Israeli army knew of Hamas plot to take hostages three weeks before 7 October

Israeli army knew of Hamas plot to take hostages three weeks before 7 October
A new report shows that Israeli forces had knowledge of Hamas plans to attack and take hostages before 7 October, amid a series of intelligence failings
3 min read
18 June, 2024
Israel's assault on Gaza has killed tens of thousands of people since October 7 [Getty]

The Israeli military had advanced notice about a plan by Hamas to raid southern Israel including accurate predictions about the number of hostages the group would seize, a new report has found.

The internal report shared with Gaza Division commanders, entitled 'Detailed raid training from end to end', was released on 19 September and found that Hamas fighters had been training for a huge assault on Israel, a warning that was ignored by officers, Israeli broadcaster Kan reported.

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Three weeks later, Hamas and its allies launched a series of assaults into southern Israel, killing 1,190 Israelis and taking 251 captives back to Gaza, sparking a brutal Israeli war on the Palestinian enclave that has seen more than 37,000 people killed.

"I feel like crying, yelling and swearing," one of the authors of the report said about the ignored warnings, according to Kan.

October 7 was almost a mirror of how the report warned an assault would play out, even predicting the number of hostages who would be seized by Hamas at between 200 and 250, while detailing how its fighters from its elite units would assault military posts and towns. 

"At 11 am, several [Hamas] companies were observed gathering for prayer and lunch before start of training," the document states.

"At noon, equipment and weapons are distributed to the fighters, after which a company headquarters drill takes place. At 2 pm, the raid practice begins."

Hamas commandos had practiced their assaults with drills on mock-up Israeli targets, with four companies assigned for separate targets when the offensive began.

The report was one of a series of missed opportunities to prepare for the Hamas build-up, with repeated warnings from Israeli military 'watchers' on the Gaza border in the days leading up to 7 October ignored by commanders. 

The 8200 intelligence unit was also ordered to not work overnight and weekends, which could have also impacted on its ability to operate before 7 October.

Exact details of how the Hamas takeover of Israeli towns played out still remains sketchy, while the number of civilians killed in an Israeli counter-offensive is also unknown, but it is widely considered to one of the biggest security failings in Israel's history.

The 7 October events remains a hugely sensitive issue in Israel with demands for commanders and politicians to step down due to the collapse of the southern front on that day.

Israel’s High Court issued an injunction on Sunday to suspend an investigation by State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman into the military and Shin Bet over alleged failings that led to Hamas's surprise attack on 7 October.

Israel's brutal assault on Gaza which began in October has killed at least 37,372 Palestinians and left the whole of the enclave in ruins, sparking one of the worst humanitarian crises since the Second World War.