Brandon Marlon
One of the People

Top 7 Lessons of 10/7

"The Cry of the Kidnapped", by artist Benzi Bronfman, painted to raise awareness of the urgency of freeing the hostages. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
"The Cry of the Kidnapped", by artist Benzi Bronfman, painted to raise awareness of the urgency of freeing the hostages. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
  1. Solve Problems Sooner When They Are Smaller, or Be Overwhelmed by Them Later When They Are Larger

Hamas was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and half a dozen other militant Islamists in 1987 as an offshoot of the Palestinian Arab branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. It had been terrorizing the State of Israel for 36 years, and had murdered and wounded hundreds of Israelis, by the time 10/7 occurred.

Before the Israel-Hamas War, the terrorist group was estimated to have 30,000–40,000 members. Had Israel confronted Hamas in earnest in the late 1980s, when the group’s membership numbered in the dozens, or the scores, or the hundreds—instead of the tens of thousands—and before they had advanced rockets and missiles courtesy of the Iranian regime and a sophisticated underground tunnel system courtesy of international funding, Hamas could have been eradicated swiftly and with minimal Israeli losses.

Smaller problems that are not dealt with early on have an uncanny way of evolving over time into larger problems that pose serious challenges to those tasked with confronting them at a later stage, and at a far greater cost.

  1. Flaunting Internal Divisions Invites External Attacks

Israel was riled by judicial reform protests for some 10 months immediately prior to 10/7. The sheer hysteria and histrionics engendered by the intended rebalancing of power amid the branches of government—which had been favored in the past even by some among the proposed legislation’s leading opponents—was so egregious, excessive, and extreme that Israel’s enemies salivated at an irresistible opportunity freely presented to them and calibrated their attack plans to capitalize on the divisiveness within the Israeli populace.

On average, about 200,000 Israeli protesters (and often only half as many) gathered publicly to oppose the judicial reform, out of a national population of approximately 9.5 million—merely 2.11% of the population. Put otherwise, on average 98% of Israelis did not publicly protest the government’s agenda, yet the protests were routinely characterized in the global media as “massive”—not merely in terms of the number of individuals in regular attendance but in terms of the proportion of Israelis up in arms—and the country was plunged into a prolonged state of disarray thanks to the nihilistic havoc on highways and in the streets, met by a notably tepid response from local law enforcement.

Naturally, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and their sinister paymasters in Tehran observed this manufactured chaos closely, and doubtless with no small measure of glee. Israel’s adversaries knew full well that a house divided—even seemingly if not actually—cannot stand, so plans were operationalized to take advantage of the anarchy on display in a distracted and weakened Israel.

  1. Learn from Your Historical Failures, or Prepare to Repeat Them

10/7 was about 50 years to the day that Israel last suffered a “surprise” disaster, namely the Yom Kippur War of October 1973. In that costly fiasco, Israel’s leadership—including Prime Minister Golda Meir, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, and IDF Chief of Staff David Elazar—learned somewhat in advance that Egypt and Syria, and their coalition of allies, were up to no good, but ordered only a partial call-up of Israeli reservists at the last minute and, unlike in the Six-Day War of 1967, obdurately refused to preemptively strike the menacing Arab forces readying for war. All the signs of an imminent attack were detected, warnings were received, yet Israel balked for fear of being blamed for initiating hostilities. A staggering 2,691 IDF soldiers perished in those 18 days of war, and an unthinkable catastrophe was only narrowly averted.

No astonishing powers of imagination should have been required for Israel’s political apparat and security establishment to foresee that the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War might seem a tempting date for Israel’s sworn enemies to launch another surprise attack. Since 1967, evidently, Israel’s glaring problem has been not so much an absence of military intelligence but a worrisome unwillingness to act upon the gathered military intelligence in a timely and decisive manner.

  1. Trust the Testimony of Your Senses

In the lead-up to 10/7, Israel became aware of Hamas’ blueprint for a major attack—according to some reports, as early as one year in advance—at some unspecified date, but assessed that Hamas lacked the capability to implement its complex, aspirational plans and was deterred from attempting to do so. Three weeks prior to 10/7, the IDF’s Military Intelligence Unit 8200 compiled a report on Hamas’ training but senior commanders reportedly ignored it; this detailed document was followed by an urgent warning message internally emailed by an operator from Unit 8200, mere days before the brutal massacre, but again nothing was done by senior military officials. And according to Egyptian intelligence officials and U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Israel was alerted three days in advance of an impending attack, which went unheeded due to institutional complacency and alternative security priorities in Judea & Samaria.

While a formal and official commission of inquiry still needs to determine the full truth of the matter, several accounts and reports indicate that Israel saw and heard everything it needed to in order to prepare and prevent Hamas’ planned assault, yet nonetheless the country was caught off guard and its defenders were asleep at the switch, with devastating consequences.

On that Black Sabbath (which was also the Jewish holiday Shmini Atzeret), a deadly debacle and the worst attack on the State of Israel in its 75-year history and on Jewry since the Holocaust, 1,068 Israelis (695 civilians, 373 security personnel) and 71 foreign nationals perished, and a further 251 Israelis and foreigners were abducted as hostages, many of whom were murdered while in captivity in the Gaza Strip.

