Scott Ritter: Israel's Gaza Offensive Ends in Political and Military Defeat
15:02 GMT 29.11.2023 (Updated: 10:27 GMT 30.01.2024)
© AP Photo / Mohammed DahmanPalestinians flee to northern Gaza as Israeli tanks block the Salah al-Din road in the central Gaza Strip on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, as the four-day cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war begins as part of an agreement that Qatar helped broker.
© AP Photo / Mohammed Dahman
Israel and Hamas have extended the Qatari-brokered ceasefire in the Gaza Strip that Tel Aviv vowed would never happen. Former United Nations (UN) weapons inspector and US Marine Scott Ritter argued that the outcome was a political victory for the Palestinian resistance movement.
Israel has lost both the political and military battle in the Gaza Strip, says a leading geopolitical commentator.
Israel and the Hamas Islamic resistance movement that governs the besieged Palestinian enclave reportedly agreed on Tuesday to extend the four-day ceasefire, brokered by Persian Gulf Arab state Qatar, for another two to three days.
Exchanges of captives will continue during that extension, with Hamas releasing 20 Israelis taken prisoner during its October 7 raids into southern Israel. The number of Palestinians to be freed was not reported, but Israel had previously released 180 women and children from its jails in return for 61 Israeli civilians and roughly 20 foreigners held by Hamas.
Former US Marine Scott Ritter told Sputnik that the bombing and ground invasion had been unsuccessful when measured "by Israel's own standards."
He pointed out that Israel had dismissed any talk of a ceasefire from the start of the latest escalation on October 7, while Hamas had offered a truce and prisoner exchange.
"That was Hamas' goal all along," Ritter said. "One of the stated objectives of Hamas was to get Israel to release the thousands of Palestinians that it's holding."
The commentator noted that Hamas had made three political demands after launching its al-Aqsa Flood operation: statehood for Palestine, the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and an end to Israeli settler and police incursions into the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem — Islam's third holiest site and under Jordanian jurisdiction.
"Those are the three big things. Hamas is on the path of accomplishing every single one of those," Ritter stressed. "War is an extension of politics by other means. Hamas is winning politically."
By contrast, the conflict had been a political disaster for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government. More than 16,000 Palestinians have been killed in nearly two months of Israeli bombing and ground incursions, with 35,000 wounded and 6,000 still missing under the rubble of destroyed homes.
"The world has flipped against Israel. Israel has been exposed as a war criminal state," Ritter said. "Even America, who has shown the ability to chug blood by the gallon, is saying 'enough is enough'."
28 November 2023, 12:30 GMT
But ultimately, the former UN weapons inspector argued, Netanyahu was forced to accept the ceasefire "because Israel had been fought to a standstill in Gaza."
"You can look at the map and look at all the blue there. That's empty space. That's uncontested, destroyed urban areas," Ritter said. "But the bulk of Gaza, northern Gaza ain't under Israeli control."
He asserted that in the days leading up to the truce, Israeli troops had refused to go into battle "because they were getting slaughtered, because they were going in to Hamas' trap."
"Hamas was springing up here, there and everywhere and taking them out," Ritter said. "They only killed a thousand lightly-armed Hamas people. All that bombing, and they only got 1,000. Are you kidding me? What does that tell you? That Hamas knows what they're doing, that Hamas is deep underground, that Hamas was prepared for this fight and this fight had only just begun."
The pundit said all that Israel had achieved was to "inflict a horrific level of pain and suffering on the Palestinian people," which it has attempted to blame on Hamas.
"Hamas knew that this was going to happen. This was part of Hamas's plan, because you know that Israel's going to do what it did," Ritter said. "What Hamas did is created a situation where Israel got to be Israel, Israel got to expose itself to the world, what kind of horrible genocidal maniacs that they are. But the Palestinian people have paid the price, a very heavy price."
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