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Why did it take Israel so long to deal with Hamas’s attack from Gaza?



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In the wake of a shocking and audacious attack by Hamas militants on Israel, questions have arisen about the effectiveness of the Israeli Defense Forces and their response time. This article delves into the events surrounding the attack, examining the factors that contributed to the unexpected success of Hamas and the challenges faced by Israel’s security apparatus.

The Initial Shock

As the attack unfolded, many were left wondering where the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were during those crucial hours when Hamas militants roamed freely near Gaza. Reports indicated that some communities had to rely on their own civilian protection forces while waiting for the military to respond. The failure of the IDF to act as a quick-reaction force left many perplexed and alarmed.

Factors Contributing to the Delayed Response

Several factors played a pivotal role in the delayed Israeli response to Hamas’s assault. To comprehend the situation fully, it’s essential to dissect these elements:

1. Surprise Attack

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The element of surprise was paramount in Hamas’s successful assault. Israeli intelligence failed to penetrate the planning of the attack by Hamas. The group appeared to have engaged in a long-term strategy of deception, conveying the impression that it lacked the capability or inclination to execute such an ambitious operation. Moreover, they maintained stringent operational security, likely avoiding electronic communications that could have been intercepted.

2. Scale and Speed

Hamas executed its attack with unprecedented scale and speed. Thousands of rockets were launched from Gaza, targeting areas across Israel, including the bustling city of Tel Aviv. To add to the chaos, drones struck the monitoring equipment along the border fence used by Israel for surveillance. Heavy explosives and vehicles were utilized to create as many as 80 breaches in the security fence. Motorized hang-gliders and motorbikes played a role as well, enabling between 800 and 1,000 armed militants to flood out of Gaza and attack multiple sites.

3. Chaos in Command and Control Centers

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The multifaceted nature of the attack caused significant disruption within Israel’s command and control centers. The assault occurred on a Saturday morning, which also coincided with a religious holiday, compounding the challenge. Some Hamas fighters targeted civilian communities, while others went after lightly-defended military outposts. Shockingly, images surfaced showing Israeli tanks in the hands of Hamas militants. The breaches in the border remained open long enough for hostages to be taken into Gaza before the IDF could seal them.

4. Diverted Focus

Israeli security and defense forces had, in recent months, shifted their focus more toward the West Bank rather than Gaza. This reallocation of resources may have created vulnerabilities that Hamas sought to exploit. Additionally, Hamas might have counted on the internal divisions within Israeli society, particularly over the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to further distract the security establishment.

The Israeli Dilemma

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While Israel’s military and intelligence capabilities have been highly regarded, they may have underestimated the abilities of their adversaries. The audacity of the attack has drawn comparisons to the 9/11 attacks in the United States, where the use of planes as weapons was unimaginable beforehand—a “failure of imagination.” Similarly, Israel might have suffered from a similar lack of foresight, leaving them ill-prepared for such an ambitious assault from their enemy.


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The questions surrounding why it took Israel so long to respond effectively to Hamas’s attack are complex and multifaceted. The shock of the assault, combined with the element of surprise, the unprecedented scale and speed of the attack, chaos in command and control, and diverted focus on other regions all contributed to the delay in Israel’s response.

While Israel’s military and intelligence capabilities are among the best globally, this incident underscores the need for continuous evaluation and adaptation in the face of evolving threats. In the short term, Israel’s focus will undoubtedly be on devising strategies to address the immediate crisis, but the long-term inquiries will delve deeper into these critical issues.


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