(VINnews) — A new BBC report depicts shocking new details of Hamas’ preparations for the October 7th massacre, as well as how they hid their terror plans from Israeli intelligence services.Join our WhatsApp group
Subscribe to our Daily Roundup Email
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh announced the first of four training sessions as early as December 29th, 2020, code-named “Strong Pillar.” This training involved 10 armed Palestinian factions, some but not all from Hamas, practicing invading Israeli territory and conducting war games.
The groups carried out joint drill which closely resembled the tactics used during the deadly assault – including at a site less than 1km (0.6 miles) from the barrier with Israel – and posted them on social media.
Over the following years, Hamas conducted three more drills, posting videos on social media of terrorists practicing invasion, hostage-taking, and other terror activities. Some exercises occurred in model IDF bases and kibbutzim, located a mere 1 km from the Israeli border.
In 2022, Hamas practiced storming a simulated Israeli army base 2.6 km from the Erez border crossing and 16 km from an IDF surveillance tower.
They practiced hostage-taking, raiding compounds and breaching Israel’s defenses, the last exercise held just 25 days before the attack.
Five armed Palestinian groups joined Hamas in the deadly 7 October attack on Israel after training together in military-style exercises from 2020 onwards, a BBC analysis shows.
Three groups – PIJ, the Mujahideen Brigades and Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades – claim to have seized Israeli hostages on October 7, in addition to Hamas.
Efforts to extend the temporary truce in Gaza were said to be hinging on Hamas locating those hostages.
According to the BBC:
“Footage from the first drill shows masked commanders in a bunker appearing to conduct the exercise, and begins with a volley of rocket fire. It cuts to heavily armed fighters overrunning a mocked-up tank marked with an Israeli flag, detaining a crew member and dragging him away as a prisoner, as well as raiding buildings. We know from videos and harrowing witness statements that both tactics were used to capture soldiers and target civilians on 7 October, when around 1,200 people were killed and an estimated 240 hostages were taken.”
This begs the question, how did Israel not respond to the drills?
As reported by the BBC:
“The exercises were reported on in Israel, so it’s inconceivable they were not being closely monitored by the country’s extensive intelligence agencies. The IDF have previously carried out air strikes to disrupt Hamas’s training activities. In April 2023, they bombed the site used for the first Strong Pillar drill. Weeks before the attacks, female surveillance soldiers near the Gaza border reportedly warned of unusually high drone activity and that Hamas was training to take over observation posts with replicas of their positions. But, according to reports in the Israeli media, they say they were ignored.”
Brigadier General Amir Avivi, a former IDF deputy commander in Gaza, told the BBC: “There was a lot of intelligence that they were doing this training – after all, the videos are public, and this was happening just hundreds of metres from the fence (with Israel).”
But he said while the military knew about the drills, they “didn’t see what they were training for”.
The article concluded:
“Hugh Lovatt, a Middle East analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said Israel would have been aware of the joint training drills but “reached the wrong conclusion”, assessing they amounted to the “standard” activity of paramilitary groups in the Palestinian territories, rather than being “indicative of a looming large-scale attack”.
Asked about the issues raised in this article, the Israel Defense Forces said it was “currently focused on eliminating the threat from the terrorist organisation Hamas” and questions about any potential failures “will be looked into in a later stage”. It could be several years until Israel formally reckons with whether it missed opportunities to prevent the 7 October massacre.
The ramifications for its military, intelligence services and government could be seismic.”