Oct 7 ( The Street Press) – Israeli officials today expressed their surprise, saying, “We have no idea how this could have happened”, when questioned by a BBC correspondent about how, despite their vast resources, Israeli intelligence didn’t anticipate this attack.
Many armed Palestinian gunmen managed to cross the heavily protected border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, and thousands of rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel. Given the collective capabilities of Shin Bet (Israeli domestic intelligence), Mossad (external spy agency), and all the resources of the Israel Defense Forces, it’s truly astonishing that this threat went unnoticed.
Even if they were aware of the threat, it appears that they failed to take effective action. Israel boasts one of the most comprehensive and well-financed intelligence apparatuses in the Middle East. It maintains informants and agents within Palestinian militant groups and across regions like Lebanon and Syria. Historically, Israel has executed precisely timed assassinations of militant leaders, demonstrating intimate knowledge of their movements.
Israel has employed various methods, including drone strikes initiated after agents placed GPS trackers on targets’ vehicles, and in the past, even exploding mobile phones for precision assassinations.
Along the volatile Gaza-Israel border, ground-motion sensors, surveillance cameras, and frequent army patrols are in place. The barbed-wire-topped fence was designed to be a “smart barrier” specifically to prevent the type of infiltration seen in this recent attack.
Hamas militants indeed displayed remarkable operational security by bulldozing through the barrier, cutting wire, or infiltrating from the sea and by paraglider. To execute such a coordinated and complex attack, including the stockpiling and launching of thousands of rockets, right under the watchful eyes of the Israelis, required an exceptional level of planning and execution by Hamas.
Given the gravity of the situation, Israeli media has been pressing their military and political leaders for answers regarding how this incident occurred, especially on the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
According to Israeli officials, a comprehensive investigation has been initiated, and they anticipate that questions about this incident will persist for years. However, Israel’s immediate focus is on managing and thwarting the infiltration of its southern borders, including the removal of Hamas militants who have gained control over several communities on the Israeli side of the border fence.
Israel faces the challenging task of addressing its citizens who have been taken captive, considering options such as armed rescue missions or negotiation.
Simultaneously, it will aim to eliminate rocket launch sites, a difficult task given their mobile nature and short notice.
The greatest concern for Israel is preventing the escalation of this conflict into the West Bank and potentially drawing in Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon. Controlling the spread of this conflagration is a paramount concern.