Ron Jager, a 26-year veteran of the IDF, writes that the surprise Hamas attack by land, sea, and air, which led to the huge number of people, both civilians and soldiers, being murdered by Hamas, will lead to Israel conducting a different kind of war in Gaza. More on his thoughts can be found here: “In Gaza, what was will no longer be,” by Ron Jager, JNS, October 8, 2023:
Fifty years ago, Israel was caught unprepared for the Yom Kippur War. Following a devastating surprise attack by Arab armies to the north and south, the 19-day war saw Israel emerge victorious, with IDF forces closing in on Damascus and Cairo. But the war also left Israel traumatized for a generation.
Over the past 24 hours, Israel has experienced a sense of déjà vu. The mighty IDF was once again caught unprepared, enabling Hamas terrorists to enter Israel freely via land, air and sea. The terrorists indiscriminately murdered civilians in their homes, on the streets of cities and towns, and on kibbutzim. They succeeded in kidnapping dozens of hostages, including women, children and the elderly, taking them back to the Gaza Strip….
It appears that the security and political establishments cannot be trusted to make strategic decisions and, over the years, only brought terror literally to our front door.
This began with the signing of the Oslo Accords 30 years ago and then in 2000 with the sudden retreat from Lebanon. These resulted in the Second Intifada, in which over a thousand Israelis were killed as supposed “victims of peace.” In 2005, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, setting up the eventual Hamas takeover. Then there was the failed 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Many of those who presided over these disastrous policies still serve in high places in the security establishment. Many of their predecessors have been involved in the year-long protests against the government, distracting the IDF from its central tasks of preparation and training. They must be held accountable.
Both sides are accountable — those who support the judicial overhaul and those who so noisily have opposed it — for distracting the government at a time when its entire focus should have been on security in the south. Such a focus might have prevented the Hamas attack from proceeding without Israel noticing it. There would still have been an attack, but the all-important element of surprise would no longer be present, and that would have made all the difference, if the IDF, which had moved troops out of the south to conduct raids on terrorists in Jenin and Nablus and other cities in the West Bank, had instead kept the same number of troops on the border with Gaza, hundreds of Israelis’ lives might have been saved. How many members of Mossad were instead focused on the endless series of protests against the government, or perhaps took place in such protests themselves?
It now appears that the Israeli government and the security establishment have decided to destroy the Hamas regime in Gaza by military means. This means that what was will no longer be. This is what has to happen. There is no backing down. The entire Muslim world is watching to see how we respond. No doubt, there will be a high price in blood for an effective, game-changing response, but we have no other choice.
“What was will no longer be.” Israel, sorrowful and enraged at the same time, will change the rules of the game that it has heretofore observed. No longer will warnings routinely be issued to civilians in or near targeted buildings. Instead, the Israeli government has just issued a blanket warning, telling civilians in Gaza to move out of built-up areas, out of any areas where they know Hamas, its weapons, its bases, its fighters, to be located, and instead to head to the southern border with Israel, and to that part of Gaza that is right on the Mediterranean, where there are unlikely to be any Hamas targets.
Furthermore, the IDF will now want to hit buildings that it only suspects, but cannot be sure, contain offices, or weapons hideouts, or terrorists, belonging to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Certainty is no longer a requirement. The IAF will no longer be held back because it lacks absolute certainty that Hamas has fighters or weapons or offices in the building; nor will the possible presence of some civilians stay Israel’s hand. This is truly going to be, as Prime Minister Netanyahu made clear, a guerre à outrance.
The soldiers of the IDF, having seen so many of their fellow soldiers murdered in cold blood, and a much greater number of Israeli civilians cut down as well in their homes, and on the streets, of southern Israel, will be less inclined than before to take Hamas fighters alive. Unless there is a clear, hands-in-air surrender, they will not try just to wound them, in order to take them prisoner, but will shoot to kill as many Hamas fighters as they can. Every member of the IDF knows what Hamas terrorists did, that first day of murder and mayhem, to Israeli women and girls, to helpless children, to the elderly and disabled, and to IDF soldiers, too, whom they caught unawares and slaughtered. They are determined not to “fight Hamas,” but to “wipe out Hamas.” These are different things.
And after the IDF has spent a few weeks in Gaza in a relentless campaign to destroy every Hamas command-and-control center, every weapons hideout, every rocket launcher, every terror tunnel where Hamas terrorists are hiding, there will inevitably be cries from the EU and UN for Israel to end its incursion into Gaza, and for the IDF to pull back inside Israel because “enough damage has been inflicted and too many civilians have been harmed.” But the IDF won’t budge, as it has in the past; it is going to stay in Gaza for as long as it takes, not to attain a ceasefire — how many of those has Israel agreed to in the past, much to its later regret — but to destroy Hamas once and for all.