For the first time since 1973, Israel is officially at war. Unlike previous times, the enemy came from the Gaza Strip, from the inside of the country.

The Hamas group attacked Israel. For a moment, its militants gained control over several settlements, captured hundreds of Israelis and citizens of other countries, and killed about a thousand soldiers and civilians.

All international observers and experts are still trying to figure out how one of the world’s best intelligence services happened to miss this invasion. After all, as it became crystal clear during the first day, the Tzahal was utterly unprepared for fighting on such a scale. Or – maybe – the intelligence blew the whistle, but nobody wanted to listen?

Israel and Hamas: a game of attrition that became a habit

The two sides have been fighting almost non-stop since at least the 1990s. The full-blown fighting started in 2007 when Hamas seized power in Gaza and overthrew Yasser Arafat’s Fatah party. Israel is the number one target for Hamas. According to their ideology, it should be destroyed – Hamas wants to “throw Israel into the sea.”

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Over many years of confrontation, the Israelis have grown accustomed – insofar as possible – to missile and terrorist attacks and to attempts by certain terrorist groups to enter Israel through various tunnels. Many thought it would be this way in the future.

War benefited everyone as long as both parties got to keep their power. Ironically, this was one of the few instances where certain right-wing Israelis and Hamas fanatics saw eye to eye.

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The fact that Israelis grew accustomed to this behavioral pattern along with the traditional celebrations and the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War left their army unprepared for large-scale combat operations and delayed the mobilization of reserve soldiers and their subsequent regrouping to the south of the country, closer to the Gaza Strip. Therefore, the residents of towns and kibbutz near the Gaza Strip were left virtually defenseless against the terror of Hamas.

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Hamas never acts on its own. It is part of the Iranian “proxy forces,” which also includes the Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement in Yemen, Hezbollah in Iraq and Lebanon, as well as other terrorist and paramilitary groups. Without Iranian funding and organizational support, launching thousands of rockets at once would have been impossible for the combatants from Gaza, as they simply don't have enough resources.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu pictured in Jerusalem last month. PHOTO: AFP.

How the invasion happened

The Hamas attack began on Shabbat (Saturday) on Oct. 7 at 6 a.m. with a massive missile attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip. Most people, particularly the soldiers, were either resting or in a different region of the country, such as on the West Bank of the Jordan River or in the Golan Heights (for instance, the artillery and 26 battalions of the Tzahal). The missiles arrived as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the central and eastern parts of the country accordingly.

That’s when more than a thousand well-armed terrorists headed to Israel by land, to the great surprise of the still sleepy country. They broke through the protective barrier around the Sector, in some places simply tearing it down with bulldozers. The army’s response came overdue - in the afternoon, the “Nakhal,” “Golani,” “Maglan” and other brigades began to approach Gaza. The urban combat started, followed by the airstrikes on Gaza.

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However, it wasn’t possible to chase them back immediately – they were too numerous. They hid in cities, drove on the roads, received reinforcements from Gaza, and attempted sea landings.

Israel’s society, where almost every citizen served in the army, is now bombarding the authorities and intelligence with questions about how it was possible in the first place, for armed men to break through the most controlled border in the Middle East, where every centimeter is covered with motion sensors and cameras.

There are no precise and unequivocal answers yet, but certain conclusions can already be drawn – in particular, the ones about the policies of the current government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The most spectacular failure since 1973?

Israel had already lived through something similar in October 1973. Then Arab countries attacked during a holiday, like this time. And like this time, Israel was utterly unprepared for battle, suffering defeat after defeat during the first days of war.

This level of unpreparedness comes as a great surprise in a country that boasts several highly skilled intelligence services led by the legendary Mossad. But neither Mossad (although it was supposed to monitor Iran and Lebanon) nor Shabak (a local analog of FBI) nor Aman military intelligence raised the alarm.

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However, another opinion was voiced – the intelligence tried to blow the whistle, but Netanyahu’s office chose not to listen.

The thing is that many armed forces members, representatives of intelligence, and former reservists sided with the protesters when “Bibi” was trying to push his legal reform – the one taking several important powers from the Supreme Court – through the Knesset.

