On October 7, 2023, Israel declared a state of "war" following multi-pronged attacks by Hamas militants that were carried out via air, land, and sea. The surprise attacks suggest a long-term strategic planning process and targeted numerous Israeli villages in the southwest, particularly those near Gaza.
Hamas launched rockets into Israeli territory and used paragliders for infiltration. The group claims to have conducted over 5,000 attacks within the first 24 hours.
The Israel Defense Force (IDF) is currently engaged in numerous confrontations with Hamas militants. An 80-kilometer radius of Israeli territory near Gaza has been declared an emergency zone.
The timing of the attacks coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War between several Arab states and Israel, a significant event within the Israeli security establishment.
Israel has mobilized its air power and is likely to deploy ground forces in response. The efficacy of Israel's response could be influenced by Hamas's current capabilities.
The attacks have put Arab states in a difficult position regarding their support for Hamas, while Iran, a consistent supporter of Hamas, is likely to perceive the attack as a victory.
This conflict could potentially influence the upcoming U.S elections and might also provide some respite for Moscow in the context of ongoing tensions in Ukraine.
Prime Minister Netanyahu's response is anticipated to be driven by unwavering determination, influenced by the political reverberations of the 2006 Hezbollah incursion.
Security experts anticipate these skirmishes might endure days or weeks, with ripple effects likely to impact regional security landscapes for an extended period.
Outbreak of War in Israel
Israel has officially declared a state of "war" according to a statement made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his announcement, he revealed that the multi-pronged attacks by Hamas militants, which took place in the early hours of Saturday, October 7th, 2023, were the products of a highly strategic, long-term planning process. The attacks were carried out via air, land, and sea, and a large number of Israeli villages in the southwest, particularly those near Gaza, have experienced infiltration by Hamas forces.
The militants have launched rockets into Israeli territory and deployed paragliders as infiltration vehicles. Sirens are a constant presence in towns within range of Hamas rockets, with the militant group claiming to have conducted over 5,000 attacks within the first 24 hours. Regional security analysts believe these rocket attacks were utilized as a diversion to facilitate further infiltration. This is corroborated by the fact that towns around the Gaza strip, including Sderot and Netivot, have been invaded by the group.
Various local reports suggest that villagers in the affected areas have resorted to defending themselves with handguns and any available weaponry against attackers, who have allegedly abducted Israelis, including children.
Confirmed sources affirm that the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is presently involved in numerous confrontations with Hamas militants. The attacks, well-coordinated and planned by the group currently in control of the Gaza Strip—a Palestinian enclave—have led authorities to declare an 80-kilometer radius of Israeli territory near Gaza an emergency zone. As has been the case in previous instances of conflict, the Iron Dome air defense system has effectively intercepted many of the rockets targeting Israeli towns and cities.
The Surprise Factor
Although Israel responded almost immediately by targeting what it identifies as Hamas facilities in Gaza, the unexpected nature of the current attacks by Hamas militants is undisputed. Israeli security forces were clearly caught unprepared.
Videos circulating on various platforms depict militants breaching security fences with minimal resistance from Israeli security, suggesting a well-coordinated and premeditated attack. The multifaceted nature of the operation strongly indicates that this was anything but a spontaneous development.
The timing of these attacks is another glaring indicator of how intricately planned and coordinated they have been. The attacks coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War between several Arab states and Israel, a conflict that came about as a result of a surprise attack by Syria and Egypt aiming to reclaim territories lost in an earlier conflict with Israel.
Considering the significance of the Yom Kippur event within the Israeli security establishment, it is startling that Hamas chose its 50th anniversary to launch such a large-scale attack against Israel.
Prior to this current Hamas operation, there were no unusual occurrences in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some clashes and deaths did make international headlines but were not exceptional events given the historically volatile nature of this long-standing dispute. It seems implausible that this current conflagration was a recently hatched plan, considering the vast amount of personnel and weaponry involved, which would have required extensive time and training to mobilize.
Anticipated Israeli Response
Israel has promptly deployed its air power as an immediate response to these unexpected attacks. Israel's air superiority has consistently been a key factor in countering major attacks, as evidenced by previous conflicts such as the Yom Kippur War.
