A. Kubilius. About Another War

2024-03-19 |

Let me say straight away that I support Israel in its difficult war against the Hamas terrorists. I have been saying this since 7th October last year, since the massacre by Hamas terrorists on Israeli territory.

Of course, I must say that I am humanely sorry for both the Palestinian civilians who are dying and the Jews who have been killed, but the war on terror requires not only the emotion of pity, but also rational analysis.

This text, with its reflections and conclusions, was prompted by another POLITICO article on the conduct of the war that caught my eye.

However, for me, these thoughts have been on my mind since the beginning of the war. And although international attention to the war seems to be waning, the problems of the region, which are also important to us in a global world, remain. That is why I want to express my thoughts a little more systematically than I would have done at the beginning of the war.

I have said since the beginning of the war that I see no difference between the actions of Hamas and ISIS. ISIS (Islamic State, Daesh) terrorised the Middle East between 2014 and 2017, when it managed to seize huge territories, including the city of Mosul in Iraq, a city of few millions. One can see the difference in the fact that the number of ISIS victims was several times higher than that of Hamas, one can recall the fact that ISIS undertook the genocide of the Yazidi ethno-religious group, but one cannot fail to see the identity in the fact that both ISIS and Hamas have resorted to mass terrorism in order to kill as many civilians as possible. Al-Qaeda did the same by hijacking Boeing passenger planes and targeting the World Trade Center towers.

I do not see any difference between the nature of Hamas and the nature of ISIS either. When Hamas carried out the massacre in Israel, the cheering crowds of Hamas supporters in Gaza waved ISIS flags in large numbers.

And even at the beginning of the war, I regretfully said that I saw only one difference. The difference between how the West viewed the defeat of ISIS in 2016-2017, in which it itself participated alongside the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Peshmerga, and how a part of the West views Israel’s military action today to defeat the Hamas terrorists.

The defeat of ISIS was hailed in many Western capitals at the time as a major victory against terrorism (since many Western countries, led by the US, took part in the military action against ISIS), whilst Israel’s fight against Hamas terrorists has been the subject of constant Western criticism and demands to halt hostilities.

Although both the defeat of ISIS and the fight against Hamas have resulted in similar numbers of civilian casualties, since the terrorists are holding civilians hostage as a ‘human shield’, preventing them from evacuating.

It is enough to compare the 2016-2017 struggle to liberate the city of Mosul from ISIS terrorists with the Israeli struggle to liberate Gaza City from Hamas terrorists.

ISIS forces occupied the city of Mosul in June 2014 and the liberation of the city began in October 2016 and continued until July 2017. Before the occupation, the city had 2.5 million inhabitants, but during the 2 years of occupation, the population decreased to 1.5 million.

Experts estimate that between 5,000 and 12,000 ISIS terrorists defended Mosul from liberation. The battles of liberation lasted almost 10 months. The American-led coalition force of nearly 110,000 troops used aviation, artillery and other heavy military equipment to take the city. The city was badly damaged. Experts estimate that up to 40,000 civilians may have been killed during the siege (estimates vary widely from 10,000 to 40,000 casualties). It is difficult to find information on whether, during the military operations to liberate Mosul, the Coalition forces were called upon by the West to cease fire to avoid civilian casualties. Hostilities continued until Mosul was completely taken and liberated from ISIS terrorists. Today, Mosul is being rebuilt and living a normal, peaceful life, no longer afraid of ISIS terror.

Between 2.1 and 2.3 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip (around 600,000 in Gaza City itself). Israeli security experts estimate that Hamas has up to 40,000 active fighters in Gaza, with hundreds of thousands more in Gaza cheerfully supporting Hamas terrorist attacks. Israel mobilised 300,000 IDF reservists before launching military action in Gaza. The Israeli army warned the population of Gaza in advance of the military action and urged them to evacuate. The evacuation was reportedly obstructed by Hamas fighters who sought to use civilians as a human shield. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says that up to 30,000 civilians have been killed so far, while the Israeli army reports that it has managed to eliminate 10,000 Hamas terrorists so far. Israel, unlike the coalition that liberated Mosul, is the subject of much international criticism, condemnation in various Western capitals and repeated calls for an end to hostilities against Hamas terrorists.

