Death toll rises as do reports of atrocities committed by Hamas
Analysis by W. Thomas Smith Jr.
Israel is at war, and frankly it has been for years – a hot and cold, smoldering and high-intensity conflict since the Jewish state was founded in 1948 – and the nation has certainly been continuously battling foreign and domestic terrorists and international terrorism for decades. The latest iteration of the hot, high-intensity version erupted last week when the terrorist group Hamas launched a single-front multi-pronged attack by land, sea, and air from Gaza into Israel proper, catching the Israeli (even the U.S.) intelligence services completely off-guard, and igniting a near-immediate response from the Israel Defense Force (IDF) against Hamas targets in Gaza.
Hamas has dubbed its attack, OPERATION AL-AQSA STORM. Israel’s counteroffensive is OPERATION IRON SWORDS.
What we have all witnessed since last weekend, specifically Oct. 7, is nothing short of heinous on the part of Hamas. WHY? The primary reason according to all of the experts was to stall or collapse the recent ongoing talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The attacks were also launched on – and to coincide with – the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the 1973 Yom Kippur War (aka the October War or the 1973 War).
That war began on Oct. 6, 1973, which was the holy Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur based on the Hebrew calendar (the date is different each year from that of the more universally accepted Gregorian calendar), when Egyptian and Syrian armies along with at least eight allied Arab expeditionary forces simultaneously attacked Israel on two fronts – the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. Israel emerged victorious after nearly three weeks of heavy fighting. And God willing, Israel will ultimately win this one, but not without extreme suffering and the ever-increasing loss of life.
Hamas has made sure of that: Actually Iran, which fully funds, equips, and trains Hamas’ fighters outright through its (Iran’s) Quds Force, which is an extraterritorial branch of Iran’s notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Simply put if there was no Iranian money, there would be no Hamas. Nor would there be Hezbollah positioned en masse just north of Israel in southern Lebanon.
Described as “a terrorist army” that makes “Al Qaeda look like a minor league team,” Hezbollah is a near 100,000-man Shiia militia which, since last Saturday, Hamas has urged to attack Israel from the north as they attacked from the south in hopes of expanding the war on two fronts, not unlike what happened in 1973. So far that has not happened, at least not on the scale of 1973.
As of this writing – Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 11 – Hezbollah and Israel have exchanged artillery fire, initiated by Hezbollah with its rockets. And now neighboring Syria has fired mortar rounds into Israel. The war is fluid to be sure, and as such it is expanding by the hour.
Yes, it is all frightening. Even more so is the way in which Hamas has been waging it since day one. The ever-rising death toll includes deliberately-targeted Israeli civilians – women, children, and the elderly – including reports of young men and teenage boys being summarily executed; girls being burned alive; young women raped; and babies turned over in their cribs, seized and decapitated. THAT and the missiles fired into Israeli communities: Keep in mind, Hamas launches its missiles from heavily populated Palestinian neighborhoods in hopes that the residential locations of the launching sites would tie the hands of the justifiably responding IDF. Moroever, Hamas leaders at the tactical level are attacking Israeli targets then falling back and hiding in civilian homes inhabited by Palestinian women and children. THAT or they are sheltering in hospital basements.
Another disturbing feature of this war is the additional sources of weaponry (beyond the provisions of Iran). As I stated in a social media post on Tuesday, my good friend of many years, Christopher Holton, a senior analyst at the Washington, D. C.-based Center for Security Policy, reminded me that U.S. military weapons abandoned during the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and subsequently seized by the Taliban (as we all knew they would be) have turned up elsewhere throughout the world including in the hands of HAMAS IN GAZA. This proliferation of American weapons from 2021 has been widely reported, even by NBC NEWS as early as eight months ago.”
THE U.S. RESPONSE? There are no existing plans to land American troops in Israel. But the USS Gerald R. Ford [Aircraft] Carrier Strike Group has been dispatched to the Eastern Mediterranean. The strike group which also includes cruisers and destroyers is prepared for the full spectrum of missions according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Additional forces include deploying U.S. Air Force fighter squadrons and U.S. special operations forces already deployed in the region
We’ll have more in the coming days.
– W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a decorated U.S. Marine Infantry leader, counterterrorism instructor, and a retired S.C. Military Dept. officer. He was embedded with U.S. Marines and U.S. Army cavalry during the Iraq War, and he has logged time in Israel, Lebanon, Syria, the Balkans and elsewhere around the world. Visit him at http://uswriter.com.