Deceiving Israel about its intentions and finding a key vulnerability in the surveillance infrastructure on the Gaza border were some of the crucial elements of the plan which allowed Hamas to inflict the worst breach of the country’s security in five decades, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The newspaper spoke to senior Israeli security officials about the preliminary conclusions that their agencies made about last Saturday’s incursion of Hamas fighters into southern Israel. The Palestinian militants raided more than 20 towns and military bases, killing hundreds of troops and civilians and capturing dozens of hostages.
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Prior to the attack, Israel had considered Hamas successfully deterred since clashes in May 2021. Intercepted calls between militants appeared to confirm the assessment that the organization was not an imminent threat, sources said. An analysis is underway on whether those conversations were staged.
Israel was over-reliant on the sophisticated wall it built along the Gaza border, which has multiple types of sensors and remotely operated machine guns. Officials believed it to be virtually impenetrable and kept a relatively small military force nearby, prioritizing other areas for deployment, the report said.
Hamas took out at least four communication towers using drone-dropped munitions in the early phase of its attack, rendering the system “useless,” NYT said. The Israelis could not see the consequent breach of the physical barrier, which turned out to be an easier task than they expected it would be. Hamas used explosives and bulldozers to create nearly 30 gaps for some 1,500 fighters to pour through.
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An operational lapse by Israel resulted in the clustering of its senior commanders in the area at a single base, which was overrun in a lightning offensive by the militants. With the leadership mostly killed or taken hostage, Israeli response to the emergency was disorganized and slow, sources said.
People higher up in the command chain did not initially realize the scale of the incursion amid the chaos. It took Israeli warplanes hours to provide air support to responding forces, despite their being based just minutes’ flying time from the area.