Since the beginning of Israel’s war on Gaza, triggered by the Hamas-led offensive of October 7, the regime has battered the Palestinian civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Many ideas are floating around as to what Israel’s goals are, whether securing more oil, the Ben Gurion Canal, the re-occupation of Gaza, or the expulsion of some 2.3 million people. It now merits a critical analysis of what Israel’s options truly are.
First, the start of the current escalation must be addressed. October 7 is widely pegged as the beginning of the current war on Gaza, a designation that fails to factor in the past 75 years of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Although the conflict’s history explains how we have arrived at this current crisis, let us start by discussing October 7.
An Inside Job or a Tremendous Failure?
There are countless theories as to why the October 7 Hamas attack was so effective and bloody. This has led to many people spreading claims online about various Israeli initiatives, including Gaza’s gas fields and more. All of these theories are predicated on the belief that October 7 was an inside job—that it was pre-planned, and Hamas was either a willing participant in the conspiracy or served as a useful tool. For those who are not experts in the field, it seems rather fishy that the most advanced military force in the Middle East could suffer such a destructive blow and allegedly sit back idly for five hours.
The claim that Egypt sent warnings to Israel in the weeks leading up to the attack is frequently used to support the theory of an inside job. But this line of reasoning doesn’t work: Both Israel and Egypt have denied these reports, while the only official to publicly claim as much has been the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul. Denials from Egyptian and Israeli officials do not prove these allegations false considering both have vested interests in concealing such information. However, it bears noting that if Egypt had serious information that indicated a Hamas attack was imminent, we must assume that US intelligence must have also known, as both sides closely coordinate. If this point were true, it would make the conspiracy even bigger. It would mean Israel, and the US by extension, were given information that should have triggered an Israeli defensive posture.
Hamas’s complete annihilation of the Israeli southern command’s defenses was unprecedented and led to massive fighting in surrounding Israeli communities as well as the killing or capturing of hundreds of soldiers. As a result, the Israeli intelligence, military, and political establishments are now almost certainly facing their final days, weeks, or months in power. After suffering such an enormous blow, there is no practical way the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can survive. If there is no regional war and Israel still exists at the end of this war, the heads of Mossad, Shin Bet, the Israeli military, and Netanyahu’s government will likely all be forced to resign and/or face investigations (based on historical precedent). Further, some 200,000 Israelis have been internally displaced due to the attack, and they will not feel safe enough to return to their settlements in the north and along the Gaza periphery until the war has ended.
This kind of calamity affects every aspect of the Israeli regime’s power, whether military or civilian. It has eroded the impenetrable image of the Israeli military and its so-called superior technology, both regionally and domestically. So, if October 7 was an inside job, who exactly could have planned this from the inside? For this to work, we have to believe that the Israeli military in the south and the Israeli security and political establishments all collaborated to allow Hamas to launch an offensive that would end their careers. We also have to assume that they managed to keep this conspiracy from leaking in a circle of committed Zionists who would have conspired to damage their own self-interests.
Israel’s lucrative high-tech sector has been significantly affected by the Hamas attack, and the Israeli economy is in shambles. The war is expected to cost roughly 51 billion dollars, according to preliminary findings. There is no gain for Israel, at least in the short term. Though one could argue that under the cover of war, the Israelis could attempt to pull off schemes they wouldn’t usually be able to get away with, we are yet to see this materialize at this time.
A video has circulated online of an Israeli man who claims to have been formerly stationed on the “Gaza border” and has received considerable attention. In this video, he claims the Israeli government confiscated weapons from the Israeli communities surrounding Gaza, which seems like a good point and raises suspicions. However, this did not happen in all the settlements he claimed, nor were these communities left unguarded.
He claims that on September 20, Israelis in the south were informed about heightened security concerns, which is actually true. For weeks, protests had erupted along the Gaza separation fence in solidarity with Al-Aqsa Mosque, during which Israel killed Palestinians and launched airstrikes on the besieged territory. But these tensions calmed down after an agreement was made to allow Palestinians with work permits to pass through the Erez checkpoint from Gaza. On September 28, Israel allowed the workers to cross. This was interpreted as a reflection of a state of calm, which is why no advice was given to cancel events in the settlements surrounding the Gaza Strip out of safety concerns.
The Israeli man in the video also assumes that Israel’s military is capable of destroying Hamas with ease and characterizes the Palestinian armed group as incapable of waging the attack on its own. This is categorically false. The armed wing of Hamas, the Qassam brigades, is an extremely capable ground force that is delivering serious blows to the Israeli army currently invading the northern region of Gaza.
