For Palestinians living in Gaza Israel’s eye is not far away. Security drones are constantly circling the sky. The secure border is covered with cameras for security and troops at the ready. The intelligence agencies utilize cyber and other sources to extract a wealth of data.
However, Israel’s eyes seemed to be closed as it awaited an extraordinary attack from Hamas, the militant Hamas group that destroyed Israeli frontiers and brought hundreds of terrorists into Israel in an unintentional attack that has been responsible for the death of many and has pushed the region towards conflict.
The intelligence services of Israel have earned an image of unstoppable through the years due to numerous accomplishments. Israel has stopped plots that were seeded within the West Bank, allegedly hunted to the ground by Hamas agents in Dubai, and was accused of murdering Iranian nuclear scientists in the middle of Iran. Even as their efforts have been unsuccessful and failed, agencies such as Mossad, Shin Bet, and military intelligence have kept their status as secretive organizations.
The weekend’s attack was a surprise, as it took Israel completely off-guard at a crucial Jewish celebration, threw the image into question, and posed concerns about Israel’s ability to defend itself against an adversary that is stronger but more determined. In the space of 24 hours, Hamas militants continued to combat Israeli forces on Israeli territory. Hundreds of Israelis were held in Hamas prison in Gaza.
“This is an enormous fail,” said Yaakov Amidror who was a former national security advisor to Premier Benjamin Netanyahu. “This event proves the (intelligence) capabilities of the intelligence services in Gaza weren’t very effective.”
Amidror refused to provide an explanation for the lapse and said that lessons would be learned once the dust had settled.
Rear Admiral. Daniel Hagari, the general military spokesperson, has acknowledged that the military owes its people an explanation. However, he added that now is not the best time. “First fighting, later we do an investigation,” he said.
Many believe that it’s too soon to put the blame entirely on intel-based issues. They point to an escalating outbreak of violent violence that was low-grade within The West Bank that shifted some of the military’s resources to that region, and also the political turmoil that is raging in Israel with Netanyahu’s ultra-rightist government to reform the judiciary. The controversial policy has threatened the stability of Israel’s military power.
The absence of any prior knowledge about Hamas’ plot is likely to be seen as the main cause of the sequence of events that led to the most deadly attack on Israelis for decades.
Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlers from their territory in the Gaza Strip in 2005, leaving it without a watch on events in the area. Yet, following the time that Hamas gained control of Gaza in 2007 Israel seemed to keep its advantage, relying on technology as well as human-computer interaction.
The group claimed to have where exactly the Hamas management and seemed to be proving it with the murders of militant leader in surgical strikes at times while they lay in their beds. Israel is aware of where to attack underground tunnels that are used by Hamas for transporting weapons and fighters, degrading thousands of miles (kilometers) of hidden pathways.
However, despite these capabilities, Hamas was able to remain secret about its strategy. Its ferocious assault was likely to have taken months of preparation and careful training, as well as coordination with several militant groups, appears to have been a secret beneath Israel’s surveillance.
Amir Avivi, a retired Israeli general, claimed that with no presence inside Gaza Israeli security forces are increasingly dependent on technology to gather information. Amir Avivi said the militants of Gaza have discovered methods to avoid this technological information gathering and give Israel an incomplete image of their motives.
“The alternative side has learned to manage the technological power of us and put aside technology that could reveal it,” said Avivi, who worked as a channel for intelligence-related materials under the former chief of staff. Avivi is president and the founder of the Israel Defense and Security Forum which is a militant group composed that includes former military chiefs.
“They’ve been back into the Stone Age,” he stated, explaining that militants didn’t have phones or computers. They were conducting the business they were concerned about in areas specifically secured from technology spying or even going underground.
However, Avivi says the issue goes beyond intelligence gathering. the security forces of Israel did not come up with an accurate image from their intelligence of the misperception about Hamas’s intentions.
The Israeli security establishment has recently increasingly viewed Hamas as a group that is interested in governance, aiming to improve the economy of Gaza and raise the living standards of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents. Avivi and other commentators say that there is a truth to this: Hamas is a terrorist group that calls for the destruction of Israel and considers this as its top priority.
Israel recently permitted more than 18,000 Palestinian laborers from Gaza to get work in Israel in order to get a pay rate that is about 10 times more than those in the largely impoverished coastal area. Security authorities saw this move as a means to keep the peace.
“In the real world, hundreds if or even thousands of Hamas people were prepping for an attack that would be a surprise for many several months without the information having been leaked,” wrote Amos Harel who is a defense analyst in the weekly Haaretz. “The result is catastrophic.”
Allies who exchange intelligence with Israel have claimed security services had been misinterpreting reality.
An Egyptian official from the intelligence service said Egypt frequently serves as an intermediary between Israel and Hamas and was in constant contact with Israel Israelis regarding “something significant,” without elaborating.
The official said Israeli officials were focusing only on the West Bank and played down threats from Gaza. Netanyahu’s administration is composed of those who are supporters of Jewish West Bank settlers who have called for a security crackdown against a growing violence wave in the area in the past 18 months.
“We advised them about the possibility of an explosion. is on the way, fast, and could be massive. However, they didn’t take these warnings seriously,” said the official speaking on terms of anonymity as the official was not authorized to talk about the contents of classified talks with the intelligence community.
Israel is also preoccupied and divided by the judicial reform plan of Netanyahu. Netanyahu was repeatedly warned by his defense ministers and a number of ex-leaders of Israel’s intelligence agencies that his controversial plan was taking away the cohesiveness of Israel’s security forces.
Martin Indyk, who served as an envoy special for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations during his time in the Obama administration, stated that there was a rift within the administration over the law modifications was a major issue that led to Israel being caught by surprise.
“That caused a rift in the IDF in a manner that, I’m sure was an enormous distraction” the official declared.