It is expected that the IDF will soon deploy ground forces as reservists are currently being mobilized in preparation for a drawn-out conflict. Field reports indicate that IDF units are actively locating and neutralizing infiltrating forces. In the long term, Israel may intensify the conflict to establish a formidable deterrent against potential future attacks. Such a course of action could lead to considerable casualties and infrastructural damage, particularly on the side of Hamas.
Furthermore, the efficacy of Israel's response could be influenced by Hamas's current capabilities. Given that Hamas claims to have launched over 5,000 rockets within a few hours of the conflict breaking out, it is questionable whether the militant group can maintain this level of intensity whilst simultaneously facing airstrikes from Israeli multi-role fighters.
With the precedent of the current large-scale attack by Hamas, it is unlikely that international pressure will significantly sway Netanyahu's decision-making process in the short term. He is likely to focus on the magnitude and fatalities associated with these attacks to justify a comprehensive retaliation against Hamas.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shaped the dynamics between Arab states and Israel for decades. Arab states historically sided with Palestinians due to shared ethnicity, leading to numerous conflicts. While the motivation behind the Yom Kippur War was largely the Golan Heights and Sinai, the Palestinian issue significantly prompted other Arab states to join the war in various capacities.
However, there was a shift towards a less tumultuous relationship with Israel among Arab states, particularly Egypt, after the Camp David Accords in the late 1970s. Recent events, such as the Abrahamic Accords and thawing Saudi-Israeli relations, have further bridged the divide between these nations, despite their theoretical support for the Palestinian cause.
Current attacks from Hamas put many of these Arab states in a difficult position, as they are unlikely to provide military or financial support to Hamas. While these countries may be unable to openly support Israel diplomatically, they may use their influence to push for a ceasefire. However, popular sentiment among their populations remains generally unfavorable towards recent reconciliations with Israel, further complexifying government responses to these clashes.
Iran, however, remains a clear exception among the major regional actors closely monitoring the situation. As a consistent supporter of Hamas and, more recently, West Bank authorities, Iran openly supports the radical Gaza group which has long been a proxy of the state. Given its strained relations with Israel, especially under Prime Minister Netanyahu, Iran is likely to perceive the attack as a victory irrespective of the outcome.
Tehran is likely to interpret and broadcast the surprise element and early incursion into Israeli territory as a sign of its invulnerability and agility. Given its relative successes in Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon over recent decades, the regional power is likely to view this as another feather in its cap.
In the broader global context, the United States is entering a critical election season, which could have significant implications for its relationship with Israel. Given the current tensions in Ukraine that are already demanding Washington's attention, a prolonged conflict in the Middle East involving Israel might offer some relief for Moscow.
Drawing parallels, the 2006 Hezbollah incursion exposed vulnerabilities in the IDF. The ensuing political reverberations may influence Netanyahu's approach, driven by unwavering determination. Security pundits anticipate these skirmishes might endure days or weeks. The RileySENTINEL Analysis Team foresees a lower potential for protracted kinetic activity lasting months, barring unpredictable escalations, however, this projection is based on historical events, which may not be completely indicative of the current conflict.
Riley Risk Analysis Team: "One of the outlying factors which could lead to a protracted conflict would be if the Hamas militia organizations demonstrate sustained capability to withstand ongoing Israeli counter-terrorist operations, which would indicate a shift in Hamas capabilities and capacity, via organic or other means, or a combination of both."
In summary, the consequential repercussions of this situation will undeniably reverberate, impacting regional security landscapes extensively for years to come.
Our RileySENTINAL regional, country and situation reports, developed and provided by Riley Risk resources in strategically positioned locations, provide comprehensive updates and in-depth analysis of high-risk environments and events. This enables our clients to access timely and pertinent on-the-ground information, bolstering their decision-making capabilities in volatile operational contexts.
Our reporting services are meticulously crafted to empower clients with the proactive knowledge they need to stay informed and navigate challenging operational environments effectively.
Reach out to us today using the engagement meeting link here to learn more about how our risk advisory services can bolster your business operations and help you accomplish more!