October 7 Attack Necessitates Establishment of State Commission of Inquiry

>> Read the full position paper in pdf

 This paper, written for Zulat by Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Professor of Public Policy at the Federman School of Public Policy of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, examines the need for the establishment of a state commission of inquiry into the terror attack of October 7 and preceding events and the likelihood of such an outcome.

The October 7 attack represents the biggest failure in Israel’s history to protect the lives of its citizens and defend its sovereignty, a grave political-security debacle that engendered a profound crisis of trust in the state’s institutions. Given that the individuals potentially responsible for the failure that enabled the attack comprise the entire political and security leadership, what is needed is an institutionally independent investigation, which can only be carried out by a state commission of inquiry.

The need for an investigation is based on the realization that a recovery process calls for ascertaining the facts, understanding what caused the failures, and drawing professional conclusions whose implementation will lessen the danger of similar blunders in the future.

In all the countries where they are commonplace, including Israel, the decision to introduce commissions of inquiry was prompted by a crisis of confidence in state institutions leading to the conclusion that only an autonomous and apolitical entity will regain the public’s trust and restore the legitimacy of these institutions in the long term.

The Commissions of Inquiry Law states that the government is authorized to establish a state commission of inquiry to investigate “a matter of vital public importance at that time. There is no doubt that the October 7 attack abundantly meets this criterion, by virtue of its severe consequences, the key role played by public institutions and high-level officials, and the unprecedented distrust in the state’s ability to fulfill its most fundamental role, which is to protect the lives of its citizens.

Despite the need and justification for it, there is a very low chance that the current government will appoint such a commission. First of all, governments tend to avoid, or even to oppose, the establishment of commissions to probe debacles for which they may be held accountable. Secondly, based on a comparison between his 17-year cumulative tenure as prime minister and other Israeli governments, Netanyahu has shown exceptionally strong aversion to use this tool. Third, Netanyahu has to date adamantly refused to accept any responsibility for the political-security failure that enabled the 7 October attack. Fourth, the non-apolitical attitudes of Netanyahu’s governments in recent years are incompatible with the principles underlying the institution of independent inquiry commissions.

Having said that, to the extent that the October 7 debacle should go on stirring public unrest, the government may choose to allay the pressure by appointing a commission. Given the very high level of public attention commanded by the blunders preceding the attack, a vigorous public demand for an inquiry commission and prominence of the issue in the public agenda have in the past shown to contribute to the chances of such a development, and therefore there is merit in pursuing the efforts in this direction.


Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.