There are conspiracy theories on social media about how the Hamas attack, attributed to Israeli intelligence, was a conspiracy rather than a failure, as they managed to breach the six-meter-tall ‘Iron Wall’ without immediate detection.
Senior Israeli security officials have told US media that intelligence picked up on a spike in chatter by Gazan militant networks just before the attack, but that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops either didn’t receive or didn’t read the warnings. This marks the official start of the blame game for the intelligence failure that allowed Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters to flood over the heavily fortified border between Gaza and Israel.
In a separate incident this week, an Egyptian intelligence official allegedly told the media that Cairo warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office of “something big” involving militants in Gaza that was about to happen. The Israeli side allegedly “underestimated” the warning and chose to concentrate on tensions in the West Bank. “We have warned them an explosion of the situation is coming, and very soon,” the anonymous official said
After the attack by Hamas in southern Israel this morning, Israel launched Operation Swords of Iron, which involved launching between 2,000 and 5,000 rockets.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the latter reporting as “totally fake news,” pointing out that “no message in advance has arrived from Egypt and the Prime Minister has neither spoken, nor met, with the head of Egyptian intelligence since the formation of the government, either directly or indirectly.” On Wednesday, a ‘high-profile Egyptian government source’ concurred with the Israeli prime minister in denying that any warning had been given.
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These reports have fueled conspiracy theories on social media about how the six-meter-tall “Iron Wall,” which separates Gaza from Israel is protected by remote-controlled machine gun emplacements and drones and is 65 km long, could be breached by lightly armed Palestinian fighters using paragliders, pickup trucks, small boats, and bulldozers, all without being immediately noticed.
“There’s no way – I [would be] awakened at night by a pigeon, by a stork approaching the wall. A cockroach crawling under the barrier would put the whole sector on alert,” a flustered woman claiming to have served in Gaza as an IDF reserve sergeant said in a viral video. “How did they manage to enter on tractors – 400 people and nobody noticed? This simply cannot be.”
Others saw the surprise strike as a successful deception operation, with further Israeli intelligence sources telling media that Tel Aviv “gave the impression that it was not ready for a fight” due to Hamas’ “unprecedented intelligence tactic to mislead Israel.”
“This is our 9/11. They got us,” IDF spokesperson Nir Dinar lamented. “They surprised us and they came fast from many spots – both from the air and on the ground and the sea.”
The Elite Hamas Unit Tricked Israeli intelligence by making them think that the Hamas leadership was more concerned with the restoration of Gaza’s economy than with escalating hostilities.
Indeed, the first phase of the operation was so well-planned and beautifully carried out from a military perspective that Israeli President Isaac Herzog accused “proxy commanders in Iran” of “supporting and directing” Hamas. These accusations were refuted on Tuesday by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
“Supporters of the usurping regime, and even some people from the regime itself have said some nonsense over the past couple of days and it’s still continuing. They have said the Islamic Republic of Iran is behind this move. They are wrong,” Khamenei said. “Those who say what the Palestinians did was caused by non-Palestinians have not yet got to know the Palestinian people,” he added, praising the “smart and wise” planners behind the operation.
How Did Israel Get Duped So Badly?
According to political analyst and former adviser to Israel’s interior security minister Alex Wexler, there was nothing sinister about the intelligence blunder that resulted in Saturday’s unexpected Hamas-led assault.
“This was just our failure as Israel. It was a holiday, it was a Saturday,” Wexler told Sputnik. “Exactly 50 years ago, on October 6, 1973, we experienced something similar,” he recalled, referring to the so-called Yom Kippur War.
“So what the American newspaper published is incorrect, inaccurate information, I think. We simply soiled ourselves, got caught with our pants down, as sometimes happens,” the intelligence expert added.
It’s “hard to say” how the problem will develop moving forward, Wexler added. He continued, “But the government that permitted such an attack to take place…including the prime minister, the defense minister, and the chief of military intelligence should have resigned, in my opinion.
Wexler believes that the absence of radio and other forms of communication about the operation contributed, at least in part, to Hamas’ ability to plan it in secrecy. “Because 56 years ago, on the first day of the Six-Day War, our intelligence was able to capture a closed-circuit conversation between King Hussein of Jordan and President Nasser of Egypt. We now have considerably greater capabilities, in my opinion.
Hamas is an organization that Israel has designated as a terrorist entity and is behind the new Gaza War in 2023 after the launch of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.
Wexler speculated on whether Israel might have preparations for a land invasion of Gaza and said that while it will happen, it “will have to be done very carefully, because everything is mined there, and they are constantly waiting for us to enter. But we will enter, I don’t know if tomorrow, the day after, or three days from now.”
Intelligence Not an ‘Exact Science’
Similarly, Yaakov Kedmi, the former head of the Nativ intelligence agency, which specialized in bringing Jews back to Israel from the former Soviet Union, rejected the notion that the Israeli military or state ignored Hamas’s preparations for an attack on purpose, telling Sputnik that more investigation will be required to determine exactly what transpired.
“In this case, this was more of an operational failure by those who should have been prepared. Intelligence is not an exact science,” Kedmi said. “Intelligence provides more or less certain estimates, which aren’t always accurate, and the data is also not always accurate, with operational decisions made based on the [perceived] danger.”
Kedmi drew attention to the IDF’s obvious stupidity in relying excessively on its high-tech, ‘impenetrable’ border wall without putting additional troops on the ground to cover the rear. “Dozens, hundreds of cameras can be completely disabled by any sniper rifle. This doesn’t require intelligence. The antennas on the towers that exist for communication with command can be neutralized by the most primitive kinds of drones that children play with by attaching a grenade to them – this does not require intelligence,” he said.
Kedmi claimed that even after the assaults started on Saturday, commanders did not make use of Israel’s capabilities.
“Combat helicopters were not on alert. A combat helicopter could fly to the spot within five minutes, and blow those jeeps and bulldozers breaking down the barriers to hell; but a unit ready for immediate deployment was not available. None of this was done. It took several hours for troops to arrive, the first among them special forces, who are always ready. A number of guys were abandoned,” Kedmi said, saying that such a small presence was not enough to defend the entire 65 km long border area.
In the end, the observer thinks that public perceptions of Israel’s military might have been “a little exaggerated” in terms of their strength and capabilities. The breakdown on Saturday was a failure of operational intelligence, including those spies working among the Palestinians, according to Kedmi. “Intelligence is a complex system,” he said.
Russian military historian and director of the Museum of Air Defense Forces, Yuri Knutov, said that the Hamas attack revealed the Iron Dome’s inefficiency.
“The most difficult thing in intelligence that you can never fully rely on is assessing enemy intentions. Kedmi cited former Egyptian Army Chief of Staff Saad el-Shazly, who once recalled that he wasn’t certain that the 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel would begin until 15 minutes before it actually began when then-President Anwar Sadat entered the command post in a field marshal’s uniform. “They can change, and they change very often,” Kedmi said.
“In other words, the question of intentions and what will ultimately happen may not be known even by high command. Therefore, competent, correct intelligence prepares the army, and the operational elements of the forces must be ready in accordance with their capabilities…What are they capable of? The fact that Hamas is capable of simultaneously throwing some 2,000-3,000 people into battle has always been clear to everyone…Therefore, the defensive lines and defense system should have been ready for this, regardless of what agents report, or what this or that Hamas leader thinks,” Kedmi summed up.