An attack on Israel did not come as a surprise after all, although even Israel would have expected this more on the part of the Hezboallh and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards from Lebanon and Syria/Golan Heights and the West Bank, the Tehran Times announced just 3 weeks ago in view of the mass protests in Israel, that „the Zionist ulcer“ was now self-destructing, that a new Gen Z had grown up among the Palestinian youth, and that a „final battle“ and a „final initifada“ were now in the offing that would drive the U.S. and Israel out of the Greater Middle East. Then there was a conspicuous silence in Iran’s propaganda clamor, indeed a downright suspicious silence. That Hamas would then launch an unprecedented full-scale attack and war against Israel came as a surprise, despite many escalating provocations on the part of the right-wing government, its international efforts to get an Israel-SA deal bilaterally excluding the Israelis, and Netanyahu’s UN speech in which he showed a map of Israel that showed parts of the West Bank as part of Israel, especially since Hamas was apparently not considered capable of such a large-scale offensive and asymetric war.
„Analysis by Thomas Jäger
Surprising Hamas attack on Israel – but the violence came with notice
Yesterday, 08.10.2023 | 12:23
Hamas took Israel completely by surprise with a large-scale attack from the Gaza Strip on Saturday. An escalation of the Middle East conflict had been announced for a long time.
Hamas‘ large-scale terrorist attacks have one thing in common with the Yom Kippur War, which began on October 6, 1973, when Israel was attacked by Egypt and Syria: they came as a complete surprise. This is remarkable in such large-scale, complex, and powerful operations, because they must have escaped the notice of the interested services. Yet there were several reasons to assume that the Hamas terrorist organization might again commit violence against Israel.
Surprising Hamas attack on Israel – but three reasons suggested more violence from the start.
The first reason is that until now, Israel has always stood in great solidarity and unity against external violence. But in recent months, the division of Israeli society has been visible in the streets: large demonstrations against the government’s judicial reform could be seen as a deep social rift. In this state, societies are less ready to fight back. But if this was a reason for Hamas, it was mistaken. The terrorist attacks were accompanied by the great solidarity of Israeli society with the actions of its government.
The second reason is that the sponsor behind Hamas, Iran and its strategic partner Russia, are interested in violence in international relations. They want to prove that the previous world order is crumbling. They want to show that the U.S. is no longer in control of the international situation and cannot even stand by its ally Israel. At the same time, the U.S. is expected to take sides in favor of Israel, which will have direct repercussions not only in the Middle East, but all the way to Europe. Those who show solidarity with the „Palestinian cause“ and, specifically, Hamas, are solidified in their anti-Americanism. This is one of the most important goals for Russia in the information space and can then be used, for example, against further support for Ukraine.
The third reason is the rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which is promoted by the United States. After the agreements Israel has concluded so far with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco, this would be the most important diplomatic step, equal in importance to the change in relations with Egypt. Saudi Arabia is put in a difficult position by the Hamas terrorist attacks and the expected Israeli response to achieve the results desired by the Saudi government in a timely manner.
Hamas has no chance against Israel
All these were reasons why services should have monitored the situation very closely. The question of why they nevertheless failed to anticipate it will be addressed in the coming weeks and months. For now, Israel’s concern is to position its forces to repel terrorist attacks, to push them back, and to weaken Hamas with targeted strikes. There can be no doubt that the Israeli response will be harsh. Nor can there be any doubt that this will be used by Hamas in the information room to turn a defeat into a moral victory.
Because Hamas will be weakened at the end of the operations. Militarily, it has no chance against Israel. Even if there are attacks from the north, where Hezbollah, a terrorist organization also sponsored by Iran, has already shown solidarity with Hamas‘ terrorist attacks. Israel will pass the direct violent clashes, but will then be confronted with the exploitation of Israeli hostages in the information space.
Shortly after the terror attacks began, Hamas propaganda warriors dominated the information space and thus the view of the operation, which showed Israeli areas no longer under Israeli control and victims of the use of force desecrated. The message is that the Israeli government cannot guarantee security.
Hamas as an Instrument of Iranian and Russian Interests
It is to be expected that supporters of Hamas in Western states will soon begin to frame Israel’s defenses as terror itself – which will be targeted disinformation. Russia’s disinformation warriors will also want to use this to their advantage. After all, Hamas‘ terror attacks on Israel have been impossible to implement without active outside support. Iran and Russia have direct and parallel interests in the violence in the Middle East.
Hamas, which has no chance of achieving any of its goals or influencing the strategic interests of the powers in the Middle East with them, has been used as an instrument of these Iranian and Russian interests. The effects are also felt elsewhere, where social polarization can be promoted through hybrid operations in the information space.
For in the United States, where only recently twenty senators demanded that the Biden administration take greater account of the interests of the Palestinians, and in Europe, where firm support for the Palestinians is organized, political advantages are also sought, limiting the scope of action of governments. In Israel itself, the surprising and complex terrorist attack will cause the guarantee of security for many years to produce more intensive measures.
