[Discussion] The Middle East in Crisis

A place to post and discuss news related to the recent events in Israel, including the Hamas/Islamic Jihad incursion and repercussions.

farley3k wrote:

IMGUR was the wrong place to repost this twitter post but it is worth a read

Let me start with this: It could've been me

That was fantastic. Basically everything I think and feel and want to say but far, FAR better than I could ever put any of it into words.

That's worth reading in its entirety.

farley3k wrote:

IMGUR was the wrong place to repost this twitter post but it is worth a read

That was very thoughtful and insightful.

In other words, Twitter was the wrong place to post it, too.

farley3k wrote:

IMGUR was the wrong place to repost this twitter post but it is worth a read

Let me start with this: It could've been me

Infinitely better said than I could've myself with a better eye and wider scope for the history surrounding this. Many thanks for sharing, farley.

Gaza is tiny and watched closely by Israel. But rescuing hostages there would be a daunting task

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Hamas-run Gaza Strip is a tiny enclave, measuring 25 miles long and no more than 7 miles wide, surveilled continually by Israel, surrounded by its guns. But rescuing — or even locating — more than 150 hostages hustled there by Palestinian militants who overran Israel’s southern border on Saturday will be a daunting task.

Gaza’s densely populated terrain, its network of underground tunnels and the sheer numbers of men, women and children taken captive present Israel with the most complex hostage crisis that the country has ever faced.

Mounting rescue operations in the midst of the massive Israeli bombardment of Gaza that followed the deadly Hamas rampage in southern Israel would only make an already difficult mission even more formidable.

“The situation is unprecedented,” said Gershon Baskin, who helped to negotiate the 2011 release of Staff Sergeant Gilad Schalit after more than five years of Hamas captivity. “I think Hamas was surprised at the ease it was able to take hostages. Israel was completely bewildered by everything that’s happened.”

What was Hamas thinking? For over three decades, it has had the same brutal idea of victory

JERUSALEM (AP) — In the three and a half decades since it began as an underground militant group, Hamas has pursued a consistently violent strategy aimed at rolling back Israeli rule — and it has made steady progress despite bringing enormous suffering to both sides of the conflict.

But its stunning incursion into Israel over the weekend marks its deadliest gambit yet, and the already unprecedented response from Israel threatens to bring an end to its 16-year rule over the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s retaliation for the Hamas assault, in which over 1,200 people were killed in Israel and dozens dragged into Gaza as hostages, will likely bring a far greater magnitude of death and destruction to Gaza, where 2.3 million Palestinians have nowhere to flee and where 1,100 have already been killed.

Hamas officials say they are prepared for any scenario, including a drawn-out war, and that allies like Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah will join the battle if Israel goes too far.

They didn’t even wait for Jar Jar

Hamas attack exposes deteriorating ties between Russia and Israel

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has long portrayed himself as a friend of Vladimir Putin. In a memoir published during Russia’s war on Ukraine, Netanyahu repeatedly lauded the Russian leader for his intellect and his “particularly friendly attitude” toward the Jewish people.

Putin, too, has over the years cast himself as a loyal ally of the Israeli state, promoting cultural ties and visa-free travel between the two countries.

But after the worst attack on Israel in decades, the much-touted friendship appears to have vanished.

Four days after the start of Hamas’s surprise attack, Putin is yet to call Netanyahu, while the Kremlin has not published a message of condolence to the country, a diplomatic gesture of goodwill that Russia routinely sends out to global leaders following deadly incidents on their soil.

On Tuesday, in his first comments about the Hamas incursion, Putin said the explosion of violence between Israel and the Palestinians showed that US policy had failed in the Middle East and had taken no account of the needs of the Palestinians.

“I think that many people will agree with me that this is a vivid example of the failure of United States policy in the Middle East,” Putin said, without acknowledging the gruesome deaths in Israel.

The shift in tone appears to point to a larger rift between the two countries that has taken place since the start of the war in Ukraine.

For years, Putin has sought to cultivate strong ties with Israel while also backing the Palestinian cause, an alliance which stems from the Soviet area.

Russia’s delicate diplomacy with Israel appeared to bear fruit when the country refused to participate in western sanctions against Russia, much to the chagrin of Kyiv, which accused Israel of ignoring the suffering of Ukrainian Jews.