The overall conclusion is that the operations to liberate Mosul from ISIS terrorists and to liberate Gaza from Hamas terrorists took place in very similar conditions: in densely populated cities where tens of thousands of terrorists hide among the civilian population and therefore prevent their evacuation. In both cases, the use of heavy military equipment by troops against terrorists hiding in the cities has led to severe destruction of the cities and to a significant number of civilian casualties.

That is the price of fighting terrorism. Terrorism may be born for a variety of reasons, but the only choice for the civilised world is to fight and destroy terrorism. Such a struggle is always difficult and always involves many civilian casualties. However, if terrorism is not eradicated, the casualties and tragedies are even greater and completely unpredictable.

In Mosul, the terrorists have been defeated and the city has been freed; in Gaza, the fight against the terrorists is ongoing, and the territory has not yet been liberated. Additional casualties in Gaza can be avoided – all Hamas needs to do is to stop its activities tomorrow, end its military resistance, disarm and there will be an instant end to hostilities in Gaza.

The liberation of Mosul and the liberation of Gaza from the terrorists are therefore identical processes in their causes and their consequences.

However, the reaction of the democratic Western world to these two identical processes is, as has already been said, completely different: the liberation of Mosul has been welcomed in the Western world, while the liberation of Gaza has been the subject of severe criticism in parts of the West, with vehement statements of condemnation and demands for Israel to cease its military operation immediately.

Why are the reactions so different? There are probably several reasons: historical, political or psychological. However, it is not lost on us that the democratic West is still influenced by a subconscious anti-Semitism, which is why Israel is being condemned for its fight against terrorism, whilst the coalition that liberated Mosul from the terrorists has been congratulated on its victory.

When you ask those who condemn Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists how else Israel should deal with the Hamas terrorist problem, the most common answer in the West is very simple: a two-state solution must be implemented immediately.

It is my belief that the so-called ‘two-state solution’ has been used in the West very often, and for quite a long time, only as a sham and an easy way of escaping from the discussion and resolution of difficult issues.

Looking both at the history of the region in the 20th century and at recent developments, I do not see any real prospect of an independent Palestinian state emerging alongside Israel in the near future. It is not because I am in any way against Palestinian Arabs, and it is not because I think that any people are unprepared to live in their own state. However, when we talk about the prospects of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, we have to realise that without a fundamental change in the behaviour of the Palestinian Arabs, and without a fundamental change in the security architecture of the whole region, Israel will never agree to a separate Palestinian state alongside them. This is because Israel would regard the emergence of such a state as a strategic threat to its security and to its existence.

The question of an independent state or another entity that satisfies the Palestinian Arabs can only be resolved by any solution when Israel feels secure in implementing such a solution. Until such a condition is guaranteed, all Western talk of a “two-state solution” will remain a Western attempt to take the easy way out of difficult decisions. And from their responsibilities.

One can go on for a long time accusing Israel of being concerned only with its own security, of ignoring the problems of the Palestinian Arabs, or of ignoring any United Nations resolutions, but the stark reality is that ever since the United Nations’ historic decision in 1947 to bless the creation of the Israeli and Palestinian states side by side, the Israeli people have been fighting to implement this decision, and the Palestinian Arabs have been fighting with weapons against the implementation of this decision. And they did so with the support of the entire neighbouring Arab world of hundreds of millions of people. Israel has had to endure at least three Arab wars in which the Arabs sought to destroy Israel (1948, 1967 and 1973), as well as several terrorist intifadas, and thousands of Hamas or Hezbollah rockets from Gaza or Lebanon that still reach Israeli territory today. And now Hamas has started a real terrorist war against Israel.

It is arguable who has made more mistakes in the 75 years since Israel’s establishment: the Israelis, who have expanded the territory under their control or occupation after every victory in which they have succeeded in defending Israel against the military aggression of their Arab neighbours, who are intent on destroying it; or the Palestinian Arabs and the other Arab states that support them, who are still not giving up on destroying the State of Israel by war or terror.

However, it is now clear that Hamas’ path of terror is merely a distancing factor from the Palestinian Arabs’ declared ambition to have their own state. Israel will never agree to have a state ruled by terrorists in its neighbourhood, because that would be a direct road to Israel’s destruction. Similarly, neither France nor Spain, nor the European Socialists nor the Greens, would accept the prospect of having a terrorist state in their neighbourhood, even though they are the ones from whom in the European Parliament most of the fierce criticism of Israel comes, as well as primitive and superficial calls for an immediate solution to all the problems through a ‘two-state solution’.

