The Independent view

Israel may have found itself in an unwinnable war

Editorial: The pity of this war is that even the total obliteration of Gaza will not bring victory, still less safety and security, to the Israeli people

Friday 01 December 2023 21:30 GMT
<p>Smoke rises above buildings during an Israeli strike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday </p>

Smoke rises above buildings during an Israeli strike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday

Henry Kissinger, with his usual cold clarity, once remarked that America had made two mistakes with regard to the Vietnam war. The first was going in; the second was not winning. As a result, the US was embroiled in a conflict that lasted two decades and resulted in the nation’s first ever defeat. Much the same might be said for the more recent American-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. It also looks like Dr Kissinger’s insight could be applied to Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

After the unspeakable atrocities perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October – not disputed even by the militants’ apologists – it was inevitable that Israel would react, and retaliate.

The nation had a right to defend itself, and it had been invaded. A military operation was the predictable consequence, as Hamas well understood. It may even have been their primary purpose to provoke Israel into a quest for revenge, and create an unstable situation where Israel might eventually find itself isolated in the international community, and compromised militarily in bombed-out urban warfare, under which conditions the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) are not well placed to prevail.

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