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The Hamas Trap

Video Transcript:

Like everybody, I didn’t see last week’s Hamas attack on Israel coming

Like most people living in Israel, I was living in a bubble, taking Israel’s military deterrence for granted.

Even when the siren went off last Saturday and we had to go into our bomb shelter, I was thinking to myself that this was nothing more than business as usual.

Then I was sent an image of elderly people shot in the head at a bus stop just 60 kilometers from the village where I live.

My bubble started to burst.

Then a trickle of horrific images turned into a flood of evidence of a slaughter of unimaginable scale.

By the time the story broke that the dead bodies of 40 babies were found in one kibbutz, many beheaded, I realize that things can never be the same for us living in Israel.

Different people deal with pain in different ways.

For me the only palliative are answers.

Why now? Why the savagery? What will be its long-term repercussions?

A chain reaction is a set of related events in which each event causes the next one.

On December 7 last year, Chinese president Xi Jinping travelled to Saudi Arabia to attend a Saudi-Chinese summit.

During the visit, the two sides signed 34 investment agreements covering green energy, information technology, cloud services and a lot more.

They also signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement that affirmed their support for the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states.

The two sides agreed to coordinate China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, the brainchild of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salmon.

The US was not happy, to put it mildly, about Xi’s visit to the Middle East which it saw as an attempt by Beijing to assert its power and rival U.S. influence in the region.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on December 7 that China was trying to deepen its level of influence in the Middle East in ways that "are not conducive to preserving the international rules-based order."

Then on February 13, following Xi’s Riyadh visit, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi travelled to Beijing —the first state visit by an Iranian leader to Beijing in over 20 years.

In his talks with Raisi, Xi promised to support Iran in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national dignity.

Then on March 10, in a diplomatic breakthrough brokered by China, Iran and Saudi Arabia decided to reestablish diplomatic ties and reopen embassies.

The two countries had cut ties in 2016 after the Saudi embassy in Tehran was stormed following Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite Muslim cleric.

On April 6, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran travelled to Beijing to formally restore diplomatic relations. They also affirmed the need for regional stability and agreed to pursue economic cooperation.

A Saudi political analyst explained Riyad’s choice as between American medicine and Chinese medicine.

He said the Saudis spent four decades trying to convince the U.S. government to stop "Iranian terrorism in the Middle East," but to little avail.

So the Saudis decided to give the Chinese medicine a try.

In a boost to the multipolar world order, on August 24, the BRICS group formally invited Saudi Arabia, Iran and 4 more countries to join.

As a result, the BRICS group now controls 42% of global oil supply and 37% of world GDP and 47% of the world’s population.

It is understandable that Washington felt marginalized, outplayed by China.

After all, America has been the guarantor of security in the Middle East for 50 years.

With its status as the power broker usurped, the US had to do something to regain the upper-hand.

This is when the Biden administration began aggressively promoting the idea of a three-way deal between the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

The objective for the US is clear: bring Saudi Arabia, the largest oil exporter in the world, back into the fold.

If successful, this would re-establish America’s dominant influence in the Middle East and weaken the growing challenge to US hegemony by China and Russia.

The Biden administration is willing to go a great distance to make this deal happen.

Reports suggest that in addition to a defense treaty, Biden is offering Riyad a partnership to enrich uranium for a civilian nuclear program.

For Saudi Arabia, enriching uranium would be the first step towards developing the means to build up a nuclear arsenal if Iran does the same.

The prospect of being placed in a position to level the nuclear playing field with Iran apparently is enough for the Saudis to change its long-held historical position, to whit, that peace with Israel can only come after the establishment of a state for the Palestinian people

Reports suggest that the Saudis are demanding an interim agreement for a two-state solution as opposed to a permanent one.

According to leaked details reported in the Israeli media, the deal would include a halt to Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, the transfer of an unspecified amount of Israeli territory in Area C to Palestinian controlled Area A, and a joint declaration recognizing Palestinians rights to establish a capital in East Jerusalem in the future.

The negotiation between the three sides was proceeding so quickly that Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netayahu declared in his speech at the United Nations on September 22 that the middle east was the cusp of historic Saudi-Israel peace.’

Two weeks after Netayahu’s UN speech, Hamas launched the biggest terrorist attack in Israel’s history.

Are these two events connected?

I don’t know. But I have my suspicions.

What I do know is that Hamas and its backer Iran would be the biggest losers if the deal comes off

For Hamas such a deal would strengthen the Palestinian authority at its own expense. It would undermine its legitimacy and increase its international isolation.

Iran would be a loser because such a deal would turn its two biggest adversaries in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia, into allies. A US defense treaty with Saudi Arabia and Saudi uranium enrichment would significantly weaken its own deterrence in the region.

