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The Decisions Will Be Made by Israel

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Photo: Despite external pressure, the Israeli government advances its operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israeli military personnel prepare to move at the border of the sector. Source: Getty Images
Photo: Despite external pressure, the Israeli government advances its operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israeli military personnel prepare to move at the border of the sector. Source: Getty Images

Intense clashes unfolded throughout the weekend of December 9-10 across Gaza as Israel continued its offensive following the expiration of the ceasefire. The UN, unable to prevent a horrific terrorist attack on Israel on October 7, faced a veto from the US on December 8 at the UN Security Council when proposing a resolution urging Israel to halt its operation against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Two days later, amidst the ongoing military actions, the US Secretary of State affirmed the readiness to support Israel's resolve to permanently eliminate the deadly threat posed by Hamas. This represents a fresh perspective that significantly alters the landscape in the Middle East.


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in an interview with CNN on December 10, articulated a firm position in support of Israel's efforts to secure itself from a repeat of the terrorist attack resembling the events of October 7: “…we have these discussions with Israel, including about the duration as well as how it’s prosecuting this campaign against Hamas. These are decisions for Israel to make, but Hamas has decisions to make too. It could get out from hiding behind civilians tomorrow… It could put down its arms tomorrow, it could surrender tomorrow, and this would be over“.

CNN journalist Jake Tapper posed a rather pointed follow-up question to Blinken: "...will the US continue to support Israel as they are supporting Israel right now, if this were to go on for months and months, not days or weeks?" What was Blinken's response?

«Again, Israel has to make these decisions. Of course, everyone wants to see this campaign come to a close as quickly as possible. But any country faced with what Israel is facing, a terrorist organization that attacked it in the most horrific way possible on October 7th – and as I said, has said repeatedly that it would do it again and again and again – it has to get to the point where it is confident that that can’t be repeated». Emphasizing Israel's responsibility for its security, Blinken reiterated the need to prevent events similar to those of October 7. Judging by the tone and repetition of this position, it appears to be a fundamental stance for the US.

Simultaneously, Blinken stressed the importance of creating conditions for the delivery of humanitarian aid to those still residing in the Gaza Strip. Although this task seems challenging from an external perspective, UN agencies and humanitarian groups such as Care International, Mercy Corps, and the World Health Organization have repeatedly insisted that creating conditions for humanitarian operations is impossible as long as combat operations persist in the region. And fierce fighting continues, with terrorists using underground facilities beneath residential quarters and civilian structures, attempting to launch missile attacks on areas adjacent to Gaza.

Even if humanitarian cargoes reach Gaza's cities, there are no guarantees they will be used as intended. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) posted a drone video on social media X (formerly Twitter), revealing armed militants forcibly confiscating humanitarian aid from civilians.

As of December 10, hostilities continued, with Hamas still holding 137 hostages. The situation does not appear to be resolved in the coming days and possibly weeks.


Photo: Delivery of humanitarian goods is associated with significant risk for the personnel of international organizations. Workers unload medical aid delivered by the International Committee of the Red Cross at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip amid ongoing clashes between Israel and Hamas terrorists. Source: Getty Images


Advancement to the South

Late on December 9, Israeli forces instructed residents of a significant part of Khan Yunis, the second-largest city in the Gaza Strip in its southern part, to evacuate to the Al-Mawasi area along the Mediterranean coast. Residents were also offered to move to designated quarters where the IDF was ready to guarantee civilian safety. However, it's unlikely that a noticeable number of civilians could take advantage of the offer due to the destruction of telecommunication networks caused by armed conflict.

In the day following these announcements, Israeli tanks penetrated the centre of Khan Yunis. This move brings them close to taking control of the most densely populated part of the southern of Gaza Strip.

At the same time, in the northern part of the sector, there were ongoing military operations, even though the city of Gaza had previously come under Israeli control. Israel pledged to eliminate the Hamas terrorist group, which took control of Gaza in 2007 through supposedly free elections. The Israeli government's decisive action is prompted by the fact that on October 7, Hamas militants breached barriers and attacked Israeli cities, killing and torturing innocent civilians. According to confirmed data, 1200 people were killed during the terrorist attack, and 240 hostages were taken, with 137 still in the hands of terrorists.


Photo: A Hamas tunnel entrance discovered inside classroom in a school in the Shujaiya district of Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip. Source: Israel Defense Forces


External Pressure

The Israeli government is facing constant external pressure with demands to halt the elimination of terrorist groups. Since November, a group of representatives from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and the Palestinian territories embarked on an international tour to engage with permanent members of the UN Security Council and persuade them to support an anti-Israel resolution at the UN in favor of Hamas. On Friday, December 8, representatives of this group visited Washington to advocate for the resolution. On the same day, the UN Security Council voted, with the U.S. vetoing, the UK abstaining, and 13 members supporting the resolution aimed at ending the attacks on Hamas.

Another avenue of intense pressure on Israel involves reminders of the "catastrophic" situation in Gaza, where the need for medical services has sharply increased, along with the risk of diseases due to the destruction of infrastructure and healthcare systems. The World Health Organization and various non-governmental humanitarian organizations constantly highlight the dire humanitarian situation. However, delivering humanitarian aid in a region significantly controlled by terrorists poses a high risk, and there's a likelihood that its ultimate use may deviate from humanitarian goals.

In addition to the fierce military actions in the Gaza Strip, Israel is compelled to defend itself in the north of the country against the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist movement, which launches attacks from Lebanese territory.

Simultaneously, with terrorist attacks in the south and north of Israel, an international conference took place in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The country played a leading role as a mediator in the previous ceasefire, aiming to release 240 hostages, but only less than half were successfully freed. During this conference, foreign ministers of Arab countries criticized the United States for vetoing the UN Security Council resolution on December 8, resorting to veiled threats of conflict escalation.

Israel, in turn, continued to pursue terrorists, and its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated during a briefing on December 10 that he had addressed leaders of France, Germany, and other countries, emphasizing the inadmissibility of pressuring his country. "You cannot, on the one hand, support the elimination of Hamas and, on the other, press us to stop the war because it hinders the elimination of Hamas," said Netanyahu.

Against the backdrop of this external pressure, Israel received emergency military support from the U.S., consisting of approximately 14,000 tank rounds worth $106 million. This aid package was announced on December 9 and took place within existing emergency procedures.

Moreover, as part of a comprehensive security package totaling $111 billion, Congress is discussing the issue of $14.3 billion specifically as aid to Israel. In light of these events, there are reports that this aid will be conditioned on demands to the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reduce civilian casualties in Gaza during the war with Hamas. Although the course of events suggests that these demands contradict the stated purpose of the aid, namely the elimination of the terrorist group.

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