‘Even in our worst nightmare.’ Hamas attack collapses Israelis’ worldview.

With Hamas’ devastating cross-border attack from Gaza Saturday, everything Israelis thought they knew – about their country and politics, security and the army, and place in the Middle East – collapsed.

The abject failure of Israel’s intelligence and military has shaken a public reared on the prowess of the vaunted Israel Defense Forces. The near absence of governmental authority in shattered southern communities in the first days of the war has undermined faith in the country’s leaders. The savagery of the attack on civilians has made clear that the enemy from Gaza was vastly underestimated.

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The Hamas attack Saturday is forcing a paradigm shift for Israelis, whose sense of security and faith in their government and army were profoundly undermined. Yet in their shared trauma, they are putting aside recent differences.

The unprecedented toll – more than 1,000 Israelis killed and over 150 taken hostage to Gaza – made it, by far, the heaviest single-day loss in Israel’s conflict-filled history.

Yet in its shared trauma, the country has drawn together, with the divisions and mass protest movement against the hard-right government put aside.

“It was a dramatic, epic event in Israeli society. Books will be written about it,” says one senior Israeli military officer. “[It will] change the paradigm.”

Says Adva Adar, whose 85-year-old grandmother, Yaffa, was taken captive from her kibbutz in southern Israel: “Even in our worst nightmare we couldn’t imagine that this was possible.”

Israelis went to sleep Friday night celebrating the end of the Jewish High Holidays, looking ahead to a return to work and schools, and, while apprehensive about their own politics, fairly confident that they were safe in their beds.

The next morning, with Hamas’ devastating cross-border attack from Gaza, everything they thought they knew – about their country and politics, security and the army, and place in the Middle East – collapsed.

The abject failure of Israel’s intelligence and military has shaken a public reared on the prowess of the vaunted Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Why We Wrote This

A story focused on

The Hamas attack Saturday is forcing a paradigm shift for Israelis, whose sense of security and faith in their government and army were profoundly undermined. Yet in their shared trauma, they are putting aside recent differences.

The near absence of governmental authority in shattered southern Israel in the first few days of the war has undermined faith in the country’s leaders.

The savagery of Hamas commandos, left unchecked for hours as they went house to house shooting civilians in communities near the Gaza border, has made clear that the enemy from Gaza was vastly underestimated.

Yet in its shared trauma, the country has drawn together, with the divisions and mass protest movement against the hard-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put aside.