Yesterday also China’s position statement in the party newspaper Global Times on the Hamas war: Without inclusion of the Palestinian question and without two-state solution no peace is possible. Logically, the Hamas war is also seen as a setback for U.S. policy, as well as for the Western competitor project to China’s BRI, the India-Middle East-EU Economic Corridor, and is tacitly welcomed. Nevertheless, the Chinese-brokered rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia is also seen to be at risk. Interestingly, however, China seems to expect only a war lasting weeks, which would probably end in a ceasefire mediated by international and also regional powers.
“Hamas attack ‘harsh reminder’ wave of reconciliation in Middle East won’t last with Palestine-Israel conflict unsolved
By Zhao Yusha
Published: Oct 08, 2023 09:46 PM
China on Sunday reiterated that the fundamental way out of the Palestine-Israel conflicts lies in implementing the two-state solution and establishing an independent State of Palestine, after the latest conflict triggered by Hamas militants killed hundreds. China has called on relevant parties to remain calm, exercise restraint and avoid further escalation.
Chinese observers said the surprise attack, triggered largely by Hamas‘ intention to disrupt US-backed Saudi Arabia-Israel normalization, will shadow the recent „wave of reconciliation“ in the Middle East, and serve as a harsh reminder that the reconciliation will be short-lived with the Palestine-Israel conflict remaining unsolved. They also believe the conflict will exert a heavy blow to Washington’s Middle East policies, including disrupting the new US-backed India-Middle East trade route, a plan aimed at challenging China.
Hamas militants fired thousands of rockets and sent dozens of fighters into Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip in an unprecedented surprise early morning attack during a major Jewish holiday on Saturday. The death toll in Israel following a surprise attack by the militant group Hamas stands at 600, according to several Israeli media outlets. Palestinian officials say more than 300 people have been killed in Gaza, without differentiating between fighters and civilians, AP reported.
Israel’s security cabinet has officially declared a state of war, according to the government press office Sunday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Saturday „mighty vengeance“ against Hamas militants‘ surprise attack. Netanyahu said, „We are embarking on a long and difficult war that was forced on us by a murderous Hamas attack.“
China is deeply concerned over the current escalation of tensions and violence between Palestine and Israel. We call on relevant parties to remain calm, exercise restraint and immediately end the hostilities to protect civilians and avoid further deterioration of the situation, a spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Sunday.
The recurrence of the conflict shows once again that the protracted standstill of the peace process cannot go on. The fundamental way out of the conflict lies in implementing the two-state solution and establishing an independent State of Palestine. The international community needs to act with greater urgency, step up input into the Palestine question, facilitate the early resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel, and find a way to bring about enduring peace, the spokesperson remarked.
China will continue to work relentlessly with the international community towards that end, the spokesperson said.
Both the Chinese embassy in Israel and Chinese office to Palestine issued a warning to Chinese nationals in those places to pay close attention to the evolving situation and strengthen safety measures.
„The civil defense siren keeps going on all the time; the streets are filled with gun-holding soldiers; warplanes hovering above … You can hear people crying in the airport,“ a Chinese national who was stranded in Ben Gurion International Airport, near Israeli city of Tel Aviv, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Major airlines such as American Airlines, Air France, Lufthansa, Emirates, Ryanair and Aegean Airlines cancelled dozens of flights to Tel Aviv this weekend after the attack.
A Chinese student who is studying in Rehovot [an Israeli city roughly 66 kilometers from Gaza Strip], who preferred to be called Zack, told the Global Times that he could not only hear bombings, but also saw bright spots in the night sky as the Israeli antimissile system Iron Dome was intercepting flying rockets. However, his daily life remains undisrupted.
As of Sunday, Israeli soldiers were still battling to retake control of territory in the country’s south from Hamas. Israeli strikes also leveled buildings in the densely populated Gaza Strip, foreign media reported.
Wen Shaobiao, an expert from the Shanghai International Studies University, said the conflict will further escalate in the following days, as Israel has already conducted war mobilization. Netanyahu’s administration has always been tough on Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he said, noting Netanyahu will face severe political crisis if he makes no strong response to this attack.
Yet Wen believes the conflict will die down within a few weeks under mediation from major regional and international powers, such as Egypt and the US.
This attack is deemed as the most serious attack against Israel in a generation. Hamas has named the attack „Al-Aqsa Flood,“ which it said is a response to the desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and increased settler violence.
One deeper reason for this attack is to disrupt the negotiation of Israel-Saudi normalization, which is primarily facilitated by Washington, Li Shaoxian, director of the China-Arab Research Institute at Ningxia University, told the Global Times.
Hamas fears that if Saudi Arabia normalizes ties with Israel, other Arabic countries may follow suits, which will be destructive for Palestine, said experts, noting that all forces in Palestine have been opposing Arabic countries normalizing relations with Israel, and asking solving Palestine-Israel conflicts as precondition for Arabic countries to smooth ties with Israel.
Several Chinese experts believe the surprise attack may not only disrupt the negotiation of Israel-Saudi normalization process, but also likely reduce the freshly established mutual trust between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who resumed diplomatic ties under China’s mediation.
