Wake-up call

The Hamas militant attack on Israel warns of the capability of those intending to sow terror to breach even the world’s most sophisticated intelligence network in Israel’s Mossad.

Israel had earlier dismissed the capability of Hamas to launch a respectable military operation aside from the occasional cross-border sneak attacks.

A Reuters report said that on 27 September, barely a week before Hamas fighters launched their largest surprise attack on Israel since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israeli officials met with North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, officials and gave them a tour of the Gaza border to demonstrate their use of artificial intelligence and high-tech surveillance against the militants.

From drones using face recognition software to border checkpoints and electronic eavesdropping on communications, Israeli surveillance of Gaza is widely viewed as the most intense and sophisticated anywhere.

What followed was an epic failure of intelligence, which is unheard of when Israel is the topic.

The failure of Israel’s feared intelligence system to deliver advanced warning represented a disaster to the country in safeguarding its border, which is ringed by mostly hostile nations and groups.

Multiple forward Israeli military positions and communities near Gaza were overrun, in many cases apparently with no or little warning, while the scale of Hamas missile launches at times overwhelmed Israel’s sophisticated Iron Dome defense, according to a recounting of the tragic clashes.

Hamas did not surprise only Israel but also the US and allied intelligence agencies, which earlier had succeeded in warning of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The Americans, who still have unhealed wounds from the 9/11 attacks,  are particularly apprehensive and will likely be examining what happened to avoid a repeat on their soil.

Intelligence experts were astounded by the ability of Hamas to have its plans escape detection. “There would have been warning signs, or the clues were there but not interpreted from the data,” a Middle East conflict expert said.

The expert said the events are a wake-up call for other governments becoming complacent that the global terror wave has abated.

National Security Adviser Secretary Eduardo Año has taken the right step of seeking from the Anti-Terrorism Council the designation of Hamas as a terrorist group to prevent the entry of members of the pseudo-political group into the country or to round up sympathizers here.

Like Israel, the Philippines is a frequent target of militants since a strike on the country is an indirect victory against its historically, the United States.

The only difference between the Philippines and Israel in their affinity with the US is that Manila receives far less military aid than the $3 billion that Washington pours into the Middle Eastern nation yearly.

Branding Hamas a terrorist organization, will also be the Philippines’ response to the slaughter of 1,200 people, including three Filipinos.

Most of all, it will show that the government is acting swiftly to control the spread of the terror euphoria that may translate to sympathy attacks in the country.

The Hamas assault reminds Filipinos of the Marawi siege, which occurred from May to October 2017, launched by Islamic State-affiliated militants.

The multinational effort that led to the quick resolution of that conflict, in which the IS sought to establish a center of operations in Southeast Asia in Mindanao, can be the country’s contribution to Israel.

The United States played a significant role in supporting the Philippine government’s efforts to combat the militants through intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, including drones and other assets to track the militants’ movements and pinpoint their strongholds.

The Australian Defence Force deployed a P-3 Orion aircraft to assist with surveillance and reconnaissance operations. Australian and US forces also provided training and advice to their Philippine counterparts.

Other countries, such as China and Indonesia, also offered intelligence, equipment, and humanitarian aid assistance.

International vigilance, which should not waver, is the civilized nations’ weapon against the resurgence of terrorism, be it in Israel, Marawi or elsewhere.

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