Israeli intelligence and military forces were considered the best in the world. Why were they caught off guard?
Israel’s defense and security services have long been considered the best in the Middle East, if not the world. Its intelligence community is legendary. Israel’s Mossad, military intelligence, and Shin Bet (internal security) have built a reputation for their sophisticated espionage and brilliant analysis capabilities. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is viewed internationally as one of the most prepared and well-organized armed forces on the planet, with some of the most advanced military technology at its disposal.
Yet on October 7, without warning, Israel fell victim to a devastating terrorist attack by Hamas – the worst-ever attack on civilians in the country’s history. In the multipronged Hamas operation, which caught intelligence agencies by surprise, terrorists infiltrated 20 communities near the border with Gaza. The attack lasted for hours before the IDF was able to secure the area and neutralize the terrorists.
There are many external factors behind how a catastrophe of this magnitude could occur. Documents found on terrorists’ bodies suggest that Hamas had been planning the attack for at least a year. The militia committed some of the most inhumane and barbaric acts of terrorism imaginable against Israelis. Moral responsibility for the attack lies with Hamas and its backers alone. This may include Iran, which officials say has provided funds, weapons, and training directly to Hamas.
And, as the Free Press reported, the Biden administration’s policies may have also played a role. The White House reinstated a policy of funding Palestinian development even though the State Department’s own documents stated, “We assess there is a high risk Hamas could potentially derive indirect, unintentional benefit from U.S. assistance to Gaza.”
But within Israel, much of the conversation about how the attack happened has turned to internal factors, and the event has sparked an enormous backlash against the country’s political leadership. Despite Israel’s advanced satellites, drones, and other surveillance tools, its government did not anticipate the threat.
“An intelligence failure is like a plane crash: it is never just one thing that goes wrong, it is instead a series of things that add up to a disaster,” explains the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The series of events that led up to Hamas’ attack are indeed jaw-dropping.