After the conflict, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran appeared to blame Israel for escalating conflict with Hamas on Saturday. „The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is closely following the developments of the unprecedented situation between a number of Palestinian factions and the Israeli occupation forces, which has resulted in a high level of violence on several fronts there,“ Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
US President Joe Biden offered Israel on Saturday „all appropriate means of support“ after the attack, and warned „any party hostile to Israel“ not to seek advantage.
A senior official of Hamas on Saturday criticized the biased position of the US toward Israel. Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chief of Hamas, said in a press statement that „the hypocritical position of the US is known to the world, and we do not count on it.“
Experts said this conflict will severely set back the US policies on the Middle East. The latest example being Biden’s plan of building a large-scale transportation network with India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
If Saudi Arabia and Israel were to normalize relations, the rail system could include Israel, extending the project’s reach into Europe via Israeli sea ports, according to Axios.
China has grasped the essence of solving Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as mirrored by foreign ministry spokesperson’s remarks on Sunday, said Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, noting that implementing the two-State solution and establishing an independent State of Palestine is to put Palestine-Israel conflict on the table, and then move to promote reconciliation between Israel and the Arabic world. „A wave of reconciliation in the Middle East won’t last long with the Palestine-Israel conflict remaining unsolved,“ said Liu.
„The US has been making plans for solving Palestine-Israel conflict without involving Palestine; and then it forces such plan on Palestine,“ Liu said, adding that the current US plan of pushing more Arabic countries to reconcile with Israel has pushed Palestine to the corner, and Hamas‘ attack is its last ditch efforts.
Experts also said China’s impartial stance in mediating contradictions between Middle Eastern countries has been widely recognized by the international society, and has achieved substantial results, with resumption of Saudi Arabia-Iran diplomatic ties a case in point. China’s success in brokering Saudi Arabia-Iran talks may serve as exemplary role in solving Palestine-Israel conflicts, although the latter is a result of more complicated conflicts, said experts.
One explanation of why Hamas was so underestimated on the part of Israel, both the intelligence services and the governments, is the statement by a leading Hamas official that for years Hamas had pursued a strategy of deception vis-à-vis Israel, which led to the easing of the blockade, the granting of more work visas, pretending to be a moderate Hamas, more interested in improving the living conditions of its people and work visas and financial incentives from donor countries, mostly undertaking only a few symbolic actions, while all these years it had been stockpiling weapons and modern rockets and preparing for the major attack all this time. And the surprise of the Israelis shows how well this strategy of deception has worked. This only to all those who think that it is only the Israeli provocations. These are rather a pretext for the Hamas plan to wipe out Israel and take it back, including Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa mosque:
“’We were shocked that the IDF was not waiting for us‘
Hamas carried out years-long campaign to fool Israel before attack, source says
Terror group had Israel convinced it wasn’t interested in war; Hamas source says elite cell jammed signals at IDF base in 1st stage of assault; report claims Iran involved in plans
Hamas conducted a years-long campaign to fool Israel into thinking the group did not desire armed conflict and could be placated with economic incentives to maintain relative calm, a source close to the terror organization told the Reuters news agency Monday.
“Hamas gave Israel the impression that it was not ready for a fight,” the source told the agency.
“Hamas used an unprecedented intelligence tactic to mislead Israel over the last months, by giving a public impression that it was not willing to go into a fight or confrontation with Israel while preparing for this massive operation,” the source said.
The border with Gaza had been relatively quiet in recent months. Hamas sat out a deadly round of fighting between Israel and the smaller Palestinian Islamic Jihad earlier this year.
Hamas gunmen breached Israel’s border on Saturday, killing more than 700 people and taking at least another 100 hostages into Gaza during the unprecedented rampage. The terror group has also fired thousands of rockets at Israel.
The source said that as part of its preparations, the terror organization built a mock Israeli community to train for the assault in which gunmen went house-to-house in border towns Saturday, killing residents.
“Israel surely saw them but they were convinced that Hamas wasn’t keen on getting into a confrontation,” the source said.
The source said that Hamas convinced Israel that it was more interested in ensuring Gazans had work permits that allowed them to enter Israel, where they earned higher salaries than they would in the enclave.
“Hamas was able to build a whole image that it was not ready for a military adventure against Israel,” the source said.
The source said that many leaders of the terror group were not told of the planned attack in order to prevent it leaking to Israel. In addition, the approximately 1,000 terrorists involved in the devastating assault were not told exactly what they were training for.
An unnamed Israeli security source told the news outlet that the security services had fallen for the ruse.
“They caused us to think they wanted money,” the Israeli source said. “And all the time they were involved in exercises or drills until they ran riot.”
Palestinian terrorists kidnap an Israeli civilian, center, later identified as 85-year-old Yaffa Adar, from Kibbutz Kfar Aza into the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023 (AP Photo/ Hatem Ali)
The report said that Hamas’s apparent refusal to become involved in recent rounds of fighting, even as Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired rockets at Israel, was part of the subterfuge.
Former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror told Reuters that some countries allied with the Jewish state had bought into the lie, telling Jerusalem that Hamas was showing “more responsibility.”
