Vytautas Bruveris. Terrorists hope that the enemy will finally fall. But what if it’s the other way around

Israelis AFP / Scanpix

The world is changing. It already has. We are all already living in a new historical period, with instability and insecurity at its core and growing, Vytautas Bruveris, the director of ELTA news agency, wrote.

New hotbeds of war and conflict are brewing. On the one hand, they have a global, worldwide impact, while on the other hand, they are interconnected and intertwined in one way or another, not necessarily directly.

One of the most apparent signals that the world is entering such a new era was, and still is, undoubtedly Russia‘s open and full-scale war against Ukraine. It gave an evident and acute sense that the Russian dictatorship’s move on the bank had crossed a critical threshold and set historical processes of probably unprecedented magnitude in motion, with potential consequences of the same scale.

Can the full-scale renewal of the war between the terrorist group Hamas and Israel last weekend be seen as a benchmark and a sign? Absolutely.

Everyone is now wondering what the objectives of Hamas were behind the unprecedented invasion of Israel and who might have been behind the terrorists’ backs. These considerations often show the same mistake that has been made and continues to be made in trying to explain, for example, the actions of the Russian regime and its logic. That mistake is the desperate attempt to rationalise.

Of course, the specific pragmatic-political motives were clear from the start of the invasion. It was the desire to halt or destroy the process of normalisation of relations between Israel and the major Arab countries that were underway. Saudi Arabia, which has recently become one of the key players in the region, was supposed to join in and mark a turning point.

It is also an attempt to take advantage of the unprecedentedly tense domestic political situation in a divided Israel and to escalate it to the point of maximum and possibly explosion.

It is also about Hamas wanting to take as many hostages as possible, who can then be exchanged for the leaders of Palestinian and Islamic terrorism in Israeli hands.

Finally, it is clear that in this way, Hamas, which rules Gaza, wants to consolidate its role as the primary and even the only fighter for Palestinian freedom and against Israel in general, thus definitively marginalising not only its main rival, Fatah, which rules the West Bank but also the other factions.

All of these, or at least most, are motivated by the objectives of Hamas’ leading supporter, ally and breadwinner, Iran, and its ally Russia.

However, it is hard to imagine that Hamas and all its supporters and friends do not understand the threat of the Israeli response, which it will now simply have to take, both in terms of defending the geopolitical status of its state and in terms of the domestic political and psychological situation.

A full-scale and forceful ground assault on the Gaza Strip, taking complete control of it and physically destroying the Hamas command infrastructure and the group itself. This is the very least promised immediately and without delay by the Israeli authorities and the majority of the public.

The prospect is for an official and already open Israeli cross not only on the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, which are in a state of clinical death but also on the concept of two states and Palestinian autonomy in general.

This means thousands of deaths, not only of terrorists but also of civilians, destruction on an unprecedented scale and chaos guaranteed to spill over the edges.

But this is probably Hamas’s main, deliberate aim in planning last weekend’s operation, well before all the processes shaping the concrete current political and geopolitical conjuncture. The latter is even in the background.

It is most likely that Hamas’s decisive, overriding and perhaps even sole aim is to provoke an immense possible conflagration in the region, which might even incinerate the group itself but which would also lead to an open and full-scale Israeli war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, with its breadwinner and leader Iran, and also with Syria.

Such a war would be no less of a threat to the region as a whole and the world than the current war in Ukraine or China’s attack on Taiwan.

Would this mean that this is not only and not so much the ambition of Hamas, but of Iran, for example, or even of Russia, which is behind it?

Some are convinced that Hamas and Iran, with Iran’s knowledge and blessing, could not have not only carried out this attack but also prepared for it properly. Perhaps even more remarkable, the exact role is also attributed to Russia.

Others argue that Hamas has long been so autonomous that, if its elder brothers and guardians were aware of its plans, it could have made the decisive decisions. Moreover, the risk of a war with Israel on such a large scale is not in the interest of Iran or Russia.

However, the only side of the story is whether Iran and Russia were directly involved in the Hamas attack or whether the latter kept them in the shadows. On the other hand, both Iran and Russia have benefited from the attack and the current situation.

Especially for Russia. On the one hand, it can expect a reduction in Western attention and support for Ukraine. Especially the US, which is now immersed in unprecedented domestic political turmoil, will only worsen.

