This was the doomsday scenario we drilled in IDF military exercises over the last decade and a half: terrorists infiltrate Israel en masse, take over entire Israeli towns, kill civilians and take others hostage for later negotiations. Incessant rocket fire, chaos and fog-of-war on the Israeli side.
This scenario played out exactly today – the only difference was the military scenario envisioned Hezbollah attacking from the north, not Hamas from Gaza. No one thought Hamas had such capacity, especially with the intelligence coverage by Israel’s Shabak and IDF Intelligence.
But it happened. We are in the first hours of what will be a long war. The scope of the blow will become clear in the next days, but already it is clear that there are over a hundred Israelis dead – both civilian and soldiers – and, worse, Israelis taken hostage in Gaza.
A few initial points:
- This was a colossal intelligence and operational failure of the IDF and the security services. Not only did the incursion come as a total surprise, but the border barrier and other means of sealing off the Gaza Strip collapsed.
- Israel is at war. Tens of thousands of reservists are being called up now. There is a real danger Hezbollah may join the war, and that would turn this into one of Israel’s greatest wars.
- Israel will have to conquer large parts of Gaza – both to restore its deterrence (otherwise Hezbollah will be tempted to attack Israel in a similar fashion in the future), and as leverage for the release of Israeli hostages.
- The international public opinion, initially sympathetic to Israel, will sour soon — with days, or a week or two — especially as Israel deepens its operation in Gaza. Jewish communities abroad should be prepared for an onslaught of hate in the coming month.
- The disunity in Israel created by the legislative overhaul weakened Israel’s deterrence and likely played a role in Hamas’ calculation to attack. Separately, talks of peace with Saudi Arabia may also have put pressure on Hamas and the axis of evil led by Iran to launch war in an effort to torpedo normalization that would have left them isolated in the Arab and Muslim world.
These words written now will soon become stale. The region will change after this war in ways we can’t know. There will be many dead.
In the end, Israel will prevail. For now we need your prayers.