“Entering Rafah is inevitable, but Israel's real enemy is not Hamas”

«There is no doubt or uncertainty whether our troops should enter Rafah or not. How is Rafah different from Gaza? Into nothing. In itself it does not represent anything special. The reality is that Hamas had 6 brigades at its disposal before the war, and of these we have already destroyed 4. The last 2 have reorganized inside Rafah, and therefore that is where we must go to conclude the ground operation. It's certainly not me who decides, but from a military point of view it is an inevitable objective. Also because it is not true that the refugees from Gaza are all crowded together in Rafah. Part of the population of Gaza city remained in the city; if anything, we must coordinate well with Egypt as an essential condition to guarantee greater security for Palestinian citizens and, equally, to put an end to the arms trafficking which in recent years has allowed Palestinian terrorists to acquire weapons that they otherwise would not have been able to access.”

These are not the words of yet another television commentator commenting on the Israeli-Palestinian drama, but the reasoning of a senior Israeli officer on the front line of the advance that should lead to the conclusion of the first phase of the ongoing war. «It goes without saying that the war could have ended in a week, if the Hamas men had demilitarized the Strip and handed over their weapons, surrendering. It didn't happen, because someone wanted the conflict to continue, spreading like wildfire.”

Speaking confidentially and guaranteed by the confidentiality of anonymity, the graduate clarifies some fundamental aspects for understanding Jerusalem's point of view. Or rather, of its armed forces. “The goal today is to dismantle the terrorist organization that puts our very existence at risk, and bring the hostages home.” And then what? “We need an international interposition force.” The model cited by the officer is precise: “the occupation of Japan by US-led Allied forces”, a reality that lasted from 1946 to 1952. Formally, it was an occupying force of the British Commonwealth, in fact an American governorship who assumed control of the country for eighty months after the empire's surrender in 1945.

«But this is only the first step, because the threats against Israel certainly do not end with the military defeat of Hamas. An aspect that is often underestimated when analyzing what is happening today in the Middle East is that there is no condition under which Hamas' strategy can be said to be disconnected from Tehran's will. What you are observing is, if anything, the result of the so-called “Suleimani doctrine”.

The reference is to the military theory put forward by the commander of the Quds brigades of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Suleimani, responsible for the Iranian Islamic Republic's foreign operations. Until his death, which occurred at American hands in January 2020, he led the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq on behalf of Tehran, up to the siege of Aleppo and the shoring up of Bashar al-Assad's power in Damascus . Since his killing in Baghdad by means of a US-made drone, Suleimani has become the figure around whom Tehran has reunited (albeit temporarily) an extremely internally fragmented country.

The “Suleimani doctrine” aims to make Iran the dominus of a vast area that extends from Central Asia to the Mediterranean, along that so-called “Shiite corridor” which from Iran, passing through Iraq and Syria, ends in Lebanon . Which would give Tehran control of three seas, with a geopolitical outlet also towards the West, after the Red Sea and the Caspian Sea, where Tehran already takes advantage of allies such as the Houthis of Yemen and other pro-Iranian militias competing with Azerbaijan primacy on the Caspian.

Obviously, the scheme devised by General Suleimani did not ignore the use of force and contemplated the use (and abuse) of “proxies”. This military theory is not new, and is based on the idea that hegemonic state actors can pursue their objectives not by directly committing their troops to a specific theater of war, but by proceeding by proxy through “agents” who fight on their behalf. Which, in the eyes of an international tribunal, theoretically relieves the instigator of responsibility for what happens on the battlefield.

«Suleimani made Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and other groups in Sudan and even in Algeria and Morocco, real armies under his command. Therefore it is wrong to define armed groups such as Hamas simply as “terrorist militias”, as they want to pretend. In this way, their role in the war and the threat they pose to the entire world is diminished. They are formations of professional soldiers, trained, equipped and directed by Tehran. Don't imagine the jihadists in overalls with sneakers and Ak-47s, like the militiamen of the Caliphate were. These are special military forces, highly trained, and capable of managing ballistic missiles and other latest generation warfare technologies.”

As if to say that Israel's enemy does not coincide with the group that took power in Gaza since 2007, nor with the PLO of Ramallah and the West Bank. The real adversary of Jerusalem, who planned and gave rise to the October 7 massacre, according to our Israeli source, if anything “is found in the government buildings of Tehran”.

Which, inevitably, broadens the geographical and temporal scope of the ongoing conflict. And, observing the latest artillery exchanges with Syria and the Israeli raid on Damascus airport this week, we seem to see a certain consistency with the plans outlined by the military. This applies for example to the northern border with Lebanon, where Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has just been, visiting the Italian troops who lead the contingent of UN peacekeepers.

«Peace is not built with feelings and good words» declared Meloni in this regard from the Millevoi base in Shama, where Italian contingents deployed in Lebanon are stationed. «Peace is above all deterrence and commitment, sacrifice». An example of this same deterrence is the one that Israeli soldiers constantly apply on the northern border, an area they call without mincing words “the second front”.

The Israeli officer claims: “We have no intention of crossing into Lebanon, but we have no choice but to return fire to contain the threat, putting a distance between us and Hezbollah soldiers and then creating a buffer zone.” And then? The next steps are an «Air blockade» or a total blockade of the airspace. «We also need to talk more with suitable partners, such as Jordan and Egypt. Even in Cairo, terrorists are looking for regime change to bring an Islamist government back to power. We must prevent it at all costs.” Also because the consequence would be, as already for Libya, «the instrumental use of immigration to hit Europe and create an unprecedented crisis. We've already seen it happen.”

Another crucial issue to be resolved for Jerusalem is the political one, both on the internal front – the protests against Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, metaphorically surrounded by siege – and on the international front – the profound differences with Washington, which asks Israel not to aggravate an already explosive situation.

“Soldiers don't comment on political issues,” the officer cuts short. «We have mandated to eradicate this silent cancer that has settled into the fabric of Israeli and Palestinian society and which, if it is not eradicated, will slowly lead to the collapse of the entire Middle East. We won't allow it.”