Written by: Kayed Mi’ari

Those involved in the aggression on the Gaza Strip, irrespective of their motivations, succeeded in redirecting global focus to the notion of the “day after the war." This concept aligns with the belief that the aftermath of military aggression will pave the way for a transformed landscape and fresh governance, reflecting the newly coined phrase describing reform processes within the Palestinian National Authority.

This theory struggles to find practical application due to the persistence of the Israeli occupation, which has so far refused, and, I believe, will continue to reject it through the end of this year, aiming to achieve its strategic objectives of altering the demographic and geographic landscape within the Gaza Strip. The scope of these actions may also encompass the West Bank, amid the ongoing weakening of the Palestinian political framework, economic blockade, security challenges, and the disruption of daily life, intensified by over 700 military checkpoints across the West Bank.

Another critical factor hindering the realization of the "day after the war" theory is the dire situation in Gaza, shaped by years of siege and wars. This situation is underscored by the plight of over 400,000 Palestinians who have reached the brink of famine, as noted by Martin Griffiths, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. An independent study conducted by researchers in the United States and Britain has revealed that 8,000 Palestinians are projected to die in the next six months, even if the war ceases, due to the public health crisis in Gaza. Moreover, 2.3 million Palestinians have been rendered homeless.

This data transforms the concept of the day after the war into a precursor for a war of a more perilous nature and longer duration, particularly given Israel's steadfast refusal to acknowledge its responsibilities towards the unfolding catastrophe. This inaction nudges the Palestinians closer to the brink of their next confrontation in Gaza. Israel will not encounter another opportunity in the coming decades to conduct its plan to displace Palestinians, whether through a fatal blow as originally intended, extending from Rafah to the Sinai desert, or by enticing Palestinians onto luxury boats bound for various countries around the world. Therefore, Israel will strive to ensure that the current war concludes decisively, rendering Gaza inhospitable for a period of three years. During this time, it aims to establish failed and conflicting models of governance in Gaza or the West Bank, thereby absolving itself of any future political or security responsibilities towards either territory. It is also crucial to acknowledge the significant emigration of Gaza's youth resulting from the siege, particularly after the 2014 war, a situation vastly different from the current catastrophe.

It's important to highlight that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a primary driver of population displacement. Gaza currently experiences the highest levels of child malnutrition globally, with one in every six children under the age of two suffering from acute malnutrition, according to the United Nations World Food Programme. This grim reality partly explains why the Israeli occupying forces has implemented policies of starvation and minimized humanitarian aid, aiming to maintain pressure even after the cessation of the war. Additionally, civilian life in Gaza has been devastated, particularly in the education and health sectors. The infrastructure of cultural, intellectual, and community centers, as well as charitable and civil society organizations and economic projects, has been largely destroyed or damaged. This destruction has effectively severed civilian and public life within Gaza, potentially driving more people to seek refuge on other continents.

The mediation parties between Hamas and Israel were also keen not to link the humanitarian truce agreements to a complete ceasefire, stemming mainly from the awareness of these parties that this year will not bring about any real initiatives other than those related to the success of the Saudi-Israeli normalization ties, which is marred by many obstacles related mainly to Israel’s position. But at the very least, a humanitarian ceasefire allows the various parties time to manage the worsening humanitarian crises and reduce the disasters that will occur if immediate and urgent intervention is not carried out. This ceasefire could be advantageous for Israel, allowing it more time to conduct its operations in a more targeted and less strenuous manner. It could also provide Palestinians in Gaza with relief from the challenges of thirst and hunger. Additionally, it would afford both parties the opportunity to manage their electoral challenges with greater ease and composure.

This provides the Palestinian Authority with an asset to sustain its conflict management strategy, which has been consistent for decades. In this optimistic scenario, however, there is a possibility of this strategy failing if Israel refuses to comply, as indicated by statements from its leaders, particularly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposes such political breakthroughs. In such a scenario, the Palestinian National Authority and its allied Arab countries would be compelled to explore alternative options, particularly those found in the streets of Europe and America, where support for the Palestinian cause and their right to liberation, independence, and statehood is growing.

The key to achieving breakthroughs in these scenarios lies in genuine Palestinian national unity. This unity would provide Hamas with a lifeline by integrating it into the Palestine Liberation Organization and give the Palestinian Authority a popular mandate to advance and develop an integrated Palestinian vision. It is evident that the failure to pursue this path at the national and regional levels would result in a catastrophic outcome. These risks can be averted if Fatah and Hamas embrace the path of national unity based on comprehensive national partnership rather than power-sharing. This approach would grant Palestinians, wherever they may reside, the right to participate in decision-making and voting, thus strengthening national immunity and safeguarding the capabilities, rights, and sacrifices of our people.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's views and not necessarily the Association's or donor's opinion.