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The uncertainties surrounding the military and political evolutions of the Gaza war are unlikely to be dispelled very soon. The humanitarian truce is still navigating a contradictory and questionable course subjected to the pervasive state of insecurity, the sway of Iranian power politics, the Islamic radicalism of Palestinian extremists, the uncompromising messianic and ultranationalist Israeli radicals, the bouts of unrestrained and indiscriminate terrorism, and the unrelenting violence reverberating all across Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem. The humanitarian interlude is instrumentalized by war actors to address vital concerns: the liberation of Israeli hostages, the humanitarian concerns of Palestinian civilians, the alleviation of war pressure, and the preparations for future military engagement.

Otherwise, the political and strategic goals have not yet been achieved: the annihilation of the Hamas military capabilities on the Israeli side, and the unleashing of a regional war dynamic on the Palestinian side. Both actors are tied to divided domestic landscapes: Netanyahu is pressured by his coalition partners to resume the fight and finish off with the strategic and security hazards posed by Gaza, his prospects, and the deepening cleavages amongst Israelis. The Palestinian extremists are fighting for their military and political survival, since their defeat favors their political nemesis, the Palestinian national authority, and undermines their overall credibility. Whereas, the United States and the European Community are juggling the dilemmas of a highly lethal war and the survival of Hamas as a terrorist movement and vehicle of the Iranian regional subversion agenda. Practically, there is an inherent incompatibility between the survival of Hamas as a potent military actor, the likelihood of stability in Gaza and the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. On the other hand, the present coalition in Israel is highly dysfunctional if we were to oversee the restart of peace negotiations and the finalization of an eventual peace accord.

Hamas has no interest in the conflict ending and is ready to pursue an all-out war that overlooks the Palestinian civilians’ safety and its disastrous fallouts, and the Netanyahu coalition sees no strategic and political interest short of the destruction of Hamas. Hamas has no future beyond open-ended conflicts, and the Israeli coalition is bound by pivotal national security concerns, and deeply split over the political clout of the ultranationalists and messianic power base, and their overall moral and legal accountability after the October 7 tragic security breakdown. On the other hand, Iran is careful about securing its destabilization platforms (Lebanon, Syria, Palestinian territories, Iraq, Yemen), perpetuating a state of open warfare and strategic ambiguity, fueling ideological radicalization across various geopolitical spectrums, and promoting conflict internationalization while prosecuting its nuclear negotiations. The rising Cold War and BRICS paragons have divergent strategic interests (China, India), shifting political calculations (Brazil, South Africa, Turkey) and overwhelming security challenges (Russia).

This outlined tapestry highlights the complexities of shifting political and strategic landscapes and the likelihood of an extended conflict and its derailment effects. The US is navigating cautiously in a mined terrain, whereby the strategic imponderables are minutely monitored, the demarcation lines are clearly set, and the military deterrence and the rise to the extremes scenarios are embedded in the overall political plot. Unfortunately, the ongoing truce is unlikely to survive since the security stakes of both Israel and Hamas are colliding and impel inevitably the continuation of hostilities. The dwindling of war risks is contingent upon the deliberate withdrawal of Hamas from the conflict theater, its military collapse and the takeover of international adjudication authorities. There is no lasting truce without a congenial political framework that is unlikely to take shape under the current circumstances.

The pogrom that triggered the ongoing war cannot be understated under whichever perspective, Hamas and its Iranian enabler have to face up to their legal and political responsibilities and disengage from the battle (a scenario which likens the PLO withdrawal from Lebanon in 1982) if they truly care about the security of civilian Palestinians who have not chosen the path of reckless and criminal warmongering. In all likelihood, the war will pursue its course with an overriding objective on each side: changing the overall strategic and political dynamics. The US is wary about the critical political and military choices of Israel, its dilemmatic moral choices in war conduct (prudential and surgical fighting tactics to narrow the radius of humanitarian casualties and collateral damages, careful observation of the humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention), the lawlessness of Hamas, its blatant dismissiveness of humanitarian law and predatory modus operandi, subversive political agenda and strategic alliances, and the need to finish with the open-ended state of war. The strategic and humanitarian challenges lying ahead are closely monitored, and their potential outcomes are subject to thorough scrutiny and intense diplomatic exchange.