Knowing what we know now, if the international community had the opportunity to prevent another October 7 from materializing, would it? The answer seems to be no.

In the lead-up to the Hamas attacks that sparked the current war, the Iranian proxy governing Gaza was raking in donor money to build an entire second Gaza underground solely for the purpose of hiding Hamas terrorists, weapons, supplies, and innocent hostages. At the same time, it’s becoming clearer that Egypt simply abdicated its earlier commitment to at least slowing the smuggling of weapons and other dangerous items between its own territory and the Strip. For years, meanwhile, the Western world has been easing its own sanctions regimes against Iran over its illicit nuclear-weapons program, which has freed up lots of extra cash with which to supply its proxy armies. And NGOs and United Nations agencies either turned a blind eye to Hamas’s coopting and militarization of humanitarian aid and medical institutions or joined the party.

In other words, mistakes were made by plenty of parties to the conflict. Yet the New York Times paints a picture of a world actively making those same mistakes again in the West Bank. Sunday’s series finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm was titled “No Lessons Learned.” That would be an appropriate title for Tuesday’s piece in the Times. A sample:

Iran is operating a clandestine smuggling route across the Middle East, employing intelligence operatives, militants and criminal gangs, to deliver weapons to Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, according to officials from the United States, Israel and Iran.

The goal, as described by three Iranian officials, is to foment unrest against Israel by flooding the enclave with as many weapons as it can.

The covert operation is now heightening concerns that Tehran is seeking to turn the West Bank into the next flashpoint in the long-simmering shadow war between Israel and Iran.

With information like this, we have two categories: what we know, and what we do about it. The above is what we know. And what we also know is that it is not an amateur undertaking: “Many weapons smuggled to the West Bank largely travel along two paths from Iran through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, the officials said. As the arms cross borders, the officials added, they change hands among a multinational cast that can include members of organized criminal gangs, extremist militants, soldiers and intelligence operatives. A key group in the operation, the Iranian officials and analysts said, are Bedouin smugglers who carry the weapons across the border from Jordan into Israel.”

Iran has proxies in the West Bank and of course it has always sought to arm them, but this new smuggling route seems to be have worked smoothly for the past two years. In response, Israel has been conducting a crackdown across the West Bank in an attempt to shut down the smuggling. In effect, Israel is working to prevent a second October 7.

For its efforts, Israel of course has been on the receiving end of complaints that it is too heavy-handedly policing the spread of illegal arms intended to carry out what at this moment would be an apocalyptic explosion of violence and chaos that Iran seeks to unleash on the world. The Times quotes Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch, who was expelled from Israel for his ties to a global movement openly seeking the destruction of Israel, as expressing his doubt that all this policing is really necessary. Perhaps it’s much ado about nothing. Let’s just wait and see what happens; that always works, right?

This kind of blasé attitude about a second October 7 is especially rich coming from those who see the current war in Gaza as a once-in-a-millennium catastrophe.

What’s interesting about this is that nobody seems to cast doubt on the existence of this smuggling route. And why would they? Iran-backed groups, including Hamas, operate in the West Bank, as the Times says plainly. And Iran arms these groups with the goal of igniting a war against Israel. None of this is disputed.

Additionally, we know that October 7 was intended to drag the West Bank into the flames as well. Hamas operatives had maps and instructions on them that showed that the invasion was not meant merely as a cross-border raid but as a way to cut across Israel and connect with fellow Hamasniks and Palestinian Islamic Jihadists in the West Bank. At that point, Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority would be supplanted by another Iranian satrapy, most likely Hamas itself, in service of Tehran’s goal of burying not only the two-state solution but the Palestinian national movement itself.

There is also the captivating reporting by Shlomi Eldar of Hamas’s plans for a post-Israel Israel. “One day,” a prominent Palestinian who fled from Gaza to Egypt tells Eldar, “a well-known Hamas figure calls and tells me with pride and joy that they are preparing a full list of committee heads for the cantons that will be created in Palestine. He offers me the chairmanship of the Zarnuqa committee, where my family lived before 1948.” This Palestinian’s response? “You’re out of your minds.”

But enough Palestinians in Gaza, mostly aligned with Hamas, didn’t think it was so crazy. And October 7 was such a successful blow against Israeli national security that there was no doubt, none at all, that Iran would try again.

So, back to our earlier question: What are we doing about it? We know what Israel is doing about it. We also know that the “human rights” organizations, perhaps the group of people least interested in Palestinian human rights in the entire region, are up and running interference for Iran. The European Union this week confirmed it was dropping its sanctions on an Iranian company still sanctioned by the U.S. for aiding Tehran’s vast censorship regime.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller was unimpressed by the EU’s move: “ArvanCloud is a key player in the Iranian regime’s project to cut off the Iranian people from the global internet and surveil them.… ArvanCloud maintains a close relationship to Iran’s ministry of intelligence and security, and senior managers of ArvanCloud are either current or former affiliates of the ministry of intelligence and security. So ArvanCloud remains sanctioned by the United States.”

Yet the Biden administration, for its part, is waiving billions in sanctions on Iran, and has been intervening diplomatically to ease pressure on Hamas in Gaza, which signals to Tehran that its current course of action is working. The cognitive dissonance required by the West’s current set of policies toward Iran and the Palestinians is headache-inducing. But if Iran succeeds in what it’s planning, that’ll be the least of the pain felt by the free world.

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