ANALYSIS: Why Israel was caught off-guard by Hamas on October 7

How could a relatively small terrorist organization succeed in penetrating the defense of the region’s most powerful military?

By Yochanan Visser | | Topics: Hamas, Gaza
How did a relatively small terrorist force with no heavy weapons manage to overcome Israel? Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90
How did a relatively small terrorist force with no heavy weapons manage to overcome Israel? Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90

On October 7, Israel experienced its own 9/11 when an army of 2,900 Hamas terrorists carried out an unprecedented massacre in southern Israel.

More than 1,400 people were murdered during the Hamas invasion, many of them brutally and after being tortured or raped.

The victims included elderly people, women and children, as well as babies and mentally-disabled people.

In Israel, it has been concluded that the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7 were only comparable to those of the Einsatz Gruppen of the SS during the Second World War, or to what ISIS did when they controlled territory in Iraq and Syria.

The question now is how could this happen? How was it possible that the Israeli security apparatus was completely unaware of what happened in Gaza on the night of October 6 to 7?

Why didn’t the so-called ‘glass wall’, the network of sensors, cameras and other electronic means that should have registered every movement along the Gaza border, work?

And finally, was there nobody who noticed that a new war against Israel was being prepared in Gaza?

 

The run-up to war

Let us first look at what happened on the Israeli side on the night of October 6-7.

It was Shabbat and the Simchat Torah festival was also celebrated with many soldiers on leave, so the IDF bases were manned by skeleton crews.

In addition, border security control was done almost exclusively by electronic means.

In the IDF command center near Kibbutz Be’eri, officers sat in front of their computer screens and everything seemed calm along the border, or so they thought.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas terrorists were thoroughly preparing for the invasion.

They used a detailed operational plan that had already been written a year earlier by Iranians according to an American intelligence and cyber expert who analyzed the plan after Arabic-speakers had translated it.

The 2,900 members of the Izz a-Din Al-Qassam Brigades (40,000 terrorists) had everything they needed, from M-16 rifles to grenade launchers and 4-wheel-drive vehicles.

They had secretly trained for the raids on kibbutzim in a mock village in Gaza.

Unmanned aircraft (drones) were prepared to take out the IDF observation towers, where the cameras and sensors were located.

At 6 a.m., the 2,900 terrorists mobilized and drove to 27 locations along the border with Israel.

The Hamas drones first dropped mini-bombs on the IDF observation towers and this disabled most of Israel’s security system for the Gaza border.

It may sound absurd, but the IDF apparently stopped using simple binoculars to secure the Gaza border.

Someone with night vision goggles would have immediately noticed that something big was about to happen.

It was only when the terrorists arrived at the border and began blowing up parts of the fence that anyone realized a war was breaking out.

The Hamas terrorists immediately broke into three IDF bases, among them the headquarters in Re’im near Kibbutz Be’eri, where the whole Gaza regional command was concentrated.

Soldiers were shot dead in their beds and the ensuing panic temporarily caused the IDF headquarters to cease functioning.

“Cod, Cod, we are at war!” was reported from one of the watchtowers by soldiers who then shot at the invading terrorists. “Cod, Cod” is army slang for the commander.

Female soldiers in another watchtower shouted over the walkie-talkie that they saw 12 terrorists approaching on motorcycles, but it was already too late.

 

The failure of the intelligence apparatus

Then there is the question of how the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, was not aware of Hamas’ plans and what happened in Gaza on the night of October 6-7.

The Shin Bet had built up a reputation for infallibility in recent years thanks to the introduction of new advanced spy equipment and techniques.

The truth is that the Shin Bet had “weak signals” that something was about to happen in Gaza the night before the invasion.

Twice, telephone consultations were held in the middle of the night between the head of Shin Bet and the top of the Israeli army, including Chief of Staff Hertzi Halevi.

Ultimately, it was decided not to inform Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to hold consultations again early in the morning.

Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar remained at his agency’s headquarters all night until the attack began, and has now taken responsibility for the complete failure of the intelligence service.

The same applies to Tzachi Hanegbi, the national security advisor to the Israeli government.

Hanegbi said a week before the Hamas invasion that he had no indications that Hamas would start a new war against Israel because of its internal problems.

Finally, did no one see that war was coming?

Yes, there were people with extensive experience in the Israeli army who warned about the coming war as early as August.

Among them was Yigal Carmon, the director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), who published an article in late August warning of war in September or October.

Carmon warned of a war that would cause many casualties on the Israeli side. He also wrote that things would get out of hand and escalate towards a “regional war with several fronts”.

Another prophet of doom was Major General (retired) Yitzchak Brick, who wrote a report in 2018 in which he predicted exactly what happened on the morning of October 7.

Brick expected this would happen in the north, where Hezbollah would do what Hamas now has been doing in southern Israel.

IDF soldiers observing Gaza from watchtowers had further observed unusual Hamas movements in the days leading up to the invasion.

For example, on October 6, IDF observers reported that groups of Palestinian Arabs came to the border fence and pointed at the wall while taking photos.

This information was passed on to the IDF Gaza command, but the soldiers’ warnings were ignored.

 

Hamas massacre coded in the Torah

Rabbi Zamir Cohen, a prominent Torah scholar in Israel, says the bloody war is encoded in the Hebrew text of the Bible.

These codes which formerly were only accessible to Torah scholars above the age of 40, can now be cracked with a computer program designed by two researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

In chapter nine of the book of Exodus appears the verse “They killed with the sword and they returned.” The code ‘Shmini Atzeret Taf Shien Peh Daled Dam’ appears above the verse.

Shmini Atzeret is another name for Simchat Torah, the festival celebrated on October 7. Taf Shien Peh Daled is the current year on the Hebrew calendar, as Hebrew letters have a numerical value, and these letters form the current year 5784.

Dam is the Hebrew word for blood.

The word Hamas appears twice in the code, while it also appears once in the Torah itself in the weekly portion that was read in synagogues last Shabbat.

The Torah text in Parashat Noah recalls that the earth that was “full of violence” (Hamas in Hebrew).