Contrary to what many Israelis are saying, and while the army was clearly caught completely off guard by this invasion, this is not a “unilateral” or “unprovoked” attack. The dread Israelis are feeling right now, myself included, is a sliver of what Palestinians have been feeling on a daily basis under the decades-long military regime in the West Bank, and under the siege and repeated assaults on Gaza. The responses we are hearing from many Israelis today — of people calling to “flatten Gaza,” that “these are savages, not people you can negotiate with,” “they are murdering whole families,” “there’s no room to talk with these people” — are exactly what I have heard occupied Palestinians say about Israelis countless times.
The attack this morning also has more recent contexts. One of them is the looming horizon of a normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel. For years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been making the case that peace can be achieved without talking to Palestinians or making any concessions. The Abraham Accords have stripped Palestinians of one of their last bargaining chips and support bases: the solidarity of Arab governments, despite that solidarity having long been questionable. The high likelihood of losing perhaps the most important of those Arab states may well have helped push Hamas to the edge.
Meanwhile, commentators have been warning for weeks that recent escalations in the occupied West Bank are leading to dangerous paths. Throughout the past year, more Palestinians and Israelis have been killed than in any other year since the Second Intifada of the early 2000s. The Israeli army is routinely raiding into Palestinian cities and refugee camps. The far-right government is giving settlers an entirely free hand to set up new illegal outposts and launch pogroms on Palestinian towns and villages, with soldiers accompanying the settlers and killing or maiming Palestinians trying to defend their homes. Amid the high holidays, Jewish extremists are challenging the “status quo” around the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, backed by politicians who share their ideology.
In Gaza, meanwhile, the ongoing siege is continuously destroying the lives of over two million Palestinians, many of whom are living in extreme poverty, with little access to clean water and about four hours of electricity a day. This siege has no official endgame; even an Israeli State Comptroller report found that the government has never discussed long-term solutions to ending the blockade, nor seriously considered any alternatives to recurring rounds of war and death. It is literally the only option this government, and its predecessors, have on the table. [Continue reading…]
Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel, on the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war, will be remembered as an intelligence failure for the ages.
In the space of several hours, dozens of Gaza militants broke through the border fence into southern Israel, surprising local military positions.
Gunmen kidnapped and murdered Israelis in the southern border communities, filming their assault as they advanced in numerous locations. In one instance, a Gaza television journalist delivered a standup report about one attack from inside Israel, an almost unthinkable moment.
While the images of several thousand rockets sectoring the sky has become familiar over the years during the periodic upticks in fighting around Gaza, the footage of Hamas assault teams moving through the streets in communities such as Sderot, blowing the gates off a kibbutz and firing on passing cars and pedestrians, showed scenes not witnessed by most Israelis, for whom short-lived attacks in cities have become a fact of life.
If it is surprising it is because Israel’s surveillance of Palestinian society is both highly sophisticated and highly invasive, with monitoring of Hamas’s activity in particular one of the most important tasks for the security establishment. [Continue reading…]
Hamas’s objectives in the operation are no secret: First, retaliate and punish Israel for its occupation, oppression, illegal settlement, and desecration of Palestinian religious symbols, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem; second, take aim at Arab normalisation with Israel that embraces its apartheid regime in the region; and lastly, secure another prisoner exchange in order to get as many Palestinian political prisoners released from Israeli jails as possible.
It is worth recalling that Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya al-Sinwar, who spent more than two decades in Israeli prison, was released in a prisoner exchange. Mohammed Deif, the head of Hamas military arm, like many other Palestinians, lost loved ones to Israeli violence – an infant son, a three-year-old daughter and his wife. Therefore, there is also a clearly a punitive and vengeful aspect to the operation.
In that sense, the attack may have been incredibly shocking, but it was hardly surprising.
Hubris has finally caught up with Israel and its arrogant leaders, who long thought themselves invincible and repeatedly underestimated their enemies. Since the “surprise” Arab attack of October 1973, successive Israeli leaders have been shocked and awed, again and again, by what the people they oppressed have been capable of. [Continue reading…]
Republican 2024 presidential candidates blamed the Biden administration for the attacks Hamas terrorists launched against Israel on Saturday, pointing to the deadly developments as evidence of U.S. weakness on the world stage and claiming that the administration is partially responsible.
Several of them insisted, without evidence, that the U.S. funded these attacks by suggesting that $6 billion in oil revenue that the Biden administration recently unfroze as a result of a prisoner exchange with Iran, which has historically funded Hamas, was used to carry them out.
“These Hamas attacks are a disgrace and Israel has every right to defend itself with overwhelming force. Sadly, American taxpayer dollars helped fund these attacks, which many reports are saying came from the Biden Administration,” former President Donald Trump said in a statement. [Continue reading…]
Jennifer Griffin at Fox News tweets:
Those who are saying that this $6 billion that was part of the American hostage release negotiated by the Biden administration likely fueled the Hamas invasion are missing some key facts….None of the money has been spent yet. It remains in a Qatari bank under US Treasury watch.
— Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) October 7, 2023