In retaliation for the brutal Hamas attacks of Oct. 7, Israel has been bombarding Gaza for three weeks now, displacing more than 1 million Palestinians and killing thousands of civilians. Israeli forces have made localized raids into the area but have not yet launched the full ground invasion that officials say is planned.
“The military plans can be drawn now. Will they be able to implement them? That’s a big question mark,” says Gilbert Achcar, professor of development studies and international relations at SOAS, University of London.
In a recent essay published by New Lines, however, Achcar turned his attention to the other big question. Assuming Israel is able to oust Hamas, he tells New Lines’ Faisal Al Yafai, “the next question is what are we going to do with that?”
Achcar outlines two main scenarios for the day after Hamas. The first, which he calls the “Oslo” option, is the one preferred by the United States. This would involve handing control of Gaza to the Fatah government that rules in the West Bank.
“They want the Israeli army to eradicate Hamas in Gaza and put the Palestinian Authority in control of the strip,” he explains.
““Any prospect of any deal between the Israeli government and Hamas is absolutely out of the question.”
It would be a very difficult needle to thread. Not only has Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refused to take part in such a scheme, but any Palestinian leader who did would be unlikely to last long in power if it was imposed at the barrel of a gun.
The other likely political course, Achcar suggests, is what he calls the “Greater Israel” option. In that scenario, Israel takes over Gaza — and stays there.
“And this is the view on the far right,” he says. “October 7 was, for them, an opportunity.”
But such an action might be even more of a pipe dream than the “Oslo” option. Occupying Gaza over the long term would stretch the IDF to capacity at the very least, and U.S. President Biden has already ruled out American support for such a scheme.
A military strategy is one thing. But finding a political strategy for the day after Hamas will prove much trickier.
Produced by Joshua Martin