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Expert: Hamas threw in all its capabilities at the same time in Israel attack

Peeter Raudsik.
Peeter Raudsik. Source: ERR

Saturday morning's large-scale attack by Hamas on Israel raised the question of how one of the world's foremost intelligence agencies could have been circumvented to such an extent, plus where Hamas was able to obtain the capabilities used.

Middle-East expert Peeter Raudsik told ETV foreign affairs show "Välisilm" answered the latter question by saying that the organization went all-in with what it had available.

"What then did Hamas do? The same things they've attempted to do in the past; they've attempted to infiltrate Israeli territory, and have launched rockets, but this time these things were combined and happened in concurrently," Raudsik said.

"I think this was where the element of surprise came in. Everyone knows of the presence of missiles in Gaza. Everyone knows that they want to tear down that border fence; the issue of the tunnels, infiltration, this has all been seen before. They technically already had those capabilities there, but this time the decision was made, by a very small cabal, that now, we're going in."

According to Raudsik, looking at the actions of resistance movements in general, one can see how guerrilla methods like these can be quite successful at least in momentarily causing paralysis to the other side. "Let us draw a parallel with the Taliban, in Afghanistan. This organization, being very much smaller, but certainly taking on board that they operate cohesively, know the terrain, and deploy skillfully the scant resources they have, so they are able to succeed. And I think we will see something similar happening in Gaza," he said.

The attack on Israel works to Russia's advantage as the world's attention may then turn away from Ukraine, while the U.S. has to start dealing with another country in their hour of need. Was it a coincidence that these strikes took place on Russian President Vladimir Putin's birthday?

"I think it's coincidental." Raudsik said.

"The significance of this date is completely different. From the point of view of the Arabs nations and the Palestinians, it's a completely different thing - 50 years since the start of the Yom Kippur war, in the fall of 1973, so that's the symbolism that this attack is really based on," he said.

Raudsik says however that he is not overly concerned about attention being drawn away from Ukraine. 

"As for the U.S, it is generally believed that that country is able to 'walk and chew gum at the same time,' as consistently supports Israel in any case. Throughout history (ie. since the foundation of the modern-day state of Israel in 1948 - ed.), the largest beneficiary of U.S. military aid has been Israel. For the U.S. military-political apparatus to support Israel via intelligence, and if necessary militarily, but at the same time dealing with Ukraine, is not too much of a headache for them," he added.

The Hamas-run Gaza Strip, on which Israel is now launching large-scale counter-strikes, has also been dubbed the world's largest prison, with 2.3 million people (around a million more than live in Estonia, with an area of over 45,000 square kilometers – ed.) live in a very small enclosed area (of 365 square kilometers – ed.). 

Israel, for its part, has also lit the touch-paper under the gunpowder barrel, Raudsik said.

"Let's highlight the simplest example - the same Israeli settlements, which are illegal from the point of view of international law, from the point of view of Estonia, the EU and the U.S. Yet they still continue to construct them. This summer, a new decision was made that the next 5,000 homes for Israeli settlers will be built in places where they should not and may not be built."

"But placing all the culpability on Israel is also inappropriate, as the Palestinians are completely divided among themselves. They have one political leadership on the West Bank of the Jordan River, and another in the Gaza Strip. And their mutual views are diametrically opposite, so from Israel's point of view it can be argued that they do not have negotiate with anyone," Raudsik said.

How extensive this war grows, according to Raudsik, depends on the force with which Israel deals with Gaza. Will they also enter with ground forces; and how forcefully will [Lebanese Shia Islamist group] Hezbollah react to this?

"If they don't go in with the ground forces, then it is possible that after an initial back-and-forth bombardment, both in theory and in actuality, some form of negotiations will begin. This is because, in fact, a very major question facing Israel is how to release the hostages who have been taken to the Gaza Strip. How release them in the most efficient way and with the least amount of damage," Raudsik went on.

Early on Saturday morning, Hamas attacked Israel using thousands of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, while hundreds of its fighters infiltrated Israel after breaching the Gaza border fencing.

While the Israeli Iron Dome air defense system was deployed some missiles got through.

Scenes of hostage taking have shocked the world, while the death toll, largely of civilians, may be as high as 900 on the Israeli side, with a massacre at a music festival accounting for nearly a third of these victims.

Israel, in turn, has already launched thousands of airstrikes against the Gaza Strip at the time of writing.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

Source: 'Välisilm,' interviewer Astrid Kannel.

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