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Israel must do what is necessary to respond to Hamas’ Oct. 7 atrocities and restore deterrence while attempting to minimize civilian harm.

In a U.S. News and World Report op-ed, David Michaels, B’nai B’rith Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs writes that Hamas and its supporters may have miscalculated in their Oct. 7 attack, saying that Israel – united across the ideological spectrum – will do whatever possible to restore deterrence.

Read in U.S. News and World Report.

Hamas’ Oct. 7 onslaught came the day after the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.

The timing wasn’t coincidental. Falling on another Jewish holiday, Simchat Torah – which celebrates both the end and beginning of the yearly cycle of readings from the Hebrew Bible – the 2023 invasion sought to hearken back to the surprise Arab attack on Israel of 1973, previously the grimmest moment in Jewish history following the Holocaust.

In the process, Hamas operatives again put to the lie regional extremists’ claim of being opposed only to “Zionism,” not to Jews or to Judaism. They discredited their own claim to religious piety and humanitarian indignation. Over more than two months of conflict, Hamas has perpetrated unspeakable atrocities among Israel’s Jews and Arabs alike, while also imperiling Palestinian civilians by hindering their evacuation, firing and hiding among them, diverting aid, and abducting as many as 240 foreign hostages, including infants and the elderly.

In October 1973, while many Israelis were in synagogue and observing the year’s most important fast day, Yom Kippur, the conventional armies of Syria and Egypt simultaneously invaded the Jewish state in what became the greatest direct military challenge to Israel since its founding. The October 2023 attacks, however, amounted to the most barbarous massacre of Israeli civilians ever.

No doubt, the killing alone was an objective of Hamas’ indiscriminate violence. Hamas glorifies the murder of Israelis, and it revels in terrorizing other Israelis in order to weaken the Middle East’s only democracy and render it unlivable.

But Hamas had other goals too in perpetrating – and even livestreaming – its bloodshed on Oct. 7.

By labeling its “operation” that day “Al-Aqsa Flood,” it sought to again tap into the sham claim of an Israeli threat to Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount – when Israel has actually preserved Islamic administration of Jews’ own holiest place since Jerusalem’s reunification in 1967 – and to present itself as the champion of a resonant symbol among Muslims.

In linking its attack to the 1973 war, Hamas positioned its actions as a continuation of old pan-Arab efforts to destroy Israel. But it also sought to revive that frayed Arab nationalist cause and stem widening Arab reconciliation with Israel.

By rousing some grassroots Arab celebration of an even transient Palestinian “victory,” Hamas and its lead sponsor, Iran, demonstrated to Arab governments that their populations might not so quickly shed anti-Zionist animus. And by not just provoking but engineering, broadcasting and periodically stage-managing Palestinian casualties, the Iran-led axis sent a message that it might wield a veto over steps by Saudi Arabia, the custodian of Islam’s two holiest sites, toward diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

That the rousing of popular fury against Israel extended beyond the country – unleashing anti-Jewish sentiment globally – was only a plus. So was the harm to not just Israelis’ sense of security but also their societal and economic stability.

Coming nearly two decades after a center-right Israeli prime minister withdrew (unilaterally) from Gaza, and 30 years after a center-left Israeli premier afforded (through bilateral negotiations) Palestinian self-rule, Hamas sought to tell Israelis that there is no way to escape fanatics’ obstruction of peace. The same warning was central to Palestinian suicide bombings after the 1993 Oslo Accords and the 2000 Camp David talks – in which Israel offered Palestinian leaders practically everything they claimed to seek – as well as Hamas’ ruthless Gaza takeover in 2007.

The fact that United Nations bodies, college campus activists and Western influencers act as if exhaustive Israeli peace attempts never happened helps to further intensify the psychological warfare afflicting Israelis, international sympathy for whom began to fizzle even before they began ground operations in Gaza.

One can imagine the response, and the global solidarity, if more than 10,500 rockets rained down on the United States, or on any country as small as Israel. And unlike Hamas, Israel has not only taken pains to protect its own civilians but also repeatedly tried to warn Palestinian noncombatants away from combat sites – as challenging as that is when facing underground terrorists operating across urban terrain.

Since Oct. 7, Hamas has both brutalized its victims and worked to humiliate its adversaries. These include Israel’s defense and intelligence establishments, along with the Palestinian Authority, itself tarnished by both corruption and support for terror. And Hamas leaders, along with Lebanon-based Hezbollah, have tried to portray the U.S. as impotent, and to present their attacks as helpful to America’s geopolitical rivals.

Hamas sees this juncture as an opportunity to achieve further dominance in Palestinian politics, while also shifting the strategic balance of power in the Middle East.

Undoubtedly, the group knew its assault would prompt an Israeli military campaign, one in which it could kill more Israelis and perhaps capture others, using them as bargaining chips to free Palestinians incarcerated in Israel for violence.

But Hamas and its backers may have miscalculated.

Israel’s most fundamental raison d’être is the prevention of the sort of pogroms Palestinian “fighters” unleashed from Gaza, and their carnage instantly forged a resolve and unity among Israelis recently riven by searing ideological divisions. Israelis now see no choice but to overcome those whose aspirations and tactics know no limits.

Indeed, the credibility of Israelis – and the U.S. – as partners to moderate Arabs is dependent on ensuring that the jihadist model of “politics” be seen as an unambiguous failure.

Palestinians bearing the consequences of violent fanaticism likely no longer lionize those behind Oct. 7 – especially with Hamas’ top leaders enjoying serene affluence abroad in Qatar. Many Arab governments, too, will not overlook Iran’s maneuvers to permanently ensnare their region in tumult. Encouragingly, past peace treaties with Arab countries came only a few years after pitched battles against Israel, including the Yom Kippur War. And many in the international community do now recognize the sheer depravity of Hamas, no less than the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State. Certainly the U.S. does, and bipartisan leaders understand the need to defang the terrorists.

There may not be a painless path forward, and Hamas scored certain ignoble “achievements” in October. But in the months to follow, Israel – the sole nation-state of a people that has outlived more than one genocidal fantasy – will do whatever possible to restore deterrence, attempting to lessen civilian harm while making the pogroms not worth their price.

David J. Michaels is Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs at B’nai B’rith International. He previously trained at the Foreign Ministry of Germany, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Embassy of Israel in Washington, Ha’aretz and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. A Wexner Fellow/Davidson Scholar, and winner of the Young Professional Award of the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America, he holds degrees from Yale and Yeshiva University.