A massive, unprovoked attack on Israel – analysis

This is an unprecedented attack by Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza the likes of which has not been seen since the group came to power in the Strip.

The IDF also said that “civilians in the southern and central areas are required to stay next to shelters, and in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip, inside shelters. The Chief of the General staff is currently conducting a situational assessment and approves plans for the continuation of the IDF activity.”

Israel has said that “the Hamas terrorist organization is the sovereign in the Gaza Strip and is responsible for this attack. It will face the consequences and responsibility for these events.”

The Minister of Defense approved the draft of reserve soldiers in accordance with the IDF’s requirements.

 Damage caused by rocket attacks in Israel, October 7, 2023. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Damage caused by rocket attacks in Israel, October 7, 2023. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Israel is in a state of war

How did we get here? In the past conflicts with Gaza often went through stages, with a slow build up of tensions. For instance back in 2008 before Operation Cast Lead there was increasing rocket fire from Gaza.

In many operations it was Israel that dictated the tempo of the conflict, launching strikes in Gaza in 2012 or 2019, with Operations Pillar of Cloud and Black Belt. In 2014 the conflict also began with tensions in the West Bank after the kidnapping and murder of three Israelis. The ten day conflict in 2021 also began with tensions in Jerusalem.

The attacks this morning were unprecedented in their size and their extent. Hamas has tried infiltrations before, but the Gaza border fence and security have generally prevented those attempts.

Hamas has also tried to use rioters as cover for threats. However, even though Hamas had instigated some riots over the last month, there was no evidence that this was a slow drumbeat towards a wider war.

In fact overall the Iranian-backed proxies such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah had been relatively quiet in their over threats and activity in recent days. This was a lull before the storm.

Today the storm has broken. While it remains to be seen how this attack will continue to unfold and what Israel’s overall response will be, it is clear that Hamas and terror groups in Gaza have sought to dictate the tempo of the conflict, attempting to wrest that decision from Israel.

In a sense this could be seen as an attempt by the terrorists to replay the Yom Kippur War, which included a surprise attack on Israel fifty years ago. Unlike the attack in 1973 the terrorists do not have warplanes or a conventional force and Israel is in a much stronger position.

However, Iran backs the terrorists in Gaza and it is possible that the attack could be a curtain raiser for other moves by Iran and its network of terrorist proxies in the region. 

The attempt by Hamas to fire rockets at Jerusalem is also what makes this attack unique. While Hamas and terrorists in Gaza have targeted Jerusalem in the past, this level of fire is a new type of tactic. In the 2021 war the conflict began when Hamas fired a salvo of rockets toward Jerusalem.

However, in general, the terrorist groups have not targeted Jerusalem during most rounds of fighting and they have preferred instead to fire toward Tel Aviv or areas south of Tel Aviv such as Rishon LeTzion or Ashkelon. This shift towards Jerusalem clearly represents a decision by the terrorist leaders, backed by Iran, to target the city.

Another tactic that the terror groups have borrowed from the 2021 war is large salvos of rockets. Over the years terrorist infrastructure in Gaza has increased such that the groups sought to be able to fire more than 100 rockets in salvos over a very short period of time.

The Iranian effort to confront Israel in recent years has also shifted. It has sought to “unify” various fronts against Israel, by increasing support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank and also creating tensions in Lebanon and Syria.

The attack on Israel also conjures up memories of other attempts at infiltrations and attacks, such as the effort Hamas put into tunnels before 2014; as well as the attack that resulted in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in June 2006. The kidnapping of Shalit took place on the eve of Hezbollah launching a similar attack. In 2014 Hamas also attempted a seaborne commando raid near Zikim.

However, the Hamas attack on October 7 was more widespread and unprecedented. Despite many conflicts with Israel over the years and Israel’s increased investment in security on the border using new technology, Hamas was able to launch a massive attack.


October 7, 2023 | 3 Comments »

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  1. Hund, I understand your sentiment: Al Aksa mosque is certainly an abomination. I don’t want it destroyed, though. It is constructed partly of the rubble from the destruction of Bait HaMikdash, and it therefor has holiness. I would rather that the Wakf be shown the “EXIT” and Jewish archaeologists allowed to excavate it.

  2. “The attempt by Hamas to fire rockets at Jerusalem is also what makes this attack unique.”
    I wish they would accidentally destroy al-aqsa. 🙂