The Rosett Report

Hamas, Terror Tunnels and Timing?

In connection with the discovery that the Hamas terrorists of Gaza had dug an elaborate network of attack tunnels into Israel, a number of Israeli news outlets have been reporting that the date set by Hamas for a major attack was Rosh Hashanah — the beginning of the Jewish New Year, which this year falls on Sept. 24. If true, that date is intriguing for reasons extending beyond the Jewish New Year.

The reports of a plot timed to coincide with Rosh Hashanah are unverified, anonymously sourced to Israeli security services, and most seem to track back to a dispatch by  Israel’s Hebrew-language Maariv Daily.  Let’s treat that date and the reports of a Rosh Hashanah plot with caution, pending clear confirmation. But the extensive tunnel network certainly does suggest something major was in the works. And veteran defense correspondent Bill Gertz, who has a record of being well-sourced and well-informed on such matters, ran with the Sept. 24 date in a recent report that  “information that Israeli Defense Forces reportedly obtained from captured Hamas fighters revealed that the group was planning to use several Gaza tunnels that extend under Israeli territory for a major attack timed with the beginning of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, on Sept. 24.”

What significant event, other than Rosh Hashanah, falls this year on Sept. 24?

That would be the opening in New York of the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly, scheduled this year to run from Sept. 24-Oct.1. It’s less a debate than a drumroll of speeches by presidents and prime ministers, but we all know the scene. Officially, the General Assembly opening jamboree starts earlier in the month (this year, on Sept. 16). But the big show, the main drama, is the General Debate. Heads of state from around the globe converge on the UN headquarters, bringing gridlocked chaos to midtown Manhattan. The first morning routinely features the UN secretary-general and the U.S. president. Other speakers get shuffled around, but last year, the opening day of the debate also included Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, an official face of the Tehran regime that has been supplying Hamas with terrorist training and weapons.

As far as I am aware, the speaking lineup for this year’s General Debate has not yet been released. But let’s recall that when the opening of the General Debate in 2012 fell on another Jewish holy day, Yom Kippur, it was cause for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to skip the opening day of speeches, and arrive later in the week. What might be his plans this year to cope with the UN kicking off the General Debate on Rosh Hashanah, I have not yet seen. But there is at least some likelihood that he would come after the opening day.

So, let’s connect the dots, or the dates — the alleged but unverified plans by Hamas to launch a major terrorist assault on Israel via those tunnels on Sept. 24, which if true would have coincided precisely with the Sept. 24 opening day of the global summit that is the UN’s annual General Debate. It’s unlikely that Hamas would be oblivious to the UN timing in New York. Palestinian terrorists have exploited the UN for decades as a prime vehicle for advancing their interests. It is a campaign in which the UN over many years has been richly complicit. Back in 1989, the late U.S. ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, wrote a brilliant article for Commentary, in which she observed that Yasir Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization were on a campaign, via the UN, “to come to power through international diplomacy — reinforced by murder. And they have nearly succeeded.”

Were the tunnels part of a Hamas plan not only for massive, coordinated terrorist attacks, but for some sort of diplomatic coup at the UN, reinforced by murder?

That’s not a rhetorical question. It’s something I have been puzzling over. Officially, it’s been the Palestinian Authority that represents the Palestinians at the UN, promoted by the General Assembly (though not by the Security Council) in 2012 to the status of a non-member Observer State. Will Hamas partake of that status this September via a Palestinian “government of national unity”? What was the plan? What is the plan?

Were the UN an institution genuinely devoted to justice, decency, or even sanity, one might suppose that a massive terrorist attack by Hamas via tunnels dug into Israel would backfire badly on Hamas, arousing outrage at the terrorists and sympathy for Israel. But the despot-heavy UN has a long record of condemning and investigating democratic Israel, while shrugging off Palestinian terrorism. Could that have been counted on, in the event of bloody news breaking out of Israel, as the UN General Assembly began its annual debate?

Maybe the unverified reports of plans for a Hamas attack on Sept. 24 should be dismissed as just that — unverified, anonymously sourced reports. Maybe Hamas had penciled in an entirely different set of dates for making industrial-scale use of those tunnels to terrorize, murder and kidnap Israelis. But if there is any truth to the story, then the drama planned by Hamas would have had Israel under massive terrorist attack, via those tunnels, on the same day that heads of state were beginning their parade across the UN stage in New York — quite possibly with the Israeli prime minister not yet arrived for the gathering. Were there scripts already being written for the likes of the Iranian president? Was the Palestinian Authority clued in? What to make of this?  Anything? Nothing? There are questions here that need answers.