Another unfounded claim circulating about the October 7 attack is that there was no resistance from the Israeli side. In reality, there are copious amounts of documented evidence of Israeli police, security guards, and the army all engaging in gunfights with fighters from Gaza. Israeli tanks, helicopters, drones, and even airstrikes, were all called in.
It should also be noted that Israeli far-right activists have a vested interest in attempting to blame elements within the Israeli security and military establishment for orchestrating the attack. They are ardent supporters of Netanyahu’s government. To try to shift blame away from the far-right government itself, this faction promotes a narrative that solely blames everyone but the current government. The Israeli prime minister has himself already tried to blame the army for October 7.
The Ben Gurion Canal
For the sake of argument, let’s assume October 7 was an inside job. This premise allows us to critically work through the following issue: There has been a great deal of talk about the idea of an alternative to the Egyptian Suez Canal, namely the “Ben Gurion Canal” project, which has become the object of discussion on social media. What are the prospects for this new Suez Canal?
Since the 1960s, the Israeli government has been considering creating an alternative shipping route to the Egyptian Suez Canal. In fact, according to a recently leaked memorandum, the American government had a plan to use some 520 nuclear bombs to dig the proposed canal. However, Israel never followed through on this proposal for several reasons. Some are political and historical, while others are logistical. For example, the reason why a nuclear option was proposed to dig the 160-mile sea-level canal was to circumvent the “prohibitively expensive” costs involved with conventional methods of excavation.
In 2021, the question of the Ben Gurion Canal resurfaced following a shipping catastrophe in the Suez Canal that blocked all passage for days. At the time, one estimate suggested around six to 10 billion dollars in trade profits a week could be lost from the blockage. Less than a year before this, the Israelis entered into a normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and were exploring the possibility of creating an alternative trade route that would circumvent the need for the Suez. Despite these prospects, there were a few hurdles in their way. The first was the environmental cost, which caused a significant stir domestically for the Israelis. The second was the amount of time and money that such a project could take in an uncertain environment. The third was the issue of Saudi Arabia.
The only reason the Ben Gurion Canal, which is actually designed to be longer than the Suez Canal, has grown new legs, is that Egypt ceded control over Tiran and Sanafir, two Red Sea islands, to Saudi Arabia in 2017. This meant the UAE-Israeli alternative would not have had to pass through Egyptian waters, a possibility that previously posed a massive issue to the viability of the potential trade route. Despite Riyadh maintaining sway over Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, for the trade route to work, the route would have had to pass through Saudi territory. Without a Saudi-Israeli normalization deal, the proposed trade route would be impossible. This came down not only to Saudi Arabia wanting to avoid an issue with Egypt over the project of a technically enemy State but also to the fact that the Saudis wanted in on any lucrative deal.
Therefore, the cheaper, more efficient, and more viable alternative would have been the land route known as the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), which was discussed at the 2023 September G20 summit. This route would have revolutionized trade, and it depended largely upon the assumption that Saudi Arabia was on the cusp of a normalization deal with the Israelis.
The Hamas offensive of October 7 undermined the potential of these nations to reach their goal. Riyadh has since declared its public opposition to normalization talks. Meanwhile, there is little chance that a weakened Israel—easily shaken by a non-state actor—would be trusted to host the controversial alternative route that will further weaken and impoverish Egypt. In light of these developments and realities, the argument that Israel orchestrated the Hamas attack for this reason does not hold up: it has undermined the potential deal, not accelerated it.
Gaza Gas Fields
In the year 2000, former Palestinian Authority (PA) President Yasser Arafat celebrated the discovery of gas fields that fell within his allocated territory, calling it a “gift from God.” However, since the eruption of the Second Intifada in 2000, shortly after the discovery of Gaza’s gas by a British gas company, the Israeli authorities have prevented Palestinians from exploiting this national treasure.
In light of this, some have argued that Israel may have sought to start a round of fighting against Gaza to clear the threats Hamas poses to the gas fields known as Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. By the time of Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” war on the Gaza Strip in December of 2008, Tel Aviv had decided to use the opportunity to effectively annex the Gaza Marine-1 in violation of international law.
The evidence supporting the claim that Israel orchestrated the October 7 attacks to further exploit Gaza’s gas fields is that 12 licenses were presented to six companies for the exploitation of a gas field off the coast of the Gaza Strip. This sounds like a convincing argument until you read the fine print. To begin with, the licenses were not granted for the Gaza Marine. They were issued for the Tamar field, which has been the primary supply of domestic Israeli gas needs for some time. Israel was forced to close down operations at the Tamar field right after the October 7 attack out of fear that the facilities there were within reach of Hamas munitions. The shutdown could lead to a crisis if this continues, but Israel nonetheless issued the licenses for those six companies’ future use.
