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New York Times investigation reports Israel knew about Hamas’ October 7 attack plan

Palestinians take control of an Israeli Merkava battle tank after crossing the border into Israel from Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on October 7, 2023. Palestinians take control of an Israeli Merkava battle tank after crossing the border into Israel from Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on October 7, 2023. SAID KHATIB / AFP

Israeli officials had obtained Hamas’s plan for an unprecedented attack on Israel over a year in advance, but had deemed the scenario to be aspirational, reports The New York Times in an investigation based on secret documents, published on Thursday, November 30. Israeli military intelligence had gotten hold of a 40-page Hamas document detailing, point by point, a large-scale attack matching the one perpetrated by commandos on October 7 – which left some 1,200 people dead in Israel – according to the American newspaper.

The document, which had circulated within intelligence circles under the code-name “Jericho Wall”, did not specify a possible date for an attack, but defined precise points for overwhelming the Israeli security apparatus and then attacking towns and military bases. More specifically, the document describes a barrage of rockets, the use of drones to take out security cameras and automated defense systems, and then fighters who would cross to the Israeli side by paraglider, car and on foot – all of which were factors in the October 7 attack.

‘A plan designed to start a war’

Yet it was “not yet possible to determine” whether this plan had been “fully accepted” by the Hamas leadership and how it might work out in reality, insists an internal Israeli army military assessment obtained by The New York Times. In July, however, an analyst from the elite signals intelligence Unit 8200 warned that Hamas had just conducted a military exercise that in many respects resembled the “Jericho Wall” document’s attack plan. But a colonel in the military division responsible for Gaza dismissed her warning.

“I utterly refute that the scenario is imaginary (…) It is a plan designed to start a war,” not simply for “a raid on a village,” this analyst wrote in encrypted emails which the newspaper viewed. “We already underwent a similar experience 50 years ago on the southern front in connection with a scenario that seemed imaginary, and history may repeat itself if we are not careful,” the analyst wrote to her colleagues – almost prophetically – referring to the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

According to The New York Times, while the “Jericho Wall” document was shared around the Israeli military hierarchy, it is unclear whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet had consulted it.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Israeli army turned a deaf ear to repeated warnings from women soldiers posted as spotters on the border with Gaza in the days leading up to the October 7 Hamas attack. These “young women and young women commanders” were assigned to study surveillance camera footage for signs of “untoward activity.” “There’s no doubt that if men had been sitting at those screens, things would look different,” said one of these women soldiers who survived the attack, quoted in the Israeli publication.

Le Monde

Translation of an original article published in French on lemonde.fr; the publisher may only be liable for the French version.

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