Panel one of the SymposiumOn Tuesday, 17 October 2023, the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies held a symposium titled “The War on Gaza: Palestinian Defiance and Resistance against Orchestrated Genocide and Expulsion.” Across two panels Tamer Qarmout, Ghassan ElKahlout, Ayat Hamdan, Ahmed Qasim Hussein, Tariq Dana, and Khalil Jahshan participated with presentations. The participants provided readings on the causes and repercussions of the ongoing war on Gaza, the development of the Palestinian resistance’s military capabilities, the crisis of Israeli military doctrine, Israeli violations of international law and plans for ethnic cleansing in the Gaza Strip, as well as the US response and involvement.

The Israeli War on Gaza: Genocide, Displacement, and Human Rights Violations

The first panel was chaired by Ibrahim Fraihat, Professor of International Conflict Resolution at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. Tamer Qarmout, Professor of Public Policy at the Doha Institute, presented a paper titled “The War on Gaza: Causes, Timing, and Political, Humanitarian, and Economic Repercussions”, in which he analyzed the obstruction of the peace process by Israeli policy, the weakness of the international community, preoccupied with other crisis, and the impact of regional normalization as factors behind the outbreak of war. He also discussed the challenges facing Hamas as a government and resistance force in the Gaza Strip, the issue of displacement and the potential outcomes of the war. Ghassan ElKahlout, Director of the Center for Conflict Studies and Humanitarian Action, presented “Israeli Aggression in Gaza and Its Violations of International law and Human Rights”, explaining the violations committed by the Israeli occupation and their impact on civilians and Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip. The occupation repeatedly targets civilians, homes and civilian infrastructure, and uses illegal munitions in densely populated residential areas. ElKahlout stressed that these actions contradict the principles of international humanitarian law and expose civilians to great risks, noting the urgent need for justice and for those responsible to be held accountable in order to guarantee peace and stability. Arab Center researcher, Ayat Hamdan, presented “The Gaza Hellscape: Ethnic Cleansing and Displacement in the Gaza Strip” providing insight into the humanitarian situation and possibilities for intervention, as a result of the attack on Gaza, and highlighting the ongoing attempts to displace Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip and to Egypt.

Operation Al-Aqsa Flood: Breaching the Iron Wall and Changing the Rules of Engagement

Aicha El-Basri chaired the second session, opened by Arab Center Researcher, Ahmed Qasim Hussein, with an intervention titled “Asymmetric Warfare: The Resistance Military Performance in Operation Al-Aqsa Flood”. He discussed the factors that had contributed to the resistance’s ability to penetrate the so-called Gaza envelope, and the military consequences of Al-Aqsa Flood. He noted that that military confrontations between the Palestinian resistance forces and the Israeli occupation army (2008/2009, 2012, 2014, 2021), the main arena of which was the besieged Gaza Strip for fifteen years, have been defined by asymmetrical warfare, but despite Israel’s military superiority, it has nevertheless remained unable to achieve any decisive victory, failing to even achieve its own military objectives.

Tariq Dana, Professor of Conflict Management and Humanitarian Action, presented “The Fall of the Iron Wall: Israeli Military Doctrine in Crisis after Al-Aqsa Flood,” exploring how military doctrine shapes the entire structure of the Israeli state and society. The social contract between the colonial state and the settlers, each relying on the other to achieve survival and continuity, led to the military establishment playing a pivotal and central role in Israeli society. Al-Aqsa Flood thus shook one of the fundamental pillars of the structure of the Israeli state and society. Finally, Khalil Jahshan, Executive Director of the Arab Center in Washington DC, presented “The War on Gaza: Deterrence or Inching towards US Involvement?,” in which he monitored the three stages of US and Western reaction to the events of 7 October, indicating, that Washington, like Israel itself, felt profound shock and confusion resulting from their major intelligence failure to detect and potentially prevent Hamas’ unprecedented offensive. The US administration’s response quickly turned into a knee-jerk reaction that focused entirely on supporting its ally in Israel without any serious consideration of its complex network of interests in the region. In its third and current phase, the White House seeks to prevent the conflict from expanding beyond the Gaza Strip, especially on the northern front, while handing Israel a carte blanche to carry out its war of “revenge” against the Palestinian people.