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Israeli army knew of Hamas's plans on 7 October, report finds

Newly revealed document shows the army was even aware of the number of captives the Palestinian group planned to take
Palestinians and Hamas fighters run towards to Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel after it was overtaken by Hamas on 7 October 2023 (AFP/Majdi Fathi)
Palestinians and Hamas fighters run towards to Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel after it was overtaken by Hamas on 7 October 2023 (AFP/Majdi Fathi)

The Israeli army and intelligence services had detailed knowledge of Hamas’s plan to attack Israel and take captives weeks before the 7 October attack, a newly surfaced document reveals.

A report by Israel’s Kan News says the report, titled “Detailed End-to-End Raid Training”, was compiled by the Israeli army’s Gaza Division, distributed on 19 September 2023, and was known to top intelligence officials.

The document went through Hamas’s intentions and described in detail the series of exercises conducted by the Palestinian group’s elite units.

Kan says the exercises included simulated raids on military posts and kibbutzim, the kidnapping of soldiers and civilians, as well as how to keep the captives once they had entered the Gaza Strip.

The document even reportedly included “the number of civilians and soldiers that Hamas planned to kidnap”.

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“Security sources told Kan News that the document was known to the intelligence leadership, at the very least in the Gaza Division,” the news agency’s report says.

Kan adds that Israeli intelligence officials monitored Hamas’s exercises in Gaza and documented the steps the group was planning to take after taking over military posts and entering Israeli territory.

“Israeli intelligence officials who monitored the exercise detailed in the document the next steps after breaching into Israel and taking over the posts, determining that the instruction is to hand over the captured soldiers to the company commanders,” it said. “The expected number of hostages, it states, is between 200 and 250 people.”

Hamas’s attack on Israel killed more than 1,100 people and saw some 250 others taken captive. Israel’s subsequent war on the Gaza Strip has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, destroyed much of the enclave’s civilian infrastructure, and led to high-level accusations of genocide.

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It is believed that flawed perceptions within Israel’s security establishment, as well as possible negligence by senior officials, were the main reasons why the Gaza Division's warnings were not acted upon.

Israel constructed a new, sophisticated security barrier two years prior to Hamas’s attack, which, along with the Gaza Division’s knowledge of the Palestinian movement’s plan, were expected to make such an attack improbable.

The barrier failed on 7 October, highlighting what Israel’s Jerusalem Post called “a significant intelligence and security oversight”.

Findings from this failure are expected to be presented to the Israeli army’s chief of staff in the coming weeks, as public pressure in the country remains high to learn more about the military’s failure during the Hamas attack.

Israel’s High Court issued an interim order on Sunday instructing State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman to suspend his investigation into the Israeli army and the Shin Bet security agency’s failures on 7 October.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair, lashed out at the court, claiming “treason” may have taken place leading up to 7 October and that his father was kept in the dark.

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