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Israel to carry out targeted purge of Hamas: Like U.S. against Al-Qaeda and ISIS

Israel to carry out targeted purge of Hamas: Like U.S. against Al-Qaeda and ISIS Israeli Defense Forces enter the Gaza Strip (Photo: Getty Images)

Last week, the ground operation of the Israel Defense Forces in the Gaza sector began. The stated goals are the destruction of terrorists from the HAMAS group and the release of hostages.
On the format of the operation and the global reactions to the new war, political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko shared comments with RBC-Ukraine.

About the ground operation in Gaza

Israel, when planning the operation in Gaza, will take into account world sentiments, but to a limited extent. Taking accusations by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of alleged war crimes into account, the sides have long had very specific relations. There was a conflict when Turkish ships with weapons for Palestinian radicals were detained, but relations did not go beyond the pragmatic channel. Therefore, Israel is relatively calm about Erdogan's loud statements. Moreover, Russia's cynical and insidious behavior is unlikely to influence the planning of actions in Gaza.

What influenced the delay in the ground phase? Restraint from the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden and predominantly internal factors, such as the issue of hostages' release and an understanding of the risks that the anti-Israel wave in the world could become more powerful with many Palestinian casualties.

It seems that the Israeli operation will not turn into total revenge. They will act selectively and cautiously; most likely, they will divide Gaza into sectors, block the south and north, and destroy tunnels and Hamas's underground infrastructure. Targeted and phased clearing to maximize damage to HAMAS.

The strategic goal is the elimination of HAMAS. Previously, Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders tried to negotiate, but after the tragedy on October 7, there was no talk of any peace talks. They may negotiate through intermediaries on the release of hostages and short ceasefires. Still, the task is the physical destruction of those who planned the October 7 attack and those who carried it out.

I think Israel will act toward HAMAS roughly the way Americans dealt with Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State in the past. Another problem is that you can destroy HAMAS, but it does not eliminate Islamist radicalism itself. Accordingly, in the Gaza sector, new young radicals may emerge in the future.

About the "non-pogrom" in Makhachkala

The events in Makhachkala, when a crowd seized the airport in search of Israeli refugees, were spontaneous but not accidental. This is a consequence of the aggressive state of Russian society, significantly fueled by the war against Ukraine. It manifested itself in the Prygovins' coup attempt and some other forms.

Dagestan is potentially a hot spot in Russia. It is one of the poorest regions, ethnically diverse, with a heap of social problems, plus a high level of Islamic radicalism. The war in the Gaza sector became an external trigger; Russian propaganda tried to direct aggression towards the West, but for radical Islamists and those who feel "natural" anti-Semitism, the enemy was obvious.

Then, there was information about the supposed plane with refugees. And that's it; it was a spark that ignited a fire. This link in the chain of anti-Israel hysteria on Russian TV, which may not always be direct, but sympathies for Palestinians and criticism of Israel were not hidden. Anti-Semitism was present even in the statements of Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov, especially on TV and Telegram's "Z" channels. That groundwork for seizing the airport, which almost led to a pogrom, was there.

More will come later, just in different forms and places, as internal aggression will eventually lead to explosions in Russia. In principle, internal conflicts in this country correspond to the interests of Ukraine, but artificially provoking a hypothetical Maidan is impossible.

About Turkish support for HAMAS

I am not one of those commentators who call Erdogan's sharp statements almost the beginning of the Third World War. What does he seek? It should be understood that speeches at rallies with thousands of people are his favorite way of communicating with the electorate, which works. It's just that, usually, it is directed toward the domestic consumer.

In this case, it is a reaction to events in the Gaza sector that have stirred up the Islamic world. Erdogan decided to take advantage of the situation, mentioning wars of the cross and the crescent in his appeal to the West, recalling the times of the Crusades - a confrontation between the West and the Muslim world, which remains an element of anti-Western rhetoric. With this speech, Erdogan emphasized his claim to the role of a passionate leader of the Muslim world.

Obviously, in the opinion of many Muslims, the West helps Israel and ignores the tragedy of the Palestinians. Erdogan decided to capitalize on these feelings. Whether it will work or not, I'm not sure, but the bid is there, which, however, does not mean that Erdogan intends to get involved in the fight against Israel, the United States, and the West. There are no signs of preparation for this, and I think he is not foolish enough to do things that contradict the interests of Turkey. Here, it's more a claim to a unique role in the Muslim world and a demonstration of the ideology of neo-Ottomanism and neo-imperialism.

It is no coincidence that he mentioned that Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. This resembles Putin's idea of the "Russian world." That is, supposedly, Turkey has the right to influence the region with which there are historical ties. But Azerbaijani oil continues to flow to Israel through Turkey. If Erdogan were seriously against it, he probably should cut off the supplies. So far, we have not seen this. There is a lot of pathos, but Turkey will behave restrained, as will most Arab countries. All neighboring countries with Israel are not as radical as they were 50 or 70 years ago and do not intend to go to war.