The impact of “Al-Aqsa Flood” attack on the normalization process between Riyadh and Tel Aviv


The Al-Aqsa Flood Operation (the 7th of October) broke out between Israel and the Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip, to which Israel responded with Operation “Iron Swords”, which confused the calculations of the Israeli occupation army, due to the Hamas movement, the Al-Qassam Brigades, and the Islamic Jihad launching rockets and carrying out incursions and captures within the territory of Israel itself, which is a completely unexpected surprise for the Israelis. Where there is a sudden, widespread and coordinated attack on the Hamas movement, and indicates the level of intelligence organization within the Hamas movement.  It is likely that it also received logistical support from Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and Iran, which greatly explains what is happening now, with the “Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades”, which is the armed wing of the Islamic movement that has controlled Gaza since 2007, confirming that it launched more than five thousand rockets, coinciding with the incursion and storming of its fighters into Israeli towns and settlements near the Gaza Strip, especially the Israeli “Gaza Envelope” settlement. The massacres currently taking place in the Gaza Strip come after Israeli Prime Minister “Netanyahu” threatened the Hamas movement to pay an unprecedentedly high price, and the Israeli occupation army confirmed that they are all in a state of war, with the call-up of Israeli reserve soldiers, whose number is estimated at more than 360,000 reserve soldiers were called for the war against the Gaza Strip and fighters from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Palestinian resistance factions. Thus, the movement of life and business came to a complete halt inside Tel Aviv, with workers in the sectors and institutions of the Zionist entity being called to war, with the complete collapse of the value of the shekel, or the Israeli currency, and all aspects of the conflict.  Their lives are due to the war, and the accommodation of a large number of their citizens in hotels supervised by the Israeli occupation army.  Here we confirm that the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation represents a major failure for Israeli intelligence, which can be described as a historical failure, and can be compared without exaggeration to what happened in the October War of 1973. Given that Israel is in a constant state of alert, and is always on the brink of an existential war. But today, we notice a degree of unpreparedness, which is likely due to an error in analysis and assessments from Israeli intelligence.  It is also likely that it is a major mistake in the preparedness system of the Israeli Special Forces themselves, which confirms the victory of the Hamas movement against them in what is known as war tactics and the choice of its timing.    

  This attack on Israel is considered unprecedented, due to its size and organization. Since the Kippur War or the October War, which is the war of October 6, 1973, which Israel fought against Egypt and Syria, Israel has not known a similar attack with a real invasion of its lands.  With the entry of commando forces from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Qassam Brigades deep into Israeli territory, with military planning similar to what is literally carried out by regular armies.  This came as a surprise to the Israelis when they admitted that they were facing the tactics of regular armies and not Palestinian resistance factions, as was the case before, and that they were combat forces, trained and possessing modern tactical means, and they succeeded in entering battles in several Israeli towns and settlements at the same time.  Dozens of four-wheel-drive vehicles were used, each carrying eight Hamas fighters. They succeeded in raiding the streets of cities, towns and settlements in southern Israel, killing civilians and taking entire families hostage. The Israelis found themselves facing an unprecedented field situation. Although Israel relies on its advanced technologies to anticipate and neutralize threats.  However, today’s events demonstrate the existence of a problem of anticipation and a possible failure in risk analysis.  We find that the scenario expected by Israeli intelligence was essentially that they expected an invasion from the north, that is, carried out by Hezbollah, starting from southern Lebanon.  But today it has suffered a major setback, given the error of the Israeli and American strategic estimates regarding any possible attack on Tel Aviv.  For Hamas, this process comes at a critical stage in the history of Israel, which faces an unprecedented institutional, political, and identity crisis, with severe polarization and great social division.  This crisis has been shaking the Israeli interior for several months, with the outbreak of weekly demonstrations. Therefore, the Hamas movement did not hide its desire to exploit the apparent fragility of the Israeli interior to carry out a similar attack, represented by the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation, as the whole world has now witnessed.

   Therefore, the Israeli occupation army responded to what happened to it, by launching raids on the Gaza Strip and all its residents, without any distinction between a child and a resistance fighter, a sector that has already been under siege for many years. Then came the announcement of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel was in a serious state of war after the Hamas attack. From my point of view, it amounts to (a real and radical change from the speech he gave specifically in September 2023), that is, just one month before the outbreak of the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation, before the United Nations General Assembly, and Netanyahu’s vision at the time that the normalization agreements with three countries  In 2020, Arab League launched a new era of peace with Israel.  With Netanyahu’s confirmation, during his speech before the United Nations General Assembly in September 2023, of the possibility of concluding a historic peace agreement with Saudi Arabia, it will be of great importance to Israel given the Kingdom’s political and economic weight and its symbolism in the Arab and Islamic worlds.  

   The “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation also came at a very sensitive time for the Israeli and American sides, especially in light of the effort to conclude a normalization agreement between Riyadh and Tel Aviv, which, if completed, would have been the latest in a series of understandings between Israel and Arab countries in recent years. The sudden attack launched by the Hamas movement against Israel from the Gaza Strip dealt a blow to the momentum gained by the American effort to conclude a normalization agreement between the Hebrew state and Saudi Arabia, and refocused attention on the Palestinian issue.  With these strenuous attempts by US President Joe Biden towards an agreement between Riyadh and the Hebrew state, because this will represent a diplomatic gain that will strengthen his campaign for the presidential elections by 2024. We find that obstructing the potential normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia may be one of the motives for the attack launched by Hamas on Israel.

   I believe here that the recent acts of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, known as the “Al-Aqsa Flood,” have once again shed light on the complex issues of conflict between the Palestinians and Israel, and have now made it difficult to hide such complex issues, as did the Abraham Accords concluded in 2020, which included the “Normalization processes” between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.  With the confirmation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in September 2023, that is, immediately before the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation, that getting closer to normalization with Israel is permissible, but he repeated his country’s position, that any agreement must include addressing the issues of the Palestinians first before signing any agreement with the Israeli side.

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit