Deeply divided Israel has been caught out by Hamas attack

By Isaac M October 8, 2023

Israel prides itself on its intelligence, its ability to see attacks coming.

But in the middle of its holy holiday season, it has been caught out.

Wherever this leads, this is a massive intelligence failure for Israel and a disaster for the Netanyahu government.

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Israel’s intelligence agencies have all-pervading surveillance of their enemies, through technology and human intel.

Periodically, they neutralise threats with military operations in Gaza, reducing the capability of Hamas. Breezily, they call it mowing the grass.

But they have failed to contain this threat quite literally, with multiple militant squads bursting out of the Gaza Strip, wreaking havoc, killing many and taking hostages.

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Netanyahu: ‘We will win’

Every Israeli taken by Hamas is a disaster for the government in Jerusalem.

The five-year-long kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, a captured young Israeli soldier, was an agonising period for Israelis.

Unlike their enemies, who glory in the martyrdom and death of their young, Israelis hold the principle sacred that no one is left behind.

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We do not know how many have been taken into Gaza. Some appear to be civilians. But their fate will torment Israel and its government.

So will the pictures of Palestinians apparently dancing on Israeli tanks.

A destroyed Israeli tank at the Gaza Strip fence east of Khan Younis. Pic: AP
A destroyed Israeli tank at the Gaza Strip fence east of Khan Younis. Pic: AP

The sight of buildings on fire in residential neighbourhoods, the failure to stop the waves of thousands of missiles.

Israel is deeply divided already, polarised by the fight over the Netanyahu government’s plans to reform the judiciary that have mobilised hundreds of thousands onto the streets for months of protest.

The controversy has sapped the morale of the military and promptly many in its ranks to threaten mutiny.

That may or may not have contributed to the failures that we have witnessed today, but it certainly won’t help the response.

For the last weeks, the talk has been of peace – both Israel and Saudi Arabia sounding optimistic about the chances of a historic detente.

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Video seems to show Hamas paragliding over border

But the prospects of peace breaking out between the Saudi custodians of the two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina, and the occupiers of the third, Al Aqsa in the city Muslims call Al Quds, will have deeply alarmed many and made the situation more febrile and volatile.

The talk of Saudi-Israeli peace was also a threat to the influence of Iran, whose relations with Hamas have rarely been better.

That will undoubtedly have been a factor in making this happen. The Palestinian operation was multipronged and well-planned.

The fear is there is more to come, and a divided Israel caught with its guard down is not ready to see off the threat.


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