But below the surface, there had been signs that the relationship between Russia and Israel was deteriorating over Putin’s claims that he was fighting “neo-Nazism” in Ukraine, while shifting his country into the orbit of Iran, an arch-enemy of Israel.

“The warm relationship [between Russia and Israel] that we have seen for years under Putin has cooled down. We are in a different world now,” said Pinchas Goldschmidt, who served as the chief rabbi of Moscow for nearly 30 years until fleeing the country over his opposition to the Ukraine war.

“Israel has always been careful to maintain a good relationship with Moscow given Russia’s large Jewish community and its influence over Syria,” Goldschmidt said, speaking to the Guardian by phone from Israel. On Saturday he attended the funeral of Yuval Ben Yaakov, an Israeli soldier killed in the fighting, who was the son of another former Moscow rabbi.

Goldschmidt said many in the Jewish community have been left deeply uncomfortable with Putin’s framing of the war, comparing Ukraine’s government to Nazi Germany to justify his invasion of the country.

Last summer, these tensions first spilled over into the public, when Russian officials accused Israel of supporting the “neo-Nazi regime” in Kyiv. The spat was ignited after Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, recycled an antisemitic conspiracy theory claiming that Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood” – comments that Israel described as “unforgivable and outrageous”.

The Kremlin also cracked down on the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency, a private charity closely affiliated with the Israeli government that helped tens of thousands of highly skilled Jewish Russians to immigrate to Israel.

Perhaps more worryingly for Israel was Moscow’s growing reliance on Iran. Russia, isolated from western markets, has invested heavily in buying Iranian suicide drones to attack Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure, while the US has warned that Iran was seeking to acquire large numbers of Russian attack helicopters, warplanes and air defence systems.

As the US pledged to send its own military aid to Israel following the Hamas assault, some pro-Kremlin commentators expressed hope that the Israeli-Hamas war would drain western resources away from Ukraine.

Sergey Mardan, a Russian propagandist and television presenter, wrote: “This mess is beneficial for Russia, because the globalist toad will be distracted from Ukraine and will get busy trying to put out the eternal Middle Eastern fire.”

There was also a sense of glee in Moscow over Israeli military and intelligence blunders, which were presented as a testament of western weakness.

“Apparently, the IDF leadership … is resting on the laurels of long-past victories,” military expert Boris Rozhin, who is close to the Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, wrote on Telegram.

Andrei Soldatov, an expert on Russia’s security services, said such comments “unmasked the acute psychological trauma suffered by the Russian military after its disastrous offensive against Ukraine in the early months of 2022.”

“That loss of global respect is hard to bear for a nation with a proud military tradition. So, the relief offered by Hamas has triggered an avalanche of schadenfreude. Did you laugh at our incompetence? Now it’s our turn,” Soldatov said.

On Russian state television, commentators also ridiculed the tens of thousands of Russian Jews who left for Israel following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in order to avoid mobilisation.

Addressing the Russian parliament on Wednesday, Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Duma, said that Russians who fled the country to side with Ukraine should be charged with treason and sent to work in mines.

“We’re probably ... talking about mines and we need to find territories where the weather is more constant, where there’s no summer,” Volodin said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine appears to have cast aside its previous grievances with Israel, eager to fill the friendship vacuum left behind by Russia.

In a speech made alongside Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, likened Hamas’s assault on Israel this weekend to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said his people stood with Israel because they understood what it meant to suffer terror attacks.

“The only difference is that there is a terrorist organisation that attacked Israel, and here is a terrorist state that attacked Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/s0K5o7M.png)

Long IMGUR post with lots of individual frames - rather depressing and dark

I spent several hours repurposing this sketch from Whitest Kids You Know, so I hope someone appreciates it.

I feel compelled to post this old video in case anyone hasn't seen it. The creator isn't the greatest though.

'Is there any safe place?' Residents say Gaza is under attack like never before

There are no humanitarian corridors to bring badly needed aid inside and no open border crossings. The passage into Egypt has been struck at least three times. Even aid workers haven't been spared. The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency says 11 of its staff members were killed, some in their homes with their families. Eighteen of their facilities have been damaged, including schools where many of the more than 330,000 people that are displaced are sheltering.

Among the only places left that still have generator power are the hospitals. Abu Zarefeh says those will run out sometime today.

