THE world is still reeling from the Hamas massacre of Israelis. The figures vary. but somewhere in the region of 1400 Israelis died – men, women and children, young people attending a music festival – anyone Hamas could lay hands on.
Which provokes a question that the world’s media headlines have given surprisingly little attention to: How did Hamas manage to get into Israel to go on their killing spree?
But before that, let’s consider this: Hamas’s plans are said to have been two years in preparation – how come Israeli intelligence didn’t get a whiff of those plans at any point? Israel has one of the most capable and sophisticated intelligence enterprises that exist on the planet. Again, this intelligence failure has been mentioned by the media but no plausible explanation given for the lapse.
A third puzzling aspect of the tragedy is why, according to some sources, the Israeli Defence Forces took some six hours before arriving at the scene of the breach. And when they did arrive, was Hamas gone? As a rule, the IDF are not known for their softly-softly approach. More often they shoot first and ask questions afterwards. Or even skip the questions bit. Yet in this case, they appear to have done little to engage with the Hamas fighters.
But back to the question of how Hamas breached the wall in the first place. It can’t have been easy, since this was no makeshift barrier. Here’s the The Washington Post description: “ It [the wall] required more than 140,000 tons of iron and steel, according to Reuters, and the installation of hundreds of cameras, radars and sensors. Access near the fence on the Gaza side was limited to farmers on foot. On the Israeli side, observation towers and sand dunes were put in place to monitor threats and slow intruders.”
And yet Hamas penetrated it at several points and hundreds of their fighters poured through. How come?
These three factors – the failure of Israeli intelligence, the fragility of the wall and the failure of the IDF to turn up quickly – stretch any observer’s credulity. Had all three functioned as we’d expect, there would have been no bloodbath involving Hamas.
So let’s try this: is it possible that Israeli intelligence knew about the forthcoming attack but did nothing to prevent it? Is it possible that the wall was penetrated because weak points were deliberately arranged by Israel? And is it possible that the IDF deliberately didn’t turn up until Hamas had completed its slaughter of the innocents?
It seems astonishing, even incredible, that any country would allow room for the slaughter of its own citizens. Yet we’re offered no alternative explanation. But let’s go to the consequences of the Hamas attack.
Israel has received the sympathy of just about every Western country. The big Western powers – the US, the UK, the EU – have all declared they stand four-square behind Israel. This global sympathy has given Israel the excuse to carpet-bomb Gaza. It says it is doing this to eliminate Hamas, but in doing so it has killed well over 4,000 Palestinians, including 700 children. Israel has made it clear that Palestinians living in the north of Gaza must go south or be killed. In some cases they go south and are killed. Many countries in the world see this as ethnic cleansing on a massive scale.
There is no doubt that Israel has been guilty again and again of war crimes. President Michael D Higgins has said Israel announcing in advance that it would break international law in Gaza leaves the Geneva Convention “in tatters”. The Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Dana Erlich, responded to the Irish President’s words by claiming they were “inflammatory” and denying any breach of international law.
To quote Shakespeare (almost), something is rotten in the state of Israel, and Palestinians are paying for that rottenness with their lives.