Threat Of A Wider War Emerges From Hamas Attack On Israel

Threat Of A Wider War Emerges From Hamas Attack On Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

There are still firefights happening between Israel Defense Forces and Hamas militants in the area of southern Israel close to Gaza. Hamas has now fired more than 4,000 rockets at targets in Israel including Tel Aviv and the nearby Ben Gurion Airport. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has been able to shoot down enough Hamas rockets that the Ben Gurion airport remains open at this hour, although some rockets are said to have avoided the Iron Dome counter-missiles. CNN is showing footage of Hamas missiles fired from Gaza on the upward portion of their trajectory being shot down by missile after missile before the Hamas missiles even reach their trajectory apex.

It looks to me that Hamas must have been able to accumulate somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 missiles, almost all of them supplied by Iran or Iran’s allies in other countries. It remains a mystery how Hamas was able to get so many missiles into Gaza with all of the Israeli satellite surveillance that place must be under, not to mention the human intelligence sources Israel has been known to have on the ground inside Gaza in the past.

Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen was just interviewed on CNN and said the single smartest thing I’ve heard yet about how the mass Hamas attack was possible. “It was a systemic failure,” he said. “Political, military, intelligence, all of it at once.” He made reference to the political divisions within Israel caused by Benjamin Netanyahu’s attacks on Israel’s judiciary, saying that American intelligence officials have known for some time that leaders of the three Israeli intelligence agencies — Mossad, Shin Beit, and Army Intelligence — have considered that Netanyahu is destroying Israel’s democracy. It’s no mistake, Cohen implied, that Hamas chose this moment to launch its attack on Israel.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog, appearing on the CBS Sunday news show Face the Nation, was asked by host Margaret Brennan what Iran’s involvement was in the Saturday attack of Hamas on Israel. “As far as we are concerned, this is an Iranian-led coalition,” Herzog answered, “and we expect Iran is involved.” Brennan then asked him, “Does that mean Israel will take the fight to Iran?” Here is his answer in full: “I’m not going to say exactly what Israel is going to do, but I will just say, whoever fights Israel, we will fight back.”

That is as close to a pocket declaration of war on Iran that I have heard yet from an Israeli official. This is purely speculation, but it’s beginning to look to me like we could be weeks away from a much wider war in the Middle East, with Syria and Iran coming to the support of Hamas, especially if Israel’s counterattack on Hamas begins to level the Gaza strip and cause massive civilian casualties. A ground offensive in Hamas by Israel could be the match that sets off a conflagration. The Pentagon has sent an aircraft carrier group steaming toward Israel in the Mediterranean and has promised to supply its ally with whatever weapons and other aid it needs. The U.S. will have some serious thinking to do if Israel comes under attack from other nations, most especially Iran and Syria. Both countries have stockpiles of guided missiles that can easily reach targets in Israel.

When I was reporting in Israel in the late 70’s, archeological exploration was going on in Jerusalem near the Western Wall, atop which sits the Al Aqsa Mosque. You could stand above the area of the dig and look down into a pit and see a Roman domed bedroom and a bath, complete with the plumbing for running water, built on top of a cobbled road from the time of King Herod, layers of civilizations built on top of one another stretching back more than two millennia.

The walled Old City of Jerusalem has come under attack and been captured and recaptured by invaders more than three dozen times. It has been destroyed and rebuilt twice. It is possible before this war is over that our own civilization will become yet another layer beneath the ruins of the Old City that lies in ruins once again. If you ask me why this terrible war is happening in Israel today, I can only point you to history, thousands of years of it, recording the deaths of millions and the destruction of city after city by war after war fought century after century in the cradle of civilization, the names of Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, and Caesar echoing darkly along the bloody way. Making war is what so-called civilized people do, and it never ends.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.


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