Sunday, December 03, 2023

Of Security Failures, Hostages, and Victory Over Hamas

Survivors describe Hamas Horrors (Jerusalem Post)
Anger. That is the best way I can describe my reaction to both Israel’s failure to anticipate the massacre; the abduction of Israelis by Hamas; and their failure to react quickly enough to those events. That was completely unexpected from a country whose record of defending it’s people was impeccable for decades, until that day.

One of Israel’s low level intelligence people who - along with her colleagues witnessed Hamas rehearsing that fateful attack for months - tried to warn their superiors about what they were witnessing - and their assessment of the danger. They responded by not taking them seriously. Believing that Hamas wasn’t capable of pulling it off. That intelligence report went no further up the intelligence command chain than those midlevel intelligence officers. 

As well, Israel’s military leaders failed by not having a military response team in place that could respond quickly to that event as it was happening. And we all know what that led to.

I don’t know what possessed those officials to be so complacent about Israel’s security at their border with Gaza.  I guess they all just believed  their own PR about their security measures and military might. And that no ragtag terrorist militia would dare challenge them. 

I don’t see how they can live with themselves realizing that it was their complacency and overconfidence that allowed October 7th to happen. 

The idea that this entire event could have been prevented makes me angry. As it should every Jew who thought that Israel had their security pretty well under control.

Alas, none of that matters now. At some point Israeli leaders will have to deal with all of this and heads will definitely roll. Which heads exactly - remains to be seen. But that there were failures that resulted in a terrorist attack of this magnitude must have serious consequences to those that are at fault.

But, that is all for later. Right now Israel faces two crises that are somewhat at cross purposes with each other. And frankly I am not quite sure there is a solution that can address both of them successfully.

There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that getting the hostages released should be Israel’s  highest priority. At the same time, Israel cannot afford to lose sight of its ultimate goal, the absolute annihilation of Hamas, a terrorist organization that vowed to have many more attacks like the one on October 7th – until Palestine is freed from Jewish occupation. To be replaced by the Islamic State of Palestine.

Arab media calls their 'civilian' Palestinian dead, martyrs (AL24)
Meanwhile Hamas has said that no more hostages will be released until the end of the war. To that end they broke the limited cease fire by firing rockets into Israel again. Israel responded by resuming its air attack. Which according to Hamas has resulted in 700 new ‘civilian’ causalities. (Palestinians call them martyrs. - How many are actually innocent civilians is anybody’s guess.)

Although the Biden administration understands what’s at stake and still backs Israel’s goal of annihilating Hamas, we are beginning to hear increasing calls for Israel to avoid civilian casualties. Including from some members of the Biden administration. Most recently from Vice President Kamela Harris. 

Does that mean that the Biden administration does not think Israel is doing enough? 

Not necessarily. This morning I heard White House security official, John Kirby, actually defend Israel on that score. He said that Israel is indeed doing what it can in this regard.  Unlike most combatants in a war, Israel is actually telegraphing exactly where they are going to attack. They have mapped it all out online and have dropped leaflets telling them about it among the civilians in those locations. Warning them to leave and giving them enough time to  evacuate. What other nation engaged in a war with a mortal enemy does that? By informing civilians what their targets will be, they are also informing Hamas. Giving them ample time to avoid being hit.

Why there are so many civilian casualties is well known by now. This is what Hamas wants. The more ‘civilian’ casualties there are, the more pressure there will be on Israel to stop the war. The idea of preventing casualties that Hamas purposely places in the line of fire is impossible. The only way Israel can do that is if they stop the war and give up their goal of destroying Hamas. Hamas will then live to see another day and continue their genocidal campaign against the Jewish people.  

Israel must continue to do what’s necessary to win the war - as they continue to try and minimize  civilian casualties..

But then - what will happen to the hostages if Israel  continues their campaign to obliterate Hamas?

That is indeed the conundrum for which I see  no good option. That being said let me suggest one possibility. While far from ideal I think it ought to be considered. Hamas has said that they will release all the hostages if Israel empties their prisons of the over 5000 Palestinian prisoners. Some of whom are Have murdered of maimed Jews. Or have attempted it. 

Thank God I am not in a position to make that kind of decision. But as bad as releasing terrorists might be, and the cost to our own casualties of war that might result, the lives of the hostages must come first. Unless someone - anyone - can figure out a better way to do that, I think this idea ought to be considered.

Once the exchange of hostages for prisoners is made. Israel can resume the war with the full might of its military until Hamas is eradicated. It might be harder to do if Hamas’s terrorist arm is reconstituted with all those released prisoners. But I think it can be done.

One might counter that killing an idea is impossible. Especially one sourced in a religious ideal.  

That is true. But one can destroy their ability to execute that religious ideal. That has been proven by the eradication of ISIS. Whose religious ideals were similar to Hamas and still exist. The US was able destroy their capability to carry it out. If can happen to ISIS, it can happen to Hamas.

 What about the certain criticism Israel will increasingly get from all corners of the globe by the enormous civilian causalities that will result ? I think Israel needs to ignore it and get the job done. All while continuing to insist that they are doing the best they can in that regard. After they succeed in destroying Hamas they will hopefully be able to rebuild those relationships. 

I don’t know if that is a viable solution to the task of both getting the hostages out and destroying Hamas. But if anyone has a better idea, I’d sure like to hear it..