About 50 years after Zionists faced a full-scale ground offensive in October 1973 by Arab states, on Saturday morning, they woke up to face another full-scale war this time launched by the Palestinian resistance forces.
About 300 Israeli deaths and 350 captives were the outcomes of the first day of the successful Hamas operation in 7 Israeli settlements and towns. Palestinian sources said that in only 20 minutes of war, some 5,000 rockets were fired into the occupied territories. Hamasís military wing Al-Qassam Brigades that led the offensive in southern Israel labeled its campaign Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, though simultaneously Israeli fighter jets bombed parts of Gaza and Palestinian sources said they killed at least 200 Palestinians and injured 1,600 others.
Meanwhile, the views of foreign experts on the operation captivate the attention.
Jonathan Panikoff: Israel-Hamas conflict reaches new level
Jonathan Panikoff is the director of the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative in the Middle East Programs at the Atlantic Council and the ex-intelligence officer for Near East at the US National Intelligence Council (NIC). He believes that the day one attacks on Israel are only the first stage of the conflict. Netanyahu has already promised he will exact a huge price and will have little interest in backing down from that vow.
He held that this is new. It is not the five-thousand-plus rockets that have already been fired from Gaza into Israel over the last twelve hours thatís shocking Israelis and the world. Itís the complexity of what was an extremely well-planned and well-prepared attack in which Hamas infiltrated Israel by land, by sea, and even by air via paragliders. This was an intelligence failure; it could not be otherwise. It was a security failure, undermining what was thought to be an aggressive and successful layered approach toward Gaza by Israel.
"Most immediately, the biggest concerns for the Israeli security establishment are almost certainly two-fold: to protect Israeli citizens under siege by Hamas terrorists who have infiltrated the country and to try to prevent Hezbollah from joining the conflict. For years there have been warnings about the potential for a multi-front war. If this is the beginning of one, the potential death and destruction may top anything weíve seen in decades. While sirens went off to indicate rocket attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv earlier today, the overwhelming majority of the attack is happening in the south of Israel. If Hezbollah enters the conflict, that will no longer be true; Israel will face a country-wide war it has not experienced in decades," he adds.
He maintains that how this conflict, and especially an extended one, impacts long-term efforts to build on the Abraham Accords and possibly normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia will be a critical strategic question. While Riyadh may be privately supportive of Israelís efforts to take on Hamas, the Arab street is not likely to be so supportive, especially as images from television, print, and X (formerly Twitter) highlight death and destruction in Gaza and potentially Lebanon.
"The coming days and weeks are likely not only going to drive the future of Israelís security, but they may well also drive the future of its place in the region," he goes on.
Richard LeBaron: Saudi-Israeli normalization marginalized
Richard LeBaron is a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Councilís Middle East Programs. He is a former US ambassador to Kuwait and a former deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Israel. He believes that the recent developments will make the Saudi-Israeli normalization out of reach. The Hamas operation sends a clear message to the Saudis that Palestine should not be taken as a subordinate issue in the normalization negotiations.
"The Hamas attacks will earn the group a good deal of respect among Palestinians on the West Bank, where some may be inspired to launch less dramatic attacks. The conditions for a third Intifada are already present. The respect for Hamasí actions will extend to Arabs in the broader region, even among citizens of those states that have established ties with Israel. The fact that Hamas was able to launch such a serious challenge to Israel will be celebrated, and retaliatory actions by Israel will be condemned," he holds.
Kristen Fontenrose: The magnitude of operation unprecedented
Kristen Fontenrose, a nonresident senior fellow in the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative and former senior director for the Gulf on the US National Security Council, says that the magnitude of the tragedy unfolding in Israel today is unprecedented. Hamas has dealt a historic blow to Israel, infiltrating Israeli homes, holding civilians hostage, and cheering the destruction. It is not yet clear in these early hours if and in what ways this will escalate-whether Palestinians in the West Bank or inside Israel will heed the calls to join arms or whether Israelís enemies in the north such as Hezbollah will join in. He at the same time warns that the Israeli response is "sweeping and devastating."
Ariel Azrahi: This is a big victory for Hamas
Ariel Azrahi, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Councilís Middle East Programs, says that the recent developments will strengthen Hamasís position inside Palestine and outside it as it managed to break the Israeli security wall.
"Israel appears to have suffered a tactical and operational failure," he adds.