Another important point here is that there was a large dispute in 2022 surrounding the exploitation of Gaza’s gas fields. Hamas was not willing to be left out of the deal, which the PA, Egypt, and Israel were discussing behind closed doors. A push by Hamas to demand that it was not left out of the equation came after the successful demarcation of maritime borders between Lebanon and Israel, under US mediation, late last year. However, in June, the story broke that Hamas had agreed to allow the PA to develop Gaza’s natural gas fields pending US-brokered agreements between Israel and Egyptian companies. Although there have still been no official agreements on this issue, Hamas gave the green light as long as a portion of the profits made their way to the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s Options (An Analysis)
Ultimately, the claim that Hamas collaborated with the Israelis in pulling off an inside job on October 7 is void of any credible evidence. Given the scale of the defeat inflicted on what we are told is the most powerful military and intelligence force in the Middle East, it is natural for questions to arise as to how this could have happened. However, many of the theories that are spreading regarding what occurred on October 7, often hinge on incorrect assumptions about what really happened, the misinterpretation of geopolitical elements at play, and the blind yet pervasive belief about how powerful Israel is.
The Israelis are an ineffective force on the ground. A week into their ground incursion into Gaza—and with the support of Western powers—they have failed to achieve a single military victory. Much of their perceived technological wizardry, as is presented to the world, is sheer nonsense. The reason why a great deal of Israeli military technology is said to hold a high efficacy rating is due to the profit-driven analyses the government presents to bolster its sales. Gaza has been a testing ground for all sorts of high-tech weaponry over the past 17 years, from failed laser-beam air defense systems to new sniper rifles.
Anecdotally, I know individuals who have managed to breach the Gaza separation fence undetected—one of whom did so to get to work, the other for fun. I also know someone from Scotland who made his way to the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza in 2017. He got to the crossing too late in the day and decided to wander around to see who was there that he could speak to. I still possess video footage that he recorded on a hidden camera he was wearing. It shows him walking around fortified military sites and next to the separation barrier for around half an hour before a team of Israeli gunmen surrounded him.
Israel is currently in an extremely weak position despite its use of its powerful arsenal of munitions to blow Gaza to pieces. Netanyahu’s government will almost certainly collapse. In an entire month of war, it has been unable to reach any military achievement beyond bombing tens of thousands of innocent civilians. It has only two options: Head toward regional war, or accept that it will not be able to destroy Hamas and, as a result, follow the guidance of the US government toward a ceasefire predicated on some sort of settlement that includes concessions on both sides. Despite the Hollywood depiction of the strong Israeli army, it is brittle and incapable. Its fighting force is not capable of successfully conducting urban warfare.
Israel is an occupying regime. The Israeli army knows how to be an occupation force that bullies civilians, but it does not know how to fight a conventional war. I say this not out of bias but because it is objectively what they are. The regime relies on the idea of a strong Jewish fighting force that is dominant and makes the Jewish public of the Zionist State secure. The idea behind Israel is for Jews to live in a safe country, which is why Israelis cannot take soldier casualties. Their Zionist ideology relies on the image of an invincible army that possesses a “deterrence capacity.” When the army takes heavy losses, the narrative falls apart. In reality, the Israeli army is not invincible, and if it weren’t for their possession of nuclear weapons, in addition to the backing they receive from the US, Hezbollah and other regional actors would almost certainly have laid waste to them long ago.
Without the illusion of security, the premise of Israel falls apart completely. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has set himself up for failure. He promised his public the impossible: a complete defeat of Hamas. The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) is not only rooted in Gaza’s endless underground tunnel system, which could take years to uncover and destroy, but it is also alive and well in Lebanon and Syria and has a political presence in the West Bank. Hamas is deeply rooted in Palestinian civil society. It is not just an armed group or political organization; it can’t simply be destroyed. Even the idea that Hamas will be defeated in Gaza is far-fetched, as Hezbollah’s Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah has openly stated that his organization will ensure Hamas wins. This means that if Israel actually begins to dismantle Hamas, the whole region will be at war.
The biggest issue the Palestinian people face today is the ongoing war crimes Israel is committing against them, as well as the potential Israeli plan to ethnically cleanse Gaza’s population to the Sinai desert in Egypt. The ethnic cleansing campaign may not be a sudden push but rather a long-term goal to clear out a large portion of the population. The destruction in Gaza will make it difficult for the population to remain following the war, which is why international intervention is urgently needed to prevent the humanitarian crises that will begin following the war’s end.