Netanyahu’s intelligence failure played into the hands of Hamas, according to a Toronto political scientist

A journalist interviews a political scientist for a podcast in front of a live audience.
Journalist Paul Wells interviews political scientist Janice Stein at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy in Toronto on Jan. 30 for a podcast taping in front of a live audience. They discussed the ongoing war in Gaza and Netanyahu's government. (Li Ho/Toronto Observer) 

A Canadian political scientist says that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was delegitimized the day Israel was attacked by Hamas.

Janice Stein, founding director of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto, made the comments during a podcast taping hosted by journalist Paul Wells in Toronto on Jan. 30. Their wide-ranging conversation touched on the war in Gaza, Netanyahu’s government and Canada’s geopolitical influence.

Stein said that the Oct. 7, 2023, attack by Hamas on innocent civilians in Israel was “an intelligence failure in an obvious way” as well as “a defence failure.”

“Even after the attacks began, [Israel] is a very small country. It should not have taken long to move forces from the centre of the country to the south where the attacks were happening, but it did,” she said.

Approximately 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals, including several Canadians, were killed on Oct. 7 when Hamas-led militants attacked Israel. About 250 others were taken hostage.

Those events triggered the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel has cut off much access to food, electricity and fuel for residents while its military conducts attacks. The Israeli offensive has since claimed the lives of more than 28,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian officials.

Hamas, a government elected in 2006 by Palestinians in Gaza, had been “clear all along that it would not accept the State of Israel, a Jewish state, on the territory of Mandatory Palestine,” according to Stein.

The Oct. 7 attack blindsided Israel, with many Israelis accusing Netanyahu of failing to foresee such tragedy. Stein called it “a strategic failure.”

Netanyahu’s response to Oct. 7 has been criticized by many in his country. Stein considers his coalition government to be “the most right-wing, the most extremist, the most fanatical.”

Netanyahu is facing corruption charges. One of the three cases against him involves allegations that he received favourable media coverage during a previous term as prime minister in exchange for advancing regulatory decisions that financially benefited the majority shareholder of a telecommunications network. He also faces fraud and breach of trust charges in two other cases. He denies wrongdoing.

Asked by Wells to consider a Canadian government with greater influence in the Middle East, Stein said, “We’ve never been influential in the Middle East. We’ve never had relationships in the Middle East.”

As war continues to play out in Gaza, Stein’s suggestion is that the Canadian government “invest more in reinforcing a civic culture in this country.”

“We all have a duty of care to each other,” she said.

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Posted: Feb 1 2024 10:41 pm
Filed under: News Politics