Netanyahu did not forgive and did not forget. At that time, the story ended with an open clinch with the power block.

Moreover, it is known that Netanyahu even refused to read intelligence reports – just like his dear American friend Donald Trump.

Another reason is that the political ambitions and objectives of the Netanyahu government are concentrated in the eastern part of the country, not in the south.

Palestinians hurl stones at Israeli forces during a demonstration against Israli bombardment of the Gaza strip, in the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on October 11. PHOTO: AFP

Tzahal was ordered to protect the construction of illegal settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan River and the Golan Heights. As a result of the 1967 and 1973 wars, Israel seized these territories along with East Jerusalem.

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The whole world considers this an occupation. Only Israel did not leave this land, as it happened with the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza. On the contrary, the settlers - Israelis who live in small settlements surrounded by Palestinians, in difficult living conditions and with challenged security - have become the base of the electorate of Netanyahu and his ultra-right-wing ministers. Further development of settlements became their ideology.

It was believed there was no threat from the south – the Hamas were “pacified” and did not want a big war, and the “Iron Dome” would handle the shelling.

As it turned out, it was nothing more than wishful thinking. Some international media have already written about the fact that the planning of this attack started two years ago. While Israel was handing out money to Palestinian workers, they were giving it to Hamas, which in turn stole billions of dollars in international aid given to the Sector.

All the funds “collected” this way were used to purchase weapons and pay for the work of Iranian instructors. The WSJ publication reported that since August 2023, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been developing the final details of the attack and gave the “green light” to the terrorists during a meeting in Beirut.

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And so, as Hamas paragliders landed and 3,000 rockets flew overhead, Gaza’s elite commandos raced toward the border and pounded it with tractors, explosives, and brute force. They attacked the headquarters of the “Southern” command and jammed their communications, preventing attempts to call for help. All other militants terrorized civilians and took prisoners.

This is how Netanyahu's geopolitical gambit failed

In recent years, the Gaza Strip has experienced a period of relative calm. This has allowed Israel to shift its foreign policy focus from solving local security issues to developing diplomatic relationships with its neighbors. As a result of this shift, Israel has signed the Abraham Accords, which are agreements aimed at normalizing and restoring diplomatic relations between the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, and Israel. These accords represent a significant step towards reconciliation and improved relations between Israel and the Arab world.

Despite these positive developments, Saudi Arabia has yet to join the treaty, insisting that the issue with the Palestinians be resolved first. However, there has been progress made in this regard as well. Israel has even established contacts with Iran, a country that has long been considered its sworn enemy.

It is highly probable that this issue will be forgotten for an indefinite period. The entire Arab world once again showed their support for the Palestinians in their fight against Israel.

Netanyahu’s grand political gambit has failed.

He will most likely win the war, but like Golda Meir’s situation in 1973, he may lose his office. And Israel is going to live through the difficult weeks and years of recovery and investigations into who exactly is to blame for the events that occurred.

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Comments (2)

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jobardu
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Maksymov is in error when he states "The whole world considers this an occupation" in reference to the West Bank and the Golan Heights. He ignores the history of Israel, the original partition, the abandonment of Israel by the West, and the viability of the boundaries prior to the 1967 war. Above all, he ignores the shelling from the Golan and the regular amplified threats of rape and dismemberment yelled nightly from the Golan into Israel.

Why shouldn't he be in error? Jewish blood was always cheap to both the Russians and Ukrainians. Neither of them would put up for a minute with the threat of genocide and annihilation that is pushed, with International approval, at Israel every day. Israel needs to eliminate the threat from Gaza just as anyone would eliminate a similar threat. International disapproval is both disingenuous and suborning of another Holocaust.

If the West and Eastern Europe stand for, and tacitly approve, another Holocaust then they will be normalizing genocide for all. There are some bad people in the world, and people that do not hold Christian values. They will take advantage, and even the Lord may not look kindly on his perfidious subjects.

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Abu Sofara
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As I remember, Palestine had elections in 2006. Hamas won in Gaza and overall, though Fatah had the majority in the West Bank. Hamas did not "seize power", although this has been said so often that everyone now believes it

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