Benjamin Netanyhu’s future could be in jeopardy if he ‘missed warning signs’ of Hamas attack, expert says

Israeli Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyhu speaking at a cabinet meeting.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem. Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP

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As Israelis band together following Saturday’s surprise attack by Hamas, the political turmoil facing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu will likely be set aside — at least for now — a Northeastern University expert says.

Headshot of Daniel Urman.
Daniel Urman, director of the Law and Public Policy minor at Northeastern University. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“In the short term, (the attack) takes a lot of the internal struggles in Israel and certainly puts them on hold,” says Daniel Urman, director of the Law and Public Policy minor at Northeastern’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.

By saying the attacks by Palestinian militants from the occupied Gaza Strip mean “we are at war,” Netanyahu returns Israel to fighting external enemies rather than internal political foes, Urman says.

“That helps whip up support,” he says.

But if future investigations show that Israeli leadership was incompetent in identifying warning signs of an attack, “that could absolutely dissolve his government and hurt him down the road.”

“The prime minister could benefit from internal cohesion,” Urman says. “That could turn on a dime if it’s shown the prime minister missed warning signs.”

Netanyahu’s far-right leadership has plunged the country into political turmoil with a plan to overhaul Israel’s judiciary, a move that has drawn international criticism and sparked a protest movement within Israel.

But the protests are being suspended for now following the deaths of more than 900 Israelis in the Hamas attack, which wounded more than 2,300.

Military veterans who said they would refuse service are now arranging transportation for army reservists being called to the front, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 

“This is an opportunity and a challenge” for Netanyahu, Urman says. “He is getting more political support than he has in recent memory.”

The late Prime Minister Golda Meir almost lost her job when it appeared she was “asleep at the switch” at the start of the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago this week, Urman says.

On the other hand, he says, support for U.S. President George W. Bush deepened following the 9/11 attacks, he says.

“At this point, everyone is praying, rooting for Israel,” Urman says.

Cynthia McCormick Hibbert is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email her at or contact her on Twitter @HibbertCynthia.