It would be an understatement to say that Hamas’s attack on Israel caught everyone by surprise and was shocking in its scale and its brutality.
I’m not going to use this space to talk about Israel’s illegal activities in the Occupied Territories or about its violation of international laws, or about living conditions for the two million people trapped in Gaza: anyone who reads this site or others like it already know about those things.
Let’s just focus on Hamas and what happened at the weekend: and specifically the question of whether it was allowed to happen.
Additionally, there’s also the question of what Hamas is and what it truly represents in the Palestinian equation.
And while the impulse of some pro Palestinian voices is to throw a fist in the air and cheer for this apparent breaching of Israel’s sense of security (like this is a sports event), let’s get some perspective and face reality: Hamas, Islamic Jihad and co are terrorist groups with a murderous ideology.
It isn’t invested in the Palestinians’ future or in any viable solution to a generational crisis: it is an extremist faction that wants to annihilate Israel and create an Islamic state in Palestine.
And some of the actions of Hamas fighters and their cohorts this weekend were barbaric and inhuman: as befitting jihadist extremists. I have not looked at all the various images and videos that were quickly circulating online, as I avoid the clusterfuck of social media these days: I assume most were real and some were fake.
But the point is that the mix of fighters that crossed into Southern Israel clearly had no qualms about killing civilians, including children, or dragging hostages (including elderly women) back to Gaza to be paraded like trophies.
Again, there could be some misinformation circulating. For example, the story about the 40 beheaded babies has been cropping up a lot, but I haven’t seen a reliable source to help validate that particular story. It might be true, but might not be.
Even so, there’s no question that what Hamas and its allies did included outright massacres: and that the operation was never limited to military targets. It’s also something of a bitter irony that most of the young people massacred at the music festival on Saturday (a ‘peace and love’ festival, no less) were liberal and progressive Israelis, many of them probably sympathetic to Palestinians and many being opponents of the Israeli hard-right and the illegal settlements.
The Hamas-led fighters didn’t care: they just saw Jews.
These were war crimes. Israel has committed war crimes too, on multiple occasions and for many years. So let’s stop being childish and treating this like a story of Good Guys and Bad Guys: there are no good guys.
Just an endless fucking mess that Britain created in 1917 at the behest of the Zionist project: and an endless cycle of human suffering that has persisted ever since.
But the thing that mainstream news outlets and commentators continue to avoid discussing is that Hamas is not simply some inconvenient entity plaguing Israel: it is Israel’s enemy of *choice*.
And before addressing the October 7th attack itself, we need to briefly re-establish this fact as important context.
As I have laid out before, Hamas’s rise was largely facilitated by Israel’s intelligence community in the late 80s: its purpose being to help eliminate the secular Palestinian movement led by Yasser Arafat and destroy any peace plan or two-state solution, degenerating the Palestinian resistance instead into an extremist jihad with no international support.
Having covered that subject at length here previously, we don’t need to go over all that again. All of the evidence has been elaborated on: including direct quotes from Israeli military officials. I also discussed some of this in a podcast interview here.
The point being that Israel’s leaders and its intelligence community wanted Hamas. Where once was a secular political movement seeking a diplomatic solution and international mediation, there now instead was an extremist attack-dog driven by religious zeal and impossible to negotiate with.
Which gave Israel the permanent upper hand both in terms of international perception and in terms of being able to justify an ongoing push to the extreme right and to more and more flagrant violating of international law.
For all the talk of Iran’s backing of Hamas, Hamas also is and always has been Israel’s dog-on-a-leash. It’s the reason why the two state solution is dead. And the reason why the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank is now seen as a null and void entity.
In short, Hamas was created to destroy the Palestinian cause, end Palestinian hope and drag the notion of Palestinian statehood into an abyss.
With all of that established, an attack like the one we just saw is always on the cards. At least as far as Hamas’s intent goes: the grey area is when it comes to capabilities.
And that’s where the general narrative of last weekend’s events becomes problematic, even beyond the dynamics highlighted above. There is something about the narrative that seemingly doesn’t add up.
And that’s the idea that such a brazen breach of Israel’s border could’ve possibly occurred in the way that appears to have happened.
To put it into context, Israel’s border with Gaza is one of the most secure and surveilled borders on earth. A stray cat doesn’t get through from Gaza into Israeli territory without being picked up by security cameras or personnel.
Nothing goes in or out of Gaza without Israeli security being aware of it: including food or aid supplies. Everyone has seen the separation wall. Everyone knows the degree of control and containment the Gaza Strip is under. Everyone knows that Israeli security and intelligence operations are among the most meticulous – and the most preemptive – on the planet.
And with good reason: Israel is always under threat.
So it’s a little difficult to fathom how scores of Hamas operatives were able to breach the border in several places: and not only cross into Israel, but to go on a rampage for as long as they did, killing as many innocent people as they did and even taking hostages back into Gaza.
The rockets being fired into Israel, even with the Iron Dome, are one thing: an actual invasion and massacre on this scale is something else entirely. Taking military outposts by surprise is conceivable: but, in some reports from some locations, Israeli forces didn’t even reach Hamas fighters for almost 48 hours.
Maybe Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other co-conspirators were simply bold and got lucky. But how would they have known that Israeli security operations would be so lacklustre that morning?
It is argued that the religious observances, the nearness of Yom Kippur, etc, left Israeli forces lax and vulnerable. But isn’t that the same every year? Wouldn’t the religious period mean security considerations would be tighter than ever? And the fact that this operation was clearly meant to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the 1973 war should’ve meant an even more heightened attention to security.
So what happened?
To say the operation was brazen is an understatement: some of those guys flew in on hand-gliders, for God’s sake. Some had the time to drive bulldozers up to the border and break through that way. Hundreds of fighters got into Israel.
