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9 Oct, 2023 11:30

Hamas ‘duped’ Israel before devastating attack – Reuters

The Palestinian militant group had pretended it was not ready for an assault, a source has told the news agency
Hamas ‘duped’ Israel before devastating attack – Reuters

A Reuters report has claimed Hamas “duped” Israel while preparing and executing its surprise raid into Israeli territory on Saturday. The news agency spoke to insiders on both sides of what Israeli officials have described as their nation’s version of a ‘9/11’ intelligence failure.

The attack had been planned since the Israeli-Palestinian hostilities of May 2021, in which Hamas was a major player, a source close to the radical militant movement claimed in Monday’s story. Israel was deceived into believing that the Hamas leadership was more interested in economic recovery in Gaza than in renewed fighting.

The 1,000 fighters who were trained for the attack on Saturday were unaware of what they were preparing for, as were many leaders in the organization, the source claimed. Even when the militants openly conducted urban warfare drills at a mock Israeli settlement built in Gaza, their opponents considered the threat relatively low.

An Israeli security source told Reuters that Israel had moved troops to the West Bank for extra protection of Jewish settlements there.

The Israeli government tried to encourage the perceived detente by relieving the blockade of Gaza, which has been in place since 2007. It has issued some 15,000 permits for residents of the coastal strip to work in Israel and the West Bank.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in violent clashes with rival Fatah a year after defeating it in an election in 2006. Over 2 million people are crammed into an area of 365 sq km.

The lighting offensive on Saturday involved Hamas firing 3,000 rockets to overwhelm Israeli air defenses and enable a hang glider incursion over the Gaza border wall, the source said. The advance force secured the area and provided time to breach the fortification with explosives.

An elite Hamas unit on motorbikes then overwhelmed surprised Israeli troops. They jammed Israeli communications, adding to the confusion and slowing down the response. Hamas fighters attacked civilians in Israel and took hundreds of hostages, which they plan to exchange for prisoners in Israeli custody.

An article by the New York Times on Sunday claimed that Iranian-designed weapons played a key role in the Hamas operation. The attack used new ‘Rajum’ missiles, which may have been more difficult to intercept compared to older projectiles, it said.

US intelligence has said it is assessing alleged Iranian involvement. Tehran has praised Hamas for its raid, but has denied claims that it directly assisted it.