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The third stage of war

by Abdel Latif al-Menawy

Israel announced the start of a new phase in the Gaza war, which Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari described as less intense in terms of ground operations.

This is the third stage of the war on Gaza, which will depend on specific or special operations such as what we saw in the process of freeing some hostages about two weeks ago.

In actuality, Israel’s announcement has only two meanings.

The first is a purely political process – or rather a maneuver – prior to the visit of US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, to Israel, as it aims to calm Washington which has put intense pressure on Tel Aviv, to change its tactics in the war, after the bloodshed has stained its reputation and the reputation of those who support it without any consideration.

Of course, the US is at the front of the line of these supporters.

We know the value of this maneuver now, especially before the launch of the US elections in November.

The current president and candidate Joe Biden does not want any other crises that would burden his administration with further pressure.

The issue of unlimited support for Ukraine and Israel represents a major pressure on him – there is even a  consideration of withdrawing himself from the presidency, after the last debate he held against Republican candidate Donald Trump.

The other meaning is that it has already begun the third phase militarily, during which the Israeli army withdrew many of its forces from Gaza, and many reserve forces returned to their homes.

According to observers, this stage may extend to many months, and perhaps to the end of this year, during which Tel Aviv will seek to establish a stage of governing Gaza.

Certainly, Netanyahu will not forget the main goal of the war, which is to liberate the hostages and eliminate Hamas, but governing Gaza is taking up a large part of his government’s thinking, which is why the third phase may be prolonged.

Netanyahu wants to establish a new security system in the Gaza Strip, so that events of October 7 will not reoccur.

He may be thinking about a buffer zone, repositioning, or perhaps he is thinking about complete control – we do not know exactly.

But he is thinking about creating this new reality, so as not to be exposed to new popular pressure.

Israel will certainly move to the policy that it has always pursued, which is that of assassinations.

Possibly, this will be one of the steps in the third stage, in addition to completely ensuring that the tunnels are demolished after the Gaza Strip’s infrastructure was completely destroyed.

This third stage may be the beginning of the final phase of the war on Gaza, in which tens of thousands were killed.

However, it is the most critical one for the leaders of Israel, and for the leaders of Hamas as well, after they are now largely face to face with these specific operations.

I know that the stage is just a number.

The real losers in this war are the Palestinian people. They are the ones who paid the price, and they are the ones watching from afar, waiting for either a result or a missile.

In between, others are planning, maneuvering, discussing, and determining the dimensions and stages of this war!

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