Firing about 5,000 rockets at Israel, Hamas militants have launched an unprecedented, multi-front attack at the land regarded by Jews, Christians and Muslims as the biblical Holy Land. Within its Old City, the Temple Mount complex includes the Dome of the Rock shrine, the historic Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Nobody thought the terrorists would be bold enough to launch an invasion against the “Land of Israel”, let alone infiltrated the heavily fortified border in several locations by air, land and sea. The massive number of rockets had overwhelmed Israel’s Iron Dome Defence Shield, while the storming of Hamas gunmen caught the country off guard on a major holiday.
On the first day alone (Saturday, Oct-7), at least 250 people were killed and 1,500 wounded as Hamas terrorists rampaged through Israeli towns – the deadliest in 50 years. The security breach was not only a humiliation, but threatens the very existence of Israel in the Middle East. Before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could even declare war, the Israeli Air Force had already retaliated.
This is not a conflict or “a special military operation” seen when Russian president Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in Feb 2022. More than 100 Israeli and foreign national hostages, including women and children, have been taken into Gaza by Hamas – suggesting that the bombardment of Israel was not only a coordinated attack, but a well planned strategy to capture Israeli citizens.
The Jews’ fierce retaliation saw at least 232 people in the Gaza Strip were killed and 1,700 wounded in Israeli strikes. PM Netanyahu swiftly declared that Israel is at “WAR”, pledging “mighty vengeance” against Hamas. He also warned that the terror group would be held responsible for the safety of the captives and said Israel would settle the score with anyone who harmed them.
Under “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm”, Hamas terrorists used explosives and bulldozers to break through the border fence enclosing Gaza, and then crossed with motorcycles, pickup trucks, paragliders and speed boats on the coast. In counteroffensive, The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched “Operation Iron Swords”, bombing a number of strategic targets in the Gaza Strip.
By Tuesday (Oct-10), the death toll surpassed 1,500. The Israeli death toll has risen to 900, including 44 soldiers and 260 young civilians who attended a music festival – the country’s worst losses since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. In Gaza, at least 687 deaths were reported. But the war has just begun. And when Israel promises vengeance, not even the ISIS terror group dared take lightly.
In a show of its military prowess, Israeli airstrikes in Gaza had flattened buildings, including a 14-story tower that was believed to be Hamas offices in central Gaza City. Before the bombardment, Netanyahu had issued a warning to an Gaza residents to leave – “All the places that Hamas hides in, operates from, we will turn them into ruins. Get out of there now”.
Israel forces have also mobilized a mind-boggling 300,000 troops and reservists plus tanks and armoured personnel carriers near the border with Gaza – suggest they were preparing for a ground assault on the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu has told Israelis to prepare for a long war that will shift to “offensive” operations soon, indicating that Israel’s objective is to end Hamas military capabilities.
Still, the burning question is, from where did Hamas get its arsenal of thousands of rockets, if not Iran? Iran has been supplying truckloads of cheap missiles to its proxy Hamas to overwhelm Israel’s defence. In fact, this is not the first time Hamas had unleashed rockets. In May 2021, Hamas and other militant groups fired some 2,900 rockets, including ballistic missiles, into Israel.
Iran has been using Hamas to test the vulnerability of the Israeli military’s cutting edge air defences – the Iron Dome, Arrow 3, Barack 8 and David’s Sling. While the Iron Dome is used to knock down short-range missiles from the Gaza Strip, the Arrow-3, launched in 2017, forms the uppermost layer of Israel’s multi-layered defence system to shoot down ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) outside the atmosphere.
As compared to Iron Dome missile, which costs between US$40,000 and US$100,000 a pop, each rocket fired by Hamas was between US$1,000 and US$5,000. Iran is also using the Israel-Palestine conflict as a testing ground to improve speed, accuracy and range of its rockets and missiles. Tehran wanted to find out the breaking point of the Iron Dome, which reportedly has 90% interception efficiency.
But where did Hamas’ sponsor, Iran, get the money? Look no further than the United States. Thanks to “Sleepy Joe”, Iranian assets worth over US$6 billion were unfrozen recently, thus allowing Iran – a staunch rival of Israel – to fill its coffers and to fund the terror group. In a deal to release five U.S. citizens detained in Iran, the clueless and incompetent President Biden agreed to free up the money held in South Korea.
The US$6 billion was then transferred to an account in Doha, Qatar. Of course, the Biden administration denies that the money was payment to release the American hostages. It has claimed that it was payments made by South Korea to Iran to buy oil in recent years. At the same time, however, the White House contradicted and said the money in Doha is meant to be used for solely humanitarian purposes.
