Israel is grappling with a deep-seated existential fear following the horrific events of October 7. Hamas’ incursion into its territory was a significant event, with thousands of people killed or taken hostage. The government is now awaiting an official investigation to understand how it could have been possible for such a massive attack. The disastrous events have demonstrated that a powerful military doesn’t necessarily equate to a strong and united society.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has polarized Israeli society for years, leading to tragic consequences. The country is now facing the tragic consequences of these divisions. Those who argued that a prime minister facing corruption charges is not fit to run a country, especially one facing extreme security challenges, were right.
Israel has been facing internal divisions since the start of the year due to Netanyahu’s readiness to form a right-wing coalition and his acceptance of Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich’s demands for key ministries, which they are not qualified to handle and accuse of treachery.
The Israeli Cabinet lacks significant military experience, leading to a situation of criminal neglect. Netanyahu and his coalition are responsible for being unprepared for the surprise Hamas attack, diverting the political system’s focus from security to attacks on the judiciary and democratic institutions. Israel is experiencing a double trauma, first from the brutality of Hamas and its readiness to commit crimes against innocent civilians, and second from the realization that a country with one of the world’s highest levels of military expenditure has been caught by surprise by an irregular militant group.
Netanyahu may escape corruption and division, but his political career is unlikely to survive his acts of gross negligence, which have cost the lives of many people and exposed an astonishing failure of intelligence. Much of this crisis derives from Netanyahu’s botched school of thought, which weakened the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank while allowing Hamas to build its power base in Gaza.
There is anger in Israel that Netanyahu, his wife, and other ministers have failed to visit the locations that suffered terrible losses in the Oct. 7 attacks, enhancing the view that Netanyahu is detached from the country and its people. His lack of contrition and refusal to take personal responsibility raise serious issues that question his suitability to remain in power for a minute or a single day.
Opposition leaders responded swiftly to the attack by engaging with the victims and offering to join forces to form an emergency government. However, Netanyahu has dithered and waited for assurances from Benny Gantz that he would join a government of unity without demanding the exclusion of the divisive duo of Ben-Gvir and Smotrich.
The Israeli government has agreed to a compromise with the far-right coalition, allowing Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot to join the Cabinet, providing military experience and preventing Netanyahu from influencing events. This gives Netanyahu hope of surviving the mega-fiasco. However, it is unlikely that Netanyahu and his Likud party will survive in power after months of maligning and inciting members of the Israel Defense Forces to oppose the government’s efforts to crush the democratic system.
These IDF personnel have joined their units or volunteered to help with logistics, and they will renew their opposition to Netanyahu and his government after the war is over. The prime minister and his party are in freefall, with polls showing opposition parties have a significant lead over the ruling coalition, and Gantz is likely to form the next government. If Netanyahu had any dignity or sense of responsibility left, he would have resigned as soon as the magnitude of the Oct. 7 disaster became evident.