Report: Top brass saw ‘telltale signs’ of smaller attack 2 hours before Hamas struck

Network says heads of IDF, Shin Bet saw signs of a potential ‘day of battle’ ahead, but did not raise alarm, decided to wait till morning

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops in southern Israel on October 15, 2023. (IDF)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops in southern Israel on October 15, 2023. (IDF)

Israel’s security chiefs had “telltale signs” more than two hours before Hamas’s devastating assault on the morning of Saturday, October 7 that an attack was looming, but believed the danger to be on a much smaller scale than that of the devastating onslaught that occurred, Channel 12 reported Friday.

Without citing sources, the report said the “concrete” indications pointed to a likely coming “day of battle” in which a limited force of terrorists would attempt to infiltrate the border, seize control of one or two communities and attempt kidnappings.

It said the indications were discussed in a previously reported consultation involving senior military and Shin Bet officials, including IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar.

But the officials allegedly decided the matter could wait till morning, and no alert was issued. The security chiefs did not pass on word of the signs of an imminent attack, did not alert IDF troops at the border, many of whom were killed at their bases and positions, did not move up tanks deployed in the area, and did not alert the local civil defense squads at nearby communities who fought the rampaging terrorists hours later, the report said.

Channel 12 said the only action taken was the Shin Bet dispatching a small operations team to the border area. When the huge infiltration occurred, with Hamas bursting through the border at multiple locations and massacring Israelis at 22 communities and an outdoor music festival, the small Shin Bet team participated in the fighting at one of the kibbutzim that was attacked.

The consultation took place at about 4 a.m., the TV report said; the invasion began at around 6:30 a.m.

The devastating mass Hamas infiltration saw some 1,400 people, the vast majority of them civilians, as terrorists rampaged across communities in southern Israel, shooting, stabbing, raping and burning victims that included men, women and children. Some 200 others, at least, were taken hostage into Gaza.

Ronen Bar, head of the Shin Bet security agency, speaks at the annual Cyber Week event at Tel Aviv University, on June 27, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The intelligence and operational failures that enabled the brutal attack are considered to be among the worst in Israel’s history, comparable to the intel failures ahead of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and are expected to be thoroughly investigated once the war concludes.

Top officials in charge of Israel’s security have admitted personal responsibility and failure, among them Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar and the head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate Maj. Gen Aharon Haliva.

Reports have also emerged of Hamas training for the assault in plain sight, with such preparations apparently dismissed by Israel as more show than substance.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not taken any responsibility so far, to significant public consternation. He has has been adamant that he had no prior knowledge of any security assessments predicting an attack. However, security chiefs had been warning for months that Israel’s enemies viewed the national turmoil over the coalition government’s judicial overhaul plan as leaving the country in a historically vulnerable position, as they urged him to seek compromise. Netanyahu appeared to brush aside such concerns.

Egyptian intelligence officials have also told The Times of Israel and other media outlets that Jerusalem ignored repeated warnings that the Gaza-based terror group was planning “something big.” Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the powerful US House Foreign Affairs Committee, gave credence to such reports, telling journalists in Washington that “we know that Egypt… warned the Israelis three days prior that an event like this could happen.”

Israeli officials have denied this.

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