Interestingly, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has said his country would spend the money “wherever we need it”. Clearly, the Oval Office lies through its teeth as it could not get its story straight about the prisoner deal. The State Department has previously said that Iran provides some US$100 million a year to Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
It’s not hard to understand why Hamas had chosen to invade Israel at dawn during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. Not only death and destruction in Israel will boast the terror group’s popularity within the Muslim world, but it will also humiliate the Israeli’s so-called impenetrable territory. The attacks would represent a massive security and intelligence failure.
More importantly, taking a page from Washington’s playbook, the mission was to capture as many Israel people as possible. The Palestinian terror group plans to use the captured Israelis to strike a deal for the release of Palestinians in Israel’s prisons. If Joe Biden willingly gave away US$6 billion in exchange for 5 Americans, just imagine how much Hamas could extract from Israel.
To get an idea how valuable Israel prisoner is, an Israeli soldier – Gilad Shalit – was exchanged for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in 2006. Today, the number of Palestinians behind Israeli bars is about 5,200, including 36 women and 170 children. Hamas bets Israel will be more than happy to exchange 100 of its people with all the Palestinian prisoners.
At the same time, Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah were concerned about Biden administration’s effort in brokering a normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the most powerful and wealthiest Arab state. By sparking a new war with Israel to sabotage the peace plan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its allies in the region will be forced to take sides.
But Hamas had made the biggest mistake – killing 900 Israelis indiscriminately. This makes negotiations complicated. Additionally, the previous unfair exchange of one Israeli soldier with 1,000 Palestinian prisoners had drawn criticism even among Israelis. It has set a dangerous precedence, as proven on Saturday when it emboldened Hamas to hold 100 Israeli hostages, including high-ranking army officials.
The hostages included those from Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Paraguay, Nepal, Thailand, Germany, Britain and the U.S., among others. Worse, the State Department revealed that at least 11 American citizens have been slaughtered by the Hamas terrorists. In addition, 12 Thais, 10 Nepalis, 2 Ukrainians, a French, a British, a Cambodian and some Germans have been killed.
Essentially, Hamas – biting off more than it can chew – has declared war on many countries. To show support for Israel, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to move to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has labeled the attack on Israel as a “terrorist attack by a terrorist organization.”
Therefore, it begs the question – was there really a sudden breakdown in the Israeli intelligence service? It’s hard to believe that Israel did not take seriously Hamas’ threat after the terrorists fired 2,900 rockets back in 2021. Even if its invincible intelligence somehow malfunctioned and its surveillance drones were on holiday, the U.S. military intelligence would have picked up chatter about the invasions prior.
After all, for nearly a year prior, the U.S. and Western officials saw the signs of Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Pentagon also knew how the head of the Wagner mercenary force, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was assassinated after his plane crashed. Chances are both Israel and the U.S. knew about Hamas’ plan to launch the massive attacks, but kept quiet and allowed it to happen.
Israel has its own geopolitical reason to start a war with Hamas. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that Tel-Aviv was looking forward to Hamas’ attacks. The leadership of Hamas has been inciting Arab Israeli citizens to fight back. More importantly, Tel-Aviv has been looking for opportunities to launch air strikes against Hamas bomb-making facilities and the homes of senior militant commanders.
Since the last major Israel-Palestine conflict in 2014, Hamas has built a massive network of underground tunnels to allow its militants to move across Gaza undetected by Israeli spy aircraft and surveillance cameras. Now that the world has watched how Hamas provoked Israel for a war by butchering unarmed women and children, Israel can legitimately enter Gaza to hunt and bomb the terror group to oblivion.
Domestically, PM Netanyahu, whose approval rating plunged to 38%, needed a new war to boost his popularity. Thanks to Hamas, he succeeded in using the Israel 9/11 to unify the country behind him as the Opposition declared their support. The citizens’ movements that have been opposing Netanyahu’s justice reform since January have also committed their support for the prime minister.
Overnight, he transformed from a failed prime minister to a wartime leader. By drawing Washington into the war, Israel may expand the war to include Iran, which directly support and sponsor Hamas. In the same breath, ahead of the presidential elections in 2024, Joe Biden has his own political reason to support and provide Israel with more arms and ammunition.
Facing a defeat in the Ukraine War, President Biden too needed a war to divert attention from its foreign policy failure, which has so far burned tens of billions of dollars in assistance to Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies could use the new conflict in the Middle East to quietly pull out assistance for Ukraine in order to save face. Zelensky might need to negotiate with Putin for a terrible deal.
Hamas might not get the prisoner exchange it had hoped for. In fact, Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, most likely won’t be able to govern the territory again as its strategic blunder will make it difficult to even ask for a negotiation, let alone for Biden telling Israel to stop bombing the terror group. It will cement Hamas as a terrorist group not only in Israel, but also globally.