Gaza, Hamas & Netanyahu’s Likud

Dan Steinbock says the Hamas war is manna from heaven to Israel’s far-right government. Netanyahu himself has contributed to the expansion of Hamas since the 1990s.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Oct. 12. (State Department, Chuck Kennedy, Public domain)

By Dan Steinbock
The World Financial Review

The Hamas-Israel War, as it is portrayed by international media, reflects very poorly the realities in the region and even less the structural forces that led to the disaster.

In contrast to the standard narrative, the Hamas war is manna from heaven to Benyamin Netanyahu’s far-right government. Netanyahu himself has contributed to the expansion of Hamas since the 1990s. 

With a population of over 2 million on some 365 square kilometers, the Gaza Strip is one of the world’s most densely populated areas and “largest open-air prison.” After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, it became an Egyptian-administrated territory. Following the 1967 Six-Day War, it came under Israeli occupation.

The precursor of Hamas, Al Mujamma al Islami (“The Islamic Center”), was established in the Israeli-occupied Gaza in the 1970s under the auspices of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood. 

One of their adherents was the wheelchair-bound Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the future leader of Hamas. Yassin concentrated the Mujamma’s activities on religious and social services. Ironically, Israeli authorities actively supported its rise, when their main antagonist was the late Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

While PLO operatives in the occupied territories faced brutal repression, the Islamists affiliated with Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood were allowed to operate in Gaza. Israelis hoped to use the Islamists against PLO.

2009 map of Gaza Strip. (Gringer, Country Borders: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2009, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Yassin was jailed in 1984 on a 12-year sentence, but released only a year later. 

Around the same time, Netanyahu first made his mark in the United States, particularly when he served as the Israeli ambassador to the U.N.  In his book Fighting Terrorism (1986), he offered lessons on “how democracies can defeat domestic and international terrorists.” 

Fast, smart and slick, he represented a new generation of Israeli politicians trained by American PR experts and his former employer, global consultancy BCG. To the right-wing Likud Party, the ambitious politician was very welcome. 

Launched in 1988 amid the first intifada (uprising), Hamas has always refused to accept the existence of the Israeli state. When the peace process began between Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Arafat, Yassin was again in prison.

Hamas launched a campaign of attacks against civilians, which contributed to the rise of Netanyahu and the Israeli far-right in 1996.  

Popular poster showing founders of Hamas, with Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Yassin in upper left, photographed in 2007. (delayed gratification, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Intriguingly, Netanyahu, as prime minister, ordered Yassin to be released from prison (“on humanitarian grounds”), despite his life sentence. He seems to have relied on the Islamists to sabotage the Oslo Peace Accords. After having expelled Yassin to Jordan, Netanyahu allowed him to return to Gaza as a hero in late 1997. Until his killing in 2004, Yassin initiated a wave of suicide attacks against Israelis. 

Yet, as Netanyahu told his Likud Party’s Knesset members in March 2019,

“anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas. This is part of our strategy- to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in the West Bank.”

In the 1990s, as part of the Oslo Accords, most of Gaza had been handed over to the Palestinian National Authority, alongside the Israeli settlements, which were evacuated in 2005, despite intense opposition by Israeli far-right.

In 2007, after a legitimate Hamas election victory that rankled both the West and Fatah, the Islamist group took over and began administering Gaza. That led both Israel and Egypt to impose a land, sea and air blockade, which has devastated the poor, ailing economy. 

[Related: History of the Gaza Strip]

Toward Gaza’s Catastrophe?

Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Eisenkot leads an Israeli military delegation in Auschwitz-Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2017. (Amit Elkayam, IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Before the global pandemic, Gazan Palestinians organized widespread protests demanding Israel to end the blockade and address the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Already two years ago, Gaza’s economy was on the verge of collapse. Yet, those interests that had most to gain from such a humanitarian crisis allowed it to proceed to its inflection point.

The final solution of Netanyahu government’s far-right seems to be the devastation of Gaza and the twisted hope that this would cause a mass emigration of Gazans away from the Israeli border. Hence, the preference for the Dahiya Doctrine, outlined by former IDF Chief Gadi Eizenkot in the 2006 Lebanese War and in the 2008-09 Gaza War. It is premised on the destruction of the civilian infrastructure of “hostile regimes.” 

“What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on… We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases… This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.”

Scholars of international law have called it “state terrorism.” In the view of the U.N., it is a “carefully planned” assault intended “to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.”

