The Israeli reaction to the October 7 Hamas attack was to first stop them and then begin to dismantle Hamas as an effective organization. Initially that involved the use of military forces to destroy Hamas bases and facilities in Gaza as well as outposts in the West Bank and south Lebanon. This is not the first time Israeli forces have gone after Hamas in Gaza. In 2014 Israel did so with the main targets being Hamas storage sites for unguided rockets to be fired at Israel. These sites were usually in residential areas so Hamas could use local civilians as involuntary human shields against Israeli attacks. Any civilians killed were declared an Israeli atrocity in the subsequent Hamas press release, but Israel regularly sought to avoid civilian casualties while Hamas did not.
The Hamas attack on Israel has become 0rganizational suicide. Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas in Gaza and then send Mossad operatives after the surviving leaders in other parts of the world. Mossad had done this before and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated they’ll do it to Hamas personnel around the world. When Palestinian gunmen seized Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics and killed most of them, the men responsible sought hiding places in Europe. One by one they were all killed. Israel admitted nothing but the Palestinians got the message. The Palestinian terrorist faction Hamas was unconcerned by that and on October 7 concentrated on killing as many Israelis as possible, including babies. Israel then openly declared it would destroy Hamas and all its personnel, and in particular eliminate all terrorist threats in Gaza by destroying most of it and occupying what’s left. Two sides can attempt total destruction of the enemy. In this case, Israel has the means and Hamas does not. Israel is doing what it said it would and Hamas is rapidly disappearing.
While several senior Hamas leaders have recently been killed by Israeli airstrikes, there is still a Hamas leadership structure outside the region. Their mission is to persuade Western media that the Hamas cause is just and so is killing all Israelis, including women and children, they encounter. Hamas justifies this as striking back at their oppressor. Israel and Palestinians have long disagreed on what the oppression consists of. For Palestinians oppression is the existence of Israel and the continued presence of Jews the region. The Israelis say they came in peace to the Middle East, created prosperity and persuaded Britain and the UN to recognize Israel as a nation. The nearby Arab states objected to that and fought three more wars with Israel, losing them all and agreeing to make peace with Israel.
The Palestinian resistance came later, after the concept of Palestinians was invented and achieved wide scale acceptance. This began when some local Arabs, mostly in the West Bank and Gaza, refused to recognize Israeli independence. Neighboring Arab states refused to absorb the Palestinians and Jordan had to fight a brief war with their Palestinian refugees who staged a rebellion against the Jordanians in 1970. Those Palestinians were defeated and driven into Syria. While Israel and most Western nations accept just about anyone seeking to move to their country and settle down, this is not the custom in Arab states, where migration by foreigners, including other Arabs, is considered a hostile invasion and treated as such.
This led to a major problem invented by the UN when they sought to help by demanding that Israel allow Palestinians who fled their homes during the end of the 1947-49 war to return and vex Israelis who fought to establish their independence. The displaced Arabs who refused to recognize the new state of Israel also refused many other solutions that the UN and Israel agreed on and offered, and instead lived in the West Bank and Gaza, which could have been an independent state or states, but many of the Arabs insisted that Israeli surrender more territory, and when Israeli refused, the West Bank and Gaza Arabs, who rebranded themselves as Palestinians in the 1960s, demanded that Israel be destroyed and replaced with a Palestinian state that contained no Jews. That has been the underlying goal of the Palestinians ever since.
Their elected leaders are corrupt and tell the UN and donor nations that they just want peace with Israel while refusing to do anything to make that happen. The Palestinians have tried many ways and means of attacking Israel, or at least to kill Israelis, and none have succeeded. Like the four wars Arabs fought with Israel and lost, Palestinians were running out of ideas. Then the radical Palestinian faction Hamas came up with a bold and bloody solution that failed and created more disappointment.
The October 2023 Hamas attack killed more Israeli civilians than in any war since the first one that ended in 1949 with the recognition of Israel as a nation. Many Arabs refuse to accept the existence of Israel and support groups like Hamas that keep trying to destroy Israel. A growing number of Arabs believe that the solution to the “Israel problem” is making peace with Israel and doing business with them. This is especially true since the prosperous Persian Gulf oil states are threatened by Iran, as are Israel and Arab states like Egypt that depend on the Gulf states for investments and financial assistance. Iran backs Hamas and has paid for all those rockets they launched at Israel as well as training and other support for Hamas members. There is a pattern to the Hamas offensive, and it has its roots in Iran and Arabs who are obsessed with destroying Israel and killing or driving all Jews out of the region.
