Bayard & Holmes
~ Jay Holmes
On the morning of October 7, Hamas launched an unbridled terrorist attack on Israel from Gaza, in which Hamas terrorists brutally slaughtered 1400 Israelis and foreigners and kidnapped 248 more. By 0800 Israeli time, many folks around the globe were asking how Israel had been caught by surprise, and how had the Israeli Defense Force (“IDF”) only confirmed the attack at 0740. In Part Two, we suggest some possible answers for these two important questions, and in Part Three, we will look at the motives and miscalculations on the part of Hamas. To facilitate a discussion on the intelligence issues and to define the questions surrounding the current chapter of the Hamas-Israel War, we first need to look at what has happened up to this point. This Part One is an extremely brief overview of the ongoing conflict from October 7 to December 4.
Part One: What’s Happened So Far
October 7, 2023
At approximately 0630 local time, Hamas started launching missiles into Israel. Hamas launching missiles into Israel is, sadly, a fairly routine matter, but on this occasion, it sent thousands of missiles of various sizes and ranges against Israel. Israel estimated that Hamas launched about 2,500 missiles during the first days of this war. Hamas claims it launched 5,000 missiles.
As missiles began to rain down on Israel, Hamas terror commander Mohammed Deif broadcast a message on the internet calling for everyone in Gaza to attack Israeli towns and villages. His broadcast included the words “The enemy will understand that the time of their rampaging without accountability has ended,…”
At 0700 a music festival near Re’im Kibbutz, a secular collective farm, was getting underway when Hamas terrorists arrived on the scene on para-gliders and motorcycles and in trucks and began a raping, torturing, and killing spree. The bodies of 364 murdered civilians were recovered from the site of the music festival. The terrorists kidnapped some festival goers and took them into Gaza when they retreated from their invasion into Israel. We do not know how many hostages Hamas took from the music festival that day. The estimates vary widely, but the low estimate is “over forty.” The high estimates are “over one hundred.”
While the Hamas’s terror attack on the music festival was the largest incursion, Hamas also simultaneously conducted raids against six villages in southern Israel.
It was not until 0740 that the IDF announced that Israel was, indeed, under a major attack by Hamas terrorists.
At 0823, Israel declared that it was at war with Hamas and made its first call up of military reservists. In reality, Israel has been at war with Hamas since Hamas declared war against Israel when Hamas was first founded in 1987.
Hamas was, in fact, created for the sole purpose of the destruction of Israel. For reasons one can only guess at, many Westerners, including journalists, university professors, and various politicians, hold a variety of fascinating and at times colorful views concerning Hamas’s reason for existing. Some assume or claim to think that Hamas is “fighting for the freedom of Gaza” or “fighting to overthrow Israeli oppression in Gaza.”
For its part, Hamas has been clear and consistent about its intentions to annihilate Israel, and it was helpful enough to clarify that by writing it into its charter.
At 0834, the Israeli government announced that it had begun a counteroffensive against the Hamas terrorists.
At 1047, Israeli aircraft began bombing known Hamas targets in Gaza, such as missile launching sites and Hamas offices and residences.
October 8, 2023
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III ordered the US Navy to deploy the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean. It is unlikely that the order was given with the intention of having the strike group conduct any operations against Hamas, but rather, in my opinion, as a precaution against Iran and Syria conducting major attacks on Israel by way of Lebanon.
October 9, 2023
By this time, Israel was realizing that over 1400 Israelis and foreigners had been slaughtered by Hamas during its initial onslaught, and that Hamas had kidnapped 248 Israelis and foreign visitors to Israel, including those taken at the music festival.
Israel announced a total land, sea, and air blockade of Gaza, including fuel and food. Egypt and Israel had both already closed their respective border crossings with Gaza.
October 10, 2023
The US Air Force delivered unspecified “advanced weapons” to Israel.
President Biden stated that, “Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination. Its stated purpose is the annihilation of the State of Israel and the murder of Jewish people.” The President described this latest Hamas attack as “an act of sheer evil.”
October 11, 2023
Iranian-sponsored terrorists Hezbollah launched missile attacks against Israel from Lebanon.
October 12, 2023
More US military equipment arrived at Nevatim Airbase, which is east of Be’er Shiva in Israel.
Iranian-backed Syria launched mortar attacks on Israel. Israel responded with artillery strikes and bombing raids on the Damascus and Aleppo airports in Syria. In spite of heavy Syrian air defenses at both locations, no Israeli aircraft were damaged.
October 13, 2023
Israel issued a warning that combat operations against northern Gaza would begin the next day, and Gazans began fleeing southward. Hamas ordered those Gazans in the northern region to remain in place.
October 14, 2023
Israel and Egypt agreed to open the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt from 1200 to 1700 for foreign nationals to leave Gaza.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian stated, “Iran will intervene in the war if Israel continues its military operations or launches a ground invasion against Gaza.”
