Let me say ahead of my remarks that Michal and I are fine at this time. We’ve spent time in our bomb shelter when sirens clamored, but Kfar Saba was spared any direct hits. I went shopping this morning. The only stores open in the small mall near us were the supermarket, the pharmacy, and a kiosk. Gyms are closed, appointments are canceled, and the streets are quiet. We’re waiting with anticipation for the destruction or near-destruction of the terrorist group Hamas, which was never considered by our leaders before. Instead, the army’s past, purely defensive and reactive actions were described as “mowing the lawn.” In my opinion, and I seem to have been correct, not eliminating a small problem soon results in a big problem. Our leaders seemed to think that Hamas was mainly deterred, but Hamas made fools of us by their devastating surprise offensive.
What irony! In the run up to the 50th anniversary of the devastating Yom Kippur surprise attack, no government or military official suspected a copycat attack? Even though, just like before, it fell on a Shabbat+holiday? Worse, it appears that such an attack was not even war-gamed, judging from the delayed reaction by the military for about 5 hours! Israelis were left wondering, “Where is the IDF reaction? Where is the prime minister?” Then, “When is the IDF counter attack?” Truly, our leaders were not prepared, even after there were innumerable articles and videos dissecting the 1973 Yom Kippur War and pointing out the hubris following the 1967 Six Day War. That feeling of superiority over the Arab enemies after the Six Day War resulted in the insufficient preparedness when Egyptian and Syrian armies crossed our borders in 1973.
Aaron David Miller, a Middle East analyst and longtime Washington fixture currently with the Carnegie Endowment, noted Israeli leaders’ “overconfidence and complacency and unwillingness to imagine that Hamas could launch a cross-border attack like this.” Even I, no Washington “expert,” recently said that it might take a war to bring Israel back to its senses. But I didn’t imagine an attack that surpasses 9/11 in its pain and significance.
How so? The US has 35 times Israel’s population of 10 million. The 400 or more Israeli deaths X 35 is 14,000 dead, which far outweighs the 3,000 poor souls who were victims of Islamic terrorism on 9/11. In addition there is the horrible fact that about 50 Israeli men, women, and children were kidnapped to Gaza and thousands of rockets fell, and are still falling, in Israel’s south and center (even some in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem).
This morning a close friend called to tell me: an acquaintance from Glasgow has been abducted; a “lone soldier” (who has a room in a house for soldiers without families in Israel) whose laundry was being washed by a volunteer, was killed; and while he was talking, he heard that a neighbor’s son also was killed. In Israel, war and terror casualties are so personal. Nearly every casualty is just a distance of one or two degrees. And just now we received the news that a fellow synagogue members’ grandson was killed in action.
Yesterday, after many hours of Israel under attack, Prime Minister Netanyahu finally addressed the nation and announced that Hamas and even Gazan civilians will soon learn the consequences of the terrorists’ miscalculation. As respected Israeli journalist Haviv Rettig Gur avers, a strong Israel may tolerate a belligerent Hamas on its border; a weaker one cannot. By this attack, Israel’s strength was shown to be somewhat of a facade. “A safe Israel can spend much time and resources worrying about the humanitarian fallout from a Gaza ground war; a more vulnerable Israel cannot. A wounded, weakened Israel is a fiercer Israel. Hamas was once a tolerable threat. It just made itself an intolerable one, all while convincing Israelis they are too vulnerable and weak to respond with the old restraint.” (https://www.timesofisrael.com/a-wounded-weakened-israel-is-a-fiercer-one/)
Now fierce battles are ongoing in the Gaza border area, along with airstrikes within Gaza. The many casualties in Israel so far are more than 90% civilians. A massive call-up of reserve forces is happening and the shoe has not yet dropped on the populace in Gaza. We pray for Israel’s imminent victory and the destruction of Gaza’s terrorist regime.