Hamas reportedly provided Israel with intelligence about another major terror group in the Gaza Strip as part of its strategy to trick Israel into a false sense of security ahead of its devastating October 7 attack.
The Washington Post report Wednesday, citing an Israeli security official, is the latest to point to a series of alleged intelligence failures in the lead-up to the assault, which shattered the conception, apparently carefully planted by Hamas, that the group was uninterested in war.
According to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Hamas provided unspecified information about Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed terror group in the Strip second in power only to Hamas.
The move was intended to build an image that Hamas wanted to avoid a conflict with Israel and instead was interested in some collaboration, the official said.
In May, when a several-day flare-up of violence broke out in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Islamic Jihad, Hamas pointedly remained on the sidelines, with many seeing the decision as a sign of either the group’s maturity or its weakness.
In the weeks since the October 7 assault, reports have built a picture of an Israeli intelligence establishment so deeply invested in the notion that Hamas was not looking for a fight that information and warnings of a possible attack, including Hamas battle plans that found their way into Israeli hands, were dismissed.
Senior Israeli officials have admitted that they were wrong in the assessment of Hamas’s mindset as well as Israel’s ability to thwart the group via technological means.
Those conceptions were shattered on the morning of October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists burst into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air, and sea, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seizing some 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.
Israel has responded with a military campaign aimed at destroying Hamas, removing it from control over the Gaza Strip, and releasing the hostages.
At a briefing for foreign journalists this week, IDF intelligence officers revealed that some of the terrorists had plans to attack cities as far away as Rehovot, near Tel Aviv, and Beersheba, each some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Gaza border, the Post reported.
There was also a plan to target locations in the Mediterranean Sea code-named Point 103 and Point 106, the officers said. It was not clear if the points were Israel’s offshore natural gas rigs.
“We don’t know what they wanted there,” one officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The officer is part of a team gleaning information from pamphlets and notebooks the terrorists were carrying, as well as from communications and computers seized during the ground offensive in Gaza.
Investigators have found that terrorists had detailed plans showing the layout of buildings inside military bases, lists of weaponry and equipment used by each IDF unit, and instructions for killing and kidnapping men, women, and children.
Orders were to kill hostages who caused too much trouble, the report said. The attackers also had transliterated Hebrew phrases such as “take your pants off” and “we will kill the hostages.”
One pamphlet declared, “Your enemy is a disease which has no cure other than to cut out their livers and their hearts.”
On Tuesday, the UK Guardian newspaper, citing the same briefing, reported that among the Hamas attack plans used during the October 7 onslaught and found by the IDF is a detailed map of an Israeli military base that was almost certainly compiled by a spy.
“Compiling such a map could only have been done using ‘inside knowledge’ – almost certainly from a Hamas spy,” the report cited the intelligence source as saying.
Channel 12 reported Monday that in the hours before Hamas unleashed its attack, top commanders in the IDF were aware that the terror group was drilling for a major assault but did not take significant action.
The military had also received several intelligence assessments over the past year and a half detailing how such an attack could be carried out, the network said.
A bombshell report in The New York Times last week alleged that Israel obtained Hamas’s plans for its assault on October 7 over a year before the devastating attack, but despite the document being seen by several senior officials, it was not acted upon.
According to the report, the 40-page plan, dubbed “Jericho Wall,” laid out almost exactly how Hamas eventually wound up carrying out the attack.
The Times wrote: “The document called for a barrage of rockets at the outset of the attack, drones to knock out the security cameras and automated machine guns along the border, and gunmen to pour into Israel en masse in paragliders, on motorcycles and on foot — all of which happened on Oct. 7.”
The existence of the “Jericho Wall” document was first reported by the Kan public broadcaster.
The Washington Post reported last month that Hamas intended to pursue a weeks-long invasion of Israel, with maps indicating plans of potentially reaching the West Bank.
The report also said Hamas used cheap surveillance drones to create maps of Israeli towns and bases near the border with Gaza while also gathering intelligence from Gazans with work permits in Israel, and even by looking at real estate sites to learn about the layouts of Israeli towns.