by Jude Amory
The morning of 07 October 2023, marked an unexpected and jarring awakening for the Israeli public. As discussions swirled about systemic failures and glitches, no one could have foreseen the sheer audacity of the attack that unfolded. It felt like a page ripped from history, reminiscent of the dark days of the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
Picture this: terrorists freely roamed southern Israeli cities, orchestrating kidnappings and street shootouts, while customised motor paragliders descended from the skies and a deluge of missiles targeted different parts of the nation simultaneously. It was a momentous failure that seemed to permeate every level, from decision-makers to the political elite.
Over the past ten months, the government, under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared more concerned with internal power plays than with fortifying a united and secure nation. On the security front, questions loom regarding the accuracy and credibility of intelligence provided to the political echelon. Governments can only craft policies based on the information at their disposal, relying heavily on military commanders, the Shin Bet, and the Mossad. The supposed failure of Mossad to effectively prevent the multifaceted attacks comes as a surprise to the rest of the world while hurting Mossad’s reputation for prevention and preemption.
Yet, the most striking aspect of this attack was its overwhelming scale and the diverse range of weaponry unleashed. To put it in perspective, the largest rocket onslaught against Israel, prior to this incident, occurred in May 2021, with approximately 4,000 rockets fired over a 10-day period. Shockingly, IDF reports indicate that in just 12 hours, around 3,000 rockets were launched (Hamas claims 5,000), threatening to overwhelm Israel’s defense capabilities.
Hamas upped the ante by diversifying its arsenal. Alongside rockets, they unleashed drones, artillery, MANPADS, and even customised motor paragliders. While military-grade drones typically set off alarms for the Iron Dome defense system, footages that have surfaced suggests Hamas employed cheaper quadcopter bombs, akin to those used in Ukraine. These proved more challenging for the Iron Dome radar to track. The deployment of motorised paragliders further confounded the situation operating under the radar and deploying terrorists deep into southern cities. The failure of the Iron Dome system on such a grand scale has sparked questions about possible malfunctions or technical compromises leading up to the attack.
The attacks come a day after the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. In the annals of Israel’s history, the Yom Kippur War of 1973 stands as a painful testament to the consequences of underestimating threats. During that conflict, Israel was caught off guard when Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a coordinated surprise attack on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism. The initial shock and unpreparedness led to significant setbacks, including territorial losses and a high number of casualties. The war’s traumatic memories had long served as a cautionary tale, prompting the nation to usually prioritise vigilance and readiness. However, the current events reveal a disconcerting sense of déjà vu, as Israel once again finds itself grappling with unforeseen challenges. The echoes of the Yom Kippur War serve as a stark reminder of the perilous consequences of complacency and the pressing need for Israel to reassess its security posture in an ever-changing geopolitical landscape.
As Israeli allies in the West have denounced the attack, multiple Middle Eastern nations including Iran, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have blamed Israel for the attacks claiming it is a retaliation for Israel’s alleged maltreatment of the Palestinians. Despite growing relations between Israel and the Islamic world in recent years, especially with the Abraham Accords, the present situation in Israel has tipped a strikingly volatile security environment, threatening major conflict in the Middle East. Israel’s declaration of war against Hamas will be followed by large-scale strikes on the group within the Gaza strip, which have already begun.
Given the brutal and calculated nature of the attacks, and Hamas’ continued backing by foreign governments, a full-scale Israeli occupation of the Gaza strip cannot be ruled out. This in turn has a potentially disastrous domino effect to bring multiple nations into the grand table of war. Israel and the Islamic world have been at odds since the end of the second world war, including multiple conflicts such as the Six-Day War in the 60s and the Yom Kippur War in the 70s. Hence, any altercation between Israel and its neighbors will not come as a surprise, yet would be a significant threat to the stability of the region currently healing, to a certain extent, from past conflicts.
The seemingly weak leadership in the United States under the Biden-Harris administration continues to empower terrorist cells within Palestine, terror factions around the world and anti-Israel and anti-US governments like Iran. Iranian state media broadcasted video featuring members of the parliament chanting in favor of Hamas, expressing slogans like “Death to Israel” and “Palestine is victorious, Israel will be destroyed”.
The events of 07 October 2023 and the follows, stand as an unmistakable call to action for Israel. The shock of this unforeseen attack, reminiscent of the Yom Kippur War, echoes loudly in Israel’s national consciousness. The nation must unify, fortify its leadership, and ensure unwavering precision in intelligence and security assessments. The overwhelming scale of the assault and the diverse array of weaponry employed by Hamas necessitate a profound reevaluation of defense strategies. Now, more than ever, Israel must recalibrate its security strategy in a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape.
Jude Amory is a national security analyst [email@example.com]