Connect with us

Substacks

How Israel Got Ambushed Yaakov Katz

Published

on

Hamas terrorists break through the Israeli side of the fence in Gaza City on Saturday. (Photo by Hani Alshaer via Getty Images)

Since 2011, Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome has saved countless lives and made its citizens feel safe under its security blanket. But that feeling of security was shattered on Saturday, when close to 1,000 Hamas fighters, armed to the teeth with assault rifles, explosive devices, and RPGs, penetrated Israel in a surprise ground attack that breached multiple border defenses. Now, as this piece is going to press, Hezbollah in Lebanon is attacking Israel from the north. 

The Iron Dome largely worked on Saturday—intercepting most of the rockets fired. And yet Israel’s world-famous defense system has suffered a collapse, enabling Hamas terrorists, funded and directed by Iran, to invade without resistance, giving them hours to roam and kill innocent citizens, abducting babies, men, and women as they slept in their beds, hid inside bomb shelters, and ran from a desert rave.

Today, senior Hamas official Ali Baraka, in an interview on an Arabic-language TV station, boasted that the terrorist organization had been planning the attack for two years. 

“The zero hour was kept completely secret. . . . Hamas leaders knew it. The number of people who knew about the attack and its timing could be counted on one hand.” 

The fact that Hamas kept this secret is arguably Israel’s most serious failure. Israeli intelligence agencies—the Mossad, the Shin Bet, and the Military Intelligence Directorate (Aman)—are seen as world-beating institutions. Only a few years ago, they located and stole Iran’s nuclear archives right from under the noses of the ayatollahs. Israel invests billions in tracking every movement of every presumed terrorist in Gaza. But somehow they missed this. 

One reason why is that Israel hasn’t had a physical presence or human agents in Gaza since its unilateral withdrawal from the region in 2005. Most of its tracking today is done by signals intelligence. So Hamas likely avoided using any electronic devices to communicate plans of their attack. And, as Baraka said, they kept the plan highly compartmentalized within Hamas ranks, with gunmen told only a small piece of the puzzle, to prevent a leak. 

This shows impressive operational discipline on Hamas’s part, and it will require Israel to restructure its intelligence apparatus once this war is over. The fact that—as of Wednesday night in Israel—the IDF has still not entered Gaza shows they’re remaining cautious, because what else might they be missing? 

The breakdown in Israel’s physical defenses was its second big failure. Over the years, Israel has invested billions of dollars in barriers—above and below ground—in addition to sophisticated sensors, cameras, radars, and remote-control guns that were supposed to stop anyone from entering Israel through the fence or via cross-border tunnels.

And yet, Hamas proved these defensive measures were not just penetrable, but nothing more than a nuisance. The terrorist organization released videos showing their gunmen breaking through with ease, cutting holes in the barrier so big that pickup trucks could drive right across. They sent in drones, paragliders, and navy forces under the cover of rocket barrages, while bombing Israel’s remote-control guns from above.

The terrorists’ breach of the fence appears to be down to a mix of luck and sophisticated tactics. Hamas used the last few weeks to hold protests along the border to normalize the presence of people in a usually restricted area. Attacking on Saturday morning during a holiday gave them another advantage. At 6:30 a.m., soldiers are just waking up and switching shifts. Meanwhile, rocket fire from the sky pushed Israeli soldiers at their bases into protective spaces, meaning they were unable to stand outside and watch for invaders. And when Hamas used drones to drop bombs on Israel’s communications towers, the IDF lost its chain of command. 

And this led to a delay in the deployment of IDF forces, Israel’s third defensive failure. 

One former IDF colonel told me he was wondering all day Saturday why there were no Air Force Apache attack helicopters hovering above the border firing Hellfire missiles at anyone who dared cross. But, with the IDF’s division headquarters under attack, it was almost impossible for the chief of staff in Tel Aviv to find out what was going on or how to respond in those crucial early hours of the assault. This is why there are so many amazing stories of brave reservists and civilians who heard the gunfire, grabbed a weapon, and drove down south, going house-to-house to save lives. They just went on their own, without any air support.

Rockets fired from Gaza are intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome on October 8. (Eyad Baba via Getty Images)

It has taken the IDF a long time to regain its war footing. Only on Monday morning did the military announce—with some degree of confidence—that it had succeeded in clearing out armed Hamas terrorist infiltrators from the kibbutzim along the border.

But possibly Israel’s biggest failure is that it overestimated its strength—and underestimated its enemy. 

For the last nine months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has been tearing itself apart over its proposed judicial reforms, leading to massive protests of hundreds of thousands of Israelis on a weekly basis. Reservists were even threatening not to serve in the army. Israel has appeared weak and divided—and Hamas has taken full advantage of that. 

What’s more, according to recent reports, an Egyptian intelligence official had warned Netanyahu of a looming Hamas attack, but those warnings were ignored. Though Israel has dismissed the claim as “fake news,” it’s true the nation has become lax toward the situation in Gaza.

For almost 20 years, since pulling out of the area, Israel has kept to a policy of containment regarding Gaza’s Hamas rulers, believing it could deter the terrorist group through occasional military confrontations and economic incentives. Israel gave work permits to Gazans so they could get jobs in construction or agriculture or the service sector in the country or the West Bank, where the pay is ten times higher.

But this strategy assumed Hamas was a rational actor. Clearly, that was a deadly assumption.

