Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday declared that his country was “at a war,” a day after Hamas fighters breached the border from Gaza in an unprecedented surprise attack.
Uriel Abulof, a visiting professor of government in the College of Arts & Sciences and a professor of politics at Tel-Aviv University, said the sense of collective shock in Israel is larger than after the surprise attack on the country which started the Yom Kippur War.
“Then, due to fateful intelligence error, the vast Egyptian and Syrian armies inflicted heavy losses on the IDF forces, which quickly recovered; Israel itself was not invaded,” said Abulof. “This weekend, Israelis witnessed their southern townships overridden, not by state armies, but by a small militia and a mob, who crossed the supposedly advanced barrier, killing the few soldiers left to guard it, and butchered, close range, many hundreds of civilians, including elderly people, women, and children, torturing and kidnapping many dozens. Their desperate cries for help were unmet, for hours on end, by the IDF which was largely deployed in the West Bank, protecting the settlers’ celebration of Sukkot.
“Israelis reap what PM Netanyahu has sown since the mid-1990s: First, bolstering the Hamas to undermine the more moderate Fatah/PLO so as to advance his ‘no Palestinian partner for peace’ thesis. Second, over the past ten months, focusing on undermining Israel’s democracy and diverting resources, including military, to his ultra-religious nationalist supporters, ignoring all warnings on its ill-effects, not least on the IDF. Right now, IDF soldiers seem to rely much more on Israel’s robust civil society for logistical, financial, and moral support, than on its own government, whose members have yet to take any responsibility.
“The horrendous images on social media will have a lasting effect, fueling the vicious cycle of humiliation and revenge which has underpinned the conflict for generations. The danger of further escalation, and expansion of the clash, is immense, with possibly vast global implications,” Abulof said.
For interviews contact Adam Allington, cell: 231-620-7180, adam.allington@Cornell.edu.