Given that Iran has already been supporting Hamas’s and Hezbollah’s terror activities against Israel with money and weapons since 1987, it was difficult to know what degree of further intervention Iran was threatening. To date, Iranian escalation has come through its Houthi client terrorists in Yemen in the form of missiles launched toward Israel and against ships in the region. The Houthis also attempted to capture a cargo ship.
October 21, 2023
Protests broke out in the West Bank in support of Gaza. Protesters were filmed flying the flags of Fatah and Russia and holding portraits of Russian Dictator Putin and his pal, North Korean Dictator Kim 3.0. . . . Thanks for the clarity.
US Secretary of Defense Austin ordered the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and her escorts to join the USS Gerald R. Ford in the Eastern Mediterranean.
October 28, 2023
Israel launched a ground invasion into Gaza with the announced intention of hunting down Hamas members.
October 31, 2023
The Al-Quds Brigades of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs, a coalition of armed Palestinian groups in the West Bank, launched an assault on the IDF in the West Bank.
November 1 – 21, 2023
Israeli ground operations in Gaza intensified. Hamas claimed that 15,000 Palestinians, mostly civilian, had been killed thus far. Israel estimates lower casualties.
Egyptians stopped dozens of Hamas terrorists when they tried to sneak out of Gaza at the Rafah crossing in ambulances that had been intended for wounded Gaza civilians.
At this point, many people around the world were wondering how Hamas could have failed to predict the scope and intensity of the Israeli response.
November 22, 2023
Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day cease fire for the exchange of prisoners and hostages.
November 24, 2023
At 0700 local time, a cease fire began. Twenty-four hostages, including 13 Israelis, 10 Thai nationals, and one Filipino, were exchanged by Hamas for 39 Palestinian prisoners.
In the Indian Ocean, a drone damaged the Malta-flagged container ship Symi, which is indirectly owned by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer. The drone was likely controlled by Iran.
November 25, 2023
Hamas released 13 Israeli hostages and four Thai nationals. Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners.
Never one to miss an opportunity to be absurd, Turkish “President” Erdogan said in a speech that, “Hamas is not a terrorist organization, but a mujaheddin liberation group struggling to protect its people and lands.” Apparently, Erdogan refuses to accept Hamas’s own stated purpose.
November 26, 2023
In an extension of the truce, 17 hostages, including 14 Israelis and three Thai nationals, were released by Hamas. Israel released 39 teenage Palestinian prisoners.
Pirates seized the Central Park, a Liberia-flagged ship carrying phosphoric acid owned by the Ofer family of Israel, in the Gulf of Aden. The guided missile destroyer USS Mason and a Japanese destroyer answered the Central Park’s distress call and captured the five hijackers.
Two ballistic missiles fired towards the USS Mason from Houthi-controlled Yemeni territory fell short 10 nautical miles. Interestingly, the Houthis are now denying any involvement.
November 27, 2023
Israel and Hamas agreed to extend the cease fire by two days. Hamas released eleven Israeli hostages while Israel released 33 Palestinian prisoners.
November 28, 2023
Ten Israeli hostages and a pet dog, two Thai nationals, and 30 Palestinian prisoners were exchanged.
November 29, 2023
Hamas released 16 hostages, and Israel released 30 Palestinian prisoners in return.
November 30, 2023
During another cease fire extension, which had been requested by Hamas, two gunmen killed three people and injured 16 others at a bus stop in West Jerusalem. The perpetrators, who were brothers from East Jerusalem, were killed by off-duty police officers. Hamas claimed responsibility.
The attack calls into question Hamas’s ability to control its own members. In spite of the blatant cease fire violation by Hamas, Hamas released eight hostages in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners.
December 1, 2023
With the conclusion of the cease fire, Israel returned to the offensive in Gaza. At the same time, the Israeli Army responded to attacks by Palestinian fighters in five towns in the West Bank.
December 3, 2023
Israel announced expanded ground operations into all of central and southern Gaza. Shin Bet Security Service Director Ronen Bar announced that Israel has set the goal of the elimination of Hamas. In reference to the 1972 Palestinian Liberation Organization terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the Summer Olympics in Munich, Bar said, “This is our Munich. Everywhere in Gaza, in the Palestinian territories, in Lebanon, in Turkey, and in Qatar. It will take us a few years, but we will be there to do it.” Including Turkey in the statement was a clear message to Turkish Dictator Erdogan.
As of December 4, 2023
We are left with several questions concerning the Israeli intelligence failures in the current chapter of the Hamas-Israeli war, as well as observations of the motives and miscalculations of Hamas.
In our next articles, we will explore those questions, motives, and miscalculations.
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Bayard & Holmes
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