Six months later the Palestinians are winning and Israel is losing

John Wight
5 min readApr 8, 2024

It is not those who can inflict the most but those who can endure the most who will conquer.

The above lapidary statement is from one Terence MacSwiney — Irish revolutionary, playwright and author — who died after spending 74 days on hunger strike in Brixton Prison — London, England — in October 1920.

In their sheer profundity, MacSwiney’s words have long occupied a special place in this writer’s mind and consciousness. They bespeak the wisdom of a struggle for liberation rooted in a clear-eyed view of the balance of forces involved, while understanding that said balance of forces notwithstanding, a colonised and oppressed people have nothing to lose but their chains in resisting their coloniser and oppressor.

Terence MacSwiney

Time and endurance in the teeth of an armed insurgency are weapons that no coloniser has the luxury of possessing — this due to the innate belief that the people he lords over are of an inferior caste and character, a racist rendering immediately threatened and subverted when a subject people rises up to assert to affirm its humanity in blood.

This then brings us to October 7, a date that will live either in infamy or inflection, depending on your particular worldview. For those who consider that the current massacre unfolding began on that date, it is the former that informs, while for those who understand that the Palestinians have endured countless October 7s since the state of Israel was established in 1948, it is the latter.

Regardless, six months since the grim events of October 7 2023, the trajectory of Israel’s predictably brutal military response has provided a salient reaffirmation of the truth laid out by none other than Henry Kissinger, a man for whom the word ‘realpolitik’ was invented. Kissinger: “The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.”

Despite declaring from the outset that Israel’s military objective is the destruction of Hamas and the elimination of its top leadership, the Israelis have yet to achieve either. Just think about that for a moment: the strongest military in the region, and one of the strongest on paper in the entire world, has yet to declare victory over a Palestinian resistance made up of motivated young men, wielding light weapons and utilising classic guerilla tactics of hit and run in small teams.

This, combined with the sheer ingenuity of the vast network of tunnels built beneath Gaza in defiance of a seventeen year siege, is redolent of a people whose will has been forged not broken by their oppressor.

The Israelis have admitted to losing, at this writing, over 600 soldiers since the start of the ground invasion on 27 October. This is unprecedented in the history of the IDF vis-a-vis the Palestinian resistance, and dwarfs the number they lost during their previous ground incursion into the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, under the rubric of Operation Protective Edge.

That the 2023–24 military incursion has seen the the IDF penetrate significantly deeper into the Strip than it did in 2014 is of course a factor in the current casualty rate, but what cannot be dismissed is that the Palestinian resistance has improved in terms of its organisation, training, and tactics over time.

When it comes to the wider and crucial geopolitical element, a Harris Poll conducted by the Center for American Political Studies (CAPS) at Harvard University in December 2023, revealed that support for Hamas among US voters aged between 18 and 24 is more than half that of Israel in the current conflict.

This marks a staggering shift in US public opinion on this issue. It is replicated across the West entire, reflected most clearly in the unprecedentedly mass pro-Palestine demonstrations that have taken place throughout the current conflict all across America and Europe.

The consequence of such intense and broad pro-Palestine sentiment is political pressure being placed on governments and political classes whose blind and unconditional support for Israel had long been a non-negotiable plank of Western foreign policy. In this regard, Netanyahu and the coalition of far right Zionist thugs he has assembled around him has proved more friend than enemy of the Palestinian cause.

This being said, the price in blood has been horrific to behold for the Palestinians. It is a price that delivers a withering j’accuse of a collective West that has been content to spectate at the genocidal slaughter of an oppressed people like Romans at the Coliseum over these past six months.

On just a human level alone, that Biden, Sunak, Scholz, von der Leyen et al. can in good conscience continue to hug and kiss their grandchildren and children goodnight, before tucking them into their expensive beds while knowing that thousands of children in Gaza have been slaughtered and thousands more wounded, traumatised and destroyed emotionally — this stands as a sickening indictment.

A failed experiment in settler colonialism, white supremacy and ethnonationalism, Israel’s killing rage is that of a rogue state that may well win the fight but has already lost the argument.

The result is that a free Palestine is now, more than ever, an idea whose time has come.


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John Wight

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