Secondly, it is in Russia’s interest in general that the more conflicts and wars – and therefore turmoil – there are around the world, the more comfortable it is in these murky and bloody waters. It does not matter whether it can ignite some of the fires, as in the Balkans, or if they flare up without direct intervention.

But the fundamental question for everyone – the West and its enemies alike – is: to what extent can the present war escalate?

From its first minutes, the US, through President Joe Biden’s words, clearly warned everyone – above all Iran – not to try to interfere. By sending a warship, America has backed up its words with action just as it has started sending military aid to Israel.

The latter, which has blockaded the entire Gaza Strip and warned all civilians to flee as soon as possible, demonstrates that, for the time being, it is inclined to confine itself to a war on the territory and take control of it.

However, this, too, will be a long and bloody story, and one that will also involve a lot of casualties among Israeli soldiers themselves.

Moreover, the question in the air is, what happens after Israel does take control? More than two million people in an area that has been destroyed and is smaller in area than Vilnius – that is what will have to be dealt with.

How? By asking for some international force and governance? What and whose? And again, what then?

So, in any case, there will be a swamp of bloody turmoil, from which new terrorist hydra heads will creep out, bred by the same Iran.

And then there is the second front from the north, where Hezbollah, bred by Iran, is already digging its fangs in Lebanon.

So, those who are already saying that the war in Gaza could turn into an Israeli-Iraq/Afghanistan mix, or even worse, are correct. And above all, it is constantly threatening to turn from the hybrid Israeli-Iranian war that we are already seeing into an open one.

In essence, the same can be said about the Ukrainian war. Just as when we say that it has no chance of coming to an end until the Russian dictatorship itself collapses or is overthrown, so too, in this case, it will be possible to repeat that it will only really come to an end if and when the Iranian fundamentalist regime collapses or is overthrown.

Thus, even if the main focus of the war can be localised in the Gaza Strip, the overall situation in the whole region will remain precarious and constantly teetering on the brink of a large-scale regional war.

Another potentially very dangerous trend is that Hamas and its collaborators and patrons will try to transfer as much blood as possible from Gaza not only to Israel but also to the West.

A new wave of bloody terror attacks, directed not only against Jews but against everyone else – is a threat to Europe and America.

But, as the classics have said, where there is danger, there also grows that which saves.

With each new bloodbath, alongside the fear of a new and greater one, with chaos at the end, there is also a growing hope that the West, to which Israel belongs in a civilisational sense, will finally pull itself together.

Many Israeli politicians, including those at the very top and a large part of the public, have been clear to this day about who is who and who is with whom, not only on the Ukrainian front but also on the Middle Eastern front.

Some of them – even former associates of the current Prime Minister Netanyahu or President Isaac Herzog – have publicly linked the Russian and Iranian regimes and the leading Islamic terror groups as a single force against Western civilisation and democracy.

This was, for example, one of the key messages at a high-level conference in Paris a few months ago on relations between the European Union and Israel. The Israeli parliamentarians, former government members and high-ranking officials there spoke of the need for Israel to unite with Europe and the US against the common challenge posed by Russia, Iran and the terrorist groups they sponsor.

However, in the context of real politics and the Ukraine war, the Israeli government and state have kept their distance from the common Western line. One of the main reasons for this is that they did not want to provoke Russia through Iran and Hezbollah.

B. Netanyahu has even publicly explained that Israel is not sending military aid to Ukraine because Russia, through Iran, will help further arm terrorists, who may even end up with Israeli or Western weapons from those sent to Ukraine.

Either way, this non-provocation policy, or, more accurately, of succumbing to blackmail, failed in the blink of an eye. Even if Russia did not contribute directly and specifically to Saturday’s attack on Israel, it still stands shoulder to shoulder with Iran and the rest of the Brotherhood behind Hamas.

The current triumphalist and jubilant tone of Russian propaganda points the finger of blame at what has long been obvious: the Kremlin sees Israel as part of the Western system, which should be destroyed like any other, for better or worse. And whether Israel supports Ukraine or adopts a more cautious approach is, in the eyes of the Kremlin, an utterly irrelevant matter.

They are one group helping each other, both in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Israel, entering the fires of a new war after 9/11, can hopefully see this more clearly than ever. All the major Western capitals hope to see it just as clearly.

It may well be that this war is just the incentive for this civilisational community to join forces in a common and genuinely decisive fight against the global alliance of dictators and terrorists that is launching a new challenge. And if that does not happen, that alliance will rechallenge us, either there or elsewhere.

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