Hamas is an organization that Israel has designated as a terrorist entity and is behind the new Gaza War in 2023 after the launch of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.
As a result of an unexpected attack against the country on Sunday by Hamas terrorists stationed in the Gaza Strip, Israel has formally entered a state of war.
On October 7, about 6:30 a.m. (GMT+3), Hamas launched Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, a surprise offensive that involved infiltrating Israeli towns, hitting military positions, and launching a barrage of rockets across the nation.
The Israeli military was taken off guard by the Hamas attack, which made clear that the country’s intelligence services had failed to prevent the large and evidently well-planned operation. Hamas is an organization that Israel has designated as a terrorist entity. Tel Aviv launched Operation Swords of Iron in retaliation. According to some estimates, 300 Israelis and 232 Palestinians have already died as a result of the clashes.
“I think we witnessed a clear intelligence failure,” Professor Efraim Inbar, President of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told Sputnik. “And probably it will be investigated after the war. And it was a huge surprise for Israel yesterday. And we pay dearly for being surprised.”
According to Dr. Imad Salamey, associate professor of political science and international affairs at the Lebanese American University, this is an advanced operation by Hamas that is well-coordinated and executed.
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“It is highly unlikely that Hamas was able to do this without much aid from outside the borders of Gaza,” Salamey told Sputnik. “So this tells you that Mossad was taken by surprise, not expecting Hamas to be capable of doing something like this. So definitely it reflects a major failure on the side of the Americans and the Israelis, an ability to assess the situation on the ground and to forecast such a military, sophisticated operation. So it’s a huge, huge setback to both the CIA and to Mossad and the abilities and assessments of what they call terrorist organizations activities in Palestine and elsewhere.”
What are the Reasons for New Escalation?
“There are obvious reasons and there are more complicated reasons,” said Salamey. “The obvious reason is the fact that the Palestinians have been denied basic human rights and they’ve been living under miserable humanitarian conditions and pretty much under siege.”
“And of that conflict, of course, that is the more complex issue behind this reason and behind the timing and behind the sophistication of the operations that Hamas has overtaken. Of course, looking at this operation, it’s quite sophisticated. We all know that Hamas alone cannot do this. It doesn’t have weapons. Somebody has supplied the weapons to Hamas. Some have supplied information to Hamas (…) the operation was well-coordinated, even orchestrated,” the academic continued.
The chaos was developing at the same time as the Ramadan War, also known as the Yom Kippur War, which took place in 1973 between Israel and a coalition of Arab states and marked its 50th anniversary.
The last time, in May 2021, during Tel Aviv’s celebration of its 73rd anniversary of independence, Hamas carried out missile attacks on Israeli settlements. On May 10, Hamas targeted regions close to Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, and Jerusalem. Clashes between Israeli security personnel and Palestinian Arabs at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem preceded the main escalation.
However the conflict between Hamas and Tel Aviv has long historical roots. In 1987, Hamas was established. Since then, the group has frequently taken part in conflicts between various Palestinian organizations and the Israeli government, which are a part of larger geopolitical conflicts and rivalries between Israel and its Arab neighbors that date back to 1948, when Israel was founded.
By 2005, Israel had abandoned its Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and had left the area entirely. By 2007, Hamas had taken control of Gaza after driving out the Fatah Party (previously the Palestinian National Liberation Movement), and the area was now entirely under its control.
Israel put a siege on Gaza two years later. Tel Aviv claims the 16-year-old blockade is meant to stop the passage of weapons into the area; Palestinians, however, see it as “collective punishment” that worsens an already terrible situation.
In order to liberate Palestine, the region that includes the State of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, Hamas changed its name to an Islamic national liberation organization in 2017. Hamas declares that resistance to “the occupation with all means and methods is a legitimate right guaranteed by divine laws and by international norms and laws,” yet it does not recognize Israel.
In addition to disputes with Fatah, Hamas frequently clashed with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which seemed to oppose the group’s radical tactics and refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist. This time, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, reacted to the attack by Hamas by expressing his support for the Palestinian people and blaming Israel for the faltering peace process.
“We have repeatedly warned against the consequences of blocking the political horizon and failing to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate right to self-determination,” the Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry tweeted.
World Players Call for Halting Hostilities
The Muslim world has generally long backed the Palestinian cause. Iran’s Foreign Ministry responded to the unexpected attack by Hamas by describing it as “the spontaneous movement of resistance groups and Palestine’s oppressed people in defense of their inalienable rights” and declaring that it supports Palestinians.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry, on the other hand, expressed its “deep concern” on the violence and tension that transpired in Israel and Palestine today, urging “the restoration of calm in the region as soon as possible,” and vehemently denouncing the deaths of civilians.
Russia urged the combatants to put down their weapons and sit down to negotiate. To defuse the crisis, it is now in discussion with Egypt, Israel, Palestine, and other Arab nations.
“We are in touch with everyone,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Sputnik on Saturday. “We’re asking them to stop as soon as possible. There are many victims, destruction and those injured. It is necessary to stop all this as soon as possible and sit down at the negotiating table, especially since the international legal basis is known — there must be a fair, comprehensive solution to the conflict. Our position has not changed.”
Is Hamas Using Ukrainian Weapons?
Meanwhile, claims that Hamas is allegedly deploying both Western MANPADS and Soviet-era “Igla” (“Needle”) have raised questions about whether these and other weaponry genuinely came through Ukraine’s infamous black market. International non-profits have already issued warnings over Ukraine’s long history of weapon smuggling.
“There are many hands in this battle,” Salamey said. “And you know, the way weapons are smuggled and where the sources of it are. And, obviously, we’ve been hearing a lot about corruption among the Ukrainian army and weapons being sold elsewhere. So the way weapons get moved around is pretty much possible.”
How Could Hamas’ Attack Affect Regional Balance of Power?
“I think the events that we are dealing with have led to some extent eroded Israel’s deterrence,” Inbar said. “And this is one reason why Israel is going to the wall in order to restore its deterrence, in order to make it clear to all its enemies in the region that it’s still a very strong country able to exact a high cost from anybody to fix it.”
Salamey, for his part, speculated that the attack might have been meant to obstruct Saudi-Israeli communication.
“This comes at a time when Saudi Arabia is normalizing relations with Israel and talking about the Indian-European railways breaking through Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, which give much economic weight to Saudi Arabia and push Saudi Arabia toward greater normalization with Israel away from it,” Salamey pointed out.
“Saudi Arabia will watch and see and assess its steps toward normalization toward Israel. So it’s a major setback for normalization efforts and for the US plans for the region. And that is. So instead, now, maybe Saudi Arabia will resort back to its rapprochement with Iran through China, and it really favors it, and it’s moving in that direction,” the Lebanese academic continued.
Inbar did not believe the recent escalation would cause Riyadh and other Arab nations to stop talking to Israel:
“The Saudis will not deviate much from the Arab consensus. And basically, neither Saudi Arabia, nor Egypt, nor Jordan, nor the Gulf countries have much love for Hamas … And they would love to see Israel beat Hamas in a determined way,” the Israeli professor said.
At the same time, protests in favor of Gaza and Palestinian organizations were conducted over the weekend in a number of Muslim nations, including Turkey, Yemen, Kuwait, Iran, Bahrain, and others.