An operation like this had to have been planned for some time. It is hard to imagine that Israeli Intelligence, Mossad, Shin Bet, the military, etc, were all caught completely off-guard.
Especially for a state renowned for its intelligence operations, its preemptive actions, its infiltration and surveillance, etc.
In fact, Egypt claims to have warned the Israelis in advance that something like this was coming. And it was reported that Netanyahu shrugged off the warnings. According to the Times of Israel: ‘Mounting questions over Israel’s massive intelligence failure to anticipate and prepare for a surprise Hamas assault were compounded Monday when an Egyptian intelligence official said that Jerusalem had ignored repeated warnings that the Gaza-based terror group was planning “something big” — which included an apparent direct notice from Cairo’s intelligence minister to the prime minister…’
It continues: ‘Egypt’s Intelligence Minister General Abbas Kamel personally called Netanyahu only 10 days before the massive attack that Gazans were likely to do “something unusual, a terrible operation”…’
It adds that ‘Netanyahu denied receiving any such advance warning, saying in the course of an address to the nation Monday night that the story was “fake news.”’
Even the BBC was asking, with discernible incredulity, how Israel’s famously effective security operations could’ve possibly slipped up so badly and all at once. From this BBC report, for example: ‘Israel… has informants and agents inside Palestinian militant groups, as well as in Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere. It has, in the past, carried out precisely timed assassinations of militant leaders, knowing all their movements intimately. Sometimes these have been done with drone strikes, after agents have placed a GPS tracker on an individual’s car; sometimes in the past it has even used exploding mobile phones…’
It continues: ‘On the ground, along the tense border fence between Gaza and Israel there are cameras, ground-motion sensors and regular army patrols…’
Many Israelis horribly caught up in the horror were asking the same questions, with incredulity: what happened to our security services and military? Again, from the Times of Israel: ‘For Palestinians in Gaza, Israel’s eyes are never very far away. Surveillance drones buzz constantly in the skies. The highly secured border is awash with security cameras and soldiers on guard. Intelligence agencies work sources and cyber capabilities to draw out information… But Israel’s eyes appeared to have been closed in the lead-up to the surprise onslaught by the Hamas terror group…’
In the same article, a former national security adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu admits a major failure, but entirely declines to offer any explanation for it.
The question I’m building towards here, if it isn’t obvious by now, is whether elements of the Israeli state and security apparatus did know the attack was coming – and chose to allow it to unfold.
It’s interesting that officials in Israel have even referred to this ‘Operation Al Aqsa Flood’ as “Israel’s 9/11”: because that could be taken in different ways, depending on your view of 9/11.
There’s a specific term I came up with a few years ago in older articles (specifically about certain terror attacks in Europe): and it was ‘state-enabled terrorism’. This was to differentiate between false flag operations and something slightly different. ‘State-enabled terrorism’ is when real terrorists carry out real attacks, but have been allowed to do so – in some cases even helped to do so – by elements of the security or intelligence apparatus.
This being, in general, for political or geopolitical purposes.
Let’s recap some of the political backdrop in Israel.
The last several months of Israeli politics have been dominated by popular protests against Netanyahu and his extreme-right coalition, the attempts to alter the judicial system, and even the fact that Netanyahu was able to return to power despite the legal cases against him. This was going on as recently as September. Israeli society was divided.
This breach of the country’s security, the absolute horror story of what has been done to innocent Israeli citizens, the feeling of vulnerability and fear in the population… all of it might serve to galvanise the majority of the population behind the extreme-right: and at a time when that support and credibility might otherwise be at an all-time low.
If the hardliners in Israel now have carte-blanche to do whatever it deems necessary for the sake of Israel’s security and the sake of revenge against those who massacred civilians, then it isn’t hard to imagine why elements within Israel’s security state might allow an attack like this to occur.
Which isn’t to suggest that the entirety of Israel’s security or military establishment would be complicit: only parts of it. In fact, there has reportedly been division in military and security circles recently, largely due to Netanyahu’s actions and domestic politics.
But one would expect that all those Israelis who were protesting against the government will now either fall silent or be steamrolled over anyway by the scale and depth of general outrage and climate of (justified) fear that will now dominate Israel.
This might be motive enough for state-enabled terrorism. I’m not going to state outright that this is what I believe happened: but it is, in my opinion, a very credible possibility.
Because it is hard to imagine how Hamas and their friends pulled this off: or even thought they were going to pull this off.
None of that is any justification for what Hamas and its allies did: massacring civilians, taking children and the elderly by force, or showing off a half naked and barely conscious woman to onlookers as a trophy is what monsters do – regardless of any larger grievances.
Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and their associated operatives have shown the barbaric streak in their blood.
But, again, let’s come back to the elephant in the room: Hamas is Israel’s Frankenstein monster and chosen adversary. Israel had an internationally recognised opposition in Palestine that was interested in peace and compromise: and they instead empowered fundamentalist thugs to replace them and create an unresolvable vicious cycle of extremism and hate on both sides.
The brutal actions of Hamas and co will help get the majority of Israel’s population firmly behind the hardliners and whatever form the revenge will take: including those who were otherwise more sympathetic to the Palestinians and more critical of the government.
Parallel to this, the generation that has grown up under siege in Gaza and known no other life are easy recruits for further radicalisation by Hamas and co, thus ensuring the cycle of hate and grievance remains in perpetual motion.
One can only conclude that those who engineered Hamas’s hijacking of the Palestinian cause in the first place are getting what they want: irrespective of the blood and the human cost.
The sacrificial lambs, as ever, are innocent Palestinian and innocent Israeli civilians: both of which are at the mercy of radical lunatics with intractable agendas.
Wherever this goes now, whatever occurs next, it isn’t going to be good.