By Frank Owolabi, writing from Lagos
On Saturday, October 7, 2023, the Hamas militant group and Islamist Jihad stole deep inside the State of Israel and wreaked havoc, killing hundreds of innocent civilians and soldiers while unleashing a barrage of thousands of rockets into Israel. The aim was not to obliterate the Jewish nation, but to show what they were capable of, given more sophisticated weapons! They massacred anyone found in the settlements in several of the 22 communities they infiltrated, overran army bases, and blew up police stations and residential buildings in sight. It was obvious they knew the terrain very well and they had a field day. Shocked observers around the world say it is the failure of the Israel intelligence for the planning, training, and eventual execution to escape their network.
Much as the intelligence is culpable, the soldiers and civilians also share the path of the blame. Surrounded by sworn enemies, it is unthinkable how this catastrophic strike survived with hundreds of hostages taken. For the fact that the militants spent hours inside Israel and were possibly still there before reactions came. And now questions are being asked: where are the roadblocks, the patrol vans, and the watch positions? Was it possible that the Israelis were too dumb not to envision this possibility? It happened to them on Yom Kippur days in 1967; Whatever made them no think of a reoccurrence? Definitely, heads would roll within the military hierarchy; yet, this is a wake-up call for the entire security apparatus in Israel.
Everyone in the military and paramilitary establishment must sit up. Hamas gunmen blew up the barricades and walked some distance inside Israel before unleashing terror. No reaction came; no one raised alarm until the destruction rained down. For a state that prides itself in technological advances, this is a big shame and a disgrace. All the talk about Israelis being well trained and reserved to avert situations like this has now been thoroughly exposed as hogwash. Where is the much vaunted intelligence of MOSSAD, the IDF and the Internal Police? Israel was caught napping and it is horrible to offer the lame excuse that the Rader Systems were jammed! By who? Ordinary militants? Common sense dictates that on their Jewish Day, the borders should never have been left unguarded.
This mistake is as tragic as the monumental loss of lives. Israel has never lost civilians and soldiers of such magnitude. When footage emerged of soldiers being dragged out from tanks and civilians being beaten by the ruthless Hamas militants, Israel should think twice about what the future holds for them. This Black Saturday has portrayed their military as less powerful than expected; they have been completely demystified and all their pride vanished. The biggest culprit here is Benjamin Netanyahu the current prime minister. The past leaders like Golda Meir, Menachem Begin, and Ariel Sharon will all be shivering in their graves; that the state of Israel they fought so hard to create and preserve has been so breached. Nothing can exonerate Benjamin Netanyahu from this terrible mistake.
He came in as prime minister and was bent on reducing the powers of the Supreme Court—the symbol of Israeli democracy. And despite the scale of public demonstration against the policy, Netanyahu stuck to his guns—forgetting he has a job of protecting Israel; that demonstration considerably weakened Israeli Establishments and may have been largely exploited by Hamas to perfect this unprecedented crime. Now Netanyahu’s eyes are open and he would have seen the folly behind his adamant legislation—and the polarization seen in the security circles. He betrayed the trust the Israelis reposed in him by toeing that path. Now, he should be ready to bear the consequences. As for the Israelis, they need not forget the necessity for unity at all times. Anything less will prove costly; this raid on their territory is only a warning in advance of the enemy’s determination.
Nothing will persuade Hamas unless they are destroyed. This fact must register in their minds. They live in constant threat and must be ready to be ten steps ahead of the Palestinians—if they are to survive. If the days of the holocaust are erased from their memory, they better refresh themselves. Their survival must be paramount. Hamas is their sworn enemy and must be kept at a distance. The usually strong military elites must close ranks just as Netanyahu should wake up from his slumber. As for MOSSAD, it is unthinkable they allowed this unprovoked destruction to hold. They have themselves to blame. In the future they must shift far from politics; this is the result of a loss of concentration. The same applies to the democrats in America who are strident in cutting military aid to Israel. How could they when Iran has never ceased to arm its numerous proxies around the axis?
Now it should be clear to them how not to abandon allies. What they failed to do, Iran has not only done but surpassed imaginations. Hamas and Hezbollah are bold today, all thanks to the endless supplies of munitions and dangerous rockets by Iran. When Trump was American president, he showed the Palestinians their proper place in history; he did not mince words in telling them to look elsewhere for their proposed nation; but Joe Biden came and began to demur, retracing the steps taken by Trump in the volatile region. The Palestinians are strange people; they are not the type of creatures to be pacified; they are suicidal in nature in contrast to the Israelis; they are not ready for peace and sadly will never. In the overall contest, this devastating act of infiltrating Israel should not be allowed to end in a ceasefire; a permanent solution must be sought; either Hamas stand their grounds and fight—leaving out civilians as shields, or bury their heads in shame for this cowardly act.
It is strange that the idea of pursuing this same statehood using democratic means has not occurred to them. Violence will never get them anywhere. As for countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia supporting Hamas, this is a dangerous mistake. Egypt needs to also rein in the activists who shot dead two Israeli tourists in the wake of the crisis. The Arabs on the whole should emulate Jordanians and other peaceful brothers. The mullahs in Iran fanning the embers of violence will only have violence awaiting them. For this terrible mistake by Hamas, Israel, and the world should ignore them henceforth; they cannot terminate the lives of innocent civilians and hope to achieve anything. While heads should roll in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu should either discard his Supreme Court legislation or throw in his immediate resignation as prime minister. This infiltration is entirely his fault.