By: Antoine Shalhat

Last week carried further indications of what most analysts in Israel describe as the increasing complexity of Israel’s situation both at the military level and in the international arena.

Among the indicators related to the international arena, it is necessary to stop at two of them:

The first, the decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, on May 24, stipulated that Israel must immediately cease its military offensive and any other action in Rafah province that may inflict on the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip conditions that could lead to its physical destruction, in whole or in part. The wording used in the resolution appears to allow, even for Israel, to be interpreted as allowing it to carry out the military operation in Rafah. Also, according to the interpretation of 4 judges in the court, this was not direct and comprehensive to stop the Israeli military operation in Rafah, but rather limited ordering Israel not to violate the Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide in that military operation.

The second indicator, the announcement of the International Criminal Court Attorney General Karim Khan, on May 20, that he has requested the issuance of arrest warrants against Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the military wing of this movement, Mohammed Al-Deif, the head of the political bureau of the movement Ismail Haniyeh, and against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Yoav Galant.

According to some analyses, if these two indicators are added to other emerging indicators, it is undoubtedly confirmed that Israel is present at a moment of terrible defeat and a deterioration in an unprecedented bottom. In particular, indicators are noted that several Western countries recognize the Palestinian state, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the breadth of the academic boycott of Israel in the world and the recognition by several Israeli researchers that they are facing great difficulties in publishing their articles in the refereed journals because the arbitrators are not ready to read this research, as reported by the newspaper “Yedioth Ahronot” (24/5/2024). Within the latter same context, we should point out that the Israeli reactions to the wave of protests against the Israeli aggressive war that has been going on in the Gaza Strip since October 7, 2023, which is witnessed by many universities in the world, especially in the United States, are agreed that these protests will not subside when the war ends and can transcend the borders of American universities and turn into a broad public discourse in the United States, and they have also extended to European universities and other countries of the West. Above all, it would become one of the key features in crystallizing the aspirations of current university students who, in some way, constitute the next generation of leadership in the United States and Western countries.

In following up on how the outcome of all these indicators was read in Israel, and the latest developments in the war on the Gaza Strip from a military point of view, we should record the following:

First, most analysts agree that the decision of the Hague Court of Justice will not immediately change the course of the war in the Gaza Strip, but at the same time join a series of international pressure on Israel to end the fighting. However, at this stage, there is no unilateral action by international institutions to stop the war, only there are hopes for some that the UN Security Council will issue sanctions against Israel in a later period.

Second, the ICC prosecutor’s request to issue arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Galant demonstrates a lack of confidence in Israel’s claims that it respects the laws of war and seriously damages its international standing. According to the National Security Research Institute at Tel Aviv University (21/5/2024), the most dangerous, in particular, remains “the equality between Israel’s actions and the actions of Hamas.” The institute notes that the required arrest warrants at this stage focused on Israel’s “humanitarian policy in the Strip,” which is why they were directed only against the political level. However, the prosecutor indicates that he will continue to investigate allegations of large-scale bombing of the Gaza Strip, which could also attach to the military level. The institute notes that attention should be paid to the hint Khan sent to Israel, relating to the so-called “complete principle.” Under this principle, the ICC is entitled to conduct investigations and proceedings relating to the commission of crimes, only when the State concerned does not do so itself. Khan stresses that his office will continue to examine compliance with the “principle of completeness” concerning crimes and other investigations, only if there are radical investigations and professional legal proceedings relating to the acts and policies on which the request is based. In this particular point lies a hint of distrust of Israel’s judiciary.

Third, whether the ICC rejects or accepts the request for arrest warrants, several military analysts in Israel, led by Ron Ben-Yishai, of Yedioth Ahronoth, confirm that the IDF should consider the request itself a rolling snowball. “If the three judges of this international tribunal decide to accept the prosecutor’s request, this could have projections in the form of arrest warrants against military officials, and then against officers and fighters in the field who will be accused of war crimes” (20/5/2024).

Fourth, with Norway, Ireland, Spain, and Slovenia declaring their recognition of the Palestinian state, this slow path “turning into a tsunami” has begun, as confirmed by a position appreciation paper issued by the “Institute of Mtem (Pathways) for Regional Foreign Policy” (“Maarif”, 23/5/2024). The Institute further believes that Netanyahu’s refusal to declare his readiness, in the future, to “accept the establishment of a Palestinian state with international security guarantees” weakens Israel, leads to its isolation, and harms it, and the consequences will be devastating for Israel.

Fifth, the development of the latest events indicates the deterioration of Netanyahu’s position in the world, this man, who has always “claimed to be a great statesman, is unable to achieve the strategic goals he set for the war, and he also implicates Israel in problems that will pursue the state and its citizens for many years,” as the military analyst “Haaretz” Amos Harel (22/5/2024) said.

Political analyst Nadav Eyal (“Yedioth Ahronoth,” 24/5/2024) brought to mind that in 2019 a book entitled “How Netanyahu turned Israel into an Empire” was released and distanced it from international isolation despite the conflict with the Palestinians, the occupation in the 1967 territories, and the growing recognition of the Palestinian state. In the book, it was noted that the political goal set by Netanyahu upon his return to prime minister in 2009, was to transform Israel into a regionally influential superpower. “It is a goal that could only be achieved by exploiting the qualitative elements and strengths of Israeli society, and then turning them into privileges that push towards achieving the political goal. This Netanyahu strategy was based on two pillars: a strong and stable economy, and military and security power.” Where is Israel now from this vision?

Sixth, for Netanyahu himself, the latest developments confirm that he is still holding on to the continuation of the war. Major General Israel Zev, the former commander of the “Gaza Division” and the Operations Division (25/5/2024), decided to stress that if Netanyahu, in light of all the circumstances referred to above, chooses to adhere to the option of continuing the long war that may include the occupation of parts of the Gaza Strip, which also means continuing the war of attrition in exchange for Hezbollah in the north, the growing power of Iran, the collapse of Israel’s position in the world, and the aggravation of its economic crisis, this should mean to every Israeli that this government is now a threat to Israel and will undermine the state. He added: “We are at the most fateful moment when the Chief of General Staff and the Minister of Defense have to put before the Head of Government an immediate and indisputable condition which is to take a political decision related to the day after the war immediately. And any postponement of such an order would mean allowing Netanyahu to reverse Israel into the abyss. So the responsibility for such a possibility is also transferred to them.”

Seventh, at the latest level of military developments, most security analysts and former military commanders gather that the continuation of the war complicates it on the one hand, and on the other hand, causes the accumulation of more and more dead soldiers, and more disabled soldiers, physically and psychologically, and that the army is forced to search, with all its capacity, for fighters and fighters to fill the vacuum left by these people in the ranks of the army, and no one will be able to justify the rejection of young Haredimen to enlist in the army.

As the military analyst for the right-wing newspaper Mkor Reshon wrote, Omir Rababaport (23/5/2024): There is a topic that is silent about, or more correctly, they do not talk about, but it deeply distresses the leadership of the Israeli army, which is the physical and psychological erosion of Israeli soldiers and mainly in the regular army, along with the severe shortage of field commanders. The background of this erosion lies in the continuation of the war, of course. The Israeli army has been built for decades according to a concept that determines that any war should be as short as possible, and to take place in enemy territory. But in practice, the war on Gaza is taking place in the territory of Israel as well, and we do not hint at an end to it until about eight months after its beginning.