“We stupidly began to believe that it was true,” he said. “So, we made a mistake. We are not going to make this mistake again and we will destroy Hamas, slowly but surely.”
The source said the attack was carried out in four stages. First, a barrage of some 3,000 rockets was fired at Israel.
At the same time, a cell flew hang gliders across the border and secured the area, allowing an elite terror unit to breach Israel’s fortified security barrier.
The source said explosives were used to breach the barrier and the first terrorists went through on motorbikes. Then bulldozers were brought in to widen the gap, allowing jeeps to drive through.
The source said a “commando unit” of terrorists then attacked the headquarters of the IDF’s southern Gaza division “and jammed its communications, preventing personnel from calling commanders or each other.”
The body of a person killed by Hamas terrorists lies covered inside a bullet-riddled car in the southern city of Sderot on October 7, 2023 (Oren ZIV / AFP)
The terrorists then went on their murderous rampage through the border towns and military base, as well as a crowded rave party, slaughtering hundreds and taking at least 100 hostages back to Gaza.
An unnamed Israeli security source said that troops near the Gaza border were not at full strength because some had been moved to the West Bank — the report said “to protect Israeli settlers” amid a surge of violence there.
“[Hamas] exploited that,” the source said.
The Reuters report of the long-planned secret training for the attack was backed up by Channel 13 news, which published a quote from an interrogation of a Hamas terrorist who participated in the attack and was held in Israel.
“It was five hours before they fired at us,” he said, of the area that he was attacking. “We were ready with 1,000 fighters, we breached the fence in 15 places.”
“We were shocked that the IDF was not waiting for us,” he said.
“We led a family on foot to the Gaza Strip for two hours without interruption,” he said.
“We have been preparing for over a year. We were encouraged by the demonstrations in Israel,” the terrorist said, apparently referring to the protests against the government’s judicial overhaul. The security establishment has long warned that the government’s plan had impacted the military’s operational abilities and harmed Israel’s deterrence.
The source said that the rioting in recent weeks by Gazans at the border fence were a “deception.”
“The operation exceeded all expectations,” he said, adding that he was particularly referring to the number of Israelis kidnapped and taken into Gaza.
Channel 13 said the trucks used by the terrorists were crammed full of sophisticated military equipment, to a level that would have provided weaponry for further terrorists to come in for further waves of attacks.
Meanwhile, a Sunday report in the Wall Street Journal claimed that Iran helped Hamas plan its attack on Israel during a meeting in Beirut last week, and has been working on it for weeks.
The report cited unnamed senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah, and said plans were ongoing since August, and several meetings were held in Beirut in which members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp participated.
However, the IDF on Monday denied there was currently evidence of Iranian involvement.
“Iran is a major player but we can’t yet say if it was involved in the planning or training,” said IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.
The question of whether it was an intelligence failure on the part of the Israelis, an „intelligence failure“ on the part of the IDF, Mossad and Shin Beth, or a political assessment on the part of the right-wing government is currently the subject of heated debate, especially since in the event of an „intelligence failure“ Netanyahu could also carry out a wave of purges in the IDF, Mossad and Shin Beth, especially against officers who criticized his judicial reform, and could then appoint only loyalists to key positions and thus further consolidate his power, especially under martial law. Therefore, there are now also critics who accuse Netanyahu and the right-wing radicals of having beefed up Hamas for years, also primarily with the calculation that as long as there was a Hamas-ruled Gaza and a PA-ruled West Bank, the emergence of a Palestinian state would not come about because of this division, especially since Hamas also rejects a two-state solution and wants all of Israel. Now this policy has blown up in his face.Tal Schneider also argues in this direction in an op-ed in the Times of Israel:
“For years, Netanyahu propped up Hamas. Now it’s blown up in our faces
The premier’s policy of treating the terror group as a partner, at the expense of Abbas and Palestinian statehood, has resulted in wounds that will take Israel years to heal from
By Tal Schneider 8 October 2023, 3:58 pm
For years, the various governments led by Benjamin Netanyahu took an approach that divided power between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank — bringing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to his knees while making moves that propped up the Hamas terror group.
The idea was to prevent Abbas — or anyone else in the Palestinian Authority’s West Bank government — from advancing toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Thus, amid this bid to impair Abbas, Hamas was upgraded from a mere terror group to an organization with which Israel held indirect negotiations via Egypt, and one that was allowed to receive infusions of cash from abroad.
Hamas was also included in discussions about increasing the number of work permits Israel granted to Gazan laborers, which kept money flowing into Gaza, meaning food for families and the ability to purchase basic products.
Israeli officials said these permits, which allow Gazan laborers to earn higher salaries than they would in the enclave, were a powerful tool to help preserve calm.
Toward the end of Netanyahu’s fifth government in 2021, approximately 2,000-3,000 work permits were issued to Gazans. This number climbed to 5,000 and, during the Bennett-Lapid government, rose sharply to 10,000.
Since Netanyahu returned to power in January 2023, the number of work permits has soared to nearly 20,000.
