Introduction: After the Shock
Operation al-Aqsa Flood, carried out by the Palestinian resistance at dawn on 7 October 2023, shocked the Israeli occupation army and the settlers of the so-called Gaza envelope, stunning the entire world, including the Palestinians themselves. This shock was justified by the sophistication of the operation, the military tools and tactics employed, and the successful takeover of Israeli military sites. The sight of Palestinian resistance fighters crossing the fence between the Gaza Strip and Israeli settlements was reminiscent of Egyptian soldiers crossing the Bar Lev Line, set up along the eastern banks of the Suez Canal following Israel’s occupation of Sinai in the 1967 war. Almost exactly fifty years separates the two crossings – 6 October 1973 to 7 October 2023 – but the shock was not felt in the same way. By the evening of the first day of al-Aqsa Flood, it had mutated, taking on various forms.
For the Israeli occupation state, it sparked a psychological trauma that initially crippled the state (for days, the Palestinian resistance continued to hold Israeli military positions, launch attacks, and engage in clashes deep inside the Gaza envelope). That trauma then transformed the occupation into “a wounded, dangerous monster,” in the words of Azmi Bishara, leading it into a rampage that has levelled residential neighbourhoods and their infrastructure, and wiped entire families from the registry.
This war is unprecedented in scale, an orchestrated genocide carried out to ethnically cleanse northern Gaza of its inhabitants and expel them to the south, shelling and killing them even as they sought refuge. The situation resembles medieval warfare in many respects, with the complete cut-off of water and electricity, not only for the population, but also for hospitals. Even the hospitals have been bombed along with their patients, paramedics, and the displaced people who believed themselves to have found refuge in its courtyard. The occupation is behaving like a gang of bloodthirsty bandits, killing for killing’s sake, raiding the village, massacring its inhabitants, and burning it to the ground – in full view of the world, while acting as though the same world neither sees nor hears. And despite the fact that millions around the globe do in fact bear witness to these atrocities thanks to traditional and new media, like the Middle Ages, no one protects the victim of the attack, and no one holds the aggressor accountable.