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How has the Israel-Hamas war affected the stability of Europe?

The conflict between Hamas and Israel has exposed divisions within and between EU member states, according to Carnegie Europe.

These tensions have fuelled both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Despite the defeat of DAESH in Syria and Iraq, radical Islamist and Salafi groups continue to operate in many European countries.

Israel’s military campaign against Hamas is an opportunity to destabilise Western countries and attack its most hated enemy, Israel. Mobilising Arab immigrants who have arrived in Europe in recent years will not be difficult. Radical Islamists in particular will use special social media campaigns to spread their anti-Israel and anti-Western propaganda as widely as possible.

The EU’s own internal contradictions are one of the first reasons for the EU’s geopolitical vulnerability. Actions that the EU condemns as illegal in one neighbouring country are understood as necessary in another scenario. Freedom of speech is curtailed for fear of internal weaknesses and further fuelling the polarisation that this conflict generates, and the right to protest is illegally restricted in some member states.

If the war in Ukraine cemented the unity of European foreign policy, the cracks in which had appeared for more than a year, the escalation of violence between Hamas and Israel took only a few days to shake the geopolitical fragility of the union. The hard-won common ground, the hard-won consensus on a “humanitarian pause” prove how deep the divisions between member states run, Carnegie Europe reports.

Unfortunately, EU unity seems to have become part of the collateral damage of the Hamas terrorist attack. The variety of European reports after 7 October not only reveals the utter incoherence of EU officials. It also brought to the surface long-standing divisions between member states that unequivocally support Israel and those that equally sympathise with Palestinian suffering.

However, this reminder of the EU’s limitations as a geopolitical actor is probably one of the less damaging consequences of these tragic events for Europe. Far more serious are the possible consequences at the societal level.

If the unrest in the Middle East continues and spreads, it will increase the polarisation that has already engulfed many parts of Europe. Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia will increase. The threat of terrorism and other forms of violence will increase. Attitudes towards migration will harden further and create new obstacles to the integration of ethnic and religious minorities. Right-wing radical parties will use the situation to their advantage and their nationalist programme will hinder the search for European solutions.

Since Europe is largely dependent on the consequences of the war between Israel and Hamas, it should already be developing ideas for dealing with the consequences of the military confrontation. That day may be a long way off. However, Europe must be ready.

The current war between Hamas and Israel is unlike any other conflict. It represents an extreme escalation of a long, bitter and violent confrontation that has involved different countries in different ways over many decades, according to Carnegie Europe.

The war has posed serious challenges for Europe. The riots not only showed how marginalised Europe was. In fact, Europe has turned out to be more divided than many people expected. The roots of these divisions run deep in some societies. History (or a poor understanding of it) and demographic changes play their part. Large immigrant groups simply do not accept traditional Middle Eastern policies over the years. Even Israel’s right to exist is questioned by many. This is a serious problem for some governments.

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