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The most unexpected aspect of Hamas’ extensive assault on Israel on Saturday morning was its unexpectedness. The undertaking was of an unparalleled magnitude, with a multitude of individuals and resources involved, from hang gliders and bulldozers to rockets. Such a large-scale operation would typically require weeks, if not months, of planning, yet it was all carried out under the surveillance of the Israeli intelligence, renowned for their expertise and effectiveness.ffective in the world.
The reason for this occurrence has caused great shame within Israel’s security sector and will lead to a difficult internal inquiry. Israel has relinquished control of military posts, armored vehicles, and settlements, and the battle is still ongoing. Many Israeli civilians were killed, some were held captive, and hundreds were wounded.
However, the recent attack on Saturday serves as a crucial reminder about Hamas. Despite being designated as a terrorist group by the US, it is not just a group of impulsive individuals. It is a well-equipped organization with a paramilitary force that operates strategically and ruthlessly. This is what has allowed them to maintain control over Gaza since 2007, despite facing constant threats from Israel and even more extreme Salafist and Islamist groups within Gaza.
Only Hamas knows the details of its strategy for Saturday’s attack, but the potential fallout is plain to see. A war in Gaza threatens at a stroke to upend the direction of travel in the Middle East. It puts Israel in the invidious position of having to choose between appearing weak — a dangerous strategy in the region — and inflicting the kind of mass casualties in the crowded Gaza Strip that will enrage Israel’s entire Palestinian population, forcing tough decisions on Arab leaders in the Gulf and beyond. Already on Saturday there were reports of 160 Palestinian dead and more than 1,000 wounded in Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes.
Israel has had success normalizing relations with parts of the Arab world while supporting the expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and, at best, slow walking prospects for Palestinian statehood. Since 2020, Israel has signed US-brokered recognition agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan. Saudi Arabia, home to Mecca, has been considering a deal. Even Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who for years had positioned himself as champion of the Palestinian cause for domestic political gain, met with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time last month.
On Saturday, Erdogan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other leaders called for de-escalation, showing their genuine concern. They are aware of the political pressure they will face to condemn and sever ties with Israel if there is an increase in Palestinian casualties. Unfortunately, it appears that this is unavoidable. Netanyahu stated that his country is currently at war, and Major General Ghasan Alyan claimed that Hamas has initiated a destructive situation for the Gaza strip in a video posted on the Israeli Defense Forces’ feed on X (formerly known as Twitter).
holds the responsibility
Alyan stated that Hamas will be held accountable for the repercussions, and although this may be undeniably true, the issue of who ultimately assumes responsibility remains.fired fi
The previous Saturday’s events will have minimal impact in the Muslim community. There has been growing anger in the region due to Israeli actions, particularly related to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Alyan’s statement will not have as much influence as Mohammed Deif’s, a Hamas leader, who declared that “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” was initiated due to reaching a breaking point.
The Saudi government’s recent statement on Saturday urged for peace and stability, portraying Hamas’ actions as a response to ongoing issues such as occupation, depriving Palestinians of their rights, and consistent provocations against their sacred sites.
am Fayyad, a prime minister of the Palestinian Authority
Hamas, an organization that has never recognized Israel’s legitimacy, likely took into consideration the current situation before choosing to launch an attack. I am not privy to Deif’s personal contact information, but from my past experiences with the group, I am aware of their strategic mindset. In 2011, while reporting in Gaza, I unintentionally crossed the border from Israel on the same morning that Osama bin Laden was killed by the US. Later that day, a Hamas representative offered a six-man security detail or escort to accompany me to the border, as they had apprehended Salaam Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister.fi
I received information that there were individuals searching for an American journalist to record a video. I asked a friend who had connections with Fatah intelligence to verify this, and they confirmed the arrests made by Hamas. As a result, I decided to leave Gaza.
I am sharing this again because it was evident, even from a secure standpoint.fi
During a meeting, the individual I spoke with mentioned that Hamas did not have a favorable view of American journalists and did not have any ethical concerns about carrying out a retaliatory act in response to Bin Laden’s death. However, this conversation took place in May 2011, when Hamas was engaged in discussions with Fatah and was being closely monitored by the international community. As a result, the group did not want to attract attention through the release of a video.
Now, they do have a tactical interest in that kind of attention. Events had not been going Hamas’ way in recent years, and a Saudi-Israeli normalization would have been a major defeat. Hamas’ aggression will boost its support base, and the appalling videos of Israeli casualties it organized to take on Saturday will help with recruitment. Responding to Hamas while keeping Israeli-Arab normalization on track will be extraordinarily diffi
It would be difficult for Netanyahu to achieve, especially as time goes on.fighting continues.