The prominent detail in the Hamas movement's " />

Surprise Hamas attack on Israel brings back memories of 1973 War

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The prominent detail in the Hamas movement’s military offensive against Israel on Saturday is the element of surprise that shook Tel Aviv.

Palestinians take control of an Israeli tank after crossing the border fence with Israel from Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestine, Oct. 7, 2023. (AFP Photo)

The attack has prompted Israeli analysts to opine that what happened was more than just an “intelligence collapse.”

Hamas launched its operation early Saturday, an official holiday in Israel, with no prior indicators hinting a preparations for a large-scale offensive.

The resistance initiated its operation by launching a barrage of rockets toward central and southern Israel before fighters infiltrated towns surrounding the Gaza Strip.

The operation brings to mind the 1973 October War. Hamas’s Saturday operation also coincided with the 50th anniversary of that war when Egypt and Syria surprised the Israeli army with a military move on Yom Kippur, also an official holiday in Israel.

In a rare move, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged that Hamas’ actions surprised Israel.

“Hamas launched a sudden deadly attack against the State of Israel and its citizens,” he said in a statement.

For several hours, Israel was trying to comprehend the size of the offensive – whether it was the 2,200 missiles landing in West Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv area, or the infiltration of at least seven Israeli sites around the Gaza Strip.

“Apparently, despite some initial indications, the defense establishment was surprised by the Hamas attack,” the Hebrew Maariv news reported.

Map showing the infiltration points around the Gaza Strip. (AA Photo)
Map showing the infiltration points around the Gaza Strip. (AA Photo)

Intelligence failure

“Israeli intelligence had apparently detected some signs of a Hamas operation over the weekend,” it said. “However, it did not take it seriously as it did not relate it to a broader, more disturbing picture.”

The newspaper considered what happened a “major intelligence failure.”

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper described what happened as a “sudden Hamas attack.”

It considered “the Hamas attack a failure of the government.”

“The long-standing contempt for imaginary ‘terrorist’ organizations turned this morning into a nightmare and a shock that will haunt Israelis for a long time,” said Yedioth Ahronoth.

The newspaper noted that the attack was carried out 50 years after the 1973 October war.

“The world was surprised this morning by Hamas’ double attack on Israel,” it said, describing it as a “major intelligence failure.”

“Israel is in the midst of a difficult war with unpredictable characteristics,” military analyst Avi Benayahu told the Maariv newspaper.

He noted that “the intelligence failure is dangerous, and the challenge is now greater.”

“The idea of increasing Hamas’s economic interests turned out to be wrong,” he said, adding that “the wall that Israel built with billions of shekels collapsed.”

“For hours, I have been staring into the screen, grinding my teeth and rubbing my eyes in astonishment, because there has never been anything like this in the history of Israel,” said Benayahu.

“With the kidnapped people – soldiers and civilians – inside Gaza, we can expect a long, difficult and nerve-wracking period with harsh images.”

David Horovitz, a writer for the Times of Israel newspaper, considered what happened “a colossal failure.”

“Much of Israel was awakened on Saturday morning to scarcely conceivable scenes and sounds of rocket attacks, and parts of southern Israel to gunfire, with the accompanying unthinkable news that dozens of terrorists had infiltrated from Gaza,” he said.

He added that “precisely 50 years after the Yom Kippur War, Israel was under surprise attack – not by Arab armies, but by the Hamas terrorist group. And with Israeli civilians widely and directly targeted.”

“Even as Israel’s political chiefs began to convene in emergency consultations, with the full extent of the infiltration and its consequences still unfolding, Hebrew media began quoting unnamed officials castigating the political and military echelons for the fact that Israel, preoccupied with internal argument, had again been taken by surprise,” he added.