"Everybody is thinking about how to stay alive," he said. "We are human, we are part of this world. We are part of this civilization. Don't forget us."

"Are we the baddies?".gif

The UK's Channel 4 News is doing a good job of coverage, IMO, both of what's happening in Gaza and in Israel.

The anchor's back-and-forth with the Israeli President at around 14:00 is evidence of the sheer intractability of this.

(EDIT: The PBS Newshour as well.)

So at the moment, the ground invasion appears inevitable. Which will be bloody and awful, but I also wonder about Hezbollah.

Will Lebanon’s heavily armed Hezbollah militia join the Israel-Hamas war? The answer could well determine the direction of a battle that is bound to reshape the Middle East.

Hezbollah, which like Hamas is supported by Iran, has so far been on the fence about joining the fighting between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s Islamic militant rulers. For the past six days, Israel has besieged Gaza and hammered the enclave of 2.3 million Palestinians with hundreds of airstrikes in response to a deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel.

Israel, which has vowed to crush Hamas, is now preparing for a possible ground offensive. While the country’s political and military leaders weigh the next move, they are nervously watching Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border and have sent troop reinforcements to the area. Hezbollah, with an arsenal of tens of thousands of rockets and missiles capable of hitting virtually anywhere in Israel, is viewed as a far more formidable foe than Hamas.

Israel is anxious that opening a new front in the country’s north could change the tide of the war, with Hezbollah’s military caliber far superior to that of Hamas. But the fighting could be equally devastating for Hezbollah and Lebanon.

The possibility of a new front in Lebanon also brings back bitter memories of a vicious monthlong war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006 that ended in a stalemate and a tense detente between the two sides. Lebanon is in the fourth year of a crippling economic crisis and is bitterly divided between Hezbollah and its allies and opponents, paralyzing the political system.

Israel is especially worried about Hezbollah’s precision-guided missiles, which are believed to be aimed at strategic targets like natural gas rigs and power stations. Hezbollah is also battle-hardened from years of fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s troops in neighboring Syria.

At the same time, Hamas and Hezbollah have grown closer as Hamas leaders have moved to Beirut in recent years. While Hezbollah has largely remained on the sidelines, people close to the group say an Israeli ground offensive could be a possible trigger for it to fully enter the conflict with devastating consequences.

Qassim Qassir, a Lebanese analyst close to the group, said Hezbollah “will not allow Hamas’ destruction and won’t leave Gaza alone to face a ground incursion.”

“When the situation requires further escalation, then Hezbollah will do so,” he told The Associated Press.

An official with a Lebanese group familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said Hezbollah fighters have been placed on full alert.

Hezbollah and Israel have targeted military outposts and positions in brief rocket and shelling exchanges on the border since the outbreak of the Gaza war. Three Hezbollah fighters were killed Monday, while Israeli officials said one Israeli soldier was killed in an anti-tank missile attack two days later.

Three Israeli soldiers were killed and five were wounded in a skirmish with Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants who crossed the southern Lebanese border into Israel. Hamas also claimed responsibility for firing several rockets into Israel from southern Lebanon.

Anthony Elghossain, a senior analyst with the Washington-based New Lines Institute, said that while neither Israel nor Hezbollah appears to want to enter “significant and sustained armed conflict,” there is a risk of escalation — even without a ground invasion of Gaza — if either side makes a miscalculation and oversteps the usual rules of engagement.

With an eye toward Hezbollah, U.S. President Joe Biden has warned other players in the Middle East not to join the conflict, sending American warships to the region and vowing full support for Israel.

“He’s backed up that warning with the deployment of our largest carrier group, the Gerald R. Ford, as well as again making sure that Israel has what it needs and that we also have appropriate assests in place,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday during a stop in Israel.

While Hezbollah officials and legislators have threatened escalation, their leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has remained silent since Hamas’ surprise weekend attack. The group in its public statements has said that they are continuing to monitor the situation. A spokesperson for Hezbollah did not respond to requests for comment.

In its quest to crush Hamas, Israel will confront the bitter, familiar dilemmas of Mideast wars

As Israel pounds Gaza with airstrikes, prepares for a possible ground invasion and escalates a war sparked by Hamas’ unprecedented assault, its leaders will confront many of the same dilemmas it has grappled with over decades of conflict with the Palestinians.