In Gaza, it looks increasingly like a war crime of historical magnitude.

After the Hamas offensive, Eisenkot was appointed as a minister without portfolio in Netanyahu’s war cabinet. 

In the first six days of the War Israel dropped 6,000 bombs on Gaza. That’s almost the number of bombs the U.S. used in Afghanistan in one year. To understand the intensity of such bombing, it is vital to recall that Afghanistan is almost 1,800 larger than the besieged Palestinian enclave. And that bombing is just a prelude to the ground assault.

If the Hamas War threatens to exacerbate Israel’s social and economic tensions, it risks turning Gaza into a desert and the West Bank into a Jewish suburbia.

Dr. Dan Steinbock is the founder of Difference Group and has served at the India, China and America Institute (U.S.), Shanghai Institute for International Studies (China) and the EU Center (Singapore). For more, see here

This commentary is a part of an original 6,400-word analysis, which was published by The World Financial Review on Oct 19.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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20 comments for “Gaza, Hamas & Netanyahu’s Likud

  1. Arthur Kuntsler
    October 25, 2023 at 07:30

    In Hebrew, “netanyahu” means “combover”

    The author seems to think the Zionists hold all the cards, as though Hizbullah, Syria, and Iran are going to sit on the sidelines and do nothing while tens of thousands of Palestinian non-combatant women and children perish.

    If, in fact, Israel knew the raids by al-Qassam et al were coming and they allowed these to happen anyway, they grossly underestimated the results. Why would they let their #1 export take such a crippling hit?

  2. Drew Hunkins
    October 25, 2023 at 00:43

    Washington is owned and controlled by the Zionist power configuration. For a few decades now, these sadistic hegemonic paranoid pro-Israel zealots have wanted nothing more than for the U.S. to go to war against Iran.

    Tel Aviv’s mad dog strategy is currently in play; we are now witnessing it bombing and murdering everything in sight: Syrian airports, Lebanese territory, and thousands of desperate and beleaguered Palestinian women and children, all with impunity.

    One of the only nation-states in the region with the military strength to stop this carnage and mayhem is Iran. Israel is attempting to lure Tehran into a justified response to stop the massive and grotesque Zionist bloodletting that shows no signs of abating.

    Tel Aviv understands that due to its stranglehold on Washington via campaign donations across all political parties and creepy blackmail operations, it’ll be able to possibly dragoon Washington into an insane war against the Persian state.
    The American working people must understand that a war against Iran is not our fight, it’s not in our interests whatsoever. A war between Iran and Washington would be a global catastrophe of epic proportions.

    Most establishment media outlets are totally dominated by shrieking pro-Israel militarists who will try and browbeat, propagandize, and bully the American public into assenting to a potentially horrendous war with Iran. Let’s not allow this to happen. And while we’re at it, let’s put an immediate stop to the horrific ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people we’re all seeing in real-time.

    • Arthur Kuntsler
      October 25, 2023 at 13:55

      “The American working people” who work in the MIC — and there are millions of them — couldn’t be happier.

      “The American working people” who are Christian Zionists and yearn for The Rapture — and there are tens of millions of them — couldn’t be happier.

      We are screwed.

  3. Drew Hunkins
    October 24, 2023 at 23:28

    Just fucking disgraceful what’s going on. We’re witnessing in real time an odious ethnic cleansing right now with our very own eyes!

    Tel Aviv must be targeted! Pronto. How many more Palestinian children need to be maimed, killed and shocked into a lifetime of PTSD before some entity does something? Israel must be targeted. (Follow Jackson Hinkle’s Twitter acct for the most up-to-date footage. )

    The Jewish supremacists are killing Palestinians with impunity, depriving them of water, electricity, food and antibiotics.

    Monstrous stuff. No one can say they did not know.

  4. RWilson
    October 24, 2023 at 18:43

    Britain, the British Commonwealth countries, France and Germany are all banning public expressions of support for Palestine. The Kim Iversen Show
    Free Speech Warriors Suddenly Pro-Censorship.

    Question: How do the Israelis have the power to censor speech in all those countries?

  5. David
    October 24, 2023 at 17:16

    Few Americans know that Israel created Hamas. Netanyahu said, “Anyone who wants to thwart a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transfers of money to Hamas. That is part of our strategy to isolate Palestinians in Gaza from Palestinians in the West Bank.” General Segev, the former military governor of Gaza acknowledged that he made payments to Hamas. Other Israeli officials have also acknowledged Israel’s support for Hamas. It is well known in Israel but not reported at all in the US.

