We express our sympathy for the people of Israel who have suffered a brutal attack from HAMAS and its backers.
An act of such barbarity is bound to evoke a response and lead to further escalation of violence in the region. But that seems to be the intention.
Martin Indyk, former US Ambassador to Israel (1995-1997 and 2000-2001) and special envoy under President Obama for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations (2013-2014), was asked why this occurred now, after progress seemed to be made on an Israel-Palestine settlement:
I think you have to consider the context at this moment. The Arab world is coming to terms with Israel. Saudi Arabia is talking about normalizing relations with Israel. As part of that potential deal, the United States is pressing Israel to make concessions to the Palestinian Authority—Hamas’s enemy. So this was an opportunity for Hamas and its Iranian backers to disrupt the whole process, which I think in retrospect was deeply threatening to both of them. I don’t think that Hamas follows dictation from Iran, but I do think they act in coordination, and they had a common interest in disrupting the progress that was underway and that was gaining a lot of support among Arab populations. The idea was to embarrass those Arab leaders who have made peace with Israel, or who might do so, and to prove that Hamas and Iran are the ones who are able to inflict military defeat on Israel.
There are talks going on regarding a peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and conversations about U.S. security guarantees for Saudi Arabia. In all likelihood, a primary motivation for Hamas and Iran was a desire to disrupt that deal, because it threatened to isolate them. And this was a very good way to destroy its prospects, at least in the near term. Once the Palestinian issue returns to front and center, and Arabs around the Middle East are watching American weapons in Israeli hands killing large numbers of Palestinians, that will ignite a very strong reaction….
….And in terms of escalation, the party to watch most closely is Hezbollah. If the Palestinian death toll rises, Hezbollah will be tempted to join the fray. They have 150,000 rockets they can rain down on Israel’s main cities, and that will lead to an all-out war not just in Gaza but in Lebanon, too. And everybody would get dragged in that situation. (Foreign Affairs)
The aim of the attack was to provoke a violent retaliation which would disrupt an Arab-Israeli peace accord.
Starting another war would play into the perpetrator’s hands.
Netanyahu prides himself on being cautious. Now is the time to show restraint, bolster Israel’s defenses and continue to pursue peace in the region — which would sideline HAMAS and its Iranian backers.