Hamas deceived Israel as it plotted a devastating assault. Through a wise strategy of deceit, Israel was surprised when the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas launched its catastrophic assault, allowing a force equipped with motorcycles, bulldozers, and hang gliders to confront the most formidable army in the Middle East.
The assault on Saturday, the most severe breach in Israel’s defenses since Arab armies invaded in 1973, resulted from Hamas’s two-year campaign of deceit, which included concealing its military intentions and convincing Israel it did not desire a conflict.
A source with close ties to Hamas stated that while Israel was led to believe it was containing a war-weary Hamas by offering economic incentives to Gazan workers, the group’s fighters were frequently being trained and drilled in clear sight.
Numerous details for the Reuters-assembled account of the attack and its escalation were obtained from this source. Three additional sources from the Israeli security establishment, who requested anonymity like the others, provided information for this account.
The source with close ties to Hamas stated, “Hamas gave Israel the impression that it was not prepared for battle.” He described preparations for the most shocking assault since the Yom Kippur War, fifty years ago when Egypt and Syria forced Israel to fight for its survival.
“Hamas used an unprecedented intelligence tactic to mislead Israel over the last months by giving a public impression that it was not willing to go into a fight or confrontation with Israel while preparing for this massive operation,” a source reported.
Israel acknowledges being surprised by an assault concurrently with a religious holiday and the Jewish Sabbath. Hamas fighters stormed into Israeli communities, abducted dozens, and murdered 700 Israelis. Since then, Israel has recorded the deaths of over 400 Palestinians in retaliation against Gaza.
“This is our September 11th,” said Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Major Nir Dinar. “They got us.”
“They surprised us and came fast from many spots – both from the air, ground, and sea.”
Hamas representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, told Reuters that the attack demonstrated the Palestinians’ determination to accomplish their objectives “regardless of Israel’s military capabilities and strength.”
“They initiated a riot.”
A close associate of Hamas stated that they constructed a simulated Israeli settlement in Gaza, where they trained to assault and conduct military landings, as one of the most remarkable aspects of their preparations. Hamas even produced videos documenting the maneuvers.
“Israel surely saw them, but they were convinced that Hamas wasn’t keen on getting into a confrontation,” according to a source.
In the interim, Hamas endeavored to persuade Israel that its primary concern was guaranteeing employment opportunities for its workforce in Gaza, a confined territory inhabited by over two million individuals, across the border, and that it had no intention of instigating a fresh conflict.
“Hamas was able to build a whole image that it was not ready for a military adventure against Israel,” according to the informant.
Israel has endeavored to establish a rudimentary degree of economic stability in Gaza since a conflict with Hamas in 2021. To this end, it has provided thousands of work permits and other incentives for Gazans to reside in the West Bank or Israel, where wages for construction, agriculture, and service jobs can be ten times greater than those in Gaza.
“We believed that their presence in Gaza for work and to transport funds there would engender a degree of tranquility.” “We erred,” stated an additional Israeli army spokesperson.
An Israeli security source acknowledged that Hamas deceived the Israeli security services. “They led us to believe they were motivated by financial gain,” the source explained. “And they were involved in exercises/drills all the time until they ran riot.”
Hamas has abstained from military operations against Israel for the past two years as part of a pretense, even though Islamic Jihad, an Islamist armed group based in Gaza, has launched a series of its own assaults or missile attacks.
Lack of an indentation
The source added that Hamas’s display of restraint drew public criticism from some of its supporters, which was once more intended to create the impression that the organization was preoccupied with economic matters rather than preparing for a new conflict.
There were individuals in the West Bank, which is under the control of Fatah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who made fun of Hamas’ decision to remain silent. Fatah accused Hamas leaders in a June 2022 statement of emigrating to Arab capitals to reside in “opulent villas and hotels,” thereby abandoning their people in Gaza to abject poverty.
A second Israeli security source stated that Israel once believed that Yahya Al-Sinwar, the commander of the movement in Gaza, was more concerned with Gaza management than with the murder of Jews. He added that concurrently, Israel shifted its attention from Hamas to negotiate normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia.
Israel has historically taken great pride in its capacity to surveil and penetrate Islamist organizations. According to a source with close ties to Hamas, a consequence of this was the requirement to prevent disclosures.
According to the source, numerous Hamas leaders were not informed of the strategies, and the one thousand militants involved in the assault were unaware of the precise objectives of the drills during their training.
According to a Hamas source who described the various components, the operation was divided into four sections when the day arrived.
According to the source, the initial assault consisted of 3,000 rockets launched from Gaza in conjunction with incursions by fighters using hang gliders, or powered paragliders, across the frontier. Israel has previously stated that an initial 2,500 projectiles were launched.
After descending to the ground, the hang-glider-borne combatants secured the area in preparation for an elite commando unit to assault the electronic and cement barrier that Israel had constructed to prevent infiltration.
After breaching the barriers with explosives, the combatants raced across on motorcycles. Witnesses reported that bulldozers widened the gaps and additional combatants entered via four-wheel drives.
A “Giant Flaw”
According to the source, a commando unit stormed the Israeli army’s southern Gaza headquarters and blocked communications, preventing personnel from communicating with commanders or one another.
The final phase consisted primarily of transferring hostages to Gaza early in the assault, according to a Hamas-affiliated source.
A highly publicized hostage situation transpired when combatants captured individuals attending a rave near the kibbutz of Re’im, near Gaza. As gunfire could be heard, social media footage showed dozens of individuals fleeing through fields and along a road.
“How could this celebration occur so close to Gaza?” asked an Israeli security source.
According to the Israeli security source, the southern region near Gaza was operating at a reduced strength due to the redeployment of personnel to the West Bank to safeguard Israeli settlers in the aftermath of an upsurge of hostilities with Palestinian militants.
“They exploited that (Hamas),” said the source.
Former Middle East negotiator and current Washington Institute for Near East Policy employee Dennis Ross stated that the violence in the West Bank had diverted attention away from Israel, resulting in a “thin, unprepared presence in the south.”
“Hamas’s success likely surpassed their preconceived notions.” “They will now be confronted by an Israel that is determined to annihilate them,” he continued.
Former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and retired general Yaakov Amidror told reporters on Sunday that the assault constituted “a catastrophic failure of the southern military apparatus and intelligence system.”
Former chairman of the National Security Council from April 2011 to November 2013 and current senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security Amidror stated that “more responsibility” had been attributed to Hamas by some of Israel’s allies.
“We stupidly began to believe it was true,” he continued. “Very well, we committed an error. We are resolved to rectify this error and will gradually but certainly subdue Hamas.