In other words, both Iran and Hamas have a strong incentive to derail the deal.

And they knew only a massive attack on Israel could kill the deal.

It had to be massive, savage, and provocative.

Only such an attack would leave Israel with no choice but to hit back.

Indeed, for Hamas and Iran’s plan to succeed, they needed an equally massive response by Israel that would result in a large number of Palestinian civilian casualties, large enough to galvanize the Arab street and to force the Saudi leadership to back away from the deal.

I obviously have no proof that this was their plan but if it was, the plan is so far going very well.

The Hamas attack on October 7 killed 1200 Israelis, mostly civilians. This was Israel’s September 11, except proportionate to its population it is as if 40,000 died in the US. All I know is that never have so many defenseless Jews died in a single day since the Holocaust.

The Israeli public is demanding an end to the endless torment of a 20 year murderous Hamas on its border.

Israel completely evacuated Gaza and gave it self rule. They gave them electricity and water. The latest attack is proof that Israel’s policy of disengagement has failed.

Israel has already mobilized 300,000 soldiersand is on the verge of going into Gaza with the goal of destroying Hamas, and Israeli bombing of Gaza over the past few days has already killed over 1000 Palestinians.

The casualties will go up significantly in the coming days and weeks but the media is already calling the Saudi-Israel deal dead, if not gravely wounded.

You might say that the planning behind the Hamas attack on Israel has taken months and that it would have started before the US-Saudi-Israeli talks began in earnest. I don’t disagree with that. All I am saying is that the perception that the deal was coming soon would have greatly increased the urgency of the action.

Where do we go from here?

US President Joe Biden in his speech on Oct 10 condemned the terrorist attacks on Israel as a sheer act of evil.

He should have also condemned the growing confrontation between the great powers of the world promoted by his administration that is turning into a killing machine.

We see this in the Ukraine war and we are seeing it again in the looming war between Israel and Hamas.

I see a protracted and painful war between Israel and Hamas.

The Yom Kippur War lasted 3 weeks. The 2006 Lebanon war lasted 1 month.

This war will last longer, possibly much longer.

Israel enjoys military superiority but we should assume that Hamas is well prepared for an Israeli invasion.

Hamas will turn the heavily population urban areas into the main battlefield. Hamas will force Israel to fight street by street, door by door, like Bakhmut.

Hamas will likely use the dozens of Israeli hostages (including elderly women, and small children and babies they took as human shields to slow down the Israeli offence.

Hamas knows that to win this war, they don’t need to actually defeat the Israeli army.

All they need is to drag the war out long enough for civilian casualties to pile up and for the US to force Israel to stand down as it has so many times in the past.

The bar for Israel in this war is much higher. To declare victory, the Netanyahu government will have to destroy Hamas and re-occupy Gaza.

The price Israel will have to pay to win the war will be very high.

But it must win this war to regain its deterrence in the region.

My home is in Israel and I will be rooting for her.

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David - firstly stay safe - it’s heartbreaking to see what’s going on .

Mossad - The world’s elite security force with eyes and ears everywhere didn’t see this coming .I find it really hard to believe what are your thoughts on this ?

Replying to

Thank you David - a frightening thought


David, all of us hope for your safety and the rescue of the hostages. Whatever criticisms people may have about government policy, civilians should not be targeted.

I know that things are still moving both on political and military dimensions. A few months ago, you dived into the Israeli Supreme Court, and how attempts to reform the process of selecting judges exposed real cracks in Israeli society. My takeaway was that liberal Israelis were concerned about the increasing sway of settlers, the orthodox, and other members of Bibi's coalition. I am curious how this war might affect that. Did Bibi manage to enact his reforms? Do you think the Knesset will be able to take power away from the judges?…

Replying to

Thank you. The judicial reform is dead right now. Bibi said before the attack that he intended to pass through only one more item on the reform deck that has to do with how justices are selected. Bibi is being blamed for not having prepared Israel for the attack but the real culprit is the military leadership that is anti-Bibi. Indeed even Shin Bet chief came out this week with a mea culpa.


Thanks for this great analysis David. This is a very tough situation and I hope you're safe! I'd love to hear your opinion about the Shekel regarding possible direction and main factors in determining shekel momentum. Today it hit a major milestone (4 shekels per dollar)...

Replying to

Thanks David, this makes sense.


As always your insights are enlightening. Despite this tragedy happening at your own door steps, you continue to engage and share deep understanding with us. I admire immensely your ability to continue as a voice of reason even after witnessed this brutality. Keep calm and carry on! Most importantly stay safe.

Replying to

Thank you Lulu for the support.


Most insightful commentary I’ve read. Thank you. But, more importantly, please stay safe and keep us updated, not so much on markets, but on your personal situation. Take care !

Replying to

Thank you Justin!


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