Today Israel did something no one expected, they shot the Gaza Strip’s only power plant with a tank and rendered it useless. Operators had to shut it down. That means that Palestinians there are now relegated to using personal generators for power. That means no lights at night. It means that for all intents and purposes Gaza is basically pre-industrial now.
“The power plant is finished,” its director, Mohammed al-Sharif, told Reuters.
I’m going to say this a lot but I don’t think the conflict has really been here before. Gaza was already extremely isolated and very much outgunned by Israeli forces. Hamas forces and splinter groups have been defiant in the face of an enemy that many people say they should be talking to instead of giving the impression that they’ll fight to the end. Getting the word out about your perceived plight can only go so far when the walls are closing in.
But are the walls closing in on Hamas? It certainly seems so. What started last week as an Israeli ground offensive that was supposedly just going to take out the tunnels into Israel that Hamas had built, a threat that was very real, has become something bigger, something that feels like it might have an ending attached to it.
For decades now, Palestinians and Israelis have been fighting. Other Arab majority nations have supported them in a proxy war against Israel, often seemingly not caring that it was the lives of Palestinians that were being lost in what went from a conflict predicated on rejection of the Israeli state but slowly gravitating towards a losing cause. The West Bank is almost completely peaceful in comparison to Gaza. No one is coming to help Hamas now. The PLO isn’t coming to help. The Egyptians won’t be arriving at dawn with an army. The Saudis are otherwise occupied, throwing money at overthrowing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Other Arab states appear to be tired of the Gaza Strip and tired of fighting Israel.
Hamas is alone. Gaza is alone.
Today, right now, this conflict feels different than it has before. That could simply be fatigue on my part as I try to keep track of it but I’m starting to think it’s something else. I’m starting think that the world is about to see Israel essentially kill Hamas. Certainly, they’ve tried to do it before but I can’t recall it being like this. Despite international calls for a cease fire, Israel seems emboldened by its success in Gaza. From today via Fox News:
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, did not comment on the explosion at the plant, but told The Associated Press that Israel’s latest strikes signal “a gradual increase in the pressure” on Hamas.
“Israel is determined to strike this organization and relieve us of this threat,” Lerner said.
And further down in the article:
After the deaths of the soldiers, Netanyahu signaled that Israel is intensifying its air- and ground campaign. “We will continue to act aggressively and responsibly until the mission is completed to protect our citizens, soldiers and children.”
Historically that’s not been how this seemingly never ending conflict has gone. It’s always been fight a while, call a cease fire, have some vague kind of peace, fight again, rinse, repeat. But this feels different. Israel carried out 70 airstrikes just last night. 70. No one can take that over and over.
Is Israel actually trying to win this time? And, if they are, when the bodies are stacked up will Hamas be able to say with a straight face that what they did helped their people? Will Israel? Will anyone believe either of them if they do?