Terrorist attacks: Massacre in Israel: What is Hamas' aim?

Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, apparently planned the devastating terrorist attack in the Israeli border area meticulously for months.

Terrorist attacks: Massacre in Israel: What is Hamas' aim?

Hamas, which rules in the Gaza Strip, apparently planned the devastating terrorist attack in the Israeli border area meticulously for months. The Islamist group was probably surprised at how many people it was ultimately able to kill in hostile Israel. And how little resistance there was initially from the Israeli army, which was actually clearly superior.

The Islamist organization caused the worst bloodbath in the history of the Jewish state, with more than 900 dead and more than 2,600 injured - including women, children and the elderly.

How could something so terrible happen?

For years, Israel had invested in a strictly secured barrier on the border with the Gaza Strip to ward off Hamas attacks. It even includes an underground wall several meters deep with sensors. This was built as an antidote to Hamas' underground attack tunnels and was considered virtually insurmountable.

"On the morning of October 7 - a date that will go down in history as one of the Jewish people's darkest days - Israel's security framework crumbled as Hamas terrorists streamed over, under and around the Gaza border fence," wrote the " Times of Israel" on Tuesday.

How could Hamas outwit the Israeli army, considered one of the best in the world? According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the Israeli military was not prepared for an attack using simple means. Israel was caught unprepared when the six-meter-high border fence from the Gaza Strip was bulldozed. In the recent past, the Israeli military has relied more on technology and reduced ground troops. The army was preparing for "the wrong war," the paper quoted Avi Jager from the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel as saying.

Professor Kobi Michael of the Israel Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) said: "I have no idea how this colossal failure could have happened." The trust of the population has been permanently damaged. "I'm sure some heads will roll in Israel in the medium term."

Who is Hamas?

Hamas (abbreviation for "Islamic Resistance Movement") was founded in the wake of the Palestinian Intifada uprising at the end of 1987. Its members have kidnapped Israeli soldiers several times and sent suicide bombers into Israeli cities. The organization has its roots in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The founder was Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was also the spiritual leader of Hamas until he was killed in a targeted Israeli airstrike in March 2004.

In 2006, Hamas won the parliamentary elections, and the following year it used force to seize sole control of the Gaza Strip. Since then, she has also been responsible for caring for the civilian population in the coastal strip.

In its charter, Hamas calls for the destruction of the state of Israel and the violent establishment of an Islamic state of Palestine from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. That is the overarching goal of the group, which is classified as a terrorist organization by the EU, USA and Israel.

What is Hamas's aim with the bloody terrorist attack?

Hamas's immediate goals are to lift the year-long blockade of the Gaza Strip and release Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. According to the human rights organization Betselem, there are currently around 4,500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, including 183 from the Gaza Strip. Hamas' goal is probably to free as many prisoners as possible in exchange for more than 100 hostages who have been kidnapped into the Palestinian territory - including foreign citizens.

However, the overarching goal remains Israel's destruction, says Professor Kobi Michael from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv. "They have believed for years that they can bring about salvation through armed struggle. Their goal is to sow extreme fear among the population and mistrust between civil society and the military."

Concern about regional conflagration

The Hamas leadership also believes that its actions could encourage other elements, such as the Shiite militia Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran. Their goal is to push Israel into a war on multiple fronts to bring about the destruction of the Jewish state.

In light of reports of Israel's rapprochement with Saudi Arabia under US mediation, many Palestinians recently felt that their national cause had been sidelined. From the perspective of Hamas, the Lebanese Hezbollah militia and its main supporter Tehran, such an alliance would be to their detriment. Iran denies involvement in the terrorist attack in Israel, although a Hamas spokesman openly confirmed it.

With deadly skirmishes on Israel's northern border, there are now concerns that the conflict could spread into a regional conflagration. The fact that the USA is moving an aircraft carrier, warships and several fighter jets to the eastern Mediterranean near Israel is seen as a clear warning signal to the Hezbollah-Iran axis to stay out of the conflict.

Surprised by your own success

Hamas itself was surprised by the "success" of its major attack, says Michael. A senior Hamas leader said on Tuesday: "We have proven that you can outwit this army and show its weakness." He cited Israel's actions in the occupied West Bank and on the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif) in Jerusalem, which is sacred to Jews and Muslims, as the reason for the attack.

The Palestinians accuse Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing religious government of wanting to expand Israel's control over the shrine. In addition, right-wing extremist ministers in the government are advocating further settlement of the West Bank. "That's why the resistance fought back," said the Hamas representative.

Horrific details about the massacre

Even days after the massacre of Israeli civilians in border towns and at a music festival, more and more gruesome details about the killing are coming to light. Army spokesman Daniel Hagari described Hamas on Tuesday as an “IS-like entity.” It has “put itself on the list of the most murderous and barbaric organizations in history.”

Hamas's supposed success in particular will ultimately prove to be counterproductive, "because it will bring a major catastrophe upon them," says Michael.

Can Israel destroy Hamas?

Israel now has no choice but to completely destroy the organization's military capabilities, says the expert. This is also possible in principle.

He believes that the political leadership must also be “mercilessly crushed” during the operation. "You have to kill the entire Hamas leadership and destroy all the command centers." You can't destroy the idea of ​​Hamas, but you can destroy the infrastructure.

A risky Israeli ground offensive in the densely populated Palestinian area is probably necessary, but this could remain limited. "You don't have to check every alley."