Amidst escalating tensions in Gaza, concerns are arising about the path forward after the war’s conclusion.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, speaks of transforming the Middle East, while Joe Biden affirms there will be no regression. Despite Israel’s intensified military operations in Gaza and its warnings to Palestinians, the post-war plan remains ambiguous.

Israel repeatedly asserts its goal to dismantle Hamas from Gaza, both militarily and politically. However, the methodology to achieve this remains uncertain. Dr. Michael Milshtein, a prominent figure from Tel Aviv University, emphasizes the necessity of a clear strategy for the aftermath. According to Dr. Milshtein, planning seems largely incomplete.

Western officials indicate that discussions about Gaza’s future are ongoing but without clear conclusions. The consensus is that while military plans may exist, a comprehensive strategy for Gaza’s governance and stability after the war is lacking. Haim Tomer, a previous Mossad senior officer, expresses skepticism about a feasible solution once the Israeli forces withdraw.

There’s a wide agreement among Israelis that Hamas, following the atrocities of October 7, must be subdued. Yet, Dr. Milshtein points out that Hamas is more than just an organization; it’s an ideology that can’t be eradicated simply. He draws parallels with Iraq’s 2003 “De-Baathification” which led to widespread unemployment and subsequent insurgency. Dr. Milshtein hopes that Israel learns from these historical missteps.

Palestinian representatives echo similar sentiments. Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader, states that Hamas is deeply rooted in Palestinian society. To eliminate it would require displacing a significant portion of Gaza’s population.

This notion evokes fears of a mass Palestinian exodus, reminiscent of the events of 1948. Such concerns are exacerbated by discussions among Israeli commentators about the potential relocation of Palestinians across the Sinai border. US President Joe Biden’s funding request further intensifies these fears, hinting at possible border displacements.

The pressing question remains: who will govern Gaza post-conflict? Dr. Milshtein suggests the formation of a new local administration with support from international stakeholders and including leaders from Fatah, a Palestinian faction.

However, Fatah’s reception among Palestinians is lukewarm at best. Both in Gaza and the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority, controlled by Fatah, lacks popularity. Veteran Palestinian politicians like Hanan Ashrawi express resentment towards any external attempts to dictate Palestinian governance.

For those experienced with past Gaza conflicts, there’s a prevailing sentiment of déjà vu. Haim Tomer proposes a temporary halt to military operations, emphasizing the importance of securing the release of hostages. He recalls similar negotiations from 2012, facilitated by Egyptian intermediaries.

Tomer asserts that Israel faces a challenging decision: pursue continued military aggression or negotiate a lasting truce. Nevertheless, he believes that Israel’s connection with Gaza is permanent, likening it to “a bone in our throat.”

Afonso Alcântara

CEO of Walerts is an expert in Digital Marketing and Artificial Intelligence. CEO of Wproo, an international Web Software Development company.

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