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Self-destruction: Internal rifts, divisions amid Gaza war spell doom for Israeli regime

By Maryam Qarehgozlou

Eight months into Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza, after failing to meet any of its military objectives and facing embarrassment on every front, the regime appears to be imploding from within as well.

The growing calls for the release of captives held in Gaza and weekly anti-regime demonstrations across the occupied territories, demanding a ceasefire deal and dismissal of the embattled premier Benjamin Netanyahu, not only point to the widening rift but also to deep internal crisis for the Tel Aviv regime.

More than 36,300 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza since October 7, according to the Gaza health ministry, many of them women and children. Thousands more are believed to be buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings and tens of thousands are wounded.

And so far, Israel has failed to achieve its two declared goals of the war: “destroying” Hamas and “freeing” captives despite the campaign of mass killings and devastation, with Netanyahu failing to present a clear vision for what should happen after the war, much to the chagrin of his cabinet.

The deaths and devastation in the besieged Gaza Strip have also eroded support even among Israel’s staunchest allies, and the illegal entity is reeling under intensified international scrutiny.

Amid the mounting international pressure and condemnation, the regime is also feeling the heat from both settlers and the cabinet members, signifying socio-political turmoil in the occupied land.

In mid-May, Israeli war minister Yoav Gallant in a public row voiced opposition to Netanyahu’s post-war strategy of establishing an Israeli military presence in the Gaza Strip.

“I must reiterate … I will not agree to the establishment of Israeli military rule in Gaza. Israel must not establish civilian rule in Gaza,” Gallant told a news conference at the time.

He called for finding a Palestinian alternative to the Gaza-based resistance movement Hamas that the Arabs would accept.

Gallant, also a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, told reporters that when the war on Gaza broke out, he attempted to promote a blueprint for an alternative Gaza administration “solely made up of Palestinians,” but these efforts “got no response.”

Benny Gantz, a member of the Israeli regime’s war cabinet, also came out in support of Gallant and against the sitting premier, saying he was speaking the truth about Gaza's post-war plan.

Several key figures within Netanyahu’s far-right cabinet expressed outrage over Gallant’s statements, with some likening his stance to being supportive of Palestinian statehood.

“Gallant declared his support today for the establishment of a terrorist Palestinian state,” Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, referring to resistance as terrorism.

Smotrich added that it is up to Netanyahu’s cabinet to decide and Galant can decide “whether he will work or return the keys.”

Itamar Ben-Gvir, another Israeli minister, also called for the removal of Gallant from his position.

“The [war minister] who failed on October 7 and continues to fail today. Such a minister … must be replaced in order to achieve the goals of the war,” said Ben-Gvir in a post on X.

Netanyahu also urged Gallant to eliminate Hamas “without excuses.”

Some days later, Israeli broadcaster Kan reported that during a cabinet session, a heated confrontation broke out between Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu after Gallant left in the middle of Ben-Gvir’s speech.

The rift among Netanyahu’s ministers prompted Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid to say that Netanyahu’s cabinet had “lost control.”

“Soldiers are killed every day in Gaza, and they fight among themselves on television. The cabinet is disassembled and non-functional. Ministers protest in front of cabinet meetings,” Lapid added.

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, however, said at the time in response to the debate over Gaza’s post-war future that “the Hamas movement is here to stay.”

Later that month, in a video which was shared on Telegram by Netanyahu’s 32-year-old son Yair, a reservist called for a mutiny against Gallant.

The video showed a man in military fatigues, his nose and mouth covered by a black mask as he delivered his message, which he said was for Netanyahu.

“We the reserve soldiers do not intend to hand over the keys to any Palestinian Authority,” he said.

Addressing Gallant directly, he said, “You cannot win a war. Resign.”

The reservist said they have only one leader who is not the war minister or the chief of staff, Herzl Halevi. “We will only listen to the prime minister,” he added.

 “Understand that we want to win, or we will go only with the prime minister. Only with whoever decides that we should win, we will follow him. Here I tell you, did you want a military coup,” he said, addressing Gallant.

Israeli media revealed that the soldier was an activist in the Israeli Likud party.

Lapid later said Netanyahu, his son and his close associate, journalist Yinon Magal circulated the video deliberately, which signifies an open call for chaos in the occupied territories.

In February, Yair Netanyahu was widely criticized as he was pictured soaking up the sun outside of his Miami apartment while Israel was waging a devastating war against Gaza.

Friction between the military establishment and Netanyahu dates back to the time before the Gaza war when Netanyahu attempted to overhaul the Israeli judiciary, leading to simmering unrest.

Observers saw the so-called “legislative initiative” as an attempt to grant Netanyahu effective immunity from corruption charges that could land him in prison.

At the time, hundreds of thousands of Israelis joined in a massive anti-regime protest, including army reservists and air force pilots, who threatened to refuse duty if the initiative persisted.

Then, too, Gallant stood up to Netanyahu voicing concerns over the legislation. He was fired, and then reinstated after a general strike forced Netanyahu to reverse his decision.

Disagreements over Gaza’s future have also led to increasing instability and deep social division and upheaval in the occupied territories.

Netanyahu is facing strong pressure from families of the captives who are being held in Gaza. Many of them have already been killed in the Israeli bombardments.

Clashes between Israeli police and protesters erupted in Tel Aviv on Sunday after thousands gathered to demonstrate against the regime and demand that it bring back the captives.

The protesters also called for the resignation of Netanyahu and demanded new elections.

Hamas, which is believed to be holding nearly 130 hostages, demands a permanent end to Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip in return for any swap deal, a demand Netanyahu has so far rejected.

Observers believe that Netanyahu is shirking from setting out a day-after strategy because continuing the war serves his political interest.

Speaking with Israeli Kan TV on Saturday, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert ruled out a likelihood of a “complete victory” for Israel in Gaza or “destruction of Hamas.”

He said that the “stalling war” does not serve “any interest for Israel, but rather serves Netanyahu and some extremist members of his [cabinet].”

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