PM said under no illusion Hamas had abandoned its plan

‘Frogmen, hang gliders, kidnapped Israelis’: Netanyahu described Hamas’s plans in 2017

Footage of Knesset hearing on 2014 Gaza war shows PM claiming he’d deterred terror group; premier lays out Hamas’s murderous plans, which came to fruition on Oct. 7, in eerie detail

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a State Control committee meeting in the Israeli parliament during a discussion about the Operation Protective Edge report, on April 19, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a State Control committee meeting in the Israeli parliament during a discussion about the Operation Protective Edge report, on April 19, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described an onslaught by the Hamas terror group that would prove to be a prescient description of the horrifying events of October 7, but said at the time that his policies had deterred the terror group.

Hebrew-language media published footage on Thursday from a 2017 Knesset meeting in which Netanyahu described the terror group’s plans in eerie detail.

“Hamas has an operational plan for a multi-pronged attack, including thousands of missiles on Israeli cities, naval commando raids, hang gliders and incursions from dozens of tunnels, some of which come up in [Israeli] territory,” Netanyahu said during a hearing held by the parliament’s State Control Committee to discuss a report on the 2014 Gaza war against Hamas.

During the emotionally fraught three-and-a-half hour discussion, Netanyahu described the “special forces” that Hamas was training in order to murder and kidnap Israelis, a reference to the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing.

“They’ve assessed that if they can surprise us, they can put the plan into action,” Netanyahu said.

The scenario the prime minister described was similar to the events some six years later on October 7, when some 3,000 Hamas terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages — mostly civilians — under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 people were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

Hamas terrorists are seen crossing the Israel-Gaza border fence on October 7, 2023 (Kan TV screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

In 2017, Netanyahu said that the Hamas leadership had begun planning a massive onslaught years earlier.

“At any given moment they could have put that plan into action, but contrary to popular opinion, we don’t control our opponent’s decisions — at most, we can influence their ability to carry them out,” he said.

While he claimed that Hamas was “deterred,” Netanyahu made it clear that he was under “no illusions .. that the terror group would abandon its plan.”

“When I thought about an infiltration of thousands of gunmen or more, seizing a town, capturing hostages, what a blow that would be, I flagged it,” Netanyahu added.

“We tried to avoid war in any way possible. We’re facing a hard and cruel enemy. To avoid escalation against an enemy like that is no mean feat. There are 30,000 [Hamas fighters in Gaza], wishing for our destruction and preparing all the time and building the means with which to kill us, to infiltrate, to attack us. People who are committed to the annihilation of Israel; it’s what they live for,” he said.

The destruction caused by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, near the Israel-Gaza border, in southern Israel, October 20, 2023 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Netanyahu also highlighted his role in the policy of containment: “One of the reasons that [Hamas] is deterred is because I have a policy, that I’m not willing to tolerate droplets [of violence], and there’s always a strong reaction, usually very fast, on every such droplet.”

One of the most damning allegations in the 2017 report contended that better decision-making practices could have obviated the need for a military operation entirely.

Some 68 IDF soldiers were killed in the summer 2014 fighting, along with six civilians in Israel. Over 2,000 Palestinians were killed in the conflict, most of them combatants, according to Israel.

The state comptroller report debated by the committee in 2017 was centered around the management of the security cabinet by Netanyahu and then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, specifically the cabinet’s alleged failure to set concrete, strategic goals for the military in the campaign. It also noted intelligence gaps and tactical mistakes by the Israel Defense Forces, then led by Lt. Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz, notably its unpreparedness for the threat of Hamas tunnels.

However, in the 2017 meeting, Netanyahu pushed back against criticism, saying he had done everything possible to keep the conflict contained, and had punished Hamas for fighting Israel.

“We didn’t want a war in the summer of 2014 and we tried to prevent it,” he said during the hearing, contending that the 50-day long conflict, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, was inevitable.

In an apparent echo, Netanyahu has avoided taking responsibility for the failures ahead of October 7 — as several security chiefs have done — and says that while he will face a probe into what happened, the investigation must not take place until after the war.

During the 2017 discussion, members of the coalition clashed repeatedly with politicians from the opposition and, at times, and with bereaved parents of fallen soldiers including Leah Goldin, the mother of Lt. Hadar Goldin, whose body is still held by Hamas in Gaza, along with the body of Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul.

FILE – Leah Goldin, mother of fallen IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, speaks at a State Control Committee hearing in the Knesset on April 19, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The scenes echoed similar clashes between lawmakers and hostages’ families in recent months over policy and agreements for the return of hostages taken by Hamas on October 7.

It is believed that 129 hostages from October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November.

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