Israel’s 9/11: The day after

As William Buckley used to say, herewith a few comments on Hamas’s 10/7 attack on Israel (with apologies for those that have already achieved the status of cliché):

• Hamas’s 10/7 attack is something like Israel’s 9/11, only worse. Israel’s death toll has hit more than 400 (and rising). Adjusting for population and measuring by the deaths inflicted so far, Israel has suffered (is suffering) an attack that is something like three times more damaging than 9/11. (UPDATE: The Times of Israel now puts the death toll at more than 600. The toll is several times more damaging than 9/11.)

• Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization. It is waging war by atrocity, as it always does. The fire this time should be its last.

• As I write on 10/8, Hamas’s attack continues and deaths mount. Israel seems not yet to have concluded the fighting on its own territory.

• The Israeli intelligence, defense, and political establishments were caught napping. The complete failure of intelligence is comparable to the one that preceded the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago.

• Speaking of the Yom Kippur war, we can infer that the attack was timed to coincide with its 50th anniversary. Given the planning and preparation that preceded the attack, disruption of Israel’s possible peace with Saudi Arabia must constitute an added benefit rather than its immediate object. [UPDATE: The timing reported in the October 8 Wall Street Journal story on Iran’s involvement in the attack suggests that I am wrong about this, but I still think planning for the attack must have been in the works for a long while.]

• By comparison with the Yom Kippur War, it seems to me that the consequences of this war are more dire and the effects more difficult to contemplate. Last night Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed that Israel would destroy Hamas’s military and governmental capabilities. What happens next?

• Hamas has taken numerous hostages and removed them to Gaza. The Israeli embassy to the United States is reporting that 100 soldiers and civilians have been kidnapped. So long as Hamas holds these hostages, it will necessarily constrain Israel’s freedom of action to achieve its stated objectives, as does Israel’s meticulous compliance with the laws of war. The IDF is not free to combat savagery with savagery.

• As Elliott Abrams puts it at NRO: “There is no way around the fact that Hamas has new assets and that future negotiations over the captured Israelis will be excruciating. That is one reason a government of national unity is called for — to stop opposition parties from politicizing tough decisions by making them partly responsible for Israeli policy in the coming months.”

• Hezbollah aggravates Israel’s military challenge at present. Their forces and their arsenal exceed those of Hamas and hold Lebanon in thrall.

• The intelligence and readiness failures underlying Yom Kippur War brought down the government of Prime Minister Golda Meir. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces the same after a commission of inquiry does its work.

• Iran is of course behind this war: Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad tells the BBC that Iran gave its support to the Palestinian terror group to launch its surprise multi-front attack on Israel on Saturday. Yet the Biden administration remains in doubt about that.

• Which raises the question of our own failure of intelligence. Thus spake National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan only a few days ago. This didn’t age well. Unfortunately, these people are incapable of shame.

• Iran’s Supreme Leader contributed to the proceedings via Twitter/X.

• The leader of Hamas is holed up in Qatar — you know, the country that oversees the disbursement of the $6 billion we gifted Iran for the five American hostages it was holding.

• NSC spokesman Adrienne Watson has reiterated the Biden line: “Not a single cent from these [$6 billion ransom] funds has been spent, and when it is spent, it can only be spent on things like food and medicine for the Iranian people.”

• Fox News Pentagon correspondent Jennifer Griffin repeated this over and over again yesterday.

• Gabriel Noronha has comprehensively refuted this assertion in an informative thread on Twitter/X.

• By the way, Fox News correspondents continue to refer to Hamas terrorists as “militants.” How lame can you get?

• Liel Liebovitz steps back to look at the larger picture in the Tablet essay “America’s betrayal of Israel.” Liebovitz writes: “In addition to creating the external circumstances for terror, the Biden administration did everything in its power to derail Israel’s democratically elected government and prevent it from being able to see an attack like today’s coming. That the Israelis let themselves fall for this was stupidity of criminal order. But the invisible hand here was America’s.”

• More: “It doesn’t matter what words Biden says today. When you champion Iran; when you send it and its proxies money; when you reward Palestinian violence; when you go out of your way to portray Bibi as a dangerous fascist; when you finance and champion his opponents, contributing to further instability and unrest; when you hand over U.S. intelligence keys to Iranian agents; when you have your spokespeople declare it “disinformation” for people to connect obvious dots; when you do all of this, you know what is going to happen. You mean for it to happen.”

• President Biden slurred out a brief if unqualified statement of American support for Israel yesterday afternoon (White House transcript here). It would be a mistake to take the statement at face value. That statement comes with an expiration date that can be measured in days or weeks.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.