  1. Provide for Your Own Defense Needs, Lest Undependable “Allies” Deprive You of Them in Your Hour of Need

The State of Israel possesses several homegrown defense companies—including the world-class Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, and Elbit Systems—that provide sophisticated military weaponry and technologies to the IDF and other customers. Yet Israel is still overreliant upon America and other countries for key elements of its defense, such as F-35I Adir fighter jets and the replenishment of Tamir interceptors for the Iron Dome.

In the current conflict, the Biden administration has refused Israel certain precision-guided munitions for the IDF’s crucial Rafah offensive, and in 2024 prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu privately and publicly complained of such refusals and/or delays in the shipment of ordnance, which impede Israel’s ability to defeat Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and to achieve its stated war aims.

At such times one cannot help but wonder, for instance, whether Israel’s cancellation of the program to develop the Lavi—a single-engined fourth-generation multirole fighter jet domestically developed by Israel Aircraft Industries in the 1980s—was the right call after all. One wonders as well, for example, why Italy, at war with no other country, possesses two aircraft carriers despite their associated expenses, and why Israel, with whom half the Middle East is at war, has none.

If so-called allies during peacetime prove to be more akin to frenemies during wartime, then more lives are lost and wars are prolonged. America’s ursine embrace during the Israel-Hamas War has seemed to many observers to exemplify the untrustworthiness of superpowers that can withhold at their pleasure essential support and hamper the efforts of allies fighting for their survival.

Clearly, Israel’s security situation demands a domestic military industry that can meet all of its own needs, particularly during an enduring and acute crisis. Alliances and partnerships are important, but ultimately there is no substitute for self-reliance.

  1. National Sovereignty—or the Absence Thereof—Is Revealed During a Crisis

Is Israel a sovereign and independent nation? Present events have shown the answer to be less than straightforward.

If Israel is sovereign, and not a vassal, why did it succumb to intensive American pressure to prioritize humanitarian aid for a hostile population of noncombatants in the Gaza Strip—in lieu of rescuing Israeli hostages and eliminating Hamas terrorists—and to delay for several months its critical Rafah offensive so that Hamas had ample time to boobytrap every inch of the city, thereby guaranteeing more dead Israeli soldiers when the offensive finally occurred?

If Israel is sovereign, and not a client state, why did U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attend a meeting of Israel’s war cabinet and dictate tactics and operations for prosecuting the war? Do Israeli foreign ministers ever sit in on Pentagon meetings and micromanage how the United States Armed Forces ought to conduct their military campaigns?

If Israel is sovereign, and not a protectorate, why has it allowed America’s domestic political considerations—i.e., Joe Biden’s re-election prospects—to factor into its calculus and jeopardize its urgent security requirements?

Naturally, a country consults its allies and specifically its sponsors, but a sovereign and independent nation knows when to stand its ground and to act in accordance with its own national interests, and there is no national interest greater than securing the lives and safety of its citizenry.

  1. Common Sense, Not Delusional “Conceptions”

Bloodthirsty terrorist groups perched on your borders and implacably committed to your destruction launch attacks against you with regularity over a period of several decades. Gradually and continuously, they augment their capacity through international funding and authoritarian/totalitarian rule, amassing stockpiles of weapons, recruiting and training terrorists, constructing a vast underground tunnel network, embedding themselves amid civilian areas and edifices to coopt noncombatants as human shields, crushing internal dissent, and planning an array of cynical tactics for media campaigns to dupe gullible rubes, persuade world opinion, and win support from respected international bodies.

All this you are well aware of and quite used to. But because of your prevailing ideology, you refuse to accept things as they truly are and choose to act according to your fixed “conceptions” instead of obvious reality. Blinded psychologically by the way you wish things were, you ignore and discount what is evident for all with eyes to see.

Until one day, when reality strikes back.

Suddenly you open your eyes and clear your mind; lo and behold, you recognize that your enemies meant what they said, that their hatred was deep-seated, that their training was for a purpose, and that in fact they have no other reason for being aside from murdering as many of you as they can, however they can, whenever they can, as often as they can.

Common sense should have told you all of this long ago, you concede, albeit reluctantly; if only those misleading “conceptions” hadn’t obscured the plain truth, which has been right there all along. It turns out that “conceptions” are no match for common sense, nor is fantasy for truth, ideology for reality, feelings for facts. This, you realize, is what they call a rude awakening.

Those tasked with preserving the safety and security of others cannot afford to lack common sense, because lives are on the line. The nation itself is at stake.

The way forward for Israelis as individuals and for Israel as a nation-state begins with a commonsense approach to dealing with its existential foes.

Something worth thinking about.

About the Author
Brandon Marlon is an award-winning Canadian-Israeli author whose writing has appeared in 300+ publications in 33 countries. He is the author of two poetry volumes, Inspirations of Israel: Poetry for a Land and People and Judean Dreams, and two historical reference works, Essentials of Jewish History: Jewish Leadership Across 4,000 Years and its companion volume Essentials of the Land of Israel: A Geographical History.
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