    • Tony
      October 25, 2023 at 09:00

      No, Hamas already existed. Israel did assist it though in order to cause problems for the PLO.

  6. Eric Foor
    October 24, 2023 at 17:06

    I agree, This is just the standard M.O. of Israel and the Zionists:

    1) Provoke the non-Jews by years of “legalized” segregation and oppression….apply legalized State Terror.
    2) Repel, defeat and humiliate the predictable revolt by the non-Jews.
    3) In response to the revolt kill many times the amount of non-Jews to the loss of some Jews…thus spread and project fear.
    4) Expropriate as much non-Jewish land as they can get away with.
    5) Pass new laws to tighten the noose. Bulldoze existing properties. Encourage remaining non-Jews to leave “their God given land”.
    6) Wait a few years and repeat the whole process again…until no non-Jews remain….and all the land and power is theirs.

    The non-Jews in this case are the Palestinians….

  7. October 24, 2023 at 16:47

    Netanyahu is having problems in the first poll out since the Hamas attack. (Google translation):

    Israeli public – 80% – believes that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should accept responsibility for what happened in the Gaza Strip, as the Minister of Defense, the Chief of Staff, the head of the Security Forces and the head of the Shin Bet have done in recent days. This is according to a survey “Maariv”, organized by “Lazar Studies[.]”

    “At the end of the second week of the war, a huge majority of the Israeli public – 80% – believes that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should accept responsibility for what happened in the Gaza Strip, as the Minister of Defense, the Chief of Staff, the head of the Security Forces and the head of the Shin Bet have done in recent days. This is according to a survey “Maariv”, organized by “Lazar Studies”, led by Dr. Menachem Lazar, in collaboration with Panel4All.

    “Only 8% believe that Netanyahu should not accept responsibility (and 12% do not know). Even among Likud voters in the 2022 elections There is an absolute majority (69%) who think he should have taken responsibility.

    “On the question of suitability for the prime ministership, the same data as last week are obtained: Benny Gantz with 48%, compared to Netanyahu with 28% (and 24% don’t know).”


  8. Drew Hunkins
    October 24, 2023 at 16:38

    Israel must be attacked.

    Otherwise we all sit back and witness an ethnic cleansing take place in real time in front of our very own eyes.

    The sadistic and psychopathic land-grabbing artificial state of Israel continues to relentlessly bomb civilians in Gaza with impunity. As of this writing more than 5,000 Palestinians have been slaughtered by the Zionist sociopaths. The sick and disgusting Israeli regime is not stopping and there are no indications right now that it intends to halt the carnage.

    Therefore, Israel needs to be attacked immediately.

    Tel Aviv must be targeted with heavy military strikes as soon as possible, whether it be Hezbollah, Turkey or Iran, some entity must neutralize the bloodthirsty Zionist beast.

    Since Washington is occupied Israeli territory (the creepy Zionists fund essentially every single Congressional campaign) there’s absolutely no chance the United States will stop supplying and financing the Israeli warpigs. Israel could not exist without the $3.8 billion the U.S. taxpayer is forced to hand it every year.

    Israel must be attacked.

  9. Brent
    October 24, 2023 at 12:42

    A relevant bit of information. Sheik Yassin, a founder of Hamas, proposed a Hudna, a 40 to 50 year stand down, “to allow matters to sort themselves out”. A week later he was killed by a Hellfire missile

  10. mr bog
    October 24, 2023 at 12:33 also has some excellent articles on Gaza.

    According to them 25% of U.S. Jews and nearly 50% of democrat party voters believe Israel is an apartheid state.
    Views almost entirely absent from the corporate media.

    So roughly 50% of people who voted for arch-Zionist Biden believe Israel is apartheid.
    Since Trump is also an arch-Zionist I guess they see it as a wash.

    Arguably the worst aspects of Trump’s foreign affairs are his policies regarding Israel, and also Yemen. Two clear cases where he’s as bad as Biden.

    That might be good enough for Noam Chomsky to pimp for a war criminal, but it doesn’t justify it in my mind. I would never vote for either faction of the corporate party again, haven’t since 1992.

