The unprecedented air, land and sea assault by Hamas on Saturday morning is a result of “colossal failure” of Israel’s intelligence, media reports and experts have said.
Israel has long held a strong reputation for its intelligence agencies, notably Shin Bet, responsible for domestic security, and Mossad, its esteemed foreign intelligence service.Despite that, during a major holiday, the country was caught off guard when over 2,000 rockets rained down on cities, accompanied by incursions from numerous fighters infiltrating the heavily fortified border at multiple locations.
So far, at least Israelis have been declared dead in the assault while hundreds are wounded.
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Notably, the all-out assault took place despite Israel having one of the strongest militaries in the region, security cameras at the border, personnel from both Shin Bet and Mossad in the field, state-of-the-art thermal imaging/motion sensors and even sophisticated border fencing.
This has left experts baffled and have cast a big spotlight on the country’s intelligence.
‘False sense of security’
According to PTI, some experts feel that Israel got so totally engrossed in countering Iran and in efforts to foil the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme that it “neglected its own backyard”.
Jerusalem Post, a leading newspaper, said, “Gaza was on the back burner in terms of a sense of security threats because Iran-backed proxies have been increasing threats elsewhere” and gave details of the events unfolded over the last three-four years in the region which, it said, led to “Hamas in Gaza appeared isolated, unable to even get more funds from the usual sources, such as Qatar.”
“With Israeli normalisation agreements growing in the region, Hamas seemed to present an outdated ideology living in the past. This seems to have lulled people into a false sense of security,” it pointed out.
‘A colossal failure’
Despite repeated warnings that a ceasefire with Hamas would potentially aid the organization and other Islamic groups in regaining their strength for future confrontations, Israel recently agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas.
Some experts suggested that these warnings were overlooked due to domestic political constraints.
Hebrew media sources quoted unnamed officials who criticized both the political and military leadership for allowing Israel to be caught off guard once again, as reported in the Times of Israel.
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In recent years, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had assumed that Hamas was deterred from launching major attacks within Israel, fearing a robust Israeli response and the potential devastation it would bring to Gaza.
However, it has become painfully evident that this assumption was misplaced.
Eli Maron, the former head of the Israeli Navy told a new channel anchor, “All of Israel is asking itself: Where is the IDF, where is the police, where is the security? It’s a colossal failure; the hierarchies have simply failed, with vast consequences.”
Echoes of Yom Kippur War
The Times of Israel also quoted Amos Yadlin, a former IDF intelligence chief, as saying, (the attack) invoked echoes of the Yom Kippur War — another attack marked by “intelligence failure,” with the enemy initiating conflict.
For scores of Israelis, Saturday’s deadly infiltration immediately revived painful memories of the October 1973 war practically 50 years to the day, in which Israel’s enemies had launched a surprise attack on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism.
“It cannot be understated or put in less severe terms: The IDF, the strongest military in the Middle East and one of the most respected worldwide was caught completely by surprise in the Hamas attack on Israel on Saturday,” screamed YNetNews, a leading portal.
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“All military intelligence estimations until the early morning hours, were that the Hamas terror group was deterred and uninterested in war spreading to Gaza. Accordingly, the IDF reduced its troop deployment in the south, moving forces to the West Bank where a terror wave has been ongoing,” it added.
BBC, in an analysis, pointed out: “With the combined efforts of Shin Bet, Israeli domestic intelligence, Mossad, its external spy agency and all the assets of the Israel Defence Forces, it is frankly astounding that nobody saw this coming.”
“Or if they did, they failed to act on it,” it said, listing Israel’s capabilities ranging from informants’ network, drone attack strikes, and precision assassinations among others, and then added, “To prepare for and carry out such a coordinated, complex attack involving the stockpiling and firing of thousands of rockets, right under the noses of the Israelis, must have taken extraordinary levels of operational security by Hamas.”
Some experts are also blaming it on the internal divide within Israel in view of the judicial overhaul plan initiated by the government that has led to massive calls for boycott, depleting strength in positions.
(With inputs from PTI)
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