IDF to present investigations into failures leading up to Oct. 7 starting next month

Probe into military’s perception of Gaza to be given to IDF chief Halevi in early July; analysis of battles amid onslaught to be released gradually by end of August

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

The remains of the home of Pessi Cohen where Hamas held 15 Israelis hostage on October 7, 2023, in Kibbutz Be'eri, seen on November 19, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
The remains of the home of Pessi Cohen where Hamas held 15 Israelis hostage on October 7, 2023, in Kibbutz Be'eri, seen on November 19, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The Israeli military announced Wednesday that it would begin to present its investigations into its failures in the lead-up to the Hamas terror group’s October 7 attacks next month.

The probes are aimed at drawing operational conclusions for the military and will not look into the policies of the political leadership, avoiding a fight with government leaders who have insisted that investigations must wait until after the end of the war against Hamas.

The investigations — by units seen as having had a role in the failure to notice Hamas preparations or adequately ready themselves for the terror group’s onslaught — are being carried out concurrently with ongoing fighting in the Gaza Strip. Any major developments in the war are expected to slow the pace of the probes.

The probes are focused on a timeframe from the March 2018 Hamas-led Gaza border riots until October 10, 2023, the point when Israeli troops re-established control of southern Israel following the attacks.

According to the IDF’s schedule, during the first week of July, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi will be presented with an investigation into the development of the military’s perception of Gaza, with an emphasis on the border, starting in 2018.

This investigation includes the IDF’s intelligence assessments of Hamas from 2018 until the outbreak of the war, and the military’s conception of its own defenses and its operational plans against threats in Gaza.

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi speaks to the press from an army base in central Israel, April 7, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Additional IDF probes into October 7, such as the intelligence and decision-making process on the eve of the onslaught, as well as the days leading up to it, will be based on the conclusions of this investigation.

The IDF also plans to present the findings of the investigation to the public once completed and reviewed by Halevi.

Meanwhile, the IDF also plans to present the investigations into the battles between October 7 and 10 — the point at which troops restored control over the communities and army bases in southern Israel that had been invaded by Hamas.

There were some 40 battle locations, which are being investigated by more than 20 military commanders.

Each battle investigation or set of investigations is to be presented upon completion, and not all simultaneously, as some events on October 7 have proven to be more complex than others to review.

The IDF probe into the onslaught and battle in the border community of Be’eri, during which tanks shelled a building where Hamas was holding hostages, is to be presented in early July, according to the schedule.

The IDF hopes to present all the battle investigations by the end of August.

An IDF soldier stands amid destruction caused by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, near the Gaza border, October 15, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The investigations into the battles are relying on what the IDF says are “proven and solid factual sources such as videos, documented reports and recordings.” Therefore, the IDF is also asking civilians and media outlets for materials and visual evidence that could aid the investigations.

Some 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists burst from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on October 7, carrying out a murderous rampage of unprecedented intensity and breadth. The IDF struggled to mount a response, with bases closest to the border overrun and the chain of command seemingly broken amid the chaos.

The attack claimed the lives of some 1,200 people in Israel, with another 251 people kidnapped and much of the area devastated. Most victims were civilians.

In response, Israel launched a military campaign aimed at destroying Hamas and winning the freedom of hostages, 120 of whom still remain in captivity.

Palestinian terrorists take control of an Israeli tank after crossing the border fence with Israel from Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, October 7, 2023. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 36,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far. Of these, some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals or through self-reporting by families, with the rest of the figure based on Hamas “media sources.” The tolls, which cannot be verified, include some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

The investigations are not related to planned external probes of the army’s conduct in the lead-up to October 7, which are currently on hold. Plans for the independent review were met with protest from government leaders, who apparently feared they could be criticized.

In late January, Halevi said an external investigation would only be launched once the internal probes were completed.

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman also began to investigate the army’s failures as well as the conduct of the government, although Halevi requested that this be put on hold for now, to allow commanders to concentrate on the war.

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