Dan Ehrlich

Arrogance of Power: Underestimating the Enemy

As IDF casualty figures rise in the Hamas War, along with masses of Palestinian civilian deaths, it strains the imagination how a massive above-ground and underground terrorist military complex could have been built within earshot of Israeli authorities.

For most of the years since Israel abandoned the Gaza Strip the nation has been ruled by the right-wing tough-talking Likud coalition of PM Bibi Netanyahu. And as much as he uses the war to deflect attention from the historic screw-up that lead to October 7, it doesn’t change the fact that his government bears the responsibility for the war and its growing human tragedy..

So how could Israel’s legendary security services and the military be so blinded by a Hamas operation that was two years in the planning, and where Egypt reportedly warned Israel of the attack days before it happened? Yet, no alert was issued, and no warning was given.

Hamas had a dummy Israeli village built for practice attacks. They were practicing on hang gliders and taking photos of security equipment. Weren’t these at all suspicious?

When all is said and done, it probably comes down to a belief that Hamas didn’t have the brainpower for such a well-executed attack. This fits in with Bibi and his ultra-frum cronies’ disdain for Arabs.

Yet, aside from the alleged warning from Egypt, others had predicted a future Hamas attack. Among them was Yigal Carmon, the director of the Middle East Media Research Institute. He published an article in late August warning of an autumn war.

He predicted there would be many casualties on the Israeli side and escalate towards a “regional war with several fronts”.

Thankfully that hasn’t happened, yet, possibly because of the American naval fleet offshore. But, you can bet the Hezbollah fanatics are itching to join the war.

So where did Israel go wrong?

It began when Israel decided Gaza wasn’t worth the tsuris likely to be caused by having Israelis and Palestinians living in close proximity. So, Israel gifted the strip to the nascent Palestinian Authority, in a power-sharing deal between Fatah and Hamas. Bad move No. 1.

But as often is the case in the Arab world, the two refused to work together with Hamas sending Fatah packing back to the West Bank after a five-day war between the two, leaving Hamas in control of Gaza. Bad move No. 2.

Now, for the coupe de grace: Bad move No. 3. Instead of militarily backing the PA over Hamas, Israel did nothing, figuring it was good having a divided Palestinian nation in waiting, disunited.

So, how did that work out?

The war with Hamas will likely end with Israel back before its first bad move, in control of Gaza. This time it should return the strip to the PA with security guarantees in place to prevent Iranian proxies from gaining a foothold there.

Oh, and Israel must help the Arabs rebuild and resettle the bombed-out Gaza City, hopefully transforming it into a commercially thriving economic zone.

About the Author
A London based American journalist with a long wide ranging career spanning print, radio TV and online news.