On October 7th 2023, Hamas entered Israel from Gaza and launched the deadliest terror attack in the country's 75 years history, but it has recently been found out by The Times that Israel in fact knew about Hamas’s plan to do this over a year in advance and dismissed the possibility of it happening.
In a major 40-page document code-named “Jericho Wall'', it outlined exactly the attack that occurred on October 7th which led to the death of approximately 1,200 people.
However, this plan was seen as unrealistic and unachievable by top Israeli officials, and not at all feasible for Hamas to put into action.
The “Jericho Wall” Document
This document was procured by The New York Times and detailed the invasion by Hamas that was designed to overrun Israeli defences surrounding Gaza, as well as enter and take control of neighbouring Israeli cities and important military bases.
While the document did not set out a date for this attack, the rest of the outlined plan was followed meticulously. The plan called for a major salvo of rockets to be fired into Israel followed by equipment such as automated machine guns and security cameras to be destroyed by drones controlled by Hamas. Then soldiers would use the element of surprise to rush into Israel in droves both on foot and in a variety of vehicles.
This all occurred on October 7th, showing that had top Israeli officials heeded this information when they received it, they would have fared far better.
The document also highlighted a new key issue for Israeli security, as troop movements, size, locations, and the whereabouts of communication stations along with various other pieces of secret information were detailed in “Jericho Wall”.
This has led to speculations on how secure Israeli intelligence may be, and if there are leaks within the government/military.
While it is not confirmed that Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was shown the document, it has been confirmed that it was shared widely between other military and intelligence leaders. These leaders deemed the plan outlined in the document to be far outside the scope of what Hamas is capable of according to other government workers and documents.
What steps did Israel take after learning of the invasion plan?
After the “Jericho Wall” document was obtained in 2022, it was stated that Hamas’s goals were uncertain by the Gaza division (the agency tasked with defending the border with Gaza).
In July of 2023, a senior analyst with Unit 8200 (the Israeli intelligence core responsible for counterintelligence and military intelligence) warned her superiors that Hamas had organised and completed a training exercise that was akin to the plan seen in the “Jericho Wall” documents.
It was also recently found in encrypted emails seen by The New York Times that a colonel in the Gaza division had dismissed her findings, leading the analyst to state in an email to her superior that she “utterly refutes that the scenario is imaginary''.
According to confidential and private conversations Israeli officials had with The New York Times, top officials have admitted that had they and their colleagues taken the document and the warnings from members of Unit 8200 more seriously they would have diverted resources and men to the South where the attack was launched and thus impeded Hamas or may have perhaps even stopped them altogether from ever entering the country.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated that blame for the invasion can be looked at after the war is over, and the government is expected to organise a committee to investigate what exactly happened and what would need to change going forward.
What was the result of Israel underestimating Hamas?
The 40-page “Jericho Wall” document was given its name after the ancient fortification that was placed in what is currently the West Bank. One of the most important goals the document stated was that Hamas forces needed to overwhelm and take over the major Israeli military base in Re’im.
This base’s duty and role is to be the command point for the Gaze division, and so is thus responsible for defending the region.
On October 7th Hamas overran the base in Re’im among other nearby bases, giving Hamas an immediate, albeit temporary advantage.
Israeli officials have since stated that the incredible scale of the attack outlined in the “Jericho Wall” document, and the boldness of it made it easy to underestimate. Thus they saw the plan as nothing more than a fantasy of Hamas’s leadership that would never come to fruition, similar to many military plans governments make around the world that they know they will never use.
They also incorrectly estimated the size of a potential invasion force by Hamas, as they believed that Hamas would only be able to bring a force of a few dozen, rather than the hundreds who invaded.
Senior military officials were also found to have seriously miscalculated the actions taken by Hamas preceding the attack. In the weeks before the attack Hamas had been in contact with the Israeli government asking to allow permits to be given to Palestinian workers so they could go and work in Israel. This was seen as a move towards peace by the Israeli government, and not as a move towards an invasion by Hamas.
In the end, what could have been an incredible win for the intelligence agencies of Israel and its military, turned into one of the biggest blunders in the nation's 75 year history, and outlines the cascade of mistakes that led to the biggest Israeli intelligence failure since the Arab-Israeli war of 1973.
Edited by Chloe Mansola
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