Military Intelligence alert system poorly maintained in lead up to October 7 – report

Former officials in the 8200 unit tell Channel 12 commander ‘didn’t care’ about crucial signal model

Palestinian terrorists head toward the border with Israel from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. (Said Khatib/AFP)
Palestinian terrorists head toward the border with Israel from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. (Said Khatib/AFP)

A damning television report broadcast on Saturday, nine months after Hamas’s brutal October 7 attack, exposed further details about the failures of Israel’s Military Intelligence, including neglecting to maintain a signal system that could have prevented the devastating invasion.

According to the Channel 12 news report, the alert system was developed by the Military Intelligence Directorate’s Unit 8200 following the Israel Defense Forces’ 2014 campaign in Gaza, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, the worst conflict in the enclave until the current war.

“We set up a joint team of the Shin Bet, 8200 and the [IDF] Gaza Division and built an alert model, which would give us a sign that Hamas is about to invade if several warning elements materialize,” a former senior Military Intelligence official was quoted as saying, explaining that the system triangulated three signal intelligence elements — the terror operatives, along with the time and location of a potential attack.

“We put in tremendous listening efforts as soon as we recognized that things were happening and we raised the flag,” the source added.

According to the report, an earlier version of the intelligence system had helped operatives to raise an alert that helped the IDF prevent a Hamas invasion back in 2014 by bombing a tunnel in Gaza from which terrorists were planning to infiltrate and take Israeli hostages.

By April 2022, the report said, the elite 8200 unit had reproduced dozens of pages outlining Hamas’s invasion plan, dubbed Jericho Wall, which was first presented to intelligence officials as a 40-page report more than a year before October 7. But Brig. Gen. Yossi Sariel, the unit’s commander, and a senior official named only by the Hebrew initial “Gimel,” who was responsible for the signal intelligence effort, reportedly did nothing to action the warnings.

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

According to the intelligence officials quoted in the report, the alert system was well maintained under the previous 8200 commander and rarely malfunctioned.

“But under Yossi’s management, it was neglected. Most of the time it didn’t work and they didn’t care,” an anonymous former Military Intelligence source was quoted as saying.

The report also said that Sariel had tried to shut down the system due to the difficulty of operating and maintaining it, but was deterred when one of the female officers in 8200 said that it would not be “fair to residents of southern communities.”

The dossier presented by the unit before October 7 was said to detail a series of exercises by Hamas’s elite forces who drilled raids on Israeli towns and military posts. The terror group’s operatives were also said to have studied how to hold soldiers and civilians hostage when back inside Gaza, and in what conditions the hostages could be killed.

Another former senior intelligence officer quoted by Channel 12 pointed to “overconfidence” on the part of the Military Intelligence Directorate chief, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, who has since stepped down over his role in the failures that led to Hamas’s October 7 onslaught.

“They said that the intelligence situation had never been better. We asked Haliva what score he gave to their performance and he said ’90,'” the officer said in disbelief, referring to comments made some months before October 7.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (left), head of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman (second from left), head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva (second from right), and head of the Shin Bet security agency Ronen Bar (right) tour a Hamas tunnel in Khan Younis, January 5, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The report noted that Sariel has not taken responsibility for his unit’s role in the intelligence failures — and to the contrary has even said that resigning would be tantamount to “cowardice.”

An IDF response quoted by Channel 12 said that the intelligence unit “was part of the intelligence failure that is currently being investigated,” while defending the professionalism of its commander.

“Brig. Gen. Yud is a highly decorated officer who has contributed his entire adult life to the security of the State of Israel, and continues to lead his unit during the war and bring about important achievements. The October 7 investigations will be presented to the public in a transparent manner after they have been concluded, and in an orderly and professional manner,” the statement read.

Last week, Channel 12 reported on an email sent by a non-commissioned officer in Unit 8200 who had attempted to warn her superiors in the days prior to October 7 that Hamas had a clear plan in place and urged all parties to begin working to minimize the damage that the terror group would be able to cause.

FILE – Hamas terrorists are seen crossing the Israel-Gaza border fence on October 7, 2023. (Kan TV screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The email and the report that preceded it were apparently dismissed by the Gaza Division’s top intelligence officers, and the Jericho Wall plan was actualized on October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst through the Gaza border and carried out a deadly assault in southern Israel, slaughtering some 1,200 people and seizing 251 hostages.

The IDF struggled to respond, with bases closest to the border overrun and the chain of command seemingly broken amid the chaos.

The latest Channel 12 report was one of many outlining the intelligence establishment’s failure to realize that Hamas was capable of mounting a large-scale attack on Israel.

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