The Political and Military Scene in Israel After the Al-Aqsa Flood

This paper believes that the Al-Aqsa Flood operation will have profound repercussions on Israeli society in general and on the political and military scene in particular, which is what its discussion is based on.


The Al-Aqsa Flood operation launched by Hamas on October 7, 2023 was a major shock in Israel. The shock was not limited to the security aspect and military failure, but rather extended to all state agencies and Israeli society as a whole. The operation put the state apparatus and society into a state of imbalance that Israel had never experienced, even in the October War of 1973.

This paper believes that the Al-Aqsa Flood operation will have profound repercussions on Israeli society in general and on the political and military scene in particular, which is what its discussion is based on.

Israeli Framing of the Attacks

The Al-Aqsa Flood operation took many framings in Israeli discourse, and these framings represent the extent of the shock that Israeli society is going through. They varied among themselves. Some of them considered the attacks to be similar to the September 11 attacks on the United States, and some considered the military and political failure to be similar to the failure in the October 1973 war. There were those who saw it as a continuation of the Jewish Holocaust by describing the operation as the largest “pogrom,” that is, mass attacks on Jews since the “Jewish Holocaust,” describing Hamas as Nazis. Uri Bar-Yosef, a professor of international relations at the University of Haifa, who has written books on the 1973 war, believes that the failure on October 7 is much greater than in 1973. In the October War, the army’s readiness and level were high, while the current failure reflects a major military and political failure of both the military and political leadership together. Bar-Yosef also points out that the failure in 1973 was an individual failure of some political and military officials, while the failure in October 2023 was an institutional failure that affected the military and political establishment.

These framings about the “Al-Aqsa Flood” attacks express a state of “shock” and are reflected in the process of producing awareness and memory in Israeli society, which now tends to characterize the event as part of the Jewish catastrophe, and that the attackers were either Nazis or ISIS, and that what happened was the greatest disaster that has ever befallen Jewish society since the Jewish Holocaust. This description and framing of the event raises a wave of extremist positions within Israeli society towards Gaza and not just Hamas. Phrases such as “Gaza must be wiped out” or “leveled to the ground” have spread, without a willingness to accept any kind of equality between the dead Israeli civilians and the dead Palestinian civilians. This shock explains the large mobilization in Israeli society and the comprehensive support for a harsh Israeli military operation in Gaza, whether from the air or through support for a ground operation to eliminate Hamas’ rule in Gaza.

The Political Scene: The End of an Era and the Beginning of a New One

Never in Israel has a movement emerged calling for a prime minister to resign during a war. Even in the midst of the failure of the October War in 1973, no one called on Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan to resign. Currently, there is a large portion of Israeli public opinion demanding that Netanyahu bear responsibility for the failure and resign immediately and not wait for the end of the war to hold those responsible for the failure accountable. Despite the announcement by the leaders of the security services in Israel that they took responsibility since the operation in Gaza, Netanyahu remained adamant on not declaring his responsibility for the failure, and this is not the first time that Netanyahu has refused to take responsibility for his previous failures during his tenure as prime minister, which some Israeli analysts have considered political narcissism and a pattern of attributing successes to themselves and failures to others.

Netanyahu was able to politically survive all the failures and obstacles he faced in his political career, until he was able to be the ruling prime minister after the years of his rule exceeded the founder of Israel, David Ben-Gurion. He survived politically from his incitement against former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the eve of his assassination (1995), through the tunnel opening incident in Jerusalem in 1998, and ending with the four indictments against him on charges of corruption, bribery, and breach of trust. But this failure will be the end of Netanyahu’s era in the political scene, and this time he will not be able to escape “accountability” for this failure after the end of the war. Netanyahu will try, as usual, to work on forming an official investigation committee, and refuse to resign before publishing the results of the investigation committee, which may last for years, but popular anger and pressure on him after the war will not be easy, as signs of rebellion have begun within Likud against him.