Additionally, since 2014, Netanyahu-led governments have practically turned a blind eye to the incendiary balloons and rocket fire from Gaza.
Meanwhile, Israel has allowed suitcases holding millions in Qatari cash to enter Gaza through its crossings since 2018, in order to maintain its fragile ceasefire with the Hamas rulers of the Strip.
A Palestinian man receives financial aid at a supermarket in Gaza City, on September 15, 2021, as part of the UN’s Humanitarian Cash Assistance program, supported by the state of Qatar. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
Most of the time, Israeli policy was to treat the Palestinian Authority as a burden and Hamas as an asset. Far-right MK Bezalel Smotrich, now the finance minister in the hardline government and leader of the Religious Zionism party, said so himself in 2015.
According to various reports, Netanyahu made a similar point at a Likud faction meeting in early 2018, when he was quoted as saying that those who oppose a Palestinian state should support the transfer of funds to Gaza, because maintaining the separation between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza would prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
While Netanyahu does not make these kind of statements publicly or officially, his words are in line with the policy that he implemented.
The same messaging was repeated by right-wing commentators, who may have received briefings on the matter or talked to Likud higher-ups and understood the message.
Bolstered by this policy, Hamas grew stronger and stronger until Saturday, Israel’s “Pearl Harbor,” the bloodiest day in its history — when terrorists crossed the border, slaughtered hundreds of Israelis and kidnapped an unknown number under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at towns throughout the country’s south and center.
The country has known attacks and wars, but never on such a scale in a single morning.
One thing is clear: The concept of indirectly strengthening Hamas — while tolerating sporadic attacks and minor military operations every few years — went up in smoke Saturday.
Just a few days ago, Assaf Pozilov, a reporter for the Kan public broadcaster, tweeted the following: “The Islamic Jihad organization has started a noisy exercise very close to the border, in which they practiced launching missiles, breaking into Israel and kidnapping soldiers.”
The difference between Islamic Jihad and Hamas doesn’t matter much at this point. As far as the State of Israel is concerned, the territory is under the control of Hamas, and it is responsible for all the training and activities there.
Hamas became stronger and used the auspices of peace that Israelis so longed for as cover for its training, and hundreds of Israelis have paid with their lives for this massive omission.
The terror inflicted on the civilian population in Israel is so enormous that the wounds from it will not heal for years, a challenge compounded by the dozens abducted into Gaza.
Judging by the way Netanyahu has managed Gaza in the last 13 years, it is not certain that there will be a clear policy going forward.
An article by Dan Perry in Newsweek analyzes the previous policy of the respective Israeli governments towards Hamas as well as all military operations in Gaza and the West Bank, which have never been really successful and are „a false conception“. Therefore, he calls for a new conception, although he cannot name what this could be and cannot even give a few essential possible elements:
“New Gaza War on Israel Highlights a False ‚Conception‘ | Opinion
Dan Perry , managing partner, Thunder11
On 10/7/23 at 12:57 PM EDT
Israel-Hamas Conflict: What We Know So Far
TEL AVIV, Israel _ Israelis marked the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur war in recent weeks with much agonizing over the collapse of the ill-fated so-called „conception“ that the Arabs would not dare attack, as Egypt and Syria did. Almost a half century to the day since that mistake comes the fall of an equally foolish idea: that Gaza can be blockaded and contained, cut off from Israel by a security fence while its people are hemmed in and left to be ruled by terrorist groups.
That conception shattered above my head on Saturday, Oct. 7, when I was awoken by rocket fire over central Tel Aviv, with the Iron Dome system zapping the incoming missiles out of the sky, leaving debris to rain down on nearby streets.
The Gaza conception featured two corollaries as well: that the West Bank Palestinians can be provoked with impunity by Israel’s reckless government, and that Saudi Arabia will eventually make peace with Israel without the Palestinian issue being addressed—leaving the Palestinians an irrelevant player in the Middle East equation.
It turned out that on the day of their choosing, hundreds of armed Hamas fighters simply cut through the fence between Gaza and Israel and were able to roam free in nearby communities, killing and kidnapping civilians and initially facing almost no military opposition. The shock in Israel is so great that there is a chance that this event will end the 16 years of strategic paralysis that began when Hamas threw the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza in 2007. And all of a sudden the Palestinians are relevant again.
At this writing, it looks like Israel has suffered more than 100 civilians killed, more than 1,000 wounded, and an unknown but considerable number abducted. The latter sets up a likely prolonged drama featuring threatened executions and negotiations for prisoner swaps, where Israel has a history of eventually paying a very high price.
It is a spectacular failure on multiple fronts: tactically, it’s clear there was no sufficient plan to defend the border towns and kibbutzim on the Israeli side of the border; intelligence-wise, it’s clear that Israel did not know—as hundreds of operatives inside Gaza must have—that the attack was coming. That will badly rattle the vaunted Shin Bet security service.
And strategically, the whole edifice of the policy toward Gaza has led to a genuine disaster.
