Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak fears that international support for Israel will quickly dry up after the barbaric attack by Hamas, leaving the country with weeks, not months, for a difficult ground operation in Gaza. In this way, the ex-prime minister estimates the development of public opinion, even among Israel’s biggest ally, the United States. He said so in an interview with Politico.
The Israeli army launched a ground operation in the Gaza Strip last weekend. The goal of the operation is to root out and destroy the terrorist movement Hamas, which rules the strip. Israeli officials estimate that the entire task could take months for the army, given the difficult conditions of urban combat. However, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak warns that, although he agrees with the goals of the operation, Israel is running out of time on the international stage. In the coming weeks, Israel will begin to face strong pressure from abroad to end the operation, according to a former defense minister and member of the special forces. And even from the United States.
“You can see that the window of opportunity is closing. We are headed for friction with the Americans as far as the offensive is concerned. The US cannot tell Israel what to do. But we cannot ignore them. We will have to accede to the American demands within two, three weeks, probably sooner,” said Barak.
It also monitors European public opinion. Although Israel acts independently and often does not look back at foreign criticism in its operations, a longer operation in the Gaza Strip may make it difficult for it in the international arena. “Listen to public opinion. It’s even more obvious behind closed doors. Public opinion in Europe is turning against us, and within a week or two, governments in Europe will also begin to turn against us. And a week after that, the differences with the USA come to the surface,” said Barak.
However, he understands the government’s reaction. According to him, after the worst attack since the creation of Israel, it is logical that he wants to destroy Hamas. “Not for retribution, but to make sure it never happens again,” Barak said. According to him, after the removal of Hamas, the Arab states should be involved in the administration of the Gaza Strip.
For example, the League of Arab States could send peacekeeping troops to the strip together with the United Nations until the Palestinian Authority in Gaza manages to take over the reins. At the same time, however, he warns that this is unlikely, although he hopes that it is possible. He negotiated a similar option with Egypt in 2008-2009. “I will never touch Gaza again,” responded the then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to his proposal.
Criticism of Israel, due to the number of victims in Gaza reported by the authorities there, which are under the administration of Hamas, comes mainly from the ranks of the United Nations. On Monday, 18 UN agencies called for a ceasefire. The Republic of South Africa and Bahrain, for example, have already withdrawn their diplomats from Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday again rejected a ceasefire as long as there are hostages in the Gaza Strip. But he said there could be brief lulls in fighting when humanitarian aid could flow into Gaza. “As for tactical breaks, an hour here, an hour there. We already had them in the past,” Netanyahu said. It is probably reacting to growing international pressure.