The October 7, 2023 Hamas assault on Israel was the deadliest day for Jews since the end of the Holocaust, and the deadliest day in Israel’s history. Over 1,400+ individuals were murdered, raped, and burned alive. On top of that, Hamas terrorists that infiltrated the Israel-Gaza border abducted more than 200 individuals and brought them back into the Gaza Strip. Currently, the threat of a retaliatory invasion of the Gaza Strip is causing a humanitarian crisis. A full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip still looms but is likely to happen, and it would likely have major geographical, political, and military consequences. Militarily and politically, the Israel-Hamas war will have widespread regional and international implications for many years. If Hamas is removed from power in the Gaza Strip, Israel would have to reoccupy Gaza. That has been deemed a “big mistake” by President Biden.
Another threat is Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah has fired rockets into northern Israeli communities, and because of that, the threat of a full-scale regional war is very real. Hezbollah and Hamas are two of the top three richest terrorist organizations in the world, with the third being the Taliban. Hezbollah and Hamas are also proxies of Iran, meaning that they receive funding from Iran, and Iran has been deemed to be the top funder of terrorism worldwide.
In his 2022 biography, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “After destroying the Hamas regime, Israel would have to govern two million Gazans for an indefinite period. I had no intention of doing that…” On top of that, Palestinian leadership also hasn’t changed in nearly 20 years. After Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections, it came as a complete shock. The rival Fatah party tried to take down Hamas, but it was unsuccessful, and Hamas succeeded in driving Fatah out of Gaza. There has not been a single election held since. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is also 88 years old, making age another concern. Abbas has been ruling the Palestinian Authority since 2005, and Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, with a huge backing of support. After a rare protest against Hamas in Gaza earlier this year, Hamas censored ordinary Palestinians and journalists within the Gaza Strip. There is no freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or freedom of religion within the Gaza Strip under Hamas.
While Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, the rival Fatah party rules in the West Bank and fears that Hamas could take over the West Bank after Mahmoud Abbas dies could be real. Over the past few days, Israel has arrested several Hamas members in the West Bank and uncovered a terror tunnel in the West Bank city of Jenin.
After Israel gave up the Gaza Strip in 2005, there have been multiple rounds of bloodshed and escalation followed by periods of “economic peace,” in which Gazans could work and receive medical treatment in Israel. This is not one of those times, and after the horrifying images of Hamas infiltration and torture, those special privileges are unlikely to continue. Situations that almost seemed impossible just days ago could become reality: Israel temporarily reoccupying Gaza, the return of the Palestinian Authority to the area, international peacekeepers, or a demilitarized Hamas still holding government power. However, what will replace it is still impossible to determine, and Israeli officials are not ready to publicly discuss the possibilities of the aftermath.
Regardless of whether Israel succeeds in removing Hamas from power in the Gaza Strip, the current state of the Israel-Hamas conflict also underscores the presence of significant flaws within Israeli intelligence, which have played a pivotal role in the nation’s lack of preparedness for the grim reality unfolding in the region. These shortcomings, rooted in intelligence gathering, analysis, and interpretation, have contributed to a situation where Israel could find itself ill-equipped to effectively navigate the complexities of the ongoing conflict.
Additionally, deficiencies in the analysis of socio-political factors within the Palestinian territories have further compounded the problem. Understanding the sentiments, grievances, and aspirations of the Palestinian population is crucial for crafting nuanced and effective policies. Failure to grasp the complex interplay of historical, cultural, and economic factors has hindered Israel’s ability to engage in meaningful dialogue and conflict resolution efforts, prolonging the cycle of violence and unrest. Inaccurate information, misinterpretation of data, and gaps in understanding the evolving dynamics of the Palestinian territories, especially in the Gaza Strip, have hampered Israel’s ability to anticipate and adequately respond to the challenges posed by Hamas and other militant groups. These flaws in the intelligence apparatus have not only impeded the formulation of proactive strategies but have also left the nation vulnerable to sudden escalations and attacks, catching Israeli military forces by surprise.
Other contributing factors are shifting dynamics in the Middle East and cautious diplomacy within Israel itself. Within 3 years, Israel managed to make peace with 4 Arab neighbors via the Abraham Accords, and it infuriated Palestinians. On another note, Israel’s ongoing judicial crisis has sent the country into massive protests, and the situation could even affect Israel’s military readiness. Many Israeli tech entrepreneurs have also vowed to take their companies elsewhere in the wake of the ongoing judicial crisis, while 28% of Israelis have weighed moving.
Repeated warnings about a major catastrophe planned by Hamas have been ignored for years, especially within the past year in the wake of the ongoing judicial crisis.
While intelligence failures and divided politics have impaled Israel, terrorism and war remain the top concern for every Israeli. Finally, we must recognize that this is a humanitarian war and not one of conflict. Antisemitism and terrorism must be condemned and the hostages must be freed in order to achieve a ceasefire.