Head of IDF Devil’s Advocate Unit tried repeatedly in September to warn of possible Hamas attack

Illustrative: A soldier from the IDF's Military Intelligence Directorate works at a computer. (Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative: A soldier from the IDF's Military Intelligence Directorate works at a computer. (Israel Defense Forces)

The head of the IDF intelligence unit that is charged with questioning IDF assessments and conceptions warned four times in the three weeks before Hamas’s October 7 onslaught that the Gaza ruling terror group could soon launch a confrontation, Channel 12 reports.

The head of Ipcha Mistabra — the Devil’s Advocate Unit — wrote twice in late September to all senior decision-makers in the army and the political echelon, to challenge the widespread assessment that Hamas was deterred, the TV report says, and presented the same argument twice more during IDF discussions.

The report quotes from a letter the unnamed officer wrote on December 3 in which he recalled trying to draw his superiors’ attention to the possibility of an imminent attack in the three weeks before the October 7 Hamas onslaught.

“I tried in the weeks before the war erupted to challenge our fundamental basic assessment, which held that Hamas was interested in maintaining quiet in the Gaza Strip,” the officer recalled.

“My central claim was that Hamas would soon launch a confrontation with Israel, because it identified deep processes that were fundamentally changing the strategic situation, especially the progress of normalization efforts between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and signs of vitality and recovery by the Palestinian Authority.”

The officer continued that he twice “presented this thesis” in writing, on September 21 and 26, and that these two notes “were widely distributed among all decision-makers in the military and the political echelon.”

He also set out the thesis in a speech at an annual Intelligence Branch strategic assessment session on September 26 and again, the next day, at a weekly debate before the head of military intelligence.

The Devil’s Advocate Unit is among the mechanisms within the IDF designed to ensure relentless reassessment and challenge of military conceptions, all of which failed in the run-up to October 7 when the army misread or ignored multiple sources of information, including from surveillance soldiers at the border, indicating that Hamas was about to attack.

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