The entire Middle East is now watching Israel’s battle against Hamas. Gaza terrorists launched a deadly assault, combining heavy rocket fire and deep raids to slaughter and abduct hundreds of Israeli civilians and soldiers. The IDF’s response to this carnage will determine how Israel’s enemies, and allies, view it for the next decade.
But how did we get to this point and what’s next? Here are eight key points:
- The main factor that enabled the Hamas operation is a total failure of Israel’s security concept. Israeli leaders and the IDF believed that the main danger lurked in Lebanon and in the West Bank and diverted most forces and resources to those fronts. This left the Gaza region vulnerable to a large assault. It was a “calculated risk” that went terribly wrong.
- As Israel’s defenses crumbled, Hamas achieved much deeper incursions than it hoped. The mass killings and abductions are a disastrous outcome for Israel. The attack is already seen as the Israeli version of 9/11.
- A major concern now is whether Hezbollah will join the fight, especially if Israeli forces go into Gaza. A war on multiple fronts will be an extreme challenge for Israel’s security forces. However, the IDF is already reinforcing the northern border, so any attack will lack the element of surprise in Gaza.
- Hamas achieved operational success, which the organization did not fully expect, but will pay an unexpectedly heavy price. Hamas was counting on a standard Israeli response. Instead, it will face severe retaliation, which it did not fully prepare for.
- Israeli operations in Gaza were always limited, with the main force and heavy firepower reserved for larger wars. In some ways, Hamas will now be hit with the Israeli war plan designed for Hezbollah.
- Military historian Danny Orbach notes that strategic surprise is usually initiated by weaker parties and tends to backfire massively. The early success fades and the real balance of power comes into play, with devastating results for the aggressor. Hamas, for the first time in decades, is now in real danger.
- Israel will likely complement its initial air assault on Hamas and Islamic Jihad with aggressive targeted killings. We can also expect some kind of invasion into Gaza, and unusual steps that are normally not an option in Gaza. After the Hamas massacre, Israel’s spectrum of response is much wider.
- Regardless of the next events, Israel’s security doctrine vs. Hamas will change radically after (or during) this war. The IDF’s defense and intelligence protocols will also have to be revamped. But all of this will come later. First, Israel needs to win the war.