criminal Court is now seeking an arrest warrant against Netanyahu, although Israel and its iron brother the United States are not state parties to Rome Statute (which founded the ICC in 2002), many other countries are. This development poses a threat to Prime Minister Netanyahu since many Israel-friendly nations are party to the ICC and would have to arrest Netanyahu if the warrant is issued. Adding to the above trouble is the news of  Norway, Spain, and Ireland recently announcing their formal recognition of Palestine. The West seems to be breaking apart on its stance vis-à-vis Israel which in turn reduces Netanyahu’s credibility.

Finally, the attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria on April 1st proved to be a major escalation in this war, which resulted in the direct attack by Iran firing more than 300 missiles and drones towards Israel. Iran – US relationship already is on the brink of the glass and the two already have a checkered relationship ever since the Iranian revolution, ever more so after the assassination of Qasem Soleimani in 2020. Biden’s response/support would clearly send a message to Iran and its proxies, who would then, have all the reason to escalate their attacks. On one hand, Biden’s support for Netanyahu’s offensive would anger Iran and its proxies causing a major showdown in the Middle East. On the other hand, condemning Israel’s response to the attack would lead to the US losing a key ally in the Middle East and one of its strongest military, economic, and strategic partners. One thing can be ascertained from the above, Biden is walking the tightrope but it is Netanyahu who would take the fall.  


This war has not just made Netanyahu deeply unpopular in Israel, but also in the international community. Shipping and trading have been affected, the oil prices have been rising and all this is leading to a global geopolitical repositioning in a year when more than 70 countries are going to polls. Commerce and trade all over the world have been affected. International communities have been trying tremendously to broker a peace deal or at least a prisoner swap, but there seems to be no compromise from either side in this war. Several countries have deep economic ties with Israel. The countries that are going to elections this year face an important challenge. Major countries such as the US, Iran, Germany, and the UK are now in a precarious position. The decisions made by the current leaders regarding this war are going to affect their polling results. Religious, political, and strategic interests have governed this war till now, and humanitarian assistance has been sidetracked.

Additionally, what does this finally mean for our King Bibi? His grip on the Knesset is already fragile. There is growing unrest and distrust brewing against him. His support from the West is only due to strategic interests which too seem to be dwindling. Although there have been supportive comments from Biden, Macron, and several Western leaders, there also has been sharp criticism. Everyone has requested a de-escalation, but Netanyahu seems to have just one goal in mind, something which he stated from the start, the complete wipeout of the Hamas leadership. 

If he succeeds in his ambition, he will face several accusations involving war crimes and crimes against humanity in not only the Gaza Strip but the West Bank as well. If he does not, he would be the man who would have failed Israel. Whatever the result would be, it is clear that he is stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. Settling on a compromise would shorten/ end the war but would lead to him losing the grip on his power, a strong offensive in Rafah would lead to him crossing a red line, even though it may help his cause of removing Hamas completely.  In all this, it is the people of Israel, the people of Gaza, and everyone around who are facing the brunt.  They are nothing but sitting ducks.

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