Tel Aviv: Joshua Hantman, a strategist who has served in the Israeli PMO, Defense and Foreign ministries, has said the October 7 attack by Hamas was undoubtedly the greatest intelligence failure in the history of the state.
During a conversation with IANS, Hantman, however, expressed confidence that with the backing of friends like India, his country would eventually prevail. Here are some excerpts.
IANS: On October 7, unimaginable cruelty was unleashed on the state of Israel. Weren’t you able to see this coming?
Hantman: This was undoubtedly the greatest intelligence failure in the history of the state. Many hard lessons have already been learned, and insights will need to be drawn and implemented moving forward. There were warnings which were not heeded and these will have to be investigated thoroughly.
IANS: Israel has one of the best intelligence agencies in the world and terrorists could still attack at their will on October 7 …
Hantman: As I said, this was the greatest intelligence failure of Israel.
IANS: Do you feel that a narrative is being deliberately set up for Palestine across the globe even as it was Hamas who carried out the cruel massacre?
Hantman: Israel’s narrative has been well received by much of the enlightened world. The US, UK, much of Europe, Canada, Ukraine and Europe stand by Israel. While Hamas and the broader Palestinian narrative is well received by Russia, China, North Korea, and much of the Muslim world.
Despite the protests led by the Muslim communities in Europe, polls show majorities standing by Israel in the UK, US, Spain and France. Our message is strong and our mission is just. We must prevail.
IANS: Is there a possibility of a multi-pronged attack on Israel with Iran co-ordinating?
Hantman: Yes, there certainly is. And we are confident we can deal with all threats. The US has also stood by Israel, stating clearly that they are ready to increase its support and backing should other actors become more actively involved.
IANS: Your Prime Minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) has categorically said that there is no going back in the war as it would mean surrender to terrorists. Will global pressure mount on you for a truce?
Hantman: We have a duty to defeat Hamas. This is a fight for Israel and also a fight for enlightened nations all over the world. We have no choice but victory.
IANS: Russian deputy foreign minister has recently met Hamas leaders in Moscow. Your comments?
Hantman: Israel is on the right side of history. There are many international players with their hands in this. With the backing of friends like the US, UK and, of course, India, we shall prevail. Light will always overcome darkness.
IANS: What about the hostages? Will you be able to free them?
Hantman: Israel must do all in its power to bring its citizens home. Babies as young as 9 months were ripped from their cots by the jihadi terrorists. At least 240 innocent souls are kidnapped and held in Hamas dungeons. We have a duty to bring them home — either militarily, diplomatically, and most likely a mixture of both. It won’t be simple, but it is our duty.
IANS: Israel is now at war with Hamas and the IDF has entered Gaza Strip. How long will it take for a total victory ?
Hantman: As long as it takes. We have no choice. We must defeat the evils of Jihadi terrorism. Both in Gaza and all around the world.