Israeli leaders have pledged to annihilate the Hamas militants responsible for the surprise weekend attack but risk drawing international criticism as the Palestinian civilian death toll mounts. They want to kill all the kidnappers but spare the estimated 150 hostages — men, women, children and older adults — that Hamas dragged across the border and has threatend to kill if Israel targets civilians.

In the end, Israel might decide to reluctantly leave Hamas in power in Gaza rather than take its chances on arguably worse alternatives.

Here’s a look at the choices facing Israel going forward.

I don't see how Israel is going to manage a ground war in Gaza. They called up 300k reservists, in a country of 9.8mm, which is basically Michigan. I don't know how you think you're going to keep your economy going with taking all those people out of the economy. 10mm isn't a lot. Israel has all kinds of modern military tech but it's not a superpower.

Gaza alone has over 2 million humans (half are kids!!) in there and I'm seeing estimates of 25k armed fighters (?). If Israel pushes their ground troops in there they are going to be in a world of hurt if Hezbollah does something up north. It's not like they can "topple" Hamas in a couple days.

The Israeli leaders in official positions (!) are making lots of concrete statements about how they will win/destroy/deal with Hamas and, to my ear, I don't hear a lot about how they plan to do that while avoiding/minimizing civilian casualties.

Say what you will about the US after 9/11 but it's not like bombing the Taliban in the mountains was anything like sending the entire US Army into an urban area the size of D.C. (from a civilian casualty standpoint).

If Israel goes all-in to Gaza, they are going to face a backlash from democracies, even the US, once the civilian toll becomes clear. Combine that with an all-out war with Hezbollah and I don't see what they expect to do as a next move. Invade Lebanon? While being pinned in Gaza? Try to fight to stalemate with Hezbollah? Then they've got a seriously damaged economy.

And lurking in the background is Iran which is more than happy to watch Israel struggle fighting two fronts.

Top_Shelf wrote:

The Israeli leaders in official positions (!) are making lots of concrete statements about how they will win/destroy/deal with Hamas and, to my ear, I don't hear a lot about how they plan to do that while avoiding/minimizing civilian casualties.

I mean, there's a reason for that, and it's why this whole situation exists. Neither side cares about minimizing civilian casualties.

Israel reportedly just told the UN in Gaza to evacuate south to about midway into the area and that all civilians should also leave northern Gaza.

Top_Shelf wrote:

Israel reportedly just told the UN in Gaza to evacuate south to about midway into the area and that all civilians should also leave northern Gaza.

Israel wants 1.1 million people in north Gaza to leave in next 24 hours - UN

Even if you're fully in support of Israel, you have to admit they might as well ask for the people of Gaza to grow wings and fly to safety.

EDIT: After a brief perusal of Twitter, it appears that no, people do not feel the need to admit this.

IMAGE(https://www.aljazeera.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/INTERACTIVE-The-Wadi-Gaza-move-south-Israel-population-1697173147.png?w=770&resize=770%2C770&quality=80)

Evacuating 100,000 people from any city on earth in 24 hours is exceptionally difficult, 1.1 million is literally impossible, and that's before we get to the particular issues of doing it in Gaza.

Like, imagine someone saying "we have 24 hours to evacuate Manhattan" (population 1.6M). If you're LUCKY, you're getting out half a million.

The UN is appealing for it to be rescinded, FWIW.

Top_Shelf wrote:

I don't see how Israel is going to manage a ground war in Gaza. They called up 300k reservists, in a country of 9.8mm, which is basically Michigan. I don't know how you think you're going to keep your economy going with taking all those people out of the economy. 10mm isn't a lot. Israel has all kinds of modern military tech but it's not a superpower.

Israel targets Hamas’s labyrinth of tunnels under Gaza

Israel says it is striking parts of a secret labyrinth of tunnels built underneath the Gaza Strip by Hamas, as it continues to retaliate for the Palestinian Islamist militant group's unprecedented cross-border attack on Saturday.

"Think of the Gaza Strip as one layer for civilians and then another layer for Hamas. We are trying to get to that second layer that Hamas has built," an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson said in a video on Thursday.

"These aren't bunkers for Gazan civilians. It's only for Hamas and other terrorists so that they can continue to fire rockets at Israel, to plan operations, to launch terrorists into Israel," they claimed.