As Hamas leader Baraka bragged on TV, “We made them think that Hamas was busy governing Gaza and that it wanted to focus on the 2.5 million Palestinians (in Gaza) and has abandoned the resistance altogether. All the while. . . Hamas was preparing for this big attack.

“The Israelis are known to love life,” he continued. “We, on the other hand, sacrifice ourselves. We consider our dead to be martyrs. The thing any Palestinian desires the most is to be martyred for the sake of Allah, defending his land.”

Until the weekend, everyone in Jerusalem and Washington believed the terrorist group cared more about the survival of its regime than all-out war.

After an attack in the south and now in the north, Israel is waking up to its inherent vulnerability.

And their myth about the enemy has been exploded. 

Yaakov Katz is a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, a former editor of the Jerusalem Post where he remains a columnist, and the author of three books on Israeli military affairs. Follow him on Twitter (now X) @yaakovkatz.

And to support more of our coverage of the war in Israel, become a Free Press subscriber today:

Subscribe now

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Substacks

June 18, 2024 Heather Cox Richardson

Published

on

By

 

Continue Reading

Substacks

My First Job, at the Stanford Internet Observatory Julia Steinberg

Published

on

By

Like a zillion other bright-eyed Stanford undergrads, I was drawn to work at a place that promised I’d “learn about the abuse of the internet in real time,” writes Julia Steinberg. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)

The Stanford Internet Observatory—a research center tasked with rooting out “misinformation” on social media—is shutting its doors. Chances are if you’ve heard of the SIO it was in a scathing piece from Michael Shellenberger or Matt Taibbi, who have accused the center of being a key node in the censorship-industrial complex.

It was also my first employer. Like a zillion other bright-eyed Stanford undergrads, I was drawn to work at a place that promised to “learn about the abuse of the internet in real time, to develop a novel curriculum on trust and safety that is a first in computer science, and to translate our research discoveries into training and policy innovations for the public good.” To me, that meant ending internet abuse like the glamorization of anorexia on social media or financial scams that steal billions every year. But mostly I worked on the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), which SIO ran during the 2020 and 2022 elections. The purpose of that project was to identify so-called “fake news” spreading on social media. 

In actuality, SIO hired a load of interns to scan social media for posts deemed to be mis- and disinformation. It turns out that the posts we students flagged were often sent along to moderators at Twitter (now X), Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, which took them down in order to quash dissenting viewpoints—viewpoints that sometimes ended up being right, as in the case of Covid likely being the result of a lab leak, or Hunter Biden’s hard drive being his actual hard drive—not Russian disinformation. 

Thanks to the work of independent journalists, the SIO’s work has come under a lot of scrutiny, including in Washington. A recent House Judiciary Committee report alleges that, by cooperating with the Department of Homeland Security, the SIO’s Election Integrity Partnership “provided a way for the federal government to launder its censorship activities in hopes of bypassing both the First Amendment and public scrutiny.” 

The SIO has stated that “Stanford has not shut down or dismantled SIO as a result of outside pressure. SIO does, however, face funding challenges as its founding grants will soon be exhausted.” But on June 13, Platformer reported that much of SIO’s staff was on the way out: “Its founding director, Alex Stamos, left his position in November. Renee DiResta, its research director, left last week after her contract was not renewed. One other staff member’s contract expired this month, while others have been told to look for jobs elsewhere, sources say.”

The Supreme Court will soon rule on a case, Murthy v. Missouri, that addresses whether the U.S. government should be able to collaborate with social media companies to censor commentary. The plaintiffs, in their brief, lambast SIO for its role in abetting government censorship. We’ll be watching that case closely.

Julia Steinberg is an intern at The Free Press. Read her piece on the college dropout who unlocked the secrets of ancient Rome using AI. And follow her on X @Juliaonatroika.

To support The Free Press, become a subscriber today: 

Subscribe now

 

Continue Reading

Substacks

My Promise to Palestine Chris Hedges

Published

on

By

When I accepted the Tafik Diab Prize for my writing on the genocide in Gaza in Cairo on June 10 I explained why the cartoonist Joe Sacco and I are planning to do our next book together on Gaza.

Written speech:

I would like to start with a story that happened to me in Gaza on October 5, 2000. One day I was working on a report at Natzarim (Jewish settlement). There were Palestinian boys near me. The boys threw rocks towards the Israeli army. A soldier shot one of the boys — and the boy died. Four boys each lifted up a limb and we ran. The incident aftected me to such an extent that I did not shave for three weeks. After three weeks, I went to visit the boy’s house to meet his family. I told his mother I was with her son when he was killed. The mother told me that when her younger son heard that his brother had been killed he went into the kitchen, and then he left the house. After ten minutes she asked her husband where her son had gone. They went out to look for him and saw him in the street with a knife in his hand.

She asked him, “Where are you going?”

He answered, “I am going to kill Jews.” I have never been able to forget that child. I often wonder where he is. He would be a man in his thirties now. Is he still alive? Married? Does he have children? Are he and his family frightened of the bombing? Where have they taken refuge? God willing, I will write a book on Gaza with the cartoonist Joe Sacco, the author of “Palestine” and “Footnotes in Gaza.” During that time I will look for him, I will complete his story and the stories of many others. Israel is determined to erase them from existence and from history. This is my promise.

Share if you enjoyed!

Share

The Chris Hedges Report is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

 

Continue Reading

Shadow Banned

Copyright © 2023 mesh news project // awake, not woke // news, not narrative // deep inside the filter bubble