This Attack on Israel Changes Everything

Early Saturday morning, Hamas launched over 2,000 rockets from Gaza into Israel, while sending about 1,000 terrorists through the border fence to commit acts of murder and barbarism. As of Sunday evening, over 700 Israelis—overwhelmingly civilians—have been killed, and over 100 are being held hostage in the Gaza Strip. Elliott Abrams examines how this war will transform the Jewish state’s situation:

For several years, and especially in the last year, it seemed that Hamas had decided to seek calm in Gaza, where it governs, while supporting violence and terror in the West Bank. And in the West Bank, terrorist attacks increased each month. Meanwhile, Israel allowed 17,000 workers to enter Israel from Gaza each day, and there was talk of raising that number to 30,000. It seemed that there was a silent agreement between Israel and Hamas to keep things quiet in Gaza.

But that view assumed that Hamas cared about the lives of the Gaza population, and the new attacks have proved yet again that it does not. Recent accounts of the Yom Kippur War of 1973 have noted the problem of the “conception” back then. Israeli security officials came to believe that after the crushing Arab defeat in the Six-Day War, an attack so few years afterward was inconceivable. Then it happened. In this case, the “conception” was that Israel could reach a modus vivendi with Hamas—because Hamas valued calm in its base, Gaza. Obviously, it does not.

Why did Hamas attack now? No recent event in Gaza explains the timing—nor do recent visits to the Temple Mount by Israelis. What seems obvious is true: the attack was timed for the 50th anniversary of the surprise attack in 1973. No doubt Hamas must be hoping as well to delay and even prevent the Israeli-Saudi rapprochement that is being discussed, but this attack has been in the planning for many months. When the planning began, Hamas had no way to know where a Saudi-Israeli negotiation would stand in October. What it did know was that the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur attack would occur this year on a Sabbath and during Jewish holy days (the last two days of the Sukkot festival). The possible delay in a Saudi-Israel deal was surely a happy addition for Hamas but was an add-on, not the original motive.

One can see other motives. This attack shows the world and shows Palestinians that Hamas is strong, while the Palestinian Authority and PLO are weak. And it shows Iran the same thing, perhaps giving hope to Hamas leaders that Iran will give them even more support.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy