The Israel-Hamas Conflict: A Catalyst for Global Power Shift Towards Russia and China

An Israeli armored personnel carrier heads toward the Gaza border.
An Israeli armored personnel carrier heads toward the Gaza border. OHAD ZWIGENBERG/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas is not just a regional issue, but a global one, with far-reaching implications that could potentially tilt the balance of power in favor of Russia and China. This conflict is stretching American and European resources, thereby relieving pressure on Russia and providing new opportunities for China 12.

The war, which was launched by Hamas on October 7 with a brutal attack on Israeli towns and villages, has resulted in the death of approximately 1,400 people, mostly civilians. This has proven to be a boon for America's main geopolitical rivals. China, Russia, and Iran have long sought to undermine the U.S.-backed international system and are now taking advantage of America's distraction 2.

The long-term effect of this Middle East flare-up is hard to predict. It depends, first of all, on whether Israel is ultimately successful in its stated goal of eliminating Hamas as Gaza’s main military and political force. Another critical issue is whether Israel’s diplomatic relationships in the region and the global standing of its Western supporters can survive the rising civilian casualties in Gaza and the looming horrors of urban warfare in the densely populated enclave 2.

China's stance on the conflict has been notably absent of any mention of Hamas. This omission from China's official statements since the start of the recent turmoil in the Middle East is noteworthy3. Meanwhile, Russia and China are seeking to ride the wave of solidarity with Palestinians while taking advantage of American distraction 1.

The conflict has also put pressure on Egypt to open its border to refugees. As the war intensifies, Gaza is bracing for a ground invasion of the enclave, while clashes have intensified along Israel's northern border with Lebanon 24.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has returned to Israel for his second visit in a week, expressing the determination of U.S. partners in the Middle East to stop the conflict from spilling over in the region4. However, a meeting between Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was interrupted by a rocket attack on Tel Aviv, highlighting the volatile situation on the ground 5.

The conflict has also fueled deadly violence in the West Bank, raising concerns that the territory could erupt into another front in the war7. The Israeli military has reported having intelligence relating to the whereabouts of hostages taken during raids into Israel by Hamas militants, who are holding at least 199 people captive in Gaza. The presence of hostages across the Palestinian enclave has complicated Israel's response to the attacks 8.

In conclusion, the Israel-Hamas conflict is not just a regional issue, but a global one with potential to shift the balance of power. As the situation continues to evolve, the world watches closely, waiting to see how this conflict will reshape the geopolitical landscape.