3 weeks before Oct. 7, IDF Gaza Division warned of Hamas plan to attack, take 250 hostages

Report reveals Sept. 19 document that specified terror group was training for mass assault on south; ‘I feel like crying, yelling, swearing,’ says soldier involved with memo

Hamas terrorists near Kibbutz Nir Oz during the massacre on October 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Eslaiah)
Hamas terrorists near Kibbutz Nir Oz during the massacre on October 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Eslaiah)

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

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 apparently ignored. Kan did not specify who produced the document or clarify who may have seen it.

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.

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 in what circumstances they could be killed.

“At 11 a.m., several companies were observed gathering for prayer and lunch before start of training,” part of the document states. “At noon, equipment and weapons are distributed to the fighters, after which a company headquarters drill takes place. At 2:00 p.m., the raid practice begins.”

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 from the terror group, with each assigned a different outpost.

The document also detailed the areas within the bases that the commandos planned to target, including control rooms, synagogues and living quarters, according to the TV report.

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)

Commandos in Hamas’s elite Nukhba force were instructed not to leave documents behind after they raided bases, according to the memo.

Terrorists were trained to ensure hostages did not have telephones on them, were forbidden from informing hostages’ families of their condition, and were ordered to move them if it became apparent that Israel determined their location, the document reportedly noted.

They were also told to threaten to kill hostages to deter them from escaping.

The document was brought to the attention of senior intelligence officials, at least within the Gaza Division, the unnamed security officials told Kan. The government and top military leaders have contended they were not warned about an imminent planned invasion at the time.

The report added that the most extreme scenario the Gaza Division had prepared for before October 7 was dozens of terrorists breaching the border in three spots — far less than the estimated 3,000 who ended up entering Israel via some 30 breaches during the onslaught.

One of the soldiers involved in the report wrote after October 7, “I feel like crying, yelling and swearing,” according to Kan.

File – The torched command center of the Nahal Oz IDF base, overrun by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023, during a visit by relatives of slain lookout soldiers on December 19, 2023. (Courtesy/Eyal Eshel)

In its response to the TV report, the IDF did not acknowledge the document, but said it was investigating the failures that led to the massacre and would present them “transparently to the public.”

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.

A military assessment in 2022 determined it was too soon to say the plan had been approved by Hamas, and when an analyst with the country’s signals intelligence unit noted the organization had carried out a training exercise in line with the plan, her warnings were dismissed.

Following the October 7 onslaught, surveillance soldiers who served along the border with Gaza specified they too had raised concerns before that day about suspicious activity but were ignored.

The IDF had long touted its security fence, with cameras, watchtowers and high-tech sensors, as providing security to residents of Gaza border towns. But on October 7, Hamas terrorists knocked chunks of it aside with explosives and bulldozers at multiple locations, then drove through the gaping holes in jeeps and on motorcycles, while others sailed over in hang gliders, as drones dropped explosives on observation towers and took out cameras.

Palestinian rioters during clashes with Israeli security forces along the frontier with Israel, east of Gaza City, September 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Amid a simultaneous rocket barrage across southern and central Israel, an estimated 3,000 terrorists stormed into southern Israel and slaughtered soldiers and civilians alike, with some local resistance but the military establishment slow to react.

The Israeli military announced earlier this month that it would begin to present its investigations into its failures in the lead-up to the Hamas terror group’s October 7 attacks in July.

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