The Hamas attack on Israel has taken the western media by surprise. Analysts and commentators call it the worst day for Israel. Some say it Israel’s 9/11 and some say it is an intelligence failure. Others see it as an attempt to divert attention from the Ukraine war.

The Los Angeles Times writes that the attack against Israel would dramatically change the diplomatic and political landscape in the Middle East and deprive Washington of any leverage it has to influence Israel. The immediate and emerging question then would be whether the fighting would spill over into the volatile region, including Lebanon or other regions, another immediate casualty of the unusual violence and the US push to open ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

To seal the deal, Saudi Arabia is demanding a number of concessions from the United States and Israel, including steps that would move the Palestinians closer to an independent state. That concession has been staunchly resisted by Netanyahu and his ultra-conservative administration. Whatever leverage the Biden administration had to extract concessions from Netanyahu to improve conditions for the Palestinians has “completely disappeared”. Former ambassador Aaron David Miller said normalization had suffered a significant setback. “We don’t know where it’s all going, but there will be bloodshed everywhere.”

Israel, Washington and the allies were shocked by the sudden, large-scale attack, carried out with a level of sophistication never seen before. The US think tank Council on Foreign Relations says the surprise Palestinian attack has raised fears of a wider Middle East war. 

“There will be security implications across the region. Hamas receives support from Iran. From the perspective of Hamas and its supporters, Israel appeared weak and divided amid protests over efforts to make significant changes to the judiciary. The possibility of an Iranian component to attacks on Israel is likely to intensify the ongoing shadow war between Jerusalem and Tehran,” it observed.

The Foreign Policy writes that the incursion is disastrous for Israel because of the loss of lives and hostages taken. “This attack is a major failure of Israeli intelligence. The attack surprised both Israeli and foreign observers. Israeli officials are already saying it was a major intelligence failure. 

Strategically, Israel was unprepared for Hamas’s ability to infiltrate fighters across the border and otherwise conduct large-scale operations under Israel’s nose. The attack was also a tactical surprise, as Israel was unprepared for such a dramatic escalation in combat. And the timing of the attack will only add to the embarrassment.”

The Guardian writes that immediately after the surprise attack by Hamas on Israel, there are two main questions: What was this attack to achieve, and why now? “The military leadership of Hamas is aware of its capabilities. Although the United States and Saudi Arabia have long recognized that any progress towards normalization is dependent on a two-state solution.”

The Washington Post writes that this is Israel’s 9/11. “The consequences will be dangerous and unpredictable. The surprise attack is a grim reminder that, in the Middle East, ceasefires are generally preferred over peacemaking. It is hard to imagine that much progress is being made in the Saudi-Israeli peace talks. The attacks by Hamas have shaken Israel’s sense of security,” it noted.

The New York Times newspaper observes that this is the worst day that can be remembered in the history of Israel militarily. “The border between Gaza and Israel is only 37 miles long, but the shock waves that will arise from this war will not only throw Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza into turmoil, but also Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and possibly Iran.”

The attack shook the Israelis’ confidence in their intelligence services, writes the Financial Times. “People distrust the performance of the most powerful security apparatus in the Middle East. The attack exposed the most powerful security system. Within hours, Israeli analysts were comparing the events to the biggest intelligence failure in the country’s history.”

According to Time, the prediction of the attack by Hamas had nothing to do with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The attack was motivated by an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.”

Iranian-American author-journalist Roya Haqian said Iran needed the conflict badly, as the hardline regime faces internal challenges. “Hamas started this war and now Israel has to win it.”


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2023-10-09

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