Never do an enemy a small injury – Niccolo Machiavelli
Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey out of Egypt, how they surprised you on the road and cut off all the weak people at your rear, when you were parched and weary, and they did not fear Hashem – Devarim 25:17
There is a great deal that is unknown about the horrific attack on Israel that took place last Shabbat, both regarding the methods and objectives of Hamas, and Israel’s failure to predict or properly respond. But there are some inferences that can be drawn from the timing of the event – and from its viciousness.
There are good reasons to believe that Iran was deeply involved in planning the attack in a series of meetings between representatives of Hamas with Iranian and Hezbollah officials several months ago. In addition, Hamas used explosives delivered by drones to put communication antennas on the border fence out of action, techniques similar to those used by Iranian proxies to attack Saudi Arabian oil facilities. It seems unlikely that Hamas could develop the means to do this independently. But according to US intelligence sources, Iran was surprised by the timing.
Iran’s proxies in the region include Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen. Hezbollah is by far the most dangerous to Israel, with an estimated 130,000 rockets that can reach any point in Israel (unlike Hamas, which has very few that can reach farther north than Tel Aviv). Some of them are fitted with precision guidance systems that can strike within a few meters of a programmed target. They also have large numbers of Iranian drones, as well as fighters experienced from combat in Syria.
Although it has proven itself capable of large-scale terrorism, Hamas alone cannot pose an existential threat to Israel. But a coordinated attack from Hezbollah, Hamas, and perhaps even Syria, Yemen, and the Palestinian Authority could, especially if Israel were unprepared. The main strategic objective of Iran today is to break through as a nuclear power. Perhaps the plan was that its proxies would attack to keep Israel busy when it assembled or tested its warheads. Or perhaps the threat of a massive multi-front war was simply intended as a deterrent against Israeli action.
Whatever, Hamas was expected to wait for the order before launching its attack. But – I speculate – to the consternation of Tehran, it jumped the gun.
The leaders of Hamas care little for the grand strategic plans of Iran. Once they had the tools in their hands to inflict pain upon their hated enemies, they were unable to control their blood lust. Last weekend was Simchat Torah, when the IDF would be at its weakest. There was a juicy music festival going on near the Gaza border (with alcohol and half-dressed women, a slap in the face to Islam!) that would be even more poorly secured than the nearby towns and kibbutzim.
So Hamas, whose charter calls for killing Jews, obeyed the First Law of Palestinism – “it’s always better to hurt Jews than to help Arabs” – and prematurely launched the attack the Iranians had helped them meticulously plan. And in keeping with their vile, Amalekite nature, they raped, tortured, and murdered their way into Israel, and out of the human race.
The precipitous action of Hamas is bringing down upon it an unprecedented response from Israel. I suspect that Hamas itself was surprised by its “success.” They may have expected that Israel would respond with the usual bombing of empty structures. They may have assumed that their arsenals of rockets hidden in schools and mosques would be unmolested, and that their leadership would remain alive. They may have thought that Israel’s Western sensibility would keep us from exterminating them. They thought wrong.
There will be no more southern proxy for Iran, and no possibility of a coordinated assault with her northern and eastern ones. Hezbollah will still be dangerous, but at least for now Israel is on full alert in the north as well. And the lesson learned in the south may incline Israel toward attacking preemptively in the north.