In a poll conducted after the recent failure regarding the Israeli public’s support for the Israeli parties, it showed the collapse of Likud and the rise of the official camp headed by Benny Gantz. The opposition will get 79 seats, while the government coalition lists will get 42 seats. The poll shows that the official camp will get 41 seats, while Likud will get only 19 seats. The “There is a Future” party headed by the opposition leader, Yair Lapid, will get 15 seats. “Israel Our Home” headed by Avigdor Lieberman will get 6 seats, the Meretz movement will get 6 seats, United Torah Judaism will get 7 seats, the Shas movement will get 7 seats, Jewish Power headed by Itamar Ben Gvir will get 5 seats, Religious Zionism headed by Bezalel Smotrich will get 5 seats, the United Arab List headed by Mansour Abbas will get 5 seats, and the Arab Front for Change will get 5 seats. In addition, 48% indicated that they want Gantz as prime minister, compared to 29% who want Netanyahu.

In another poll conducted approximately two weeks after the outbreak of the war, 80% indicated that Netanyahu should bear responsibility for the failure, as did the leaders of the security services, and even among Likud voters, 69% of them indicated that Netanyahu should bear responsibility for what happened. Moreover, the majority of the Israeli public indicates that the head of the official camp, Benny Gantz, is more suitable to head the government than Netanyahu (48% compared to 28%, respectively), which is the first time that an Israeli politician has surpassed Netanyahu in his suitability to head the government in at least 15 years.

In the same context, two Maariv newspaper polls indicated a significant decline in the representation of the government coalition lists from 64 seats to 43 seats if elections were held for the Knesset, while the opposition lists would obtain 77 seats, of which the official camp alone would obtain 40 seats. These results indicate that the official camp headed by Gantz, which entered the emergency government, is considered the “savior” of Israel in the next stage. Therefore, if Israel “succeeds” in achieving the war’s goals, Netanyahu will not be able to claim that he was the author of this success. Everyone knows that his government was a failure, not only because it was responsible for the military and security failure, but it will also demonstrate the inability of government ministries to meet the needs of the population during the war. The war revealed the weakness of ministries and their inability to provide services to people in all fields.

Military Scene: A Military Campaign Without Clear Political Goals

Operation Al-Aqsa Flood raised the ceiling on military objectives in the war. Israeli leaders, both political and military, declared that the goal was to “overthrow Hamas’ rule,” and some of them used the term “destroy” Hamas, or “eliminate” Hamas. This is the first time that Israel has announced that the goal of the war is to “overthrow the Hamas movement.” In the confrontations that took place between Hamas and Israel, from 2008 until October 7, 2023, Israel did not include this goal within its military operations, but rather the goals were limited to destroying the movement’s military capabilities, or deterring it and gaining more security and calm on the southern border.

The political scene is consistent with the military scene regarding Netanyahu’s responsibility for the failure. In Israel, there is an accusation against Netanyahu that he established an Israeli strategy in dealing with Hamas during the years of his rule (2009-2023, with the exception of the year of the change government), which is based on not resolving the conflict with Hamas, maintaining the separation between Gaza and the West Bank, and even preserving Hamas’ rule and deterring it without resolving the conflict with it. The Israelis consider that this strategy failed on October 7, and they hold Netanyahu responsible for perpetuating this strategy.

Israeli experts agree that raising the ceiling on war objectives requires a large ground operation in Gaza, which the Israeli army calls a “military maneuver.” This name may indicate that the goal is to invade Gaza and then exit it after “achieving the goal” of the war, but achieving the military goal of the war faces not a few challenges, including:

First: Achieving the goal of eliminating Hamas’ rule in Gaza requires a long ground operation, and this matter may lead to paying a large price in terms of human and economic losses, and it is not known how prepared Israeli society is, despite the state of great mobilization, to bear the costs of the war in terms of losses among the army’s ranks. In the First Lebanon War in 1982, Israel went to war and invaded Lebanon with a large Israeli consensus. This consensus began to crack the longer the war continued, with the accompanying losses for the Israeli army. In addition, the Israeli army’s preparedness to achieve this goal was insufficient. American officials stated that they were concerned about the Israeli plans to invade Gaza, and they are not confident in Israel’s ability to achieve the goals of the war.

Second: Prolonging the war carries very high economic costs. It is difficult to know the ability of the Israeli economy and society to bear its consequences. According to Israeli sources, the expected costs of reservist soldiers’ salaries will reach about 5-10 billion shekels, which is one item in the Israeli war budget, which also includes compensation, reconstruction, and shelter for Israelis who were evacuated from their homes, whose percentage reached 2% of the total population of Israel. Estimates have been published that the Israeli growth rate will decline contrary to expectations, in addition to the decline in the value of the shekel against the dollar, which has reached its lowest level in about 40 years.

