Israeli officials knew of Hamas' plan for the Oct. 7 attack more than a year in advance, according to evidence obtained, but Israeli intelligence officials dismissed it as too difficult for Hamas to carry out, The New York Times claimed, citing documents obtained by the intelligence.
The 40-page document, codenamed "The Wall of Jericho" by Israeli authorities, outlined the occupation that led to the deaths of 1,200 people.
The translated document, reviewed by The New York Times, does not specify the date of the attack but describes a methodical offensive designed to destroy fortifications around the Gaza Strip, capture Israeli towns and seize key military bases, including a division.
The document, which describes all the details of the Hamas attack in advance, emphasized that the plan was to launch a barrage of rockets at the beginning of the attack, to have drones disable security cameras and automatic machine guns along the border, and to have gunmen land in Israel by paragliding.
The plan also included details on the location and size of Israeli military forces, communications centers and other sensitive information, raising questions about how Hamas was gathering its intelligence and whether there were leaks within the Israeli security establishment.
The document was widely circulated among Israeli military and intelligence chiefs, but according to the documents and officials, experts judged that an attack of this scale and ambition was beyond Hamas' capabilities and that it was unlikely to succeed.
Last year, shortly after receiving the document, officials in the Israeli army's Gaza division, responsible for guarding the Gaza border, said Hamas' intentions were unclear.
"It is not yet possible to determine whether the plan has been fully adopted and how it will be implemented," a military assessment reviewed by The Times said.
Then, in July, just three months before the attacks, a veteran analyst from Unit 8200, Israel's signals intelligence agency, warned that Hamas was conducting an intensive, day-long training exercise similar to the plan.
But a colonel in the Gaza division dismissed their concerns, according to encrypted emails viewed by The Times.
"I deny that the scenario is fictitious," the analyst wrote in an email, adding that the Hamas training exercise exactly matched "the content of the Jericho Wall."
"This is a plan designed to start a war," he added. "This is not just a raid on a village,” he added.
Officials privately acknowledge that Israel could have blunted or even prevented the attacks if the army had taken these warnings seriously and diverted significant reinforcements to the south, where Hamas has been attacking.
Israeli security officials have already admitted that they failed to protect the country, and the government is expected to set up a commission to examine the events leading up to the attacks. The Jericho Wall document exposes a years-long series of missteps that culminated in what officials consider Israel's worst intelligence failure since the surprise attack that led to the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
Underlying all these failures was the fatally mistaken belief that Hamas could not attack and would not dare to do so. This belief was so ingrained in the Israeli government, officials said, that they ignored mounting evidence to the contrary.
The Israeli army and the Israel Security Agency, responsible for counter-terrorism in Gaza, declined to comment.
Authorities have not said how they obtained the Jericho Wall document, but it was among several versions of attack plans collected over the years.
The document on the Jericho Wall, named after the ancient fortifications in the modern-day West Bank, was even more revealing. It detailed rocket attacks to distract Israeli soldiers and send them rushing to shelters, and the use of drones to bypass elaborate security measures along the border fence separating Israel and Gaza.
One of the most important goals outlined in the document was to invade the Israeli military base in Re'im, where the Gaza division responsible for protecting the area is based. Other bases under the division's command were also listed.
Hamas achieved this goal by attacking Re'im on Oct. 7 and capturing parts of the base.
But Hamas had been drafting attack plans for years, and Israeli authorities had intercepted earlier versions of these plans. What could have been an intelligence coup turned into one of the worst miscalculations in Israel's 75-year history
On July 6, 2023, the experienced Unit 8200 analyst wrote to a group of other intelligence experts that dozens of Hamas commandos had recently been conducting training exercises under the observation of senior Hamas commanders.
The training included shooting down Israeli planes, capturing a kibbutz and a military training base, and killing all the students and the analyst warned that the exercise closely follows the Jericho Wall plan and that Hamas is developing the capacity to carry it out.
The colonel in the Gaza division said the analysis was good, but that the exercise was part of a "completely fictitious" scenario and not an indication of Hamas' ability to carry it out.
Source: New York Times