Was it hastened by the poisonous political divisions in Israel? Is that why Hamas chose to attack? And was Israel’s apparent lack of preparedness somehow caused or exacerbated by the internal schism? These questions may not be answerable anytime soon, but what is clear is that Israel is currently led by a spectacularly incompetent far-right government, run by a criminal defendant to boot.
Tragically, barring the quick establishment of a national unity government, it is this motley crew that must now decide on the reaction. The challenge is this: The attacks have created a psychology of transformation, and a genuine sense that there can be no return to the status quo ante; but the actual options on the ground remain as unpalatable as they were before.
For Israel’s response to be truly different from its policy to date, it would mean occupying the Gaza Strip and removing Hamas from power—presumably to reinstall the Palestinian Authority. This would involve street-by-street fighting by Israeli soldiers against a force of tens of thousands that is armed to the teeth, led by gangsters and fanatics, who are absolutely ruthless about putting civilians in harm’s way. Israel can expect considerable losses on all sides that would probably dwarf what happened on Saturday. It also risks executions of the hostages held in Gaza.
Israel also has the option of repeating its previous strategy of bombardment of Gaza, this time demanding a return of the hostages as opposed to the end of rocket fire (though that too will surely come). That might include pinpoint assassinations of Hamas leaders—but again, the hostages are a complicating factor.
Any operation that lasts long risks expanding in three directions: Hezbollah could join in, firing rockets at Israel from Lebanon and dragging that country into the war; the Palestinians in the West Bank could start a new intifada; and there is a chance, in some ways Israel’s worst-case scenario, that extremists among Israel’s Arab citizens will join in as well, setting fire to Israel’s streets.
Any one of these scenarios could be a game-changer in Israeli politics, even though of course for the moment everyone will claim politics are not a factor.
On one hand, the attack is a chance for a much-needed reboot for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government has managed to make itself extremely unpopular. It is not just that proposals to annihilate judicial independence and to remove many of the freedoms Israelis take for granted have hurt the economy—but that it has promised its Haredi allies to pass a law formally exempting Haredi youth from the military, which will enrage the vast majority of Israelis. Applying the normal calculus of Israeli politics, war could be just what Netanyahu needs to reshuffle the deck and somehow survive this episode as well. In any case, security crises usually help the right.
But this may be different. It is hard to see how Netanyahu escapes the judgement that his government—brimming as it is with ex-cons, fanatics and petty apparatchiks—fell asleep on its watch. It devoted all its energies to trying to install authoritarian rule at huge cost to social cohesion and the economy. It is not inconceivable that the dimensions of the failure will compel a certain return to respect for expertise, and some reluctance for voting for incompetents—not just in Israel, but in other countries as well. But that’s for the next election.
Right now, a possible outcome is a reshuffle leading to a centrist „national unity government“ replacing Netanyahu’s far-right allies with moderate factors. The opposition leader has already proposed it, and such is the trepidation in the country that this was not seen, as it normally would have been, as a cynical ploy.
Meanwhile, it should surprise no one if Netanyahu sticks with his current assemblage. Its judicial overhaul may be critical to keeping him out of jail. Instead, he might choose to exploit the intelligence failure and move to replace the heads of the security branches; they are all accomplished professionals and therefore almost by definition opponents of his government’s policies, especially his authoritarian overhaul. He would seek to replace them with loyalists, causing Israel yet more damage but accumulating more power for himself. That is not the Israel its friends abroad admire, but anyone who would be surprised is deluded and out of date.
At the end of the day, though, the situation in Gaza is simply not tenable: Two million people with no natural resources, intermittent electricity, no free trade with the world, and no way out by land, air, or sea. Make no mistake: Hamas is a criminal organization that seeks only war with Israel and cares not a fig for the people under its boot. But Israel’s policy of trying to smoke Hamas out by putting pressure on the population was never going to lead to good things. It is, without doubt, time for a new „conception.“
Dan Perry is managing partner of the New York-based communications firm Thunder11. He is the former Cairo-based Middle East editor and London-based Europe/Africa editor of the Associated Press. Follow him at danperry.substack.com.
But there is already a clearer vision of a new conception: the supporters of the Israel Victory Project and the Middle East Forum of Gregg Roman and Daniel Pipes now feel upper hand. As with Ukraine, however, it is apparently not so clear what victory now means. Sometimes there is talk of eliminate, then dismantle, then submit in relation to Hamas, in any case one does not want a ceasefire, but a (unconditional) surrender peace, to which Hamas, which one also wants to wipe out or then not completely submits, i.e. a victory peace, which should then pave the way for further Abraham’s Accords, SA-Israel and US-Israel and SA-US deals and a New Middle East. Sounds a bit like neocon and the beacons of freedom ala Iraq War 2003. During the Gulf War in the early 1990s under George W. Bush senior, a „New Middle East“ including a „New World Order“ (NWO) was promised, especially strategic special relations in strategic partnership with Kohl-Germany.
