Ezekiel 33:6: 'If the watchman sees the sword is coming...'

‘The sword is coming’: Biblical IDF email warned of Hamas plans days before Oct.7

Paraphrasing Ezekiel, NCO in Military Intelligence’s Unit 8200 said it was too late to stop attack, but urged higher-ups to make plans to minimize impact while there was still time

Soldiers of an IDF Military Intelligence Directorate team for the Golani Infantry Brigade are seen working at computers, in a handout photo published November 12, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Soldiers of an IDF Military Intelligence Directorate team for the Golani Infantry Brigade are seen working at computers, in a handout photo published November 12, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

A Non-Commissioned Officer in the Israel Defense Force’s Military Intelligence Unit 8200 attempted to warn her superiors in the days prior to October 7 that Hamas had a clear plan in place to attack Israel, and urged all parties to begin working to minimize the damage that the terror group would be able to cause, Hebrew media reported on Thursday.

The NCO, referred to by Channel 12 only as “Vav,” the first Hebrew letter of her name, warned in an email sent to a number of IDF officers in the days leading up to the deadly Hamas terror assault that “the sword is coming,” and urged them to “warn the people” while there was still time.

The urgent warning followed the issuance of a dossier put together by Unit 8200 on September 19 — less than three weeks before October 7 — that warned Hamas was training for a large-scale invasion of Israel.

The document was said to outline Hamas’s plans for an attack on Israel. It detailed 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.

The plans, dubbed Jericho Wall, were first presented to intelligence officials as a 40-page report more than a year before October 7.

After intelligence officials appeared not to heed the warnings presented on September 19, “Vav” warned in the email that “the training shows us that the ‘Jericho Wall’ plan is an operative, practiced plan, meaning that Hamas already has forces that have practiced these outlines and know how to implement when the order comes.”

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 email, reportedly sent to the Gaza Division’s intelligence officers, among others, also warned that due to the apparent imminence of whatever Hamas was planning, Israel’s intelligence would likely not have enough time to “prevent the incident” altogether. Instead, Vav suggested that relevant parties begin “formulating plans for dealing with the incident, should it actually happen, in order to reduce the damage.”

“The other side is determined in its intentions to carry out its plan,” the email continued. “If the plan is implemented — painful and difficult fighting is expected.”

The exercises Hamas had been observed carrying out were “very reminiscent” of the plan… to destroy the Gaza Division’s defense system. It is no longer a plan only on paper,” the NCO added.

In an attempt to convey the severity of the situation, “Vav” ended by paraphrasing a line from Ezekiel 33:6, writing “This email constitutes a blowing of the ‘shofar,’ because the sword is coming — the hour is ripe to warn the nation.”

The verse is a well-known one for those working in intelligence, as it says that “if the watchman sees the sword is coming” and fails to sound the ram-horn bugle, he will pay with blood for the bloodshed he has failed to avert.

The email was 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.

A picture taken on October 17, 2023 shows a pile of damaged and burnt vehicles in the southern city of Sderot, following the October 7 attack by Hamas. (Jack Guez/AFP)

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

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

In response to the report, the IDF said that it was investigating the events up to and including October 7 and that the findings would be “transparently presented to the public” once the probes were complete.

According to Channel 12, Vav’s email was not included among the findings that have been presented so far to IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, and it will instead be handled separately.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (left) is seen with the head of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, in southern Gaza’s Rafah, June 23, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The network added that “tempers are fraying” in the Military Intelligence Directorate because the officers who had failed to heed Vav’s warning had not been discharged.

The government and top military leaders have contended that they had not been warned about an imminent invasion at the time. Channel 12 said that Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, then-director of military intelligence, did not receive a copy of the email. Haliva resigned in April over the failures of October 7.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the Gaza Division had never prepared for more than several dozens of terrorists breaching the border — far fewer than the estimated 3,000 who ended up storming southern Israel on October 7.

Then-Commander of the IDF Military Intelligence Aharon Haliva at a conference of the Gazit Institute in Tel Aviv, November 4, 2022. (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

The army announced in early June that it would investigate its own failures leading up to October 7, including the military’s conception of its defenses and its operational plans against threats in Gaza. In tandem, the High Court ordered State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman to suspend his probe into the army’s failings, amid tensions between Englman and IDF Chief of Staff Halevi.

Commanders of the much-vaunted Unit 8200 have come under fire since early in the war for dismissing, even ridiculing, lower-level officers who speculated that Hamas was plotting a large-scale attack. Other criticism has focused on its decision to eschew traditional intelligence-gathering methods in favor of technological innovation.

By contrast, veteran journalist Ben Caspit reported in February that Vav had concluded Hamas was planning an attack after overhearing the terror group’s operatives use certain Quranic verses. On further analysis, Vav discovered these verses to be traditional rallying calls for war.

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