  11. October 24, 2023 at 12:13


    LINK-SOURCE: hxxps://

    The Urban Military Feat “Al Aqsa Flood” that Hamas carried out in Israel, is the moral blow to imperialist omnipotence, which hurt the most and strategically adds to the struggle for the collapse of Western neo-colonialist hegemony.

    In the context of global vicissitudes such as the military defeat of NATO in Ukraine provided by the Russian army, the anti-colonialist military coups in Africa, the path of de-dollarization undertaken by the BRICS+6, the promotion of the new world order without US hegemony agreed by Russia and China and the global mobilizations in support of the Palestinian people; They leave no doubt that Western imperialist omnipotence, based on bombs and clubs to frighten and subjugate the world, has come to an end.

    Aware of fascist schizophrenia and Zionist air power, Hamas attacked Israel. And he defeated the army and armed settlers on the battlefield in a surprise and forceful assault. This is the moral blow that hurts imperialism the most.

    Blinken and Biden ran desperately, moving their naval power, weapons, ammunition and financial aid to Israel to frighten and threaten Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iran and the entire Middle East, a manoeuvre that, if accepted, will further destroy Palestine and humiliate the Arab and Muslim world.

    However, Hezbollah, PFLP, Hamas and the peoples of the Middle East are on a war footing and, like Hamas, will strike more surprises in the war against neo-colonial domination and occupation.


  12. philippa winkler
    October 24, 2023 at 11:15

    From my article on Netanyahu this week on Substack ‘Geopolitics it’s not rocket science’

    An ex-Prime Minister of Israel has accused Netanyahu of a long-time policy of supporting Hamas despite his vow to destroy the Islamist group.

    Ehud Olmert was Prime Minister from 2006 to 2009.
    ‘In an interview on October 18 with the UK Daily Telegraph, he said:

    ‘When he [Netanyahu] took over from me in 2009 he said the first priority was to destroy Hamas and actually what he did was the opposite. He tried to destroy Abu Mazen [Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas] and the Palestinian Authority because that…would have required political concessions from Israel. And he moved to promote Hamas because they never would be partners for negotiation, so you could kick them.’[i]

    [i] Rothwell, James, ‘Nato can now bring stability to Gaza. Netanyahu is finished,’ Daily Telegraph (print edition) 18 Oct 2023.

  13. October 24, 2023 at 10:27

    Excellent article. to broaden the subject, the Muslim Brotherhood was created with the support of the British government by Hassan El Banna, in order to fight the spread of communism in the region of the Middle East. At the end of 1970s, the CIA with the support of the Saudi and Pakistani’s intelligence agencies created the Afghan’s Mujahidine to fight the USSR in Afghanistan . the creation of Hamas by israel in particular by Netanyahu is the logic of things. The colelctive west created and funded the djihadist mercenearies in Syria, Iraq and Libya with the main objective, serving the economic and geopolitics interests of the collective West. France has sent djihadist terrorist groups in the region of Sahel, in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in order to justify the sending of french troops in site to control the raw materials of these three countries.

    • Dr. Hujjatullah M.H.Babu Sahib
      October 24, 2023 at 14:58

      Actually the purpose of Western, Imperialist cultivation of Muslim and so-called Islamic forces is not just for checking the march of socialism and communism across the world but also most importantly to effectively UNDERMINE the actual Islamic ummah and its true leaders much like how neo-colonialism cultivated Secular Muslim leaders and regimes across the Muslim world in the early modern period. In fact, the true Islamiç ummah has long been rendered totally impotent by these sponsored quack “Islamic” leaderships the world over both in Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority situations, including also in the Gaza Strip. Illegitimate Zionist Israel is well on its way to get itself recognised as legitimate by Muslim states and to move on to realize Greater Israel as well by assisted hook or crook!

  14. Tony
    October 23, 2023 at 23:07

    Sadly, it is necessary to consider whether the Hamas attack on Israel was deliberately allowed to happen.

    Who benefits?

    • mr bog
      October 24, 2023 at 12:55

      Egypt insists they warned Israel about what was about to happen.
      The warning was clear. No action was taken.
      So it’s more than speculation, they wanted this to happen.
      And we can see exactly why, they can now proceed with their genocide with more than the usual amount of international support.

    • Helga I. Fellay
      October 24, 2023 at 13:18

      It appears that it was. Egypt informed Israel of the planned attack one week before it happened, and nothing was done to prevent it, or so it appears.

    • Charles E. Carroll
      October 24, 2023 at 13:49

      I think so too!

Comments are closed.