Why Hamas’ unprecedented wave of attacks is a humiliation for Israel’s legendary spy networks, say security analysts – DAVID RAUDALES

DAVID RAUDALES

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DAVID RAUDALES UK

Why Hamas’ unprecedented wave of attacks is a humiliation for Israel’s legendary spy networks, say security analysts

A member of Israel’s police forces walks towards a fire as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel October 7, 2023.

Sinan Abu Mayzer/Reuters

The Hamas militant group launched a surprise multi-front attack on Israel, killing at least 40 people.
Israel’s inability to anticipate the attack was a “colossal” intelligence failure, analysts say.
Israel has one of the most sophisticated intelligence networks in the Middle East.

Israel was rocked by a wave of unprecedented attacks carried out by Hamas fighters on Saturday, with reports of thousands of rockets being fired into the country and gunmen roaming the streets.

Observers have noted that Israel’s failure to anticipate the attack, which likely took months of complex planning, is a failure of their famously sophisticated intelligence agencies.

“All of Israel is asking itself: Where is the IDF, where is the police, where is the security?” Eli Maron, the former head of the Israeli Navy, said on Channel 12 news, per The Times of Israel.

“It’s a colossal failure; the hierarchies have simply failed, with vast consequences.”

Israel is reputed to have one of the most sophisticated intelligence networks in the Middle East, comprising several key agencies and informats embedded in militant groups across the region, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said.

He said that Hamas being able to carry out these coordinated attacks “seemingly in total secrecy” suggests that Israel was “caught asleep at the wheel.”

Israeli government officials told Gardner that a major investigation is being launched as to how Israeli intelligence failed to anticipate the attack, with one saying the investigation could go on for years.

Another BBC reporter, diplomatic correspondent Paul Adams, described it as likely to be the worst intelligence failure since the 1973 Yom Kippur war, when Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated surprise attack on Israel.

John Sparks, Sky News’ international correspondent, said the wave of attacks would “unnerve” Israel, due to the scale of attacks and the level of tactical organization the Palestinian fighters could mount.

“There are pictures on social media of heavily armed in the back of pickup trucks, for example, operating within Israel. That will unnerve the authorities in Israel a great deal,” he said.

Israeli soldiers work to secure residential areas following a mass-infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, southern Israel October 7, 2023.

REUTERS/Ammar Awad

At least 40 Israelis have been killed and 740 wounded, according to local media, per the BBC.

After a barrage of rockets were fired from multiple locations in Gaza, Hamas fighters infiltrated Israel from “land, sea, and air,” an IDF spokesperson said – including some by paraglider.

Israel’s heavily fortified border with Gaza had been breached in several places, Army Radio reported, per The Times of Israel.

There have also been unconfirmed reports of IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians being captured by Hamas fighters and taken to Gaza.

Adams noted that this is Hamas’ boldest move yet, as Gaza’s ruling group have in the past typically used tactics like suicide bombs, tunnel networks, and incendiary balloons to attack Israel.

“By their standards, this was an astonishingly sophisticated —  and, yes, brutal — act of hybrid warfare, using hundreds of rockets as the prelude to a mass breakout at multiple points along the normally impregnable fence,” he wrote.

The IDF has operated under the assumption that Hamas would not carry out major attacks on Israel out of fear of the ferocity with which Israel would respond, The Times of Israel said, which has proved to be a misguided belief.

The attack is the deadliest to take place in Israel for years.

Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif called the attacks “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm” and said the group had “warned the enemy not to continue his aggression against the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” per Haaretz.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is an important religious site for both Muslims and Jews and is often the site of clashes. Hundreds of Israelis entered the compound earlier this week.

President Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country was “at war” and “will win” in a video message, suggesting a forceful retaliation is incoming.

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