This is nothing new. The Arabs were big admirers of the Nazis during the 1930s and World War II. The Nazis wanted to kill all Jews everywhere. The Jews survived but so did the hate. Many people worldwide support Hamas, some without realizing what Hamas is and where it came from. Hamas failed but others will try to do what Hamas could not and destroy Israel.
To make that more difficult, Israel has launched a campaign to obliterate Hamas as thoroughly as possible. Other Arab states understand that concept because it has been a tradition in this part of the world for a long time. For example, Jews were forcibly expelled from the Middle East by the Romans two thousand years ago. The Romans, Eastern and Western, lasted until the 16th century. After that Jews slowly returned to the traditional Jewish homeland and this eventually led to the revival of a Jewish state in the region. The Arabs have been regularly defeated by Western armies and were in no shape to halt the creation of Israel. The Arabs tried, failed and eventually noted that Israel was good for their regional economies. Israel also created a military that local Arab states found they could not defeat. Along the way Israel developed nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to deliver them anywhere in the region. Israel can also deliver their nukes via their submarines, which are equipped to launch cruise missiles containing a nuclear warhead. That kind of deterrence works against established Arab states but not against stateless fanatics like Hamas and arguably not against Iran’s fanatic Islamic theocracy. Most of the Arab groups consider themselves Palestinians. That label is a codeword for someone dedicated to destroying Israel.
Israel is playing by Palestinian rules and striving to destroy Hamas to establish a precedent that the elimination of Hamas is what awaits anyone serious about trying to destroy Israel. This is another ancient local custom that persists despite post-World War Two efforts to discourage its application.
Israel is currently seeking out and destroying any Hamas presence in Gaza. The 2.3 million Arabs living there now will be left in peace as long as they are peaceful. Israel will control security, education, government and the administration of the economy plus foreign aid. The latter will produce much outrage from non-governmental organizations, the United Nations and officials of foreign governments who have been taking rake-offs from the aid they had nominally provided to Hamas and its Al Fatah predecessor in Gaza.
Israel has long allowed Palestinians to enter Israel to work in Israel. Palestinian leaders opposed this but Palestinians pointed out that Israel offered paying jobs, something Palestinian leaders were unable to do. Palestinian leaders administered millions of dollars sent each year to Palestinian governments in the West Bank (Al Fatah) and Gaza ,and stole much to most of it. Arabs who were Israeli citizens noted that Israeli government officials were more honest, and the Israeli economy provided good jobs for its Arab citizens as well as some Palestinians. About a quarter of the Israeli population is Arab and the Arab citizens do not have to serve in the military, although some volunteer.
Another quirk of the Israeli population is that about half the original Jews who fled to Israel were from Arab nations and their ancestors had lived there for over a thousand years. Once Israel became a state, most of these Arab Jews were no longer welcome in the homelands. Some went to Europe or America, but most headed for Israel where they faced decades of discrimination from European Jews. Eventually there was acceptance. After several generations, memories of life in Arab countries faded and the Arab Jews became more Israeli than Arab. That is why so many Israelis speak Arabic as well as Hebrew.
This means the Israeli army and government has lots of Jews who speak Arabic, and this will help with setting up a government in Gaza. At the moment Israeli troops are still seeking out and eliminating weapons, explosives and rockets stashed all over the Gaza territory. Hamas has been notably absent when it comes to meeting the basic needs of the more than two million Palestinians living in Gaza. Worse, Hamas seized most foreign aid that did arrive in Gaza before their October offensive. Little of this aid was distributed, instead it was hoarded by Hamas and the Israelis are looking for these food stashes so the goods can be distributed to the hungry civilians in Gaza.
Hamas still has some supporters in Gaza, but the many defeats suffered recently by Hamas and their poor treatment of Gaza civilians has left them with little popular support. On the other hand, most to almost all of Gaza’s civilians hate Israel and Jews due to 75 years of continuous indoctrination that they should. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that Israel will operate Gaza’s education system after the conquest to reverse this. How that will be done is a good question and might take as long (75 years) to be effective.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, the EU (European Union) and the World Bank continue to urge Israel to accept a peace deal with the Palestinians that includes an independent Palestinian state. None of these proposals address the Palestinian demands that Israel must be destroyed before there can be peace, or Israeli demands that Hamas be destroyed. Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza often disagreed on many issues, but both agreed that Israel must be destroyed, and Jews expelled from the region before there can be peace. In the meantime, Hamas and Fatah continue encouraging violence against Israelis but fewer Palestinians comply. During the six months before the Hamas offensive, there was more violence in the West Bank than Gaza that required Israel forces to deal with. At first it was armed Palestinian groups fighting each other for dominance while organizing attacks on Israelis or in Israel itself. This led to a degree of fighting in the West Bank not seen since 2021 and may be the start of a new Palestinian offensive or “intifada”. This would be the third one. The first lasted from 1987 to 1993 while the second one was from 2000 to 2005.