Such calls only serve to delay a real and rational solution to the problems that have cost so many lives.

I try to answer the question of how to solve the problem of the Palestinian Arabs, their aspiration to have their own state, rationally (at least from my point of view): the key to solving a problem like this, which is riddled with historical injustices and victims of terrorism, is only one: to start with the security of Israel. Only when Israel feels safe and has security guarantees from all its neighbours will it be possible to move from the emotions of mutual hatred to rational solutions. Until both the Western and Arab worlds realise this, Israel will defend its right to exist with arms and will not enter into any talk of creating a separate Palestinian Arab state.

So, paradoxical as it may sound, those who are genuinely concerned about the fate of Palestine, and not just about condemning Israel repeatedly, should, above all, be courageous in their support for Israel’s war against the Hamas terrorists. Because an Israeli victory in this war is the first, but not the only, condition for Israel to feel secure.

The second step is for the Arab states to sign the so-called “Abraham accords” with Israel, which provide for security guarantees from the Arab countries to Israel on the one hand, and for Israel and the US to invest heavily and beneficially in the Arab economies on the other. It is worth remembering that the United States of America is very much involved in the signing of such agreements. Hamas launched its terrorist war against Israel last year when it emerged that Saudi Arabia was also prepared to sign such an agreement. Terrorism does not need peace in the region because it is also a lucrative business, and it could not exist in peace.

The third step, which is necessary for Israel to feel secure, is for the Palestinian Arabs to unambiguously condemn and distance themselves from their own terrorism. The terrorist path chosen by the Palestinian Arabs is the great mistake and tragedy of the Palestinian Arabs, because it has destroyed any chance of finding a realistic way in which their separate state can be created. All this has left us with nothing but the empty talk of a ‘two-state solution’ by Western politicians, but this is the easiest way to escape from the more difficult decisions, and it only covers up their deep indifference to the tragedies of the people of the region.

It is time for the Western world to realise that the old ways and ideas of “two states” can no longer be expected to solve the bloody problems of the region. Only if the West do not fundamentally care about the future of the region and the Palestinian Arabs, can it continue to follow the same paradigm for its own satisfaction: condemning Israel and demanding the immediate implementation of a ‘two-state solution’. However, it is clear that this will only prolong what we have now and what we have had for the last 75 years: wars, terrorism and a lot of blood. And no real prospect of meeting the expectations of the Palestinian Arabs.

In order to put an end to the tragedies of the region and the suffering of the Palestinian Arabs themselves, the West must finally have the courage to abandon the old paradigms of “two states” and “Israel’s fault”, which have so far only guaranteed that the region’s problems are at a tragic impasse. New and innovative solutions are needed to finally address these problems in a real way.

The solution is clear: commencing with the security of Israel. Help today to defeat the terrorism that threatens Israel. Then persuade the Arab countries and Israel to sign the “Abrahamic Accords” guaranteeing mutual security and development. Then intellectually help the Palestinian Arabs to “heal” from the paradigm of terrorism (which may first require forcing Iran to abandon its sponsorship of terrorism in the region). And then, with the help of a secure Israel, to assist the Palestinian Arabs in developing their ability to govern themselves, beginning with genuine autonomy for Palestinian Arab cities and towns.

Is it possible to expect such a change in attitude from the West and the European Union?

I hope so!

It once seemed impossible to expect the European Union to concern itself with how to help Ukraine withstand Russian military aggression and how to help Ukraine become a member of the EU.

Now, to the surprise of many, this is really happening!

And why should we, Lithuanians,  care that Israel finally feels safe and that the bloody problems in the region are finally resolved?

We should be concerned about this not only because of the history of our relations with the Jewish people, which has been full of everything, including the Lithuanian tragedy of the Holocaust and the bloody responsibilities of the representatives of the Lithuanian nation. It is also important for us today that the bloody Kremlin is using the terrorist ‘services’ of its partner Hamas to create a much broader crisis in the region and simultaneously weaken the European Union’s ability to counter the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine.

We must recall that terrorists all over the world have been united since the Soviet era. Only Western unity today can counter this.

This must also concern us in Lithuania because our security relies on it!