Israel’s ‘Intel, Operational & Logistical Lapses’ Failed to Stop Hamas Attack - Report
Palestinian militants based in the Gaza Strip launched an offensive against Israel dubbed Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7, launching a barrage of missiles while other groups breached the border and advanced into Israeli territory. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) retaliated with airstrikes against the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas attack
into southern Israel became possible due to an array of intelligence lapses
, along with operational
and logistical weaknesses
of the military, a US report has claimed, citing senior Israeli security officials.
Firstly, intelligence officers had failed to duly track key communication channels resorted to by Palestinian attackers.
Secondly, there had been an overreliance by the Israeli military on border surveillance equipment, which the attackers had no trouble shutting down.
Thirdly, Israeli commanders had been amassed at the time of the attack at one border base. After it was overrun, communication had been cut off with the rest of the Israeli armed forces.
Willingness to “take at face value”
statements by Gazan military leaders made in wiretapped telephone conversations, that they were not preparing an attack. Israeli intelligence is reportedly now determining whether these calls were real or staged.
The Palestinian group Hamas unleashed a surprise large-scale attack on Israel on October 7, dubbed Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, launching thousands of missiles while other groups advanced into Israeli territory. The attack prompted Israel to declare a state of war the following day. On Monday, Israel put the Gaza Strip under full blockade, cutting off food, gas and electricity supplies. Israeli and Palestinian authorities have reported that hundreds of people have died and thousands have been injured as a result of the escalation in fighting.
In the months preceding the attack
, Israeli security chiefs had drawn erroneous assumptions as to the degree of threat that the militant group Hamas, which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007, posed to Israel, sources were cited as saying. They pointed to the fact that Hamas had kept a low-profile throughout the past year, with a smaller Gaza-based group - Palestinian Islamic Jihad – more in the limelight. Hamas leadership had also agreed to a deal brokered by Qatar to end rioting at the border fence in September – also contributing to the impression that the militant group was not aiming for any escalation.
The publication recalled that several days before the attack, Israel’s National Security Adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, gave a radio interview where he claimed that “Hamas is very, very restrained and understands the implications of further defiance.”
Furthermore, the emphasis shifted to threats emanating from Lebanese militants flanking Israel’s northern border in Israeli intelligence briefs to senior security chiefs several days ago. Meanwhile, Hamas
was described as being successfully “deterred
” by the intelligence officials.
Feeding into these assumptions were also wiretapped calls between Hamas operatives. Israeli intelligence agents reportedly got the impression that after the escalation of the Mideastern conflict in May 2021, Hamas was not seeking to become embroiled in fighting with Israel.
The horrendous breach of security
that happened on October 7 was also facilitated by the fact that the Israeli border security system is predominantly reliant on surveillance cameras, above-ground barriers, a subterranean wall to prevent the digging of tunnels, and remotely operated machine guns. The setup was ostensibly deemed impregnable by Israeli commanders. Accordingly, it was felt that there was no need to physically station significant numbers of soldiers along the border.
Accordingly, the Israeli military opted to slash troop strength there, while redirecting the soldiers to other areas, such as the West Bank, as per the publication.
“The thinning of the forces seemed reasonable because of the construction of the fence and the aura they created around it, as if it were invincible, that nothing would be able to pass it,” Israel Ziv, a retired major general who formerly served as the head of the IDF’s Operations Division, was cited as saying.
However, Hamas had exploited the vulnerability of the remotely-controlled Israeli security system at the border by sending aerial drones to attack cellular towers that transmit signals, clarified the report. This appeared to be confirmed by drone footage released by Hamas.
After the drones rendered the system inoperable, soldiers behind the front lines failed to get the alarm that the border fence had been breached. As for the physical barrier itself, Hamas infiltrators bulldozed through it with greater ease than ostensibly anticipated by the Israeli officials. Accordingly, over 1,500 fighters were able to reach at least four Israeli military bases after breaching close to 30 border points, some using hang-gliders to get past the barricades.
Another fatal operational flaw was the fact that leaders from the Israeli army’s Gaza division had all been crammed into one location
on the border, according to Israeli officials. As a result, once the base was swarmed by attackers
, a major part of the senior officers were killed, injured or taken hostage.
All the above-mentioned factors hampered a coordinated response, amid an inability to communicate just how grave the situation was to the top military command in Tel Aviv. With the Israeli Air Force bases “just minutes away in flying time,” said officials, swift air cover was not provided, with hours of response time wasted.
“We’ll finish this… You know that this will be investigated,” Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht was cited as saying.