Nabil Amr
Palestinian writer and politician

Gaza’s and Israel’s Tunnels

If Israel were to calculate the losses it has suffered in its ongoing war, it could only come to this conclusion: Gaza, with its tunnels, has become a nightmare that strikes more fear than armies and all their lethal and devastating tools. Israel has dug itself into its own tunnel, and it is struggling to find a way out.
We have gotten used to comparing losses according to the number of lives lost and the extent of destruction on each side. That is part of the picture, but it can be the least bleak of other aspects.
The casualties figures are high. And if material losses leave less of an impact because they can be easily replaced, the lives that have been lost cannot be. As for the disabled, who have become a chronic burden on society, how can Israel get them back to work?

The state of morale could well be the most dangerous threat. The Israeli public is used to feeling superior, and Jews around the world have become accustomed to seeing Israel as their safe haven - a readily available backup if they ever wanted to leave their places of residence, where they hold citizenship and enjoy full citizenship rights. That is no longer the case, neither for the residents of Israel nor for the Jews living outside it. The pendulum has swung from immigration to Israel to emigration from it. In parallel, many citizens’ lives have been upended after being forced to move from their residences in the north and south more than once, to crowd into the center or places that seem safer. Indeed, Israel is suffering from internal displacement, which has had a negative impact on social and even psychological stability, not only for those who have been displaced but also for those who are inconvenienced by the hoards of displaced people who have overwhelmed their villages and cities.

Economy: None of the pillars of the stability and development of the Israeli economy are still sound. There are no local workers due to mobilizations of reservists, nor Palestinian workers, who are more productive and less costly, nor are there foreign workers to partially fill the gap. Rather, after everything that has happened, they might never come, and if they do, they create more problems than they do solutions.
This is a conundrum. Even if a temporary solution is found after the battles die down, a permanent solution will not be found as long as Israel maintains its arsenal and the Palestinians continue to resist with the arms available to them and refuse to surrender.
Narrative: The world, to a large extent, has accepted the Israeli narrative: it is the only oasis of democracy in the desert of the Middle East. This narrative was pushed due to the large number of dictatorships surrounding Israel and because of many of the “adornments” of modernity in Israel. Another narrative presented every time Israel wages war is that it is fighting to defend itself against terrorism and enemies of progress and civilization.

Even at the best and calmest of times, there was no international consensus around this narrative. However, it found some acceptance and even formed the basis of some states’ relationships with the Jewish states.
However, this war has flipped things on their head. Nothing is more dangerous to a narrative than people debunking and deviating from it. That is what happened, especially in what had been considered strongholds of Israeli support in Western capitals, including the US. While there was broad sympathy for Israel following the events of October 7th, a radical shift indeed occurred when the world began to see the brutality of Israel’s attack on Gaza and the West Bank. It went beyond reacting to what had happened, reaching an unprecedented level of destruction and killing; especially of civilians and children. This did merely change how Israel’s friends see it; people’s conscience and sentiments, more than anything else, flipped this image around.
Since the war has not ended, even after 3 months, it will inevitably continue indefinitely. Israel is hemorrhaging everywhere. Meanwhile, we see growing sympathy for the victims and a better appreciation of the Palestinians' right to self-defense.
The idea of integration in the Middle East has: no one can deny that Israel has made significant progress in establishing new relationships with many countries. These new relationships will continue, but they are now shrouded in wariness.
For example, Egypt sees the Palestinian displacement happening at its expense, warranting its attention, apprehension, and even preparedness, and so does Jordan.
The greatest challenge is that of the International Court of Justice, which is prosecuting Israel as it was accused of genocide and ethnic cleansing, charges substantiated by solid facts and evidence. In such a matter, lawyers, no matter how skilled, will be helpful, nor will the US, which has no “veto” in institutions like this. These are the tunnels that Israel has dug for itself, decision-makers know it but ignore this fact. Many in Israel have started to ask: Until when?