The Oct 7 Hamas military and terrorist attacks on Israel came as shock to many — but not to surveillance soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) who say their warnings about their alarming observations along the Gaza border were ignored by higher-ups.
In interviews with Israeli media, soldiers of the IDF’s Combat Intelligence Corps say that, for at least three months before the attacks, they observed Hamas members conducting paramilitary training along the fenceline, digging holes, studying the area with maps, examining the ground surface and even placing and detonating explosives.
Speaking to Kan News on Wedneday, Yael Rotenberg and Maya Desiatnik expressed their anger over the IDF’s failure to heed their repeated reports of the ominous activity. Compounding their rage, the two were the only Combat Intelligence Corps soldiers who survived the Hamas attack on their base near the Nahal Oz kibbutz, less than a half-mile southeast of the Gaza border.
“It’s infuriating. We saw what was happening, we told them about it, and we were the ones who were murdered,” said Desiatnik.
The types of activity they observed at the border was concerning enough, but, even more strikingly, the pace had steadily intensified as Oct 7 approached. Desiatnik said it proceeded from weekly, to daily, to almost nonstop. In addition to her general visual observations, she said she was able to obtain information about the substance of the training, which encompassed driving tanks to bypassing the fence via tunnels.
She told Kan News that she’d concluded “it was just a matter of time” until Hamas unleashed an attack on Israel.
Two other IDF intelligence soldiers shared similar experiences with Israel’s Channel 12.
“We sat on shifts and saw the convoy of vans. We saw the training, people shooting and rolling, practicing taking over a tank. The training went from once a week to twice a week, from every day to several times a day,” said Amit Yerushalmi. “We saw patrols along the border, people with cameras and binoculars. It happened 300 meters from the fence. There were a lot of disturbances, people went down to the fence and detonated an outrageous amount of explosives, the amount of explosives was crazy.”
Yerushalmi said she dutifully recorded all her observations, with no apparent impact on the command whatsoever.
These four IDF soldiers aren’t the only ones who say their warnings were ignored. Egyptian intelligence officials say they also attempted to alert Tel Aviv. “We have warned them an explosion of the situation is coming, and very soon, and it would be big. But they underestimated such warnings,” an anonymous Egyptian official told the Associated Press.
Video footage released by Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, on Sunday shows the moment its fighters breached Gaza’s security fence and stormed the Erez Crossing pic.twitter.com/Ob2OekZRfh
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) October 8, 2023
According to report by Israel’s Ynet, Egypt’s intelligence minister personally phoned Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu just 10 days before the attack, warning that Hamas was poised to do “something unusual, a terrible operation.”
Ever since the political, militant and terror group’s founding in the late 1970s, right-wing Israeli officials have fostered the rise of Hamas to ensure there is no viable “partner for peace” on the Palestinian side — allowing Israel to forever postpone making territorial concessions while further settling the West Bank and paying diplomatic lip service to a two-state solution.
To an extent unprecedented in Israel’s history, the current Netanyahu government is dominated by ultra-nationalists and religious extremists representing parties such as “Religious Zionism” and “Jewish Power.” In the wake of the Oct 7 atrocities, they won’t have to worry about a negotiated peace with the Palestinians anytime soon.