The blame game for the intelligence failure which allowed Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters to flood over the heavily fortified border between Gaza and Israel has officially begun, with senior Israeli security officials telling US media that intel picked up on a spike in chatter by Gazan militant networks shortly before the attack, but that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops either didn’t receive or didn’t read the warnings.
Separately this week, an Egyptian intelligence official alleged to media that Cairo sent a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office warning of “something big” in the offing related to militants in Gaza, with the Israeli side apparently “underestimating” the warning to focus on tensions in the West Bank instead. “We have warned them an explosion of the situation is coming, and very soon,” the anonymous official said.
Netanyahu’s office dismissed the latter reporting as “totally fake news,” stressing that “no message in advance has arrived from Egypt and the prime minister has neither spoken, nor met, with the head of Egyptian intelligence since the formation of the government, either directly nor indirectly.” A ‘high-profile Egyptian official source’ backed up the Israeli prime minister on Wednesday, similarly denying that any warning was given.
These reports have fed into conspiracy theories on social media about how the 65 km long ‘Iron Wall’ separating Gaza from Israel – which is six meters tall and equipped with a complex array of cameras, radars, and sensors, and guarded by remote-controlled machine gun emplacements and drones, could be breached by lightly-armed Palestinian fighters using paragliders, pickup trucks, small boats and bulldozers, and all without being immediately noticed.
“There’s no way – I [would be] awakened at night by a pigeon, by a stork approaching the wall. A cockroach crawling under the barrier would put the whole sector on alert,” a flustered woman claiming to have served in Gaza as an IDF reserve sergeant said in a viral video. “How did they manage to enter on tractors – 400 people and nobody noticed? This simply cannot be.”
Others characterized the surprise attack as a successful deception operation, with additional Israeli intelligence officials telling media that Hamas’ “unprecedented intelligence tactic to mislead Israel” gave Tel Aviv “the impression that it was not ready for a fight.”
“This is our 9/11. They got us,” IDF spokesperson Nir Dinar lamented. “They surprised us and they came fast from many spots – both from the air and on the ground and the sea.”
Indeed, the first stage of the operation was so well-coordinated and flawlessly executed from a military standpoint that Israeli President Isaac Herzog accused “proxy commanders in Iran” of ‘supporting and directing’ Hamas – claims which Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei slapped down on Tuesday.
“Supporters of the usurping regime, and even some people from the regime itself have said some nonsense over the past couple of days and it’s still continuing. They have said the Islamic Republic of Iran is behind this move.
They are wrong,” Khamenei said. “Those who say what the Palestinians did was caused by non-Palestinians have not yet got to know the Palestinian people,” he added, praising the “smart and wise” planners behind the operation.