Facts that Israel tries to hide

Image: Anthony DeRosa
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By SCOTT RITTER*

It is now clear that the main killers of Israelis on October 7th were not Hamas or any other Palestinian faction, but the Israeli military itself.

There is a truism I often cite when discussing the various analytical approaches to assessing the wide variety of geopolitical problems facing the world today: you cannot solve a problem unless you first properly define it. The essence of the argument is quite simple: any solution that has nothing to do with the problem involved is, literally, no solution at all.

Israel characterized the attack carried out by Hamas on the various Israeli military bases and militarized colonies, or kibbutz (plural form: kibbutzim) – which in their entirety comprised an important part of the Gaza barrier system – as a massive act of terrorism, comparing it to 11/1.200 in the United States. Israel supports this characterization by indicating the death toll (around 200 – a downward revision made by Israel after realizing that XNUMX of those killed were Palestinian fighters) and detailing a wide variety of atrocities it claims were perpetrated by Hamas. , including mass rape, the beheading of children, and the deliberate murder of unarmed Israeli civilians.

The problem with these Israeli claims is that they are demonstrably false or misleading. Almost a third of Israeli victims consisted of military, security and police personnel. Furthermore, it is clear today that the main killers of Israelis on October 7th were not Hamas or any other Palestinian factions, but the Israeli military itself.

Recently released videos show pilots of Israeli Apache helicopters, unable to distinguish between civilians and Hamas fighters, shooting indiscriminately at those trying to flee the rave “Supernova Sukkot Gathering”, held in the open desert, near the kibbutz Re'im. Many of the vehicles that the Israeli government presented as examples of Hamas perfidy were, in fact, destroyed by these Israeli helicopters.

Likewise, Israel widely publicized what it called the “Re'im massacre,” citing the number of 112 civilians killed, which it claims were murdered by Hamas. However, reports from eyewitnesses, both surviving Israeli civilians and soldiers involved in the fighting, demonstrate that the vast majority of deaths were caused by fire from Israeli soldiers and tanks directed against buildings where civilians were hiding or held hostage by fighters. of Hamas.

It took two days for the Israeli military to recapture Re'im. And this only happened after the tanks fired at civilian homes, collapsing them onto their occupants and often setting them on fire, causing the bodies of those inside to be consumed by the fire. The Israeli government announced that it had to use the services of forensic archaeologists to identify human remains in the kibbutz, in an attempt to implicate Hamas in the burning of these houses. But the fact is that it was Israeli tanks that produced the destruction and slaughter. This scene was repeated in others kibbutzim along the Gaza barrier system.

The Israeli government treats the kibbutz as purely civil, but even so, it came to publicize the way in which armed security teams from various kibbutzim – organized by so-called “civilian” residents – mobilized in time to “successfully repel” the Hamas attackers. The reality is that every kibbutz it had to be treated by Hamas as an armed camp and, as such, attacked as if it were a military objective, for the simple fact that they were, without exception. Israel had reinforced each kibbutz with a squadron of around 20 soldiers from his army (the IDF – Israel Defense Forces), who were permanently housed there. Considering that Hamas had been planning its attack for over a year, he assumed that these 20 IDF soldiers for kibbutz were still there, and that one should act accordingly.

Israel was forced to backtrack on its allegations that Hamas beheaded 40 children. Nor did it provide any credible evidence that this Palestinian force was involved in the rape or sexual assault of a single Israeli woman. Eyewitness accounts describe the Hamas fighters as disciplined, determined and deadly in their attack, yet courteous and gentle when dealing with the civilian captives.

The question then arises as to why the Israeli government is making every effort to fabricate a narrative intended to support the false and misleading characterization of the October 7 attack by Hamas on the Gaza barrier system as an act of terrorism. The answer is as disturbing as it is clear: what happened on October 7th was not a terrorist attack, but rather a military incursion.

The difference between the two terms is the same as that between night and day. By labeling the events of October 7th as acts of terrorism, Israel shifts the blame for the enormous losses of its military, security and intelligence services to Hamas. If Israel, however, were to recognize that what Hamas did was in fact an incursion – that is, a military operation – then the competence of the Israeli military, security and intelligence services would be called into question, as would the responsible political leadership. for the supervision and direction of operations. And that would probably be the last thing someone like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would want.

Bibi (Benjamin Netanyahu) fights for his political life. He was already facing a crisis of his own making, as he pushed for a legal reform that, strictly speaking, rewrote the Israeli Constitution in order to place the Judiciary under the control of the Knesset (the unicameral parliament), effectively eliminating it , as an independent power, of what it says is the “largest democracy in the Middle East”. This act put Israel on the brink of civil war, with hundreds of thousands of protesters taking to the streets to denounce Benjamin Netanyahu.

What makes these actions by Benjamin Netanyahu even more despicable – effectively making him an autocrat – is the fact that they represent little more than a simple personal power play, designed to prevent the Israeli judicial system from trying him on several very credible charges of corruption, which could land him in prison for many years.

Benjamin Netanyahu calls himself Israel's foremost defender, an expert both on the threats Israel faces abroad and how best to respond to them. On several occasions, he openly advocated a military confrontation with Iran, due to the latter country's nuclear program (as if Israel did not, for its part, possess more than 200 nuclear bombs). Benjamin Netanyahu is also a defender of political Zionism in its most extreme version, promoting the expansion of Israeli colonies in the West Bank, using tactics of forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and villages, as part of a global plan to create a “Greater Israel”. inspired by biblical mythologies.

