IDF details internal probes into October 7 failures, expects findings by June

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

A Palestinian stands on an Israeli tank at the border fence near the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip after some 3,000 Hamas terrorists burst through the border and entered Israel, slaughtering some 1,200 people, October 7, 2023. (Yousef Mohammed/Flash90)
A Palestinian stands on an Israeli tank at the border fence near the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip after some 3,000 Hamas terrorists burst through the border and entered Israel, slaughtering some 1,200 people, October 7, 2023. (Yousef Mohammed/Flash90)

The IDF is progressing with its internal investigations into the military’s failures in the lead-up to the Hamas terror group’s October 7 massacre, with new details now revealed on the subjects and periods each unit is investigating.

The findings are expected to be presented to IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi by the beginning of June, according to the military.

At the General Staff level, the probes are focusing on a timeframe starting from the March 2018 Hamas-led Gaza border riots and ending October 10, 2023, the point when Israeli troops re-established control of southern Israel following the onslaught.

The main subjects being investigated by the General Staff are: the development of the IDF’s perception of Gaza, with an emphasis on the border, starting in 2018; the IDF’s intelligence assessments of Hamas from 2018 until the outbreak of the war; the intelligence and decision-making process on the eve of October 7, as well as the days leading up to it; and the command and control, formations, and orders given during battles between October 7 and 10, when troops restored control over all communities and army bases in southern Israel that had been invaded by Hamas.

The IDF Southern Command has split its investigation into three main periods: before October 6, the night between October 6 and 7, and the fighting in southern Israel following the October 7 attack.

Each division commander involved in the fighting will probe its actions. The Southern Command has also appointed several colonels and lieutenant colonels to each probe a major battle or incident amid the October 7 massacre. Those probes will also place an emphasis on speaking to residents of southern towns who were victims of the onslaught, to get perspectives that are not solely military.

The Southern Command will also probe the battles that took place at the five Gaza border military outposts. Those incidents will be investigated by the commanders of the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade and Northern Brigade commanders, alongside outside help from other parts of the military.

The Southern Command is also probing its maneuver in the Gaza Strip, from the beginning of the ground offensive until now. Those investigations are aimed at drawing conclusions for future operations by the six divisions that have participated in the ground operation: the 99th, 36th, 162nd, 98th, and 252nd and Gaza divisions.

Members of the IDF tactical unit of the Yamas patrol in Kibbutz Be’eri, near the Israeli-Gaza border, southern Israel, October 22, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The Military Intelligence Directorate will split its probes into different periods: a decade before the war, starting with the end of the 2014 Gaza war; the days before the war, from October 1 till October 7, with an emphasis on the 36 hours before the onslaught; and the war itself.

Each unit commander in Military Intelligence will probe its actions based on questions determined by the General Staff.

The Israeli Air Force will meanwhile focus its probes on finding conclusions that will help it improve readiness for a possible escalation in the north, amid daily attacks by Hezbollah from Lebanon.

The IAF has split its investigation into two main periods: October 7 itself, and the rest of the war.

The probe into all the IAF’s activities on October 7 will be led by a brigadier general who did not serve in any role during the onslaught.

The second section, focusing on the rest of the war, will also look into processes that took place before October 7 and had an effect on the functioning of the IAF during the war.

The Operations Directorate’s investigation will focus on the use of the IDF’s force, its readiness, operational instructions, and the deployment of troops. It will also investigate the Spokespersons Unit’s functioning amid the war, which is subordinate to the Operations Directorate.

The Navy will probe its battles on October 7, its intelligence on the eve of the onslaught, its operations amid the war, its assessments of the Gaza Strip ahead of the war, its readiness, and continued functioning amid the war. Most of the probes will be led by the chief of the Navy, Vice Adm. David Saar Salama.

The Home Front Command will probe its defense assessments, the battles in which it was involved on October 7 at the Zikim training base and Urim camp, other activities on October 7-10, changing from routine operations to an emergency, collecting and identifying bodies, and the evacuation of border towns.

Lastly, the Computer Service Directorate will probe its actions amid the war, including cyber defenses.

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