Hamas's leadership planned an operation with several stages. The first stage was to surprise Israel with an unexpected attack on the Gaza border settlements. This stage was based on two years of intelligence gathering, much of it by workers from Gaza who went home with detailed reports. Hamas rightly anticipated the IDF's unpreparedness on the Gaza border and the weakness of the government, which was preoccupied with its judicial reform, and above all, Israel's mistaken concept that Hamas currently had no interest in escalating the situation.
Israel was fooled into thinking that Hamas apparently supported the rehabilitation of Gaza, and the Israeli government even allowed Qatar to transfer suitcases of money to Gaza. According to the amount of weapons carried by Hamas's elite force, the organization planned to hold the settlements, empty them of their inhabitants and also send armed men to the center of the country. The first phase was more successful than expected in surprising communities, infiltrating IDF positions and the large number of hostages taken - civilians and soldiers. But the rest went wrong.
The second stage in the planning was to reconstruct the Yom Kippur War effect through a combined attack on Israel from all Palestinian fronts.
This step failed because the terrorist organization, like Israel, also based itself on a wrong concept. Hamas's concept was based on the fighting in May 2021. The organization believed that it would be able to reproduce the precedent that occurred then, with all elements of Palestinian society joining the struggle - Israel's Arabs and the Palestinians in the West Bank.
Furthermore, contrary to Hamas's hopes, the demonstrations of solidarity with Gaza that erupted throughout the Arab world were limited and suppressed by the Arab regimes, fearing the eruption of a new 2011-style Arab Spring.
The attacks planned from the West Bank were thwarted by the activities of the IDF, which probably received assistance from the Palestinian Authority (PA), as part of their security cooperation. Fatah officials in the PA do not forget for a moment the brutal coup carried out by Hamas in Gaza against them in 2007, throwing Fatah leaders from the roofs of buildings and murdering senior figures in front of their families.
It is possible Iran decided to sacrifice Hamas to harm Israel
The second major reason for the failure of the second phase of the "Al-Aqsa Deluge" was the lack of response from the Iranian resistance axis. It seems that the Hamas leadership was promised assistance from Iran through its proxies, primarily Hezbollah. The deep US involvement including deploying Sixth Fleet ships to Lebanon's shores and the Lebanese fear of a disaster similar to the Second Lebanon War in 2006, are what are stopping this.
It is even possible that Iran had no prior intention to keep its promises, and had decided to sacrifice Hamas to harm Israel, while at the same time keeping back the rest of its cards in the region for more serious threats in the future (for example, an attack on its nuclear reactors). This is the price that Hamas is paying for its betrayal of the Shia axis in Syria at its most difficult time, when President Assad faced collapse in the civil war and Hamas supported the Islamic opposition.
Hamas has now been left alone against Israel with just Qatar as its economic and political patron. The wealthy emirate is trying, in coordination with the terrorist organization, to release a trickle of hostages, mainly foreigners (there is international pressure on Qatar due to the kidnapping of many foreign citizens). The aim is to delay the ground entry. Qatar's leadership hopes that the harsh images broadcast from the Gaza Strip by the Al-Jazeera channel it owns will succeed in shocking the world, making the world forget the crimes by Hamas, and increasing the pressure on Israel to stop the war.
The author, a graduate of the Sorbonne, is a researcher, lecturer and Arabic teacher in the University of Haifa University's Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. He edits the "This Week in the Middle East newsletter."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 24, 2023.
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