Or as Daniel Pipes comments on the term „New Middle East”:
“That term dates back to an influential 1993 book, The New Middle East, by Israel’s perpetual politician, Shimon Peres. He was partially correct in assessing that, “In the past, the central issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict was the Palestinian problem. This is no longer true; now it is the nuclear threat.” But he was wrong in envisioning “a Jordanian-Palestinian-Israeli ‘Benelux’ arrangement for economic affairs … allowing each to live in peace and prosperity.” Even more erroneously, he predicted the whole of the Middle East uniting “in a common market.” So long as the Middle East remains dominated by autocrats, it will remain the same Old Middle East”
Should we make the entire Middle East and Greater Middle East democratic or what is meant by that, by the USA and Israel? Bush W. Jr. tried something similar and the neocons with Cheney’s energy ellipse and the pretext of weapons of mass destruction then with the Iraq war in 2003, which was the opening of Pandora’s box – of the rise of US debt, the rise of Iran to the Shiite crescent including the Islamic State and millions of refugees. Then the New Middle East hopes in NGOs, Gen Z or twitter revolutionaries (when do the Tiktok revolutionaries emerge in China and other emerging economies and BRICS?) and the Arab Spring, which also turned out to be a disaster. And now the hope for a New Middle East by either bilaterally excluding the Palestinian question from the negotiations on the SA-Israel deal, negotiating and acting more according to Deng Xiaoping’s slogan „Know the differences, emphasize the similarities“ or solve the Palestinian problem/question with the eliminiation of Hamas, unconditional surrender and Siegfrieden/ Victory peace could be resolved by Israel Victory. Mission accomplished!!!
“Silent Cries Amidst Invasion: Israel Must Eliminate Hamas
by Gregg RomanThe Times of Israel
October 7, 2023
|Members of Knesset discuss the disarmament of Gaza in a June 2023 meeting of the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus.|
In the haunting silence that follows yet another terrifying burst of gunfire, amidst the charred remains of a once peaceful kibbutz near the Gaza border, lies an emblem of innocence—a baby, found alone at Kibbutz Kfar Aza, whose parents may have been kidnapped by Hamas.
Hamas terrorists infiltrate an IDF base in Israel’s southern district, severing contact with the soldiers stationed there, instilling a chilling silence that reverberates the menace of an unyielding enemy.
In the border town of Sderot, the crisis assumes an unprecedented hue. Shoval Kahlon, a resident, details a harrowing narrative where Hamas terrorists tread with impunity, their boots echoing the terror that now haunts the streets. They knock on doors, their sinister motives revealed when residents, expecting to find IDF troops, unwittingly open their doors to terrorists who take them hostage.
The child’s silent cries for the missing parents, the silence of soldiers under siege, and the gunfire breaking out in front of kindergartens and supermarkets in Sderot, echo the unspeakable horrors of a conflict that knows no boundaries, a vivid testament to the wanton brutality and ruthlessness of Hamas’s aggression and unprecedented invasion against Israel.
Each rocket launched, each life claimed, and each family torn apart underscores the urgent need for Israel, and the world, to reevaluate and respond to the ongoing crisis with a blend of strategic might and lethal determination.
Hamas and their allies have not just violated international law, they have trampled upon the very essence of humanity, initiating an era of darkness on this fateful fiftieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.
In June, the Middle East Forum released a policy paper challenging Israel’s passive „mow the lawn“ Gaza policy, instead presenting a path toward Israel victory. The paper calls on Israel to rid itself of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively the cost of threatening Israel. With today’s attack, however, it is time to destroy Hamas once and for all.
The imagery of terror unleashed upon innocent Israeli lives flickers incessantly across television screens. Hamas and their allies have not just violated international law, they have trampled upon the very essence of humanity, initiating an era of darkness on this fateful fiftieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. The world has witnessed the resilience of the Jewish people, their undying spirit echoing the sanctity of their historical endurance. Today, as war detonates at Israel’s doorstep, that endurance is summoned again – not out of choice, but necessity. Israel fights not for conquest, but for survival; not for dominance, but for the right to live without the darkened clouds of existential threat shadowing its every step.
The echoes of innocence are drowned out by the terrifying sounds of explosions. Hamas has not just ignited a war; it has declared an open siege on the Jewish state. The harrowing scenes unfolding in Israel’s heartland cities, as terrorists pour into the streets and rockets rain down, tens of Israelis murdered, dozens kidnapped, and hundreds maimed, highlight an urgent imperative: The time has come for Israel to take definitive action against Hamas in Gaza.
The world watches in stunned silence, the horrors unfolding with each passing moment. Every rocket fired is a testament to Hamas’s entrenched enmity and an unyielding commitment to Israel’s destruction. Each act of terror underscores the urgent necessity for a direct, unequivocal response unencumbered by prevailing considerations of international consensus. Israel’s action is not born of choice, but of an existential imperative.
The current situation is not just an act of terrorism: it is an invasion, an orchestrated massacre gleaming with the sinister glare of genocidal intent. Mohammad Deif’s call for a total Arab war against Israel pulls the Middle East to the brink of catastrophe, resurrecting the ominous shadows of historic conflicts.
