The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) undoubtedly has the most powerful military in the Middle East. Since its founding in 1948, the IDF has been singularly responsible for preserving the world’s sole Jewish state. For more than seven decades, the formidable apparatus has overcome wars, intifadas, and frequent acts of terrorism.
However, the perception of the IDF changed on October 7, 2023, when Hamas militants breached Israel and led the most brutal pogrom against the Jewish people since the Holocaust.
The Gaza-based terror group took the IDF by surprise, able to penetrate numerous points on the border security fence, overcome military bases, murdering, brutalizing, and kidnapping hundreds of civilians. How Hamas was able to carry out such a large-scale attack in an extremely-security-oriented country will be deliberated for many years to come.
The Kibbutzim Attack
When the terrorists stormed through Israel’s southern border fences, they knew exactly where to go and which tasks to accomplish. According to first-hand footage collected from cameras on the bodies of militants themselves, the attack was organized.
Initially, a couple hundred militants bulldozed their way into Israel’s southern kibbutzim communities. Groups of militants dispersed, carrying detailed maps of each kibbutz, to murder, kidnap, and defile entire Jewish communities. One militant possessed a document detailing the ins and outs of how security is run in these kibbutzim, which was dated October 2022. For this reason, we know Hamas has been planning this assault for at least one year.
As detailed in a report by The New York Times, “A Hamas planning document—found by Israeli emergency responders in one village—showed that the attackers were organized into well-defined units with clear goals and battle plans. The group had a specific target—a kibbutz—and the attackers were tasked with storming the village from specific angles. They had estimates for how many Israeli troops were stationed in nearby posts, how many vehicles they had at their disposal, and how long it would take those Israeli relief forces to reach them.”
Militants were aware their task was to kill as many Israelis as possible and kidnap others to later use as negotiating chips. Attackers were able to carry out these atrocities for several hours since other militants had already stormed a number of the military bases in the south.
According to reports, militants knew exactly where to look for communications servers in these bases when they stormed these bases and immediately shut them off so calling for help and coordinating a counterattack would prove difficult. Since many communications and surveillance systems were taken out during the attack, other security forces and Israelis could not see the terrorists approaching.
There Were Indications of Impending Violence in the Region
In the days following the October 7 attack, reports that the U.S. intelligence community warned Israel that a potential uptick in hostilities came to light. According to a report on CNN, at least two assessments were provided by Israel, cautioning the White House of an increased Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the last few weeks: “One update from September 28 warned, based on multiple streams of intelligence, that the terror group Hamas was poised to escalate rocket-attacks across the border. An October 5 wire from the CIA warned generally of the increasing possibility of violence by Hamas.
Then, on October 6, the day before the attack, US officials circulated reporting from Israel indicating unusual activity by Hamas — indications that are now clear: an attack was imminent.” While these warnings are obviously nothing compared to the large-scale atrocities that ultimately were committed by Hamas, there were indications that an uptick in violence could unfold.
Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin.
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