Talks not tanks secure release of Israeli hostages

The most humiliating aspect of the 48-day long war with Hamas is that Israeli Defence Forces could not secure the release of a single hostage though they threw thousands of soldiers and hundreds of tanks and armoured personnel carriers into Gaza, nor could they capture alive any prominent leader of this Palestinian outfit. At the same time, they could not ‘dig out’ any tunnel in any hospital. Instead, the Zionist state had to hand over many times more prisoners captured well before October 7 and suffer huge loss of lives and tanks since it launched the ground offensive on long ago.

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If this is the price to secure the release of 50 out of 240-odd hostages then it could have been achieved just after October 7 as Qatar was ready to mediate from the very beginning. But the United States-led Israel was over-confident that it would delete tiny Gaza from the map in no time and free all the hostages. Israel once again made a misjudgment in measuring the fighting spirit of non-state actors like Hamas and Hezbollah and treated them as the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan with whom it fought four wars.

Usually, it is only the defeated army which agrees to release more prisoners than the opponent. Thus, Israel and America had conceded before the world that notwithstanding killing ten times more children, women and elderly souls and destroying overwhelming number of homes, schools, places of worship and hospitals they have lost the battle.

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Six-Day War

This is the performance of the army which in just six days (June 5-10, 1967) literally chased the combined military of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Be it in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 the Israeli army easily defeated the well-armed, well trained and well-fed numerically strong forces of three countries much larger to its size. They were also enjoying moral and material support from other Arab countries, for example Iraq, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and had a huge stockpile of Soviet union-made weapons.

In spite of these facts the Israeli air force completely decimated the entire Egyptian air force in just over three hours long blitz in the first day of war in 1967. Almost all Egyptian fighter aircraft were destroyed in the ground as they could not get time to take off.

The Gaza Strip, then in the control of Egypt and Sinai Peninsula were captured in three days as the IDF reached the eastern side of Suez Canal.

Similarly, Golan Heights were snatched from Syria and West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan by June 7. In fact, IDF captured all these territories in only first three days.

Yom Kippur War

In 1973 Yom Kippur War which started on October 6 the Egyptian and Syrian armies made initial gains. The Egyptian army crossed Suez Canal and stormed into Sinai Desert and re-captured a large chunk of territories lost six years earlier. In the same way Syrian army overran Golan Heights in the first day of war. But within a couple of days the IDF hit back and recovered a lot of grounds from Syria, including Golan Heights.

The Israeli task force under the leadership of the then Major General Ariel Sharon managed to cross over Suez Canal from another point and encircled the Egyptian Third Army by October 17. Sharon later became the defence minister and Prime Minister of Israel.

Jordan did not take part in 1973 war in which Egypt and Syria lost the advantages they gained in the initial phase of 17 days long conflict. Since then, the regular armies of the Arab countries had not fought any war with Israel.

As Israel suffered huge casualties in 1973 war it agreed to hand back Sinai to Egypt after the Camp David Agreement of 1978.

Wars with non-State actors

Though Israeli army invaded civil war-torn Lebanon in the summer of 1982 and helped the allied Christian militia massacre 3,000 Palestinians in Shabra and Shatila refugee camps (Sep 16-18) it is in the 21st century that Zionist forces had to fight six wars with non-state actors—five with Hamas and one with Hezbollah (in 2006). In all these military campaigns the IDF had to struggle for every inch of territory in the ground offensive. As Israel enjoys complete air superiority it succeeded in destroying civilian property and causing casualties among non-combatants in Gaza and Lebanon.

On all these occasions the IDF had to withdraw after prolong battle. In the summer of 2021 the IDF only carried air strikes on Gaza though it amassed a large number of troops on the border.

Hezbollah shot into fame when it carried out massive suicide attacks killing 241 US and 58 French soldiers on October 23, 1983 in Beirut. Both US and France hurriedly withdrew their forces sent into the civil war-torn Lebanon to back Christian militia which was in loggerhead with Muslim-dominated Palestinians and Shias. Hamas came up in Gaza four years later.

Sensing the changing dynamics of the region the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin–who as the Chief of Army Staff was considered as the hero of 1967 war—signed Oslo Accord with Palestinian Liberation Organization chief  asser Arafat in 1993.

However, within two years Rabin was assassinated by a Jew extremist opposed to Two-Nation agreement. Many in Israeli and US establishments were not in favour of any such pact with Palestinians.

Failure of Arab armies

Curiously unlike in the previous four wars in which Egypt, Syria and Jordan got full cooperation from fellow Arab countries, Hamas and Hezbollah do not get material support from anywhere, barring distant Iran. Among Arab countries, only Qatar lends a helping hand. Ricep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey too had in the recent years helped Hamas.

Ironically, Egypt, Syria and Jordan have in total lakhs of armies. In contrast the combined strength of Hamas and Hezbollah is not even one-tenth of the three Arab armies. As they fight guerilla type of battles, they do not have tanks, armoured cars, fighter jets, or high-quality naval vessels. Yet they had shown much stronger resistance to the marauding Israeli forces.

The truth is that the established armies of all the Arab countries—not just Egypt, Syria and Jordan—are either interested in ruling their respective country or helping the ruling monarchs and dictators.

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