AUSTIN (KXAN) — There were several developments this week as the war between Israel and Hamas enters another day. Senior Middle East analyst Ryan Bohl with the RANE Network, a risk intelligence company, sat down with KXAN’s Sally Hernandez for an in-depth conversation.
Hernandez: “Tell me a little bit about the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding right now, about the Rafah crossing and some history behind it?”
Bohl: “So the Egyptians don’t want to open up the Rafah crossing for fear that it could cause a refugee flood into the Sinai Peninsula, their territory where they’ve been fighting an Islamist militant group. They’ve been fighting a version of ISIS there for over a decade.
So they don’t want to cause a humanitarian crisis of the Sinai; they could destabilize the security situation.
They’re also worried that if Palestinians move into the Sinai, they may never go home, and that the Gaza Strip may end up being essentially ethnically cleansed of Palestinians, and the refugee burden becomes a permanent one for the Egyptians.”
Hernandez: “Ryan, can this conflict be taken care of without the ground mission, without fighters on the ground?”
Bohl: “There is a small chance, it’s very low, but they could repeat some history of 1980s where Israel invaded Lebanon to get the Palestinian Liberation Organization out of that country. And that war ended with the PLO deciding to withdraw to Tunisia and relocate to another country and the Israelis consider that acceptable. It is possible that Hamas could decide to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, that the Israelis or the Egyptians could facilitate their exit to a place like Lebanon. And that would preclude a ground invasion.
It doesn’t seem very likely right now, because Hamas militant brigades have made it clear that they intend on fighting for every square inch of Gaza.
And the political wing of Hamas — there are two wings — the militant wing of the political wing, the political wing doesn’t seem to be in charge of what’s going on there. Right now, they’re mostly in charge of signaling.
So even if you could cut a deal with the the politicians at Hamas, the militants might still reject it.
So that’s kind of the only option in which we don’t see some sort of Israeli ground incursion is if Hamas decides to disarm and withdraw.”
Hernandez: “Okay, last question, before I let you go, what are you looking for in the next few days when it comes to being an expert in the situation and with the RANE Network?”
Bohl: “So we are looking for escalation between Hezbollah, Iran and Israel, and we’re watching to see whether or not this hospital incident causes an escalation today, protests on Friday could also cause an escalation.
What we are waiting for is that moment where Hezbollah or/and Iran decide to start firing missiles deeper into Israel or start firing them at scale.
And if that happens, then the U.S. military intervention becomes significantly more likely.
And then we’re on the escalation ladder that could see the United States and Israel striking Iranian targets across the region, which in turn could lead to an energy shock very similar to what we saw after Russia invaded Ukraine in February of 2022.”