Honaida Ghanim

The new far-right leadership under Benjamin Netanyahu has deployed the strategy of “conflict management,” which has a clear colonial marker to dismantle the Palestinian cause. This strategy involves the Judaization of the space, the alteration of demography, and the division of Palestinians into isolated communities under Israeli dominance. These policies were pursued under the auspices of international and Arab abandonment of Palestinians. Therefore, Palestinian hopelessness has intensified to an indescribable extent, leading to an intractable organic crisis that culminated in an eruption of extreme violence. Recognizing the colonial character of this dynamics is crucial for confronting it.

colonialism, far right, Judaization, occupation

The webinar entitled “Israel–Hamas: A Colonial War?” posits that there is an equivalent war between the state “of Israel” and “Hamas”; however, the genocidal characteristics of the Israeli war on Gaza suggest it transcends a targeted operation against Hamas, evolving instead into an unrestrained assault on the Palestinian populace.

Yet the attack on 7 October and the subsequent war on Gaza triggered questioning whether these represent a novel and extraordinary event that needs a new framing rather than a colonial one or a radical manifestation and an inevitable consequence of the settler colonial evolving and metamorphosis in the last decades.

On one hand, the 7 October attack and the subsequent war on Gaza signify a notable and extraordinary episode of “extreme violence,” characterized by significant destruction and loss of life in a brief span. On the other hand, this “extreme violence,” I argue, is entangled in the radicalization of the Israeli colonial practices and political metamorphosis that poses an imminent threat to Palestinian national/collective existence.

The colonial radicalization related to various factors, most notably the internal sociodemographic changes in the Israeli immigrant society, especially the decline of the founder colonial Zionist elites and the rise of new far-right groups who presented themselves as “true Zionism.” This Zionism aspired to rebuild the Zionist project on new foundations that replace soft Israeli secular Zionism, by emphasizing Jewish nationalism, the values of conservatism, Jewish supremacy, exclusive rights for Jews between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and precisely achieving full Jewish sovereignty over the “Land of Israel” (Eretz Yisrael)1 while liquidating the Palestinian question by blocking all paths for them to get rid of the occupation and establish their independent state.”

Since 2009, the new far-right leadership under Benjamin Netanyahu has embraced a strategy of “conflict management” aimed at dismantling the Palestinian cause. This strategy involves colonization and Judaization on one hand and the division of Palestinians into isolated communities within fragmented cities and areas under Israeli dominance on the other. This tactic poses a significant threat to Palestinian national identity, potentially leading to a crisis more devastating than the Nakba and driving Palestinians to the brink of the abyss.

Parallel to the Israeli far-right strategy, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have put forward two separate approaches. Hamas have determined that employing military resistance is their most advantageous course of action, as they perceive Israel to be acquainted solely with violence and power. However, the Palestinian Authority maintains that using diplomatic channels and employing nonviolent tactics are the only ways to end the occupation and establish a sovereign, independent state.

Both the military and diplomatic endeavors reached a deadlock. Military resistance did not deliver the promised outbreak; instead, the overall living conditions in Gaza worsened, and the siege and isolation intensified. The diplomacy of the PA failed to deliver any achievement; the peace process became a “bad word” and a type of “dark satire.” Following their failures, the two factions started to witness decreased credibility within their specific areas of control and a deterioration in their legitimacy.

Recent public opinion surveys conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) in Ramallah,2 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords and a month before October 7, reveal low support for both Hamas and Fateh. According to the findings, 27% of respondents view Hamas as the most suitable representative and leader of the Palestinian people, while 24% favor Fateh under Abbas’s leadership. However, a significant 44% of those surveyed believe neither party is fit for representation or leadership of the Palestinians. Furthermore, a widespread perception of corruption exists, with 87% acknowledging its presence within Palestinian Authority institutions, and 72% within institutions controlled by Hamas. Regarding the potential for independence and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel within the next five years, 76% of respondents are pessimistic, considering such prospects to be slim or nonexistent; only 7% see them as highly likely.

To summarize, on the eve of 7 October, most Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories expressed dissatisfaction with both Hamas and Fateh, perceived corruption to be widespread on both sides, and were desperate for an end to the occupation or the achievement of statehood.

