The attack by Hamas is seen as the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. What will be the reaction of the Zionist world?
Decent people across the entire world have been horrified, not just by the scale of the Hamas attacks, but by their depravity. Jewish communities worldwide are united in grief, anger and worry. They mourn the victims and worry about the next few weeks and months. There are close bonds between Jewish communities across the world and Israel. Almost everyone knows someone in Israel.
Already, Jewish communities across the globe have reacted with donations of money, of practical items and of time. The sense of solidarity is manifest.
Following Hamas’s surprise attack, Israel’s security structure seems to be questioned. How was this possible? The prevailing impression is that the powerful Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad has failed. What is your take on this?
There is no doubt the attack represents a colossal intelligence failure. There is also no doubt in my mind that this attack came about through intense training and planning with Iran and, in particular, the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The level of sophistication of this attack far exceeds anything that any Palestinian faction had previously attempted, and has Iranian fingerprints all over it.
There will be an investigation into this failure when this war is over. But, for now, the focus is on bringing home the Israeli hostages and crushing Hamas’s capabilities.
The argument that Israel must remove Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip and that Gaza should be wholly brought under the control of Israel seems to be getting stronger. What is your observation on this?
I’m not sure there is any desire for a full and ongoing occupation of Gaza. There will almost definitely be a ground invasion. It will likely be massive and last some time, with the objective of destroying as much Hamas military capability as possible. Control of the Gaza Strip will likely then be handed to Palestinian authorities, from whom Hamas took control in 2007.
Iran is believed to be a rearbase for Hamas terrorism. There is also a view that this could be a ploy to drag Israel into a long war. Against this backdrop, it could turn into a war against Iran. What is your opinion?
Iranian practice has been to use proxies to fight for it. There is a chance that the situation could develop into a multi-front war, with Hezbollah – which is much better armed and trained than Hamas. I don’t think Iran would want to become in a direct shooting war with Israel (noting also the thousands of kilometres between the two countries).
As regards a long war, the massive call-up of Israeli reservists (over 300,000) cannot be sustained economically for long. One would expect a significant but relatively short war. The Middle East has many examples of long occupations that ultimately fail to achieve their objectives. I would hope that Israel has a list of achievable objectives and that they end the war as soon as they are achieved, or even when they first realise they cannot be achieved.
Bren Carlill is a Director of Public Affairs at the Zionist Federation of Australia. He is a specialist in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and the Middle Eastern strategic environment