Third: The issue of “prisoners and detainees.” In his speech on October 25, 2023, Netanyahu amended the goals of the war and added the topic of “prisoners and detainees” as a second goal of the Israeli war. This matter was not among the goals of the war at the beginning, but the recent release of four female detainees, the growing issue of “detainees and prisoners” in the Israeli street, and popular pressure on the government to resolve this issue, forced the government to include it among the goals of the war, despite its attempt at the beginning to neutralize this issue. The inclusion of the issue of prisoners and hostages may constitute an obstacle to achieving the basic goals of the war, as Israeli experts believe that “prisoners and detainees” cannot be liberated through military action or a ground operation, and that their release occurs through a path of negotiations that includes the exchange of prisoners, and this path will only be with the Hamas movement through Egyptian and Qatari mediation.

Fourth: The increasing international and regional pressure on Israel as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to worsen, and the accompanying escalation of popular protest in the world, which may make the space for Western support for Israel to continue its war shrink, in addition to the fact that the Arab position will increase its pressure on the countries that support Israel the more protests in the Arab street increased.

Fifth: The risk of the outbreak of other military fronts, especially with Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is something that Israel is trying to avoid, but the friction between the two parties may worsen and turn into a wide war on the northern front, which may completely change the considerations and objectives of the war.

Scenarios of the War on Gaza

Two central scenarios regarding the war on Gaza for Israel can be noted. The first scenario relates to the implementation of a large ground operation in order to achieve the goal set by Israel, which is to “overthrow the rule” of Hamas, “eliminate” its military capabilities, and withdraw from Gaza. This scenario faces many obstacles and challenges, including: the course of the war and its long duration, the losses that may befall the army, the beginning of a crack in the consensus on the war due to the losses, the growing international pressure to stop it, and the increase in regional pressure due to popular protests. Moreover, Israel does not have a vision of the political situation after the end of the war on Gaza and the “elimination” of Hamas’ rule if it were to do so, which is something the United States is pressuring Israel about, that is, to have a specific political vision for the post-war period.

The second scenario relates to the implementation of a ground operation aimed at striking the military capabilities of the Hamas movement without succeeding in undermining its “rule” in Gaza. This scenario also faces several challenges, including that it will be difficult for Israel to retreat from its war goals after it has raised its ceiling, because it will be considered a strategic loss for it, a threat to its position, and a collapse of its deterrent power, in addition to its internal political repercussions on the level of trust between the public, the army, and the government.


Israel will begin its ground operation with the aim of eliminating Hamas, as it has stated. Israel will not care about the political horizon of the war’s goals. What motivates it is revenge and paying a heavy price for Gaza. It leaves the political horizon of the American role with Israeli restrictions related to the settlement with the Palestinian Authority. The paper expects a rift in the Israeli consensus over time, especially since the issue of “prisoners and detainees” has taken a different and central turn in Israeli society in recent days. The rift may also occur due to the possibility of the Israeli army paying heavy prices for the war, in addition to the economic repercussions that are worsening day after day in Israel.

About the Author:
Muhannad Mustafa is the Head of the History Department at the Arab Academic Institute in Beit Berl and a joint lecturer at the Beit Berl Academic College. He serves as the Director General of Mada al-Carmel – Arab Center for Applied Social Studies in Haifa.


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  3. Walla News Website, Maariv Poll: Coalition Collapses – Likud with 19 Seats, October 13, 2023, (accessed: October 26, 2023): See also: See more On May 19, please ! Contact us (
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  7. Yoav Zeitoun, The price of the war to destroy Hamas, the salaries of reserve soldiers will reach 5-10 billion shekels, Ynet website , October 24, 2023, (access date: October 26, 2023): מחיר המלחמה להשמדת חמאס: שכר Read more -5 years 10 years old (
  8. Anna Persky, Once again Netanyahu does not bear responsibility, and faces a huge problem in the eyes of the public, Maariv, October 25, 2023, (accessed: October 26, 2023): נתניהו שוב לא לקח אחריות – ועומד בפני Please click here הציבור | Home (

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I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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