The despair of Palestinians was not an unavoidable destiny but rather a result of the deliberate strategy of colonization, subjugation, and Judaization in the whole territory spanning from the river to the sea, where there would be just one state for one people: the Jewish people.

Since 2009, the colonization strategy known as “conflict management” has evolved into an assertive intervention to dismantle any possibility of ending the occupation and establishing Palestine’s independent state. This strategy gained traction due to the emergence of Trumpism and the worldwide upsurge of populist right-wing movements in nations such as India, Brazil, and Hungary, and exacerbated by the Arab state’s choice to abandon the Palestinian cause and engage in the normalization agreements.

The process of intensifying settlement and promoting the national Judaization of the state and its national identity occurred simultaneously with the decrease in possibilities for political resolution. This involved “political investment” in sustaining the political divide between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to avoid potential political solutions. Simultaneously, an international Israeli campaign was initiated to undermine the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle by associating it with anti-Semitism and Islamic fundamentalism. Benefiting from the rise of Islamophobia, this campaign sought to portray the conflict as a clash of civilizations between enlightenment and savagery, with Western Judeo-Christian civilization counterposed to savage Islamic fundamentalism. This campaign resulted in the revision of the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism to encompass anti-Zionism. This campaign further advocated global acceptance of the revised definition, connecting the BDS movement to anti-Semitism, and actively striving to isolate and undermine it.

Israel’s handling of the Palestinian Authority exhibited a combination of haughtiness and contempt, driving it perilously close to collapse. This was apparent through frequent invasions of territories under Palestinian jurisdiction, coupled with extensive and regular detention operations executed in Area A. Israel withheld funds from the clearing taxes and revenues under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, Palestinian civil society organizations functioning in the West Bank were designated as terrorist organizations. Communication with the Palestinian Authority was primarily focused on security coordination, which the authority maintained in accordance with its commitment to the Oslo Accords, despite Israel’s significant disregard for them.

Concurrently, Israel implemented a comprehensive system of checkpoints and gates at the entrances of Palestinian villages and communities. The practice of seizing land continued, and settlers were given leeway to target Palestinians and create settlement outposts. These outposts sometimes took on different forms, such as pastoral settlements, while also transforming the Palestinian Authority into a local municipal administration.

The situation in Gaza was dire. A population of 2.2 million individuals, with 40% of its inhabitants under the age of 153 and mostly (80 percent) descendants of refugees from southern regions and coastal cities living in one of the most populated areas globally.4 In 2017, the United Nations issued a warning that this area would become uninhabitable for human life by 2020 unless there was a significant mitigation of the siege.5 The new generations in Gaza born after 2000 know only of wars and sieges. Instances of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have become increasingly prevalent.6

Hamas was unable to meet the population’s needs without altering its political ideology. Several measures were implemented to achieve this objective, but they did not bring about any tangible changes. Instead, the socioeconomic conditions worsened, and Hamas began to acquire a negative reputation like that of the PA.

Meanwhile, the military resistance was the sole symbolic political capital that distinguished Hamas from the Palestinian Authority. Since 2006, the year that Hamas seized power in Gaza, Hamas’s strategy has had to navigate between its role as a governing authority on one hand and military resistance on the other, which presents an alternative to the Palestinian Authority fiasco.

The implementation of the “conflict management” tool as a colonial strategy that aimed to undermine the Palestinian issue was made possible through a convergence of objective regional, international, and internal Palestinian factors. This strategy enabled Netanyahu to amass political and symbolic capital and deliver significant accomplishments to the Israeli public without making any concessions.

Following the guidelines established by the Trump administration, the Biden administration has abstained from relocating the US embassy back to Tel Aviv, reopening the PLO headquarters in DC, or fulfilling its commitment to establish a consulate in East Jerusalem. Biden’s response during his meeting with the Palestinian President to the latter’s demands is that they require the miraculous intervention of Jesus. Contrarily, the Biden administration actively advocated the signing of a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia.

The EU’s stance was equally unsatisfactory; rather than providing any constructive intervention to stop the Israeli ongoing colonization and end occupation, it opted to exert pressure on the weak side of PA, demanding additional concessions, modification of the school curriculum and textbooks, and imposition of new prerequisites for financial assistance.

