The disaster that befell Israel during the Simchat Torah holiday was clearly attributable to one person: Benjamin Netanyahu.
The prime minister, who prided himself on his vast political experience and irreplaceable security wisdom, completely failed to recognize the dangers into which he was consciously leading Israel by establishing a government of annexation and dispossession, by appointing Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir to key positions, by adopting a foreign policy that blatantly ignored the existence and rights of the Palestinians.
Mr. Netanyahu will certainly try to evade his responsibilities and place the blame on the heads of the army, military intelligence and the Shin Bet security service who, like their predecessors on the eve of the Yom Kippur War, believed that the likelihood of war was low and that their preparations for a Hamas attack were flawed.
They despised the enemy and its offensive military capabilities. In the coming days and weeks, when the extent of the failures of the Israeli Defense Forces and intelligence services are revealed, a justified demand for replacement and inventory is sure to arise.
However, the failure of the military and intelligence services does not absolve Mr. Netanyahu of his overall responsibility for the crisis, since he is the ultimate arbiter of Israel’s foreign affairs and security. Mr. Netanyahu is not a novice in this role, as Ehud Olmert was during the Second Lebanon War. Nor is he ignorant of military matters, as Golda Meir claimed in 1973 and Menachem Begin in 1982.
Mr. Netanyahu also shaped the policies adopted by the short-lived “government of change” led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid: a multifaceted effort to crush the Palestinian national movement in its two wings, in Gaza and the West Bank, at a cost which would seem acceptable to Israeli public opinion.
In the past, Mr. Netanyahu presented himself as a cautious leader who avoided wars and multiple losses on Israel’s side. After his victory in the last elections, he replaced this caution with the policy of “right-wing government”, with overt steps taken to annex the West Bank and carry out ethnic cleansing in parts of Oslo-established Area C, including the Hebron Hills and the Jordan Valley.
It was also a massive expansion of settlements and a strengthening of the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, near the Al-Aqsa mosque, as well as boasting about an imminent peace deal with the Saudis in which the Palestinians would get nothing, and openly talking about a “second Nakba” within his governing coalition.
As expected, signs of a resumption of hostilities began in the West Bank, where Palestinians began to feel the heavier hand of the Israeli occupier. Hamas took the opportunity to launch its surprise attack on Saturday.
Above all, the danger that loomed over Israel in recent years has fully materialized. A Prime Minister indicted in three corruption cases cannot take care of state affairs, for national interests will necessarily be subordinated to extricating him from possible conviction and prison sentence.
This is what motivated the establishment of this horrible coalition and the judicial coup proposed by Netanyahu, as well as the weakening of senior officers in the army and intelligence services, perceived as political opponents. The price was paid by the victims of the invasion in the western Negev.
Translated by: AFPS