Israel defeated the 2000 “Intifada” terror campaign by 2005. But as long as Palestinians had free access to Israel, the West Bank Palestinian government (Fatah) urged and encouraged Palestinians to attempt attacks inside Israel. The Israelis responded with tighter border controls which kept the terrorist threat low in Israel. Fatah insisted they had a right to keep trying to kill Israelis and, for over a decade, Arab and Western nations kept providing aid to the West Bank and Gaza despite the fact that more and more of it was used to support and encourage more terrorism against Israel. Some Palestinian leaders tried to describe the violence as an effort to defend Islam. The Palestinians were not very religious and their violence against Israelis was justified by their belief that Israel must be destroyed, and Israelis driven from the region.
There were other problems, mainly involving corruption. This has led more donor states, Moslem and non-Moslem, to openly complain of Fatah misuse of aid money. Fatah denied it and continued their corrupt ways. The donors cut their aid, often to nothing. It was not just the Fatah support of terrorism but the growing Fatah corruption which meant a lot of the aid was stolen to enrich Fatah leaders. Palestinians also opposed Fatah’s job policy and Fatah was forced to tolerate more and more Palestinians renouncing terror to pass the background check and work in Israel. West Bank Palestinian jobs in Israel have become a crucial part of the West Bank economy even more so than they were back in 2000.
Iran, which has long sponsored Hamas, did not want Hamas to commit suicide. The years of Iranian support for Hamas was expensive and they expected Hamas to keep attacking Israel without triggering a massive response. Now Hamas is in danger of elimination from their base area in Gaza, where Iranian supplied rockets had, for years, proved useful for Iran. These rockets are gone as well. Iran praised the Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli cities and killing of Israeli soldiers. Iran did not want to be associated with all the civilians, including women and children, Hamas killed. Hamas also took hostages with the intention of trading them for the release of thousands of Palestinians jailed in Israel to violent crimes. Israel did not respond to the Hamas offer and keeps coming after Hamas, hoping to save the lives of as many hostages as possible. Hamas had no more leverage and realized they were being hunted down and killed by several hundred thousand Israeli soldiers, most of them mobilized for the occasion. As the old saying goes, choose your friends carefully and your enemies more carefully. Hamas chose poorly.
Hamas fighters deliberately do not wear uniforms to make it more difficult to identify them unless they are carrying weapons. They also hide among civilians and like to use civilians as human shields when attacking Israelis. If the Israelis shoot back anyway, Hamas considers the dead civilians as involuntary martyrs for the cause. For Hamas there is no bad publicity. While Israelis and Western nations deplore the ruthless tactics Hamas uses, they have a difficult time coping with Hamas unless they adopt some of the atrocious Hamas methods. This aids Hamas as well because Hamas did not encourage or sometimes did not allow civilians to leave Gaza city as the Israeli attack force is preparing to attack the city. The civilians have nowhere to go because Egypt has closed its borders to Palestinians.
Egypt has its own economic problems and is hostile to any pro-Iran activity inside Egypt because Iran has been hostile to Egypt for a long time. One reason for that is Egypt made peace with Israel decades ago and both countries allow their citizens to freely visit their neighbor and trade is encouraged. Both nations have profited from the natural gas deposits discovered offshore from Lebanon to Egypt. Israel briefly pulled most workers off an offshore natural gas off the southern Israeli coast. The Hamas surge never got that far but Israeli soldiers are still searching for stray Hamas gunmen still looking for Israelis to kill. The Hamas surge or flood tactics suffered more losses from Israelis shooting back and individual Hamas men wandering away from the group and losing contact.
Some fighting continues in Gaza, where 2.3 million Palestinians are dependent on foreign aid to survive. So far nearly 8,000 Palestinians in Gaza have died, and Israeli troops are still searching for the surviving armed Hamas members in Gaza. These Hamas men are in the 500 kilometers of tunnels Hamas has built under Gaza.
Now the only Palestinian controlled area is the West Bank. Some Hamas men fled to the West Bank, where Iran has tried to smuggle in weapons, including rockets. That has not been successful because the West Bank is landlocked with Jordan on its eastern border and Israel on the western border. Since 1967 the West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation. Some portions are under Palestinian control but are surrounded by Israeli troops and 23o Israeli settlements. Jordan cooperates with Israel in keeping things quiet in the West Bank, especially on the Jordanian border. There is some anti-Israel violence in the West Bank, but the Palestinians have not been able to sustain that because of the hostile, to groups like Hamas, attitude.