Part of Benjamin Netanyahu's strategy to realize this dream of a “Greater Israel” was to weaken the Palestinian people and their government, to the point of irrelevance, thus preventing them from realizing their dream of having an independent state. To facilitate this strategy, Benjamin Netanyahu, over the last two decades, had, interestingly, been promoting the growth of Hamas as a political organization. The aim of this support was simple: by promoting Hamas, Benjamin Netanyahu intended to weaken the Palestinian Authority, the governing body led by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Benjamin Netanyahu's plan was working. In September 2020, he signed the Abraham Accords, a series of bilateral agreements sponsored by the administration of then President Donald Trump, which sought to normalize relations between Israel and several Gulf Arab states. Before the Hamas attack on October 7, Israel was on the verge of normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia, a move that would prove to be the final nail in the coffin of the Palestinian state. In this aspect, one of the main reasons for Israel's success had been precisely the creation of a political division between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

On October 7, however, this success was nullified by the victory that Hamas achieved over the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The precise means by which this victory occurred will be a topic for another time. But the basic elements of this victory are already well established.

Hamas effectively neutralized Israel's vaunted intelligence services, blinding them to the possibility of an attack of that size and scale. When the attack occurred, Hamas was able to precisely override the surveillance and communications nodes that the IDF relied on to mobilize a response in the event of an attack. Hamas defeated Israeli soldiers stationed along the wall and border fences in a face-to-face fight. Two battalions of the Golani Brigade were defeated, as were elements of other IDF units.

Hamas attacked the Gaza Division headquarters, the local intelligence center, and other key command and control facilities with brutal precision, turning what should have been a planned Israeli response time of five minutes into many hours; more than enough time for Hamas to carry out action on one of its main objectives: the taking of hostages. Its fighters did so with extreme competence, returning to Gaza with more than 230 Israeli soldiers and civilians.

The United States Marine Corps defines a raid as “an operation, usually small scale, that involves a rapid penetration of hostile territory to obtain information, confuse the enemy, or destroy enemy installations, ending with a planned withdrawal after completion of assigned mission.” This is precisely what Hamas did on October 7th.

What were the objectives of this incursion? According to Hamas, the objective was threefold. First, reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to a homeland; right eclipsed by the Abraham Accords. Secondly, release the more than 10.000 Palestinians held prisoner by Israel, the majority without having been accused of any crime and without any observance of the principle of due judicial process. And third, restore the sanctity of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam, repeatedly desecrated by Israeli security forces over the past few years.

To achieve these objectives, the October 7 raid needed to create the conditions necessary for victory. And it would be achieved by humiliating Israel enough to bring about a predictable result: the implementation of the Dahiya Doctrine, of collective punishment against the civilian population of Gaza, combined with a ground attack on Gaza that would draw the IDF into what is, in effect, a Hamas ambush.

The hostage taking was intended to provide Hamas with the ability to negotiate for the release of the 10.000 prisoners held by Israel. The Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza would result in international revulsion towards Israel, as the world recoils from the humanitarian disaster unfolding before its eyes. Now, the streets of major cities around the world are filled with angry protesters demonstrating in favor of the Palestinian people – and state. The United States now asserts that the two-state solution – exactly what the Abraham Accords were intended to prevent – ​​is the only way forward for peace in the Middle East. The United States would never have said this on October 6th. The reason for the United States taking such a stance was the Hamas incursion on October 7.

Israel is in negotiations over a possible prisoner exchange, involving Hamas hostages and certain categories of political prisoners – women and children – held by Israel. Yes, you read that right: kids! One can now understand Hamas' decision to take Israeli children hostage. Such a situation would never have been possible if it were not for the Hamas incursion on October 7th.

Finally, in Saudi Arabia, the largest meeting of Islamic nations in modern history took place to discuss the crisis in Gaza. One of the main points on the agenda was the situation of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the end of Israeli desecration. This was a debate that would never have happened if not for the Hamas incursion on October 7th.

It goes without saying that the Hamas attack on October 7 unleashed a firestorm, in the form of bombs and bullets, against the civilian population of Gaza, as brutal retaliation on the part of Israel. Its target is the same people to whom Israel, for almost eight decades, denied their homeland and rights, violently expelling them from the land they now call Israel, in one of the greatest acts of ethnic cleansing in modern history, which began with “Nakba” (or “catastrophe”) of 1948.

These are people who suffered untold deprivation at the hands of their Israeli occupiers as they awaited the moment when they would see their dream of a Palestinian homeland become a reality. They know that a Palestinian homeland cannot be achieved as long as Israel is ruled by those who embrace the notion of a greater Israel, and that the only way to remove these people is to defeat them politically, and that the only way to bring about their political defeat is to defeat them militarily.

Hamas is achieving this. But there is a price to pay. A high price. The French lost 20.000 civilians, killed in the effort to liberate Normandy in the summer of 1944. To date, the Palestinians of Gaza have lost 12.000 civilians killed in the Hamas-led effort to militarily defeat their Israeli occupiers. This price will increase in the coming days and weeks. But it is a price that must be paid if there is to be any possibility of a Palestinian homeland.

The sacrifice of the Palestinian people compelled the Arab and Islamic world – which, with few exceptions, had been mute in the face of Israel's depravities against the Palestinian people – to speak out. Until then, when establishing the Abraham Accords, he had done nothing in favor of the cause of a Palestinian state. It is only because of the suffering of the Palestinian people today that anyone pays attention to this cause.

As well as the well-being of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Or even the sanctity of the Al Aqsa Mosque. All of these were Hamas' stated objectives when launching its incursion on October 7. And all objectives are being achieved at this moment. All of this happened only because of the actions of Hamas and the sacrifice of the Palestinian people. This all makes Hamas' October 7 incursion into Israel the most successful military incursion of this century.

Scott Knight, a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer, he was UN Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq from 1991-98.

Translation: Ricardo Cavalcanti-Schiel.

Originally published in Scott Ritter Extra/Substack.


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