Hamas’s Yom Kippur Assault Into Israel

As in 1973, the Hamas attack into Israel has been bloody, violent, and caught the Israelis unprepared, but there are bigger geopolitical forces at play.
Hamas’s Yom Kippur Assault Into Israel
Hamas terrorists move toward the border fence with Israel from Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, 2023. (Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images)
John Mills
Updated:
0:00
Commentary
At about 8:30 a.m. local time on Oct. 7, 2023, the Israeli command authorities realized that there was a serious issue and that the significant rocket barrages were part of a coordinated assault into Israel. This was approximately two hours after the first rockets had been fired on this morning.
The Iron Dome, the “smart” intercept system the Israelis had used for years, was being overwhelmed by the sheer number of rockets being simultaneously fired. The Iron Dome is enabled by an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm system to know exactly when and if to engage, but the volume of incoming fire was stressing the system.
The rockets were being fired not only from the Gaza Strip, but also from the West Bank in the middle of Israel and from Lebanon in the north to harass, distract, and divert attention from the true objectives of the attack. This rocket onslaught had a deadly twist. It wasn’t simple harassing fire like in the past, it was artillery preparation for a ground assault at numerous points from the Gaza Strip in the bottom left corner of Israel. This attack displayed planning, rehearsal, and sophisticated coordination by Hamas, the militants who control the Gaza Strip.

Initial Assault Surprises and Overwhelms Israeli Defense and Security Forces

The initial guidance from the Israeli authorities was to shelter in place. This was normal in past rocket attacks. Many Israeli homes and apartments had safe rooms where residents and families could converge and remain during rocket barrages. But this time, this guidance may have unfortunately kept many residents within range of the running forays of the Hamas teams that surged from the breaches of the perimeter walls and fences surrounding the Gaza Strip.
The larger Israeli housing enclave of Sderot, at the top right corner of the Gaza Strip, was one such target and within a mile of the security zone, a distance that can be covered in minutes at a jogging pace. It appears hundreds of Israelis have been taken hostage inside Israel or brought back and hidden within the heavily tunneled Gaza Strip.
The images of the breaches of the security cordon around the Gaza Strip are haunting. Large earth-moving equipment was used to knock down or lift up sections of the fencing. Approximately 15 breach points were established and demonstrated sophisticated rehearsal and planning. Motorcycle and vehicle-mounted squads participated in the assault, which allowed quick and deep forays into Israeli territory to locations such as Ofakim, approximately 15 miles into Israel.
Three key Israeli Defense Force (IDF) command centers were assaulted, Erez, Zikim, and the Gaza Sector headquarters at Re’im. Kibbutz Re’im was also the location of the rave music festival brutally assaulted by powered para-gliders who descended upon the unarmed participants killing over 200. Strategic deception, operational security, and electronic jamming of Israeli communication channels all led to surprise—the key tenets of successful military attacks.

Reminiscent of the 1973 Yom Kippur War

The current events occurred almost 50 years to the day of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. The Six-Day War in 1967 had the Israelis strike first in a surprise attack in which Israel destroyed most of the Arab air forces on the ground and led to significant ground advances by Israeli forces. In 1973, using the same tenets as in the current attacks, the Arab forces this time lulled the Israeli forces into complacency and attacked in a coordinated fashion, taking the Israelis by surprise during the Yom Kippur period. In this war, the vaunted IDF was caught off guard, and significant gains were made by Arab forces until the Israelis rallied.
A key part of the successful Israeli counterattacks in the 1973 Yom Kippur War was American aid. President Richard Nixon saw Israel, like China, as a strategic counterweight to Soviet adventurism in the Middle East and determined that Israel wouldn’t fall and initiated the immediate air flow of tanks, artillery, and ammunition to Israel, which allowed Israel to re-set and beat down the invading Arab forces.
As in 1973, the Hamas attack into Israel has been bloody, violent, and caught the Israelis unprepared, but there are bigger geopolitical forces at play.

Role of $6 Billion Released to Iran and the Strategic Objective of the Violent Assault

Saudi Arabia and other Arab/Islamic states were making significant progress on a peace deal, which was setting the Palestinian and Gaza Strip issue aside as a key part of the discussions. Hamas is a designated terrorist group and is a proxy for Iran. Part of the Saudi interest in seeking normalization with Israel is a guarantee of protection of Saudi Arabia, which means the United States would support Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States if attacked by their arch foe, Iran.
The Biden Team made a decision to release another tranche of frozen Iranian funds, this time around $6 billion, which former President Donald Trump and others said aided and enabled the Iranian attack.
With the evolving strategic partnerships, Iran is now a proxy for China. China has also signed historic arrangements where they say they will facilitate peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The attack by Hamas likely was intended to scuttle the Saudi-Israeli talks, and Saudi Arabia has blamed Israel for the violence, while the United Arab Emirates condemned Hamas.

Hamas is a proxy for Iran; Iran is a proxy for China.

The initial attacks by Hamas are entering a new phase where Israel is destroying the pockets held by Hamas terrorists in Israel and now moving to enter the Gaza Strip to liberate hundreds of hostages. This will be bloody and messy and demonstrates fifth-generation conflict as China leverages the conflict by proxy to destabilize world affairs.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Col. (Ret.) John Mills is a national security professional with service in five eras: Cold War, Peace Dividend, War on Terror, World in Chaos, and now, Great Power Competition. He is the former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs at the Department of Defense. Mr. Mills is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. He is author of “The Nation Will Follow” and “War Against the Deep State.” ColonelRETJohn on Substack, GETTR, and Truth Social
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