The Hamas Surprise Attack, Israel’s Response, and Risks of Escalation Chicago Project on Security and Threats
Robert A. Pape  |  October 19, 2023

With Israel within hours of launching a major ground offensive to completely destroy Hamas militarily and politically, it is important to show the US and world why this will lead to massive escalation beyond Gaza, particularly in the West Bank and in Israeli cities.  This escalation is important, because this escalation inside Israel will likely be the trigger for wider escalation with Hezbollah and the region.

This slide deck starts by clarifying that terrorist groups like Hamas always seek to win through exactly this strategy -- gruesome civilian attacks that provoke the democracy to escalate with ground forces that massively increase recruitment for the terrorist group.

Exactly this pattern happened when:

1.  Israel invaded Southern Lebanon with 78,000 combat troops in June 1982 – which caused creation of Hezbollah in the first place.

2.  Israel's heavy military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank from the early 1990s to 2005 -- which caused waves of suicide terrorist attacks until the IDF left.

3.  Israel's ground offensive into Lebanon in July-August 2006 -- although the goal was to completely destroy Hezbollah's leaders and fighters, the Israeli offensive failed and Hezbollah is 10 times stronger today as a result.

4.  The United States invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003 with 150,000 troops -- which led to the largest suicide terrorist campaign in modern times, a major civil war in Iraq, and ultimately, the rise of ISIS.   As you know, I was the only terrorism expert to predict, in fall 2002, that US occupation of Iraq would in 2003 touch off the massive suicide terrorist campaign in Iraq.

You can download the slide deck here.