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October 7 should have been stopped before it happened - an Irish perspective

January 30, 2024 at 8:21 pm

People, holding banners and Palestinian flags, gather to stage demonstration to show solidarity with Palestinians and demand permanent ceasefire in Gaza and to support South Africa case against Israel on January 13, 2024 in Dublin, Ireland [Stringer – Anadolu Agency]

On the evening of 31 January, 1972, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Widgery, accepted an invitation from British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, to conduct a public Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday massacre. A massacre I had witnessed the day before in my hometown of Derry, Northern Ireland, as a 15-year-old schoolboy.

Prime Minister Heath told the Lord Chief Justice that he needed to remember that the British were ‘in Northern Ireland fighting not only a military war but a propaganda war.’

It was a political steer, indicating the desired outcome of the Inquiry. Truth was to be the sacrificial lamb. When, three months later, Widgery delivered the official report of his Inquiry, he had done his master’s bidding. He found the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent. British paratroopers had murdered unarmed civilians. Lord Widgery murdered the truth. And, in so doing, he also killed the non-violent Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement and handed the initiative to the men of violence – on all sides.

My community had agreed to cooperate, in good faith, with the British public Inquiry. When Widgery delivered his whitewash, it was clear our trust had been betrayed. In the end, many young men and women reasoned that there was no such thing as British Justice and, therefore, decided to fight fire with fire. In the process, they were branded ‘terrorists’, a politically loaded term aimed at dehumanising and delegitimising their decision to resist what they increasingly saw as another chapter of British colonial dominance in the north of Ireland.

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For the next quarter of a century, the British government and its military resourcefully sought to crush Irish resistance, using every method conceivable. Their actions, however, succeeded only in giving birth to new generations of resistance whose political leaders, in the end, had to be engaged in what became a dynamic peace process.

As we look south-east towards Gaza today, we witness the merciless, revenge-driven, folly of Israel, under the malign and collapsing leadership of Netanyahu. With US stockpiles, he has turned much of Gaza into rubble, massacred at least 26,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, has failed to find and free Israeli hostages, is courting a humanitarian disaster and has succeeded in making Israel a pariah state in the eyes of the majority world. South Africa has succeeded in dragging Israel before the International Court of Justice in The Hague which, in its preliminary ruling, has found the Republic’s powerful charge of Israeli genocide ‘plausible’.

In the current Israeli assault on the people of Gaza, once again truth is the major casualty, especially in the hands of skilled and well-resourced spin doctors who understand the alchemy behind what the American writer, Mark Twain, wrote in his autobiography, ‘How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!’ More recently, perhaps influenced by Twain, someone more succinctly stated, ‘It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.’ Following Bloody Sunday, my community understood just that. Indeed, it took us all of 38 years and a second public Inquiry before a British Prime Minister was to unequivocally describe the actions of British paratroopers on Bloody Sunday as ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’.

We learned that Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., was right when he said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ Truth will, in the end, find the light of day. Especially the truth about what actually happened on 7 October, 2023, and the lead-up to the tragic and consequential events of that day.

In early November 2023, I was asked by a former member of the British security forces who had served in Northern Ireland how I thought Israel should have reacted to the Hamas massacre. A challenging question. It led me to pen an unpublished letter to both The Irish Times and The New York Times on 15 November, 2023, in which I stated some of the following:

I cannot accept that the Israeli intelligence services – one of the best resourced and most sophisticated in the world – were caught entirely blindsided.

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The Al Qaeda attacks on 9/11 in the USA comprised 19 operatives. The 10/7 Hamas attack on Israel comprised over 2500 operatives, required months of often visible preparation, and involved three theatres of attack: air, sea and land. Furthermore, it has been reported that Jordanian and Egyptian intelligence alerted Israel of an imminent attack.

In Northern Ireland, British Military Intelligence infiltrated both Sinn Fein and the Provisional IRA with their agents. We can be confident that the Israeli Intelligence services have infiltrated Hamas in a similar way. It is implausible that they were asleep because it was a religious holiday or miscalculated. The ease with which the Hamas operatives breached an otherwise impenetrable series of defences, defies belief.

I suspect, in time, we will learn that senior political hawks in Netanyahu’s cabinet knew this attack was imminent. I was not surprised to read in the 28 January, 2024, edition of the Middle East Monitor that a member of the Israeli Knesset, Tzvika Foghel, head of the National Security Committee, has suggested there are ‘traitors from within’ and that ‘Israeli intelligence couldn’t be totally unaware of what was going to happen on 7 October.’

Let us never forget that, at the time of the attack, Netanyahu and his cabinet were under enormous political pressure. Mass demonstrations seeking to protect the Israeli courts, the only body capable of controlling Netanyahu’s growing authoritarianism, were calling for his resignation and imprisonment.

10/7 happens and, suddenly, the political landscape changes. Opposition is swept aside by being absorbed into a ‘unity government’, and the West blindly jumps to Israel’s defence, lacking the moral leadership to critique the danger that Netanyahu poses to the region and the world.

In answer to the question posed by the former member of the British security forces concerning how Israel should have reacted to the 10/7 Hamas incursion and massacre, my answer is stark. They should have stopped it before it happened!

But that would surely have been an inconvenience to the jingoes of Netanyahu’s cabinet and their increasingly desperate political predicament. For the moment, that has all changed. Now they are eyeing Gaza as a future settlement zone and their bloodlust is hoping to draw the USA into an open war with Iran. And, when it comes to American policy towards Gaza, it seems Netanyahu is the real President of the United States and Biden is his self-proclaimed Zionist lackey.

The Palestinian people will rise again from the rubble of Gaza. The rubble itself is but a metaphor of the self-inflicted destruction Netanyahu has done to the international reputation of Israel and, indeed, the legacy of Joe Biden.

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.