Hamas’s brutal and inhuman attack on Israel last week took the world by surprise. Most importantly and tragically, it took the Israeli government by surprise, which meant a delayed response to the slaughter of its civilians. But this was no “black swan” event. Instead, as scholar Amy Zegart notes, it was a white swan — something utterly predictable.
In response, Israel is pledging to destroy Hamas, which is a daunting challenge. The terrorist group is hoping for a massive Israeli overreaction that produces thousands of civilian casualties and bogs down Israeli troops. Hamas is also hoping for the collapse of any possible deal with Saudi Arabia. The more brutal Israel’s response, the more likely it is the deal will collapse.
Israel’s goal should be to respond to Hamas and deal with the Palestinian issue in a way that still allows for the resumption of negotiations on Saudi normalization. That is the strategic prize. The establishment of normal relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia would be the severest setback for Hamas and other bad actors in the region.