Israeli Officials Knew of October 7 Attack a Year Ago, But Didn’t Act

Gaza 1
Palestinians at the rubble of a building destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, November 11, 2023. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

For over a year, Israeli officials had detailed knowledge of the plan for the October 7 attack by Hamas forces — but, despite knowing about the devastation the incursion would cause, Israeli leaders declined to act, a new bombshell New York Times investigation reveals.

Documents, emails and interviews conducted by The Times show that Israeli military and intelligence officials possessed a 40-page blueprint for the attack. The document laid out specific plans for the attack, detailing which of Israel’s security measures Hamas forces planned to take out, including security cameras and automated machine guns around the border, and the points of the border wall Israel erected to sanction off Gaza that Hamas fighters would breach.

As the investigation finds, Hamas forces carried out the plan for what Israeli officials code-named “Jericho Wall” with “shocking precision.” It would result in the deadliest day for Israelis in the country’s history, with 1,200 people killed — and then, a genocide in Gaza that has killed over 15,000 Palestinians so far, which Israel has used the October 7 raid to justify at length.

Despite the document being circulated widely among Israeli officials and the plan’s clear potential for mass civilian deaths, leaders ultimately decided to brush the document aside. According to The Times, they deemed the plan too ambitious for Hamas forces to carry out.

Israeli officials agree in private that, if they had taken the plan seriously, they could have reduced the severity of the death toll or even prevented it altogether, the investigation found. Due in part to the U.S.’s unbending support, Israel has one of the most powerful militaries in the world.

The revelation that the Israeli military was aware of plans for the attack is stunning in the face of Israeli officials’ insistence that the brutality of the attack legitimizes their horrific bombardment of Palestinians, in which Israeli forces have killed civilians and children at a pace that has little precedent in modern times.

Israel’s failure to prepare for the attack is widely seen as an intelligence oversight. At the same time, however, some figures in the Israeli intelligence community have viewed the October 7 attack as an “opportunity” for Israel to take another major step in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, a longtime goal of the Israeli state. As reported by Mondoweiss, an Israeli think tank with close ties to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu circulated a position paper among Israeli officials shortly after October 7 saying that the Hamas attack created an opening for Israel to unleash untold brutality on Gaza.

“There is at the moment a unique and rare opportunity to evacuate the whole Gaza Strip in coordination with the Egyptian government,” the paper’s subtitle said.

Israel has been acting on this “opportunity” with unconscionable force, leveling huge swaths of Gaza while intentionally killing civilians, another investigation published this week found.

Interviews with current and former Israeli intelligence members by +972 Magazine and Local Call reveal that Israeli officials are openly and willfully killing Palestinians — including thousands of children — to further the supposed goal of killing all members of Hamas. Israeli officials possess a log of where individuals in Gaza live, including civilians, meaning they know how many innocent people will be killed in the vast majority of the bombings.

Horrifically, these deaths are not viewed as a deterrent by officials, the investigation found, but rather as “collateral damage” that is often directly approved by Israeli military command.

“Nothing happens by accident,” one source said. “When a 3-year-old girl is killed in a home in Gaza, it’s because someone in the army decided it wasn’t a big deal for her to be killed — that it was a price worth paying in order to hit [another] target. We are not Hamas. These are not random rockets. Everything is intentional. We know exactly how much collateral damage there is in every home.”

The Israeli military resumed its intense bombing in Gaza on Friday after a six-day pause. In just the first nine hours after the pause ended, Israeli bombings killed at least 109 Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others, as the Israeli military said it had bombed over 200 targets in that time.

Sharon Zhang is a news writer at Truthout covering politics, climate and labor. Before coming to Truthout, Sharon had written stories for Pacific Standard, The New Republic, and more. She has a master’s degree in environmental studies.

Originally published in: Truthout

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