Biden’s soldiers in service to Bibi
Biden’s visit to Israel is a risky one
According to Iran Gate, Biden’s soldiers in service to Bibi traveled to Israel on Thursday, October 18, simultaneously with the explosion incident at the Gaza hospital. However, the escalating anger resulting from this incident jeopardizes America’s strategy. Although the President’s mission in the Middle East had already started as a difficult and challenging mission, the bombing of Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, October 17, can turn it into the most complicated period of his presidency.
The massacre has estimated to have killed an unknown number of civilians, ranging from 200 to 500 people. However, the number of casualties currently cannot be confirmed, as they mainly include the injured from this incident, individuals hospitalized or refugees who sought shelter in the hospital to escape the bombing. Any attempt to reduce tension weakens. King Abdullah II of Jordan had planned a safe meeting that was supposed to be held with the presence of Biden, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestine, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian.
Due to the thousands of protesters who took to the streets in the capital and beyond, the demonstrations were canceled. However, protests were also held near the Israeli consulate in Istanbul and in the cities of Tripoli and Misrata in Libya. In Beirut, Lebanon, police forces fired tear gas at the protesters gathered in front of the US embassy.
Meanwhile, Palestinians and Israelis are accusing each other of responsibility for the massacre. Hamas claims that the hospital was targeted by the Israeli army, while Tel Aviv alleges that it has evidence of Islamic Jihad missiles being launched from the area.
President Biden expressed deep regret for what happened in a conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and added that it seems Israel is not responsible for it and the other party is. However, the person responsible for the explosion and the number of casualties has not yet been determined. The fear of another general massacre paralyzes any diplomatic initiative and increases concerns about escalating conflicts in the region.
Will Gaza remain closed?
In these extremely complex and turbulent conditions, the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza is worsening moment by moment. The Rafah crossing has been closed for both entry and exit, which should have been one of the topics discussed in the canceled meeting. The bombardment of Rafah by Israel has made it the only communication route between Gaza and Egypt unbearable and uninterrupted suffering for the besieged population.
One million innocent Palestinians have been displaced towards the south following Tel Aviv’s orders, and now they find themselves without any escape route or safe haven. The water, which Israel was supposed to revive, is no longer sufficient. There is no electricity, and the previously unstable and inadequate healthcare services are collapsing.
Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that Hamas attacks do not justify mass punishment of the Palestinian people and called for an immediate ceasefire. Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, tweeted that humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip should be restored without delay. However, many comments on social media accuse him of hypocrisy because the day before this tweet, France, the United States, and Britain had proposed a resolution on the conflict to the Security Council, which was vetoed by Russia. The resolution called for a humanitarian ceasefire, the release of all hostages, and the withdrawal of military forces.
A half-hearted mission
More than half of Joe Biden’s planned meetings in the Middle East were canceled before he even entered Air Force One. However, the decision to carry out this trip despite security threats could have consequences for Washington’s relations with the entire Arab world. Organizing this mission includes normalizing relations between Arab countries in the region and Israel. Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, traveled between the capitals of regional countries and held a marathon of talks with regional leaders.
The goals of the US President’s trip, which are very difficult to achieve due to the inconsistency and heterogeneity of the goals, include on one hand, reaffirming support for Tel Aviv after Hamas’ attack on October 7, and on the other hand, restraining reactions and violence against civilians in Gaza to prevent escalation of conflicts. The United States also hoped for progress and success in freeing American and other hostages held by Hamas, as well as ensuring safe passage for foreign citizens out of the besieged area to Egypt.
The explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital undermined this plan and posed a risk to Biden’s management of a trip that relied solely on Israel as its destination. It also jeopardized the credibility of the United States as an honest mediator and caused trouble for many analysts in the Financial Times. The images of the US President alongside Netanyahu after the destruction of the Gaza City hospital, which has been attributed to Israeli forces by a large portion of the Arab population, will be interpreted as a confirmation of America’s unwavering support for Israel in the minds of the Middle Eastern public.
Investing in Arab anger
With the increasing anger in the Arab streets, the possibility of escalation and expansion of tension beyond the Gaza Strip is also increasing. If Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite quasi-military group closely allied with Iran, joins the war, concerns about the opening of a northern front are raised. In recent days, there have been increased clashes at the borders, and to coincide with Biden’s trip, Hezbollah leaders named October 18th as the Day of Anger. Meanwhile, in Tehran, Ibrahim Raisi accused the United States of being an accomplice to Israel’s crimes committed in Gaza.
According to Faras Makssad, a senior expert at the Middle East Institute based in Washington, a full-scale war with Lebanon will turn the war with Hamas into a secondary front. He further added that compared to Hezbollah’s arsenal, Hamas’ military equipment and capabilities in Gaza are very inferior.
Events are rapidly evolving, and Washington’s main rivals are also observing the results. Moscow, as a traditional ally of Arab regimes, spoke of the clear failure of US policies in the Middle East, while Beijing, the main buyer of the region’s oil and eager to establish itself as a replacement player for the United States in the region, hopes to take advantage of the Arab public’s anger towards Israel and the US for its own benefit. Both are hopeful of benefiting from the public anger among Arabs towards Israel and the US.
In the end, some analysts believe that Joe Biden’s choice was very courageous in many ways. His trip to Israel demonstrates the political capital that the United States invests in this conflict. The United States pursues multiple and not necessarily complementary goals.
Reiterating support for Israel while trying to contain tensions and activating support tools for the non-combatant population in Gaza, striking a blow to Hamas by preventing an escalation of regional conflict, increasing commitment and interaction by the United States without any impact on the Ukrainian front, as well as avoiding negative political consequences domestically, such as the explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital and the cancellation of the planned meeting in Jordan, highlight the importance of Biden’s meeting with Netanyahu and the subsequent American ambition to use this moment to greatly reduce the possibility of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
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