In the wake of this horrible invasion, a call is scheduled to take place this morning between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin. Netanyahu, embodying the resolve and anguish of a nation under siege, should articulate the grim realities Israel faces. „Mr. President,“ Netanyahu might say, „our nation is under assault. The skies are ablaze with rockets from Hamas, an organization that places its weaponry amidst civilians, using them as shields while they aim to exterminate us. The child found alone, echoing the silent yet deafening screams of a nation, is a stark testimony to the urgency and gravity of this threat.“
The current situation is not just an act of terrorism: it is an invasion, an orchestrated massacre gleaming with the sinister glare of genocidal intent.
President Biden, confronted with this reality, should respond with the unyielding support of the United States and recognize the need to disarm Gaza. One hopes he says, „Prime Minister Netanyahu, the United States unequivocally stands behind Israel. We recognize the profound threat posed by Hamas—an organization that not only seeks Israel’s destruction but undermines the principles of peace, security, and human dignity. America will not waver in its commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself, and we shall extend our unwavering support, both diplomatically and materially, to ensure the security of the Israeli people.“
Israel’s response, therefore, cannot be mired in half measures and restrained actions. The re-occupation of the Gaza Strip emerges not as a choice but an imperative. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, entities nurtured by an unquenchable thirst for Israeli destruction, must be eradicated—for as long as they draw breath, the specter of annihilation looms over every Israeli child, woman, and man.
The disarmament of Gaza is not an act of oppression – it is a stride towards peace. Each rocket, every weapon that is wrested from the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, echoes the distant but undeniable drumbeats of a region where children can dream without the nightmare of war shadowing their innocence.
Israel’s consideration to eliminate Hamas’s leadership and disband its organization is born not from a thirst for retribution, but from strategic and legal necessity. It is rooted in the objective to neutralize an existential threat, to silence the guns that leave children orphaned, and to dismantle the ideological edifice that fuels a relentless campaign of terror.
This is not a decision made lightly, but is necessitated by the evolving nature of the threat. There is a detailed case for a comprehensive military intervention against Hamas, reasons that go beyond the need to respond to the despicable invasion launched this morning from Gaza.
Hamas’s charter unequivocally calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Their acts of aggression are not limited skirmishes or disputes over borders, but pose a fundamental existential threat to Israel and its citizens.
History has shown that Hamas has not honored ceasefire agreements, but uses periods of calm to regroup and rearm, only to renew hostilities with increased vigor.
Over the years, Hamas has significantly upgraded its military capabilities, amassing thousands of rockets, including many that can reach Israel’s major cities. The recent barrages on civilian centers underscore the extent of this threat.
Hamas has built an intricate network of tunnels used for smuggling weapons, launching attacks, and infiltrating Israel. The recent invasions are testament to the effectiveness and danger of these tunnels.
Hamas has consistently and strategically placed its military infrastructure within civilian areas near schools, hospitals, and homes. This strategy not only puts Palestinian civilians at risk, but complicates Israel’s efforts to neutralize threats.
History has shown that Hamas has not honored ceasefire agreements, but uses periods of calm to regroup and rearm, only to renew hostilities with increased vigor. Hamas’s actions and alliances, particularly with Iran, contribute to broader regional instability. Addressing the Hamas threat can help create a more stable Middle East.
Every state has a primary duty to protect its citizens. With Hamas’s escalating aggression and capability to strike deep within Israel, military action becomes a matter of national security and civilian protection. Hamas’s dominance in Gaza is one of the most significant impediments to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. By removing this extremist element, the door might open for more moderate voices to emerge.
Hamas, with its clear-cut and unambiguous intent to obliterate the State of Israel, presents an existential threat that transcends conventional security challenges. Every rocket launched and tunnel constructed underscores an existential menace that compels Israel to prioritize the safety of its civilians.
It is at this critical juncture that the complete destruction of Hamas and the targeted assassination of its leadership emerges as a central tenet of Israel’s strategic response.
Completely dismantling Hamas and targeting its leadership for elimination are strategically calculated measures to eradicate an immediate and profound threat.
Each act of aggression from Gaza is not an isolated incident of terror, but a stark reminder of an ideological and existential war waged against Israel’s very existence. To mitigate this persistent threat, neutralizing Hamas becomes an essential, albeit complex, objective. The organization’s intricate military and social infrastructure, embedded deep within civilian habitats, exacerbates the challenge.
Completely dismantling Hamas and targeting its leadership for elimination are strategically calculated measures to eradicate an immediate and profound threat. The potency of this approach lies in its ability to decapitate the organizational and ideological machinery driving the incessant attacks, thereby incapacitating its operational capability.
The re-occupation of Gaza is the only tactical maneuver to achieve this objective. The direct oversight of the territory would enable a systematic and comprehensive destruction of Hamas’s military and ideological edifice. Additionally, it would curtail the influx of weapons and militant resources, thereby crippling the organization’s capacity to wage war.
For all these reasons and more, Israel’s case for military action against Hamas in Gaza is clear. The organization must be torn from Gaza root and stem. While war should always be a last resort, Israel now faces a situation in which decisive action is required to safeguard its future and pave the way for a more stable, peaceful Middle East.
Gregg Roman is director of the Middle East Forum.