The Arab countries’ diminishing support for the Palestinians, the rejection of the Arab peace initiative based on the formula of land exchange for peace, the endorsement of the Abrahamic Peace Agreements with the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco, and the improvement of relations with Sudan and Saudi Arabia created a fatal Israeli illusion of peace. But as Shlomo Avineri concludes, “without settling the conflict with the Palestinians, peace will not come, and the situation will reach the point of explosion sooner or later.”7

The Israeli media and political sphere have purposefully disregarded the harsh reality lived by Palestinians and have refrained from discussing the issue of occupation, except in instances of violent outbursts, where Palestinians are portrayed solely as terrorists and instigators of violence, without any consideration of the underlying circumstances. This deliberate avoidance has resulted, according to Amira Hass,8 in a nonsensical reality, where Israelis live in a parallel universe of normal life and the Palestinians living the unimaginable harsh reality of oppression, colonial brutality, and daily repression in the occupied territories, whether in the West Bank or Gaza.

In this context of cross-colonial expansion and international and regional abandonment and failure, Palestinian hopelessness has intensified to an indescribable extent, with very little optimism remaining for ending the occupation.

This dead end led to an intractable organic crisis that culminated in an eruption of extreme violence. The explosion, characterized by its suicidal nature and unprecedented level of violence, was intended to reverse the situation and overcome the political deadlock. The war and its genocidal methods originated from the same context of a colonial mindset, according to which if something could not be accomplished through hard power and force, it could be achieved by exerting even more hard power and force.

For decades, following a long colonial tradition, Israel has treated the Palestinians as subhuman, not in the sense of Gallant’s reference to animalistic humans or Netanyahu’s concept of Amalek, but rather as biological creatures devoid of political rights. They are not regarded as political beings (Homo politicus), but rather as subjects who can be manipulated and controlled with the right equation of power exercises and biological needs supplies. Israel’s attempt to develop the precise formula that grants it control over the Palestinians, only to ultimately fail, leaves it perplexed. The reason is that it fails to acknowledge the Palestinians as a collective with national and political entitlement and rights.

This strategy has consistently demonstrated its lack of success over the past 75 years. Despite enduring various forms of oppression throughout their ongoing Nakba, the Palestinians remained resolute in their resistance. Conversely, the presence of colonialism and systemic violence only intensified their anger, leading to a more tragic escalation in acts of oppositional violence.


1.Ghanim (2023).

2.Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (2023).

3.Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (2023,15).

4.Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (2023, 23).

5.UN News (2015).

6.Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor (2021).

7.Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor (2021).

8.Haaretz (2023).

Works Cited

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor. 2021. “91% of Gaza Children Suffer from PTSD after the Israeli Attack.”

 Available at https://euromedmonitor.org/en/article/4497/New-Report:-91%25-of-Gaza-children-suffer-from-PTSD-after-the-Israeli-attack. Accessed 7 January 2024. Ghanim, Honaida. 2023

. “On the Struggle between the Founding Colonialists and the New Colonialists of Israel.. 14 April. Arab Center, Washington, DC. Available at https://arabcenterdc.org/resource/on-the-struggle-between-the-founding-colonialists-and-the-new-colonialists-of-israel/?fbclid=IwAR3JLQbxGuNGr5Eb6B-E8QirQKX1SZRU-_af0aVF8PaPyHg5wQKD4LgmuUg. Accessed 7 January 2024.

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. [podcast]. [A podcast of Leor Kodner.] Available at https://www.haaretz.co.il/digital/podcast/weekly/2023-11-26/ty-article-podcast/0000018c-0b43-dca2-a9fd-6fcb49260000. Accessed 7 January 2024. Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research 2023

. “Public Opinion Poll No. (89). 6–9 September. Available at https://www.pcpsr.org/en/node/955. Accessed 7 January 2024. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics 2023

Palestinian Statistical Yearbook, December. Available at https://www.pcbs.gov.ps/pcbs_searchAr.aspx?q=. Accessed 7 January 2024 UN News 2015

. “Gaza Could Become Uninhabitable in Less than Five Years Due to Ongoing ‘De-development’—UN Report.” Available at https://news.un.org/en/story/2015/09/507762. Accessed 7 January 2024.

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