Hamas and Israel: is a ground offensive in Gaza imminent?

Israel is at war after the radical Islamic Hamas organisation launched a brutal attack against the country on Saturday. Negotiations are underway to secure the release of Israeli hostages taken into Gaza by Hamas fighters. The number of dead on the Israeli side now exceeds 1,200, and according to Israeli sources at least 1,000 armed Palestinians have been killed. Commentators discuss how the war might develop from here.

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Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Hamas must be forced out

Tygodnik Powszechny says a ground offensive is the logical next step:

“It's not just about taking revenge and defeating an opponent who has proven to be far more dangerous than presumed, but also about restoring Israel's credibility among its own citizens and its standing on the international stage. ... It's hard to imagine that the government in Jerusalem will continue to tolerate Hamas' presence in Gaza. A large-scale ground operation or even a return to Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip is therefore to be expected. ... This would inevitably lead to major casualties among the Palestinian civilian population and possibly to a massive and permanent exodus.”

Expresso (PT) /

Avoid a repeat of the Iraq fiasco

Expresso points to the dangers of Israel occupying Gaza:

“If Israel follows the US path and engages in an endless and diffuse 'war on terror' by invading Gaza to purge it of all Hamas elements, Israel will face the same problem the Americans had in Afghanistan and Iraq: what comes next? Who will fill the power vacuum? In Afghanistan the same people returned to power, in Iraq there was complete anarchy for more than a decade, which produced something much worse than Saddam, namely the IS, whose sick Nazi violence is now being imitated by Hamas. Invasion is not the answer.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Extreme risk of war spreading throughout the region

Večernji list fears that an invasion of Gaza could soon plunge most of the Middle East into war:

“The situation in the Middle East is growing more precarious by the day, and it is only a matter of time before the war spreads from Gaza to Lebanon and even Syria. If there were a ground offensive or direct US intervention, this would lead to a war on a huge scale. ... The US's most important ally in the Gulf region, Saudi Arabia, also supports the Palestinians. Analysts are convinced that should Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq become involved in the war, the outcome could be devastating and could change the world map forever.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Fear of the Great Jihad

Many EU nations fear that terror could spread to their countries, writes Adevărul columnist Cristian Unteanu:

“Everyone is not just wary, but also afraid that the threat of terrorist attacks could spread in Europe. Various terrorist organisations could incite this, as Islamic State has done in the past. ... So far there has been no official call for the Great Jihad, there are only petitions circulating in the usual channels. ... The big question is whether Palestinian communities abroad might be mobilised to take direct action, which could open up a new battle front.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Putin benefits

Die Presse sees Moscow benefiting from the war in the Middle East in several ways:

“Firstly, because the war is diverting the attention of the West in general, and of the United States in particular, away from Ukraine and towards Israel. Secondly, it is forcing the Americans to empty their undoubtedly ample but not inexhaustible stockpiles of weapons more quickly than Pentagon strategists would have liked. And thirdly, it is increasing the price of oil, and Russia is more dependent then ever before on selling it. ... Now that he [Putin] can move neither forwards nor backwards in Ukraine, he needs perpetual war and global chaos to be able to cling to power.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

A watershed moment

Le Figaro sees the dawn of a new era in the Middle East:

“This is probably the end of the Palestinian Authority in its current form which, nineteen years after the election of Mahmoud Abbas, has become mired in illegitimacy and corruption. It is also the last gasp of the 'two-state solution', a chimera to which the Israelis, strengthened in their conviction that they face a mortal enemy, will close their minds even more firmly than before. The process of normalising relations with Israel's Arab neighbours could also be terminated, as collateral damage. Even Israeli democracy, already undermined by the right-wing religious coalition government, could end up in the graveyard of illusions.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Grim outlook for the Middle East

The Frankfurter Rundschau fears that the war will spread:

“This could prompt an uprising of Palestinians in the West Bank, for example. Iran could use its powerful influence in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria to get these countries to join forces with Hamas in the fight against Israel. And the autocrat Vladimir Putin could use his close ties with the Syrian Assad regime and add fuel to the flames because he never misses an opportunity to stir up any conflict that weakens the West and distracts from the war in Ukraine.”

Trud (BG) /

It's up to Riyadh

Hamas doesn't have the potential to continue on its own, Trud notes:

“Hamas is part of a bloc, one could even describe it as an instrument in the hands of Iran or Russia, fighting for their political and economic interests in the Middle East, with Israel and Saudi Arabia on the other side. ... Hamas cannot continue fighting like this for much longer. ... The key position now is that of Saudi Arabia. Will it hook up with the Iranian-Russian side or continue to act in its own interest, as it has done so far, building on its relations with China, India and so on? ... Much depends on Riyadh.”

Visão (PT) /

All set for a confrontation with Tehran?

Visão fears that Israel will now decide to attack Iran:

“In this war, one party is unfortunately absent, hidden and veiled, and that is Tehran. It has never confronted Israel directly, but it does not recognise its right to exist and will do everything in its power to destroy it one day. Israel has always been prepared for this scenario and will never allow the Iranians to get hold of nuclear weapons. ... Even if the Israelis are shocked by the shameful number of people who have been killed, injured or taken hostage, they are now benefiting from a global wave of outrage [over the Hamas attack] that is just and deserved and will serve the strategic and military goals of the government of the Jewish state. ... Tehran has become a legitimate target for Jerusalem.”

Yetkin Report (TR) /

An end to neighbourly collaboration

This torpedos countless supra-regional development projects, says Yetkin Report:

“This crisis will also affect Türkiye in ways other than political. ... Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar was expected to enter Israel next week for natural gas pipeline talks. It would not be a prophecy to say that these and many similar projects will be shelved until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. This is also true for the attempts of Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE to rapprochement with Israel. Even the ambitious India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor project that was discussed at the G20 meeting. The Israeli port of Ashkelon, a key element of that project, was also a target of Hamas attacks.”