Israel Is Decimated, Hamas Is Doomed
Hamas' unprecedented onslaught has hit Israel at a moment of weakness. But the attack could unite a divided Israeli society against a common enemy — and finally end the terrorist organization's rule.
The images and news coming out of Israel leave us stunned. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, two terrorist organizations, first hit the south of Israel with more than 2,200 rockets before forcing entry into the country and attacking several cities and towns.
Civilians were dragged from their cars or homes, some of them were shot or had their throats slit. Entire families were wiped out.
Countless Israelis, including women and children, were kidnapped into Gaza. Hamas militias paraded jubilantly through the streets of Gaza with the body of a stripped young Israeli woman. For hours, the bloodthirsty terrorists wreaked havoc in the towns near Gaza, even as Israel's thinned-out security forces struggled to control the situation.
The deadly onslaught is a catastrophe for Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu's government. This was obviously an operation that had been in the works for a long time; high officials from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad had visited both the Hezbollah leadership in Beirut and the mullah government in Tehran in recent weeks, apparently to garner support.
Hamas, which rules over Gaza, also coordinated the attack with forces in the West Bank and Jerusalem. On Saturday, Jerusalem's muezzin called for a "holy war" against Israel over the mosque's loudspeakers, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas — from the Fatah movement, which competes with Hamas — also spoke in favor of the attacks.
Bitter lessons from the massacre
The fact that Israeli intelligence had no information on the attack is the country's greatest intelligence failure since the Yom Kippur War, 50 years ago almost to the day. It may also be an indication that the wedge that Prime Minister Netanyahu has driven into society with his judicial reform has indeed compromised Israel's security, as many Israeli experts had predicted it would.
The massacre in southern Israel offers some bitter lessons. First: Israel continues to be surrounded by bloodthirsty barbarians, whether Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the south, Hezbollah in the north or Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank. They continue to take every opportunity to kill as many Jews as possible and would commit genocide against the Israeli people if they had the means to do so.
This is precisely why Israel's blockade of Gaza was, and continues to be, justified. It's hard to imagine what could happen if Iran or Hezbollah were to supply Hamas with even better weapons.
For all its technological superiority, the Jewish state remains a highly vulnerable community.
In fact, a new “axis of evil” is currently emerging, which includes Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and Russia. The members of this axis commit systematic war crimes against civilians, in total disregard of all international law.
Russia's slaughters in Bucha and elsewhere in Ukraine (and before that, in Syria), together with Hamas's massacres in southern Israel, spring from the same nihilism that holds people and norms in utter contempt, and with which there is no possibility of a compromise.
IDF soldiers during a military review
Israel cannot afford to be weak
Many in the West have become accustomed to seeing Israel as a kind of "Middle Eastern superpower." But for all its technological superiority, the Jewish state remains a highly vulnerable community that cannot afford any strategic mistakes in its hostile neighborhood, where negligence can have dire consequences. And where every sign of weakness (like the ongoing demonstrations against Netanyahu's judicial reforms) is interpreted by Israel's enemies as an opportunity to strike.
Israel cannot continue to simply stand by and watch.
However, it is entirely possible that this time Hamas has made a fatal strategic error. We can already see how the unprecedented terrorist attack is likely to bring Israeli society together against a common enemy.
Despite his reputation as a hawk, Netanyahu has historically shied away from responding to Hamas's cyclical escalations in Gaza with all-out war. But it is now clear that Israel cannot continue to simply stand by and watch as Hamas builds up ever more destructive potential against Israel's civilian population.
It is also clear that the precarious ceasefires of the past are being met by increasingly bloody terrorist attacks. Both the Israelis in the south of the country and the Palestinians in Gaza have been taken hostage by Hamas's nihilistic ideology. It is time to put an end to this reign of terror.
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