Israel’s Intelligence Failure Was Bigger Than We Thought

Israel had a blueprint of Hamas’s plan but was somehow still caught by surprise.

Written by Jack Elbaum

What’s happening: A report revealed Israel knew of Hamas’s attack plan more than a year before October 7. A 40-page Israeli document, code-named “Jericho Wall,” detailed Hamas’s strategy to invade Israel, take over military posts, and massacre communities along the border with Gaza.

  • Even more: New details show that just hours before the attack, Israel’s top defense officials had enough warning signs to prepare and even held urgent consultations, but did not evacuate the music festival, believing the imminent attack was just a Hamas training exercise.

How did it still happen? Israel simply did not believe that 1) Hamas was militarily capable of carrying out such an attack and 2) Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar had any interest in starting a large-scale war with Israel. Israel and the international community were tricked, over a period of many years, into thinking Hamas was more interested in governing Gaza than in terror.

  • Behind the scenes: There was significant debate within the Israeli intelligence community about whether this was a serious threat. However, many top leaders and experts there deemed it beyond Hamas’s capabilities.

  • Context: It is common for militaries to draw up a variety of plans, none of which they ultimately use.

Persistent: Some veteran analysts in Israel’s top intelligence unit were adamant that Hamas really was going to attack using the plan outlined in “Jericho Wall.” One wrote, “I utterly refute that the scenario is imaginary,” in response to the dismissive attitude of a superior.

  • Chilling: One Israeli media outlet recently reported Hamas conducted a major training exercise during July in the presence of senior leaders. They ended a drill with the words “We have completed the murder of all the residents of the kibbutz.”

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