Hamas’ curveball attack on Israel on Oct. 7 had the Israel Defense Forces caught napping. It’s like déjà vu from the 1973 Yom Kippur War, where Israeli intel snoozed through a massive Arab invasion.
With over 1,000 Israelis pushing up daisies and about 150 held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Israel’s now busy prepping a comeback, leaving no time for a full-blown post-mortem on the intel fumble. But gosh, it’s sure surprising that top Israeli snoops like Mossad and Shin Bet didn’t see this haymaker coming.
While we’re a bit light on the nitty-gritty, let’s give it the ol’ college try and scope out where the intel went south, both on the front lines and from the bird’s eye view.
Intel Oops at Ground Zero
At the down-and-dirty level, the brainiacs couldn’t predict the incoming smackdown. If they’d had a whiff of when, where, and how Hamas planned to throw the punches, the IDF could’ve at least had a fighting chance or launched a sneaky surprise attack of their own.
Israel’s invested big bucks in intel gear to spot any hanky-panky from Gaza. Think electronic gizmos, surveillance gadgets, and a steel curtain of walls, fences, and watchtowers lining the border. Israel’s also no slouch at eavesdropping and hacking into digital secrets.
But Hamas probably pulled a ninja move. They knew they were under the spotlight, so they likely schemed under the radar in places where prying eyes couldn’t peep. Only a handful of Hamas bigwigs knew the scoop, and the foot soldiers got their marching orders just before game time. As Retired General Amir Avivi quipped, “The other side ditched the tech race and went back to the Stone Age.”
Snooping around Gaza might’ve been too hot to handle for human spies after the IDF bugged out in 2005, shooing away Israeli settlers. When the digital gadgets couldn’t cut the mustard against Hamas’ Stone Age smarts, there were no backup plans in the playbook.
But maybe, just maybe, the intel hiccup at the frontlines was less about the gadgets and more about the brainwork. It’s like how folks say, “Most intel snafus happen between the ears, not in the data.”
Haaretz spilled the beans that Shin Bet had a couple of chinwags with army bigwigs the night before the Hamas haymaker. The spooks dropped a hint about Hamas acting fishy and fishing for hostages. But Shin Bet brushed it off like weak sauce and didn’t sound the alarm. Looks like someone flunked the brain test, and the wrong call got passed down the line.
Intel Oops in the War Room
On the big picture front, Israel was daydreaming about Hamas. They guessed wrong that Hamas was more into building sandcastles than picking fights with the playground bullies.
Israel tried playing good cop, bad cop with Hamas, waving carrots and sticks. Besides flexing their military muscles, they even dangled jobs in Israel for Gazan folks, where the greenbacks flowed like honey. Israel thought it was hitting the bullseye. From 2021 till October, Hamas was playing hooky from the battlefield, making everyone feel cozy. Intel hotshots even had a hunch that Hamas wouldn’t stir the hornet’s nest because they didn’t want to mess up the good life for Gaza’s gang.
But boy, was that a wild goose chase. They took the wrong bet that Hamas couldn’t pull off a WWE-worthy smackdown. The IDF was used to batting away Hamas’ softballs, but this time, Hamas brought the A-game. Rockets and artillery fire rained on Israel from Gaza before, but Iron Dome usually played goalie. Looks like they underestimated Hamas, and it backfired big time.
In the intel slip-up aftermath, experts and insiders will be scratching their heads for years, just like they did after intel hiccups in the Yom Kippur War, the Iranian Revolution, 9/11, and the WMD circus in Iraq. This Hamas jolt will be no different.
But here’s what we know for now: at the gritty level, it’s like someone goofed up the dot-connecting and missed the memo about the surprise party. Up top, it’s like they got the enemy’s address all wrong, thinking they were at a friend’s house. A double whammy for sure.