October 12, 2023 | New York Post

False hope and fracture kept Israel from seeing Hamas’ evil plan

October 12, 2023 | New York Post

False hope and fracture kept Israel from seeing Hamas’ evil plan

In the aftermath of the Hamas terrorist attack that left 1,300 dead, Israelis are shocked and saddened.

A war is imminent, and Hamas is not likely to survive it.

But when the dust settles, there will also be a reckoning within Israel. There was an intelligence failure. Perhaps more than one.

Recent reports suggest the Egyptian government passed intelligence to Israel indicating an attack was imminent.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) confirmed it Wednesday. This came two days after an Egyptian official told the Associated Press that Israel dismissed the warnings.

This sounds rather bad, of course.

But not all intelligence is created equal. Without knowing the source of the report or the specifics relayed, we can’t know if it was possible for Israel to process the information or act on it.

That said, Israel’s vaunted security services clearly failed in other ways. In the months leading up to the 10/7 attack, a dangerous consensus had formed in the Israeli bureaucracy that Gaza-based Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar was ready to reach an understanding with Israel that would lead to calm.

He appeared to have even convinced Israel that he sought to deliver more goods and services to the beleaguered people of Gaza.

Israel was cautiously optimistic about this, despite the fact Hamas was exporting violence to the West Bank, where its political rivals in the Palestinian Authority have struggled to maintain their grip on power.

Even then, the fact pattern seemed to reinforce the notion that Hamas no longer wished to invite disastrous wars upon the territory it controlled.

That was obviously all wrong.

“We made them think that Hamas was busy with governing Gaza, and that it wanted to focus on the 2.5 million Palestinians [in Gaza] and has abandoned the resistance altogether,” boasted senior Hamas official Ali Baraka on Oct. 8. “All the while, under the table, Hamas was preparing for this big attack.”

There are unconfirmed reports swirling now that a cyberattack disabled the high-tech system that enables Israel to monitor and secure the Gaza border.

Such an attack, if true, would represent another breakdown in the system. Israel’s cyber capabilities are some of the best in the world and are predicated on the country’s ability to anticipate attacks before they happen by operating inside enemy networks. That plainly didn’t happen here.

But perhaps the greatest blunder was the faulty assumption of the ruling coalition that the bitter domestic turmoil brought on by efforts to enact a judicial overhaul would not harm Israeli national security.

The massive demonstrations on the streets of Israel in recent months clearly took their toll. Iran and its client in Gaza certainly saw opportunity in the tumult, especially when Israelis began refusing to show up for their reserve duty.

To the full credit of the security services, officials warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israeli deterrence was eroding. The premier simply did not listen. A commission of inquiry will examine all this in due course.

The good news is that Israel has snapped out of it. The military and intelligence services are laser focused on their mission: destroying Hamas and deterring Iran and Hezbollah from joining the fray.

At the same time, the Israeli public has rallied around the tragedy of 10/7: 300,000 Israelis have been called up to serve their nation now led by an emergency unity government.

With world opinion squarely behind them, they await their orders for a battle that will soon begin.

Jonathan Schanzer is senior vice president for research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on X: @JSchanzer.


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Jihadism Palestinian Politics