Surveillance troops spotted ‘highly irregular’ Hamas drill 4 days before Oct. 7

Exercise simulated simultaneous firing of rockets, storming of Israeli tanks by 170 Hamas fighters, but was still dismissed as just another drill, public broadcaster reports

Soldiers are seen monitoring surveillance cameras at a command center at the IDF's Re'im camp in southern Israel, November 5, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
Soldiers are seen monitoring surveillance cameras at a command center at the IDF's Re'im camp in southern Israel, November 5, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

Four days before October 7, surveillance soldiers at the IDF’s Nahal Oz base reportedly observed members of Hamas’s Nukhba commando forces taking part in a major drill along the Gaza border.

What the observers had flagged as a “highly irregular” military exercise simulated the simultaneous firing of rockets and storming of Israeli tanks by 170 participating Hamas fighters, according to a Thursday report by the Kan public broadcaster.

Despite the scope and unique nature of the exercise, commanders dismissed the warning as just another drill, Kan said.

Days later, the Nahal Oz base was raided by Hamas fighters, and a group of female surveillance soldiers stationed there was taken hostage.

The Thursday night broadcast was the latest in a growing list of reports revealing how the IDF had received and largely ignored warnings ahead of time regarding the attack being planned by Hamas.

Responding to the Kan report, the IDF said it is “investigating the events of October 7 and what proceeded them. The investigations aim to learn and draw lessons for the continued fighting. The investigations are currently being conducted, and when completed their findings will be transparently presented to the public.”

The army’s treatment of surveillance soldiers, the vast majority of whom are women, has been heavily criticized since the war began.

In November, a month after Hamas’s shock assault, the Haaretz daily published a report based on interviews with several surveillance soldiers, who said their male superiors repeatedly dismissed warnings that the terror group was preparing a large-scale attack.

Earlier this week, Kan published a document compiled within the IDF’s Gaza Division less than three weeks before October 7 that warned Hamas was training for a large-scale invasion of Israel during which hostages would be taken en masse.

Titled “Detailed raid training from end to end,” the document was circulated on September 19 and was reportedly brought to the attention of at least some senior intelligence officials, but ignored.

Reportedly based on information from Military Intelligence’s Unit 8200, the document estimated the number of hostages Hamas was aiming to seize at 200-250, according to Kan, citing unnamed security sources. During the actual October 7 massacre, 251 hostages were taken and 1,200 people were killed amid acts of brutality.

A live-fire exercise dubbed operation “Strong Pillar” outside Al-Mawasi, a town on the southern coast of the Gaza Strip, on September 12, 2023. (Hamas via AP)

The document described a series of exercises that the Palestinian terror group’s elite forces were carrying out, including drilling for raids on Israeli towns and military posts, and training on how to hold soldiers and civilians hostage, inside Gaza and under what circumstances they could be killed.

The document was said to add that the Hamas commandos also practiced infiltrating mock Israel Defense Forces outposts, simulating bases on the Gaza border. This exercise was carried out by four companies connected to the terror group, with each assigned a different outpost.

The report follows numerous others in which the military was said to have received and compiled intelligence material and other information pointing to the imminent invasion and massacre. Israel had multiple sources of information on Hamas’s drills and other preparations for an assault in the weeks and even hours ahead of October 7, reportedly including a 2022 attack plan from the terror group.

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