Israel vs. Hamas: A Month Later (November 7, 2023)

Sam Vaknin
3 min readNov 9, 2023

Where are we, a month after the atrocities committed in south Israel by 3000 Gaza Palestinians?

I am using the phrase “Gaza Palestinians” rather than the habitual Hamas because by now it has become clear that civilians and criminals who breached the fence committed most of the heinous crimes.

Hamas terrorists were relatively disciplined throughout the 12–24 hours incident (it took the hallowed and hollowed IDF that long to reach the scene in any meaningful way).

Israel dawdled for 3 unnecessary and costly weeks before it mustered the courage and determination to invade the aerially devastated Gaza Strip. A stream of triumphant messages followed the ground invasion.

But reality and self-congratulatory propaganda rarely meet. In actuality, only 2–3% of Hamas’s fighting force and tunnels are destroyed. Hamas is even more present in the south, near Egypt, than in the much bombarded north.

Hamas still fires rockets on Israel and is holding on to the hostages. It is far from capitulating. It is taunting Israel daily. International grassroots support for Israel is being sorely tested by what is beginning to be widely perceived as its campaign of war crimes.

So, what is Israel to do? Having placed itself impossible goals, Israel must now declare victory and negotiate a cease fire replete with the release of all the civilian hostages held by various groups in Gaza.

But Israel is led by a kleptocracy of grandiose malignant narcissists and petty criminals immured in fantasies and led by Netanyahu whose only priority is and always has been Netanyahu. The political echelons are estranged from the people. Israel is in the throes of a slow-motion, simmering civil war.

The military arm of Hamas is a fanatical and tyrannical death cult, headed by arch psychopaths and serial killers who propagate their own brand of faux “Islam” (for example: Sinwar). The political leadership is saner, but equally trapped in fantasies of revenge and restoration.

Yet, unlike al-Qaida and ISIS, Hamas is supported by 31–53% of the Palestinian population who have little left to lose. It will, therefore, be impossible to eradicate Hamas the way the West had dealt with ISIS, for instance.

In any fight between a psychopath and a narcissist, the former wins. Narcissists are no match for psychopaths.

Narcissists are cowardly and prosocial (play by some rules and externally regulated). They are driven by fantasy (impaired reality testing) and are cognitively distorted (grandiosity, paranoid ideation). Consequently, they are gullible.

Psychopaths — Putin comes to mind — are callous, reckless, disinhibited, defiant, and, often, sadistic. They couldn’t care less about costs: they are goal-oriented. Their reality testing is intact.

This insight from clinical psychology does not bode well for Israel. As a state actor, it has already gone as rogue as it possibly could. The asymmetry in asymmetrical warfare weighs heavily in favor of terrorist organizations.

Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. is a former economic advisor to governments (Nigeria, Sierra Leone, North Macedonia), served as the editor in chief of “Global Politician” and as a columnist in various print and international media including “Central Europe Review” and United Press International (UPI). He taught psychology and finance in various academic institutions in several countries ( )



Sam Vaknin

Sam Vaknin ( ) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and a Visiting Professor of Psychology