Hamas had initially planned its October 7 cross-border onslaught for the eve of Passover, but canceled the attack after Israel raised the alert level, according to a Saturday report.
Military intelligence caught the early signs of an attack on Passover, which this year fell on April 5, and raised the alert, leading Hamas to cancel and the IDF to consider the incident a false alarm, Channel 12 reported, citing unnamed soldiers in the IDF’s 8200 signal intelligence unit.
In the period after that attempt, Hamas, fearing it had Israeli informants in its ranks, raised its internal security and kept most of its members unaware of subsequent plans and of the new timing for the incursion, the report said.
On the morning of October 7, on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, some 3,000 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 under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. Nearly 50 of the hostages have since been released, including 26 women and children as part of a Qatar-led deal, and 15 foreign nationals.
The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and some 360 people were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.
Saturday’s exposé on the planned Passover attack followed several others in the past month that revealed IDF intelligence on a possible invasion, including reports filed by surveillance soldiers on the Gaza border who detailed unusual Hamas training exercises three months before October 7.
Soldiers in the 8200 unit reportedly warned senior officers before the October 7 atrocities that Hamas was preparing a highly organized and meticulously planned mass invasion of Israel, but were told their concerns were “fantasies.”
A senior and experienced non-commissioned officer as well as a junior officer in 8200 alerted senior IDF officers well in advance that a major operation was being planned by Hamas, but their warnings went unheeded, according to Thursday reports.
Channel 12 reported that the NCO in Unit 8200 put together a report from an range of raw intelligence data detailing a scenario that essentially predicted the October 7 invasion.
Together with the junior officer, she also pointed to a Hamas drill a month before the attack, noting that it included preparations for a mass invasion with multiple entry points into Israel. “They were told in real-time. There were so many things that should have set off red flags,” an unnamed source from the 8200 unit told the network.
The Kan public broadcaster reported similar details, noting that the non-commissioned officer stated that the Hamas drill included the use of vehicles to carry out the attack and terrorists practiced taking over Israeli towns. The NCO also warned that the assault Hamas was planning was on such a large scale that it could spark an all-out war.
The senior officer briefed by the NCO reportedly agreed that the information she had was substantive, but said a distinction needed to be made between what Hamas could drill for and what it could accomplish in reality.
Separately, Kan reported that before October 7, the IDF had come into possession of a Hamas terror manual that described ways to capture the Gaza border region in southern Israel.
The manual described taking over IDF positions, capturing kibbutzim and towns in the region, killing and kidnapping residents, and attacking and capturing the three regional cities of Sderot, Ofakim and Netivot. It described how pickup trucks would be used to stage the invasion along with motorbikes and hang gliders, as well as the use of anti-tank missiles under the cover of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza — in much the same way that events unfolded on October 7.
Unconfirmed reports of at least one paraglider attempting to infiltrate southern Israel during rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. pic.twitter.com/GerPyGkFw1
— Joe Truzman (@JoeTruzman) October 7, 2023
The manual also described a strategy to lull Israel into complacency by holding negotiations for some form of long-term arrangement, while at the same time staging frequent drills and small security incidents on the border on Saturdays and Jewish holidays to lull the IDF into a false sense of security when Hamas forces turned up en masse at the border fence.
The plan was reportedly drilled with two companies of Hamas’s elite Nukhba force, which was responsible for the October 7 attacks, and included capturing an imitation kibbutz.
Kan reported that the plans detailed in the manual were passed along to senior ranks in the IDF, who dismissed it on the grounds that Hamas did not have the operational capabilities to carry out such an attack.
Responding to the report, the IDF said it was “operating and fighting in these very days against the murderous terror organization Hamas in the Gaza strip. All of the [IDF’s] commanders and soldiers are focused on this mission alone in order to complete the goals of the war. When the war is finished, a detailed and thorough investigation will be conducted clarifying every last detail.”
In late October, an opinion poll published by the Maariv newspaper found that the vast majority of Israelis believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should publicly accept responsibility for the staggering failures that led to Hamas’s devastating onslaught on October 7.