Did Mossad, IDF intelligence failure lead to Gaza war?

A WOMAN shows a $100 bill she received as aid from Qatar, during a lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak in Gaza City in September.

The basis of the policy has been to prevent an economic implosion in Gaza following the PA cutting off its funding to Hamas due to ongoing strife between the groups.

Amid the debates set off by the current Gaza war, many observers are looking at Israel’s intelligence gathering and asking questions.
Among them: Has Mossad director Yossi Cohen’s policy of facilitating Qatari funding of Hamas collapsed, and did the outbreak of the war expose its holes?
With regard to IDF intelligence, did it fail to appreciate the likelihood of a conflict with Hamas surrounding the Palestinian elections, Sheikh Jarrah and Jewish-Arab violence within Israel?
Did it fail to prepare for Hamas’s latest rocket tactics for penetrating the Iron Dome air-defense shield?
The Jerusalem Post has learned that Cohen stands by his policy regarding Qatar, though he would not discuss the future before the smoke clears from the current conflict.
In explaining the rationale of the Qatar-Hamas policy until now, sources say it achieved stability and staved off war at a time when the conflict could have come sooner.
The basis of the policy has been to prevent an economic implosion in Gaza following the PA cutting off its funding to Hamas due to ongoing strife between the two groups.
Absence of war is the best goal, but even delaying it as long as possible is not a small achievement in Cohen’s eyes. This is especially true in light of the fact that no one to date has solved the Gordian knot of how to reduce the long-term Gaza threat.
Any future policy regarding Qatar would be connected to the overall new strategy for how to manage relations with Gaza and the Palestinians more broadly, sources indicated.
However, the Qatar policy promoted by Cohen and his benefactor, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are now under attack from serious security experts.
On Wednesday, former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director Yoram Cohen strongly criticized the Netanyahu-Cohen policy to facilitate Qatar bringing funds to Hamas.
Hamas must be isolated much more aggressively than it was after the 2014 Gaza war when he was in the security cabinet, he said in an interview with KAN Radio.
Assuming that a “quiet-for-quiet” ceasefire occurs on Thursday or soon after, Yoram Cohen said that only very strictly defined humanitarian assistance, such as food and medicine, should be allowed into Gaza.
In contrast, he said facilitating funds from Qatar gave Hamas too much breathing room and relieved the stress on it, which might otherwise have forced it to change its approach toward Israel.
If Hamas has no Qatari funds and no building materials to rehabilitate Gaza, the endless rounds of fighting to a stalemate might finally be broken, he said.
LIKEWISE, BRIG.-GEN. (ret.) Udi Dekel, managing director of the Institute for National Security Studies, wrote last week: “First and foremost, the current round of escalation illustrates the problematic nature of the current dealings with Hamas – the transfer of money from Qatar, which, along with allowing relief for residents of the Gaza Strip, enables Hamas to strengthen its control and terror-military power, and conduct defiant policies.”
This policy also weakens “the Palestinian Authority, inter alia, by undermining its status as a partner for a deal with Israel,” he said.
“Hamas’s brazenness and our inability to understand its rationale illustrate why Israel should strive for a stable, long-term settlement in Gaza that is not based on blackmail and the actual strengthening of Hamas, but on strengthening the Palestinian Authority,” Dekel wrote.
“In Gaza, dependence on Qatari money has been shown not to be a stable, long-term solution,” he added. “It is better to find other tools to restrain Hamas and allow normal life for the population of the Gaza Strip.”
Dekel listed a litany of Hamas assumptions and achievements from the current round of fighting.
“Israel must shatter the validity of these assumptions, which drive Hamas’s policies and activities,” including the policy of handouts from Qatar, he wrote.
Although Qatar has been said to be working toward a ceasefire, along with Egypt, at no time has there been an indication that it was able to restrain Hamas from initiating the war or firing rockets at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and central Israel.
REGARDING IDF intelligence, there has been mixed messaging about what it did or did not anticipate from Hamas.
On the one hand, the IDF, the cabinet and the country were caught flat-footed by the Hamas rocket assault against Jerusalem on May 10.
Also, the Israeli public was surprised by the number of times Hamas succeeded at penetrating the Iron Dome’s protection.
Hamas’s tactic of firing about 130 rockets at Tel Aviv and central Israel within a period of minutes was not something it had ever achieved before.
During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, it might have fired that many rockets at critical Israeli areas over several hours or a whole day, but not in minutes.
On May 15, IDF intelligence did tell the press it had warned the political echelon that Hamas might act rashly because of the canceled Palestinian elections, the Sheikh Jarrah land dispute, or if the police had placed new barriers at Damascus Gate.
However, Netanyahu on Wednesday said Israel “didn’t expect a wide conflagration” as tensions rose in Jerusalem earlier this month.
With prior reports, before the rocket fire, that both the IDF and the Shin Bet had warned the cabinet about the tense situation, the overall thrust appears to be that there was a warning – but it was not strong enough for the cabinet to see rockets on May 10 as a sudden, concrete outcome.
Rather, the warnings were seen as generic and meant to cool things down from an uptick in tension, not necessarily to avoid a full-scale war.
While the cabinet can be blamed for not heeding the warnings, the IDF probably needed to warn more strenuously – and needs to admit that it missed the depth of the spike in anger on the Palestinian side.

Sign up for The Jerusalem Post Premium Plus for just $5

Upgrade your reading experience with an ad-free environment and exclusive content

Join Now >

Load more...