It is very difficult to assess the size of the network, which Israel has dubbed the "Gaza Metro" because it is believed to stretch beneath a territory that is only 41km (25 miles) long and 10km wide.

Following a conflict in 2021, the IDF said it had destroyed more than 100km of tunnels in air strikes. Hamas meanwhile claimed that its tunnels stretched 500km and that only 5% were hit. To put those figures into perspective, the London Underground is 400km long and is mostly above ground.

Most analysis I've seen agrees, that kind of attack would be insanely bloody, for everyone. Like, just-short-of-Stalingrad-bad.

I think they're going to go in, because they have to, but the military manpower it would take to fully destroy Hamas like IS... I don't know if Israel can handle that, frankly.

There are reports here of thousands of Australian-Israeli citizens flying back to answer the reservist calls.

I don't know how to feel about this.

It's unlawful for Australians to participate in war outside of being a formal military combatant but we didn't stop anyone going to Ukraine but that's slightly clearer as an effort to suppress the Russian war of aggression.

In Israel-Palestine who knows what these reservists will be called upon to inflict upon Palestinians. It's not a good start though that Israel has formally commenced collective punishment and we can expect more war crimes over the coming months.

I just don't want war criminals with PTSD coming back here. War is something our nation should have sovereignty over; not a decision of private citizens.

Prederick wrote:

Like, just-short-of-Stalingrad-bad.

I think they're going to go in, because they have to, but the military manpower it would take to fully destroy Hamas like IS... I don't know if Israel can handle that, frankly.

Agreed.

Israeli military doctrine is to use overwhelming force of action and with quickness. They cannot support a drawn out war. Hamas knows this and will want to make it last as long as possible, both to increase the likelihood of a second front and to wear on the IDF.

At least with Stalingrad (and even Grozny) there were ways for civilians to get out.

I worry this is going to be closer to the Siege of Leningrad.

Israeli President Says There Are No Innocent Civilians In Gaza
Damm guilty kid - you can see how guilty he is! f*cker

IMAGE(https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/71e88d4f-4a5f-4e0a-8a86-016a88d7a436.jpeg?c=original&q=w_1280,c_fill)

On a less hostile note - don't all Israelis have to serve a military stint? Honestly would that not make them all not innocent civilians? I mean they were or are in the military so almost by definition they are not civilians - the question would be innocent or not.

UN Calls Israel Order to Evacuate 1.1 Million in Gaza Impossible

But it grants then the "get out of genocide free" card because they can say "we told you to get out of the way and you didn't so it is your fault"

Or as said by cloggednueron in the Reddit thread

“Freedom of action” is just the way that a government justifies the killing of civilians as etiquette deliberate policy or as a result of collateral damage. We did the same thing in Vietnam, where we declared entire areas of the south “free fire zones” as a way to put the blame on any civilians who died on them. According to official US policy, anyone in a free fire zone was declared to be Viet-Cong.

By giving this warning, it essentially allows the Israeli government to say that any civilians who died in Gaza City were responsible because they didn’t leave after they were warned. It’s a Carte Blanche to bomb the whole city into rubble while blaming the people inside for their deaths.

I wonder if the roughly 600 Palestinian children killed by Israel's retaliatory attacks so far are enough dead children to sate the desire for avenging the 40 dead babies that have been plastered all over social media and news articles.

How many Palestinian children does it take to equal one Israeli child?

I have been listening to statements by the IDF and Israeli ministries all day and it is clear that the current actions are being driven by rage more than any regard for a reasoned end state.

It is precisely a time like this when Israel needs the kind of friend that will talk them off the ledge.

It has no such friend and the consequences of their rage will be felt for generations after that rage has passed.

Paleocon wrote:

I have been listening to statements by the IDF and Israeli ministries all day and it is clear that the current actions are being driven by rage more than any regard for a reasoned end state.

It is precisely a time like this when Israel needs the kind of friend that will talk them off the ledge.

It has no such friend and the consequences of their rage will be felt for generations after that rage has passed.

Sorry, did this message drop through a wormhole from 1948? The rage has been felt for generations and neither side is willing to stop. The blood lust has consumed them.

Like how Netanyahu got talked down from obliterating Israeli democracy?