Israel’s military was aware of Hamas’ plan to launch an attack on Israeli soil over a year before the devastating Oct 7 operation that killed hundreds of people, The New York Times reported Friday.
It was the latest in a series of signs that top Israeli commanders either ignored or played down warnings that Hamas was plotting the attack, which triggered a war against the Islamic militant group that has devastated the Gaza Strip.
The Times said Israeli officials were in possession of a 40-page battle plan, code-named “Jericho Wall”, that detailed a hypothetical Hamas attack on southern Israeli communities. It was unclear how the document was obtained by Israel, but the article said that it had been translated — indicating it may have been in Arabic and directly intercepted from Hamas.
The Israeli military declined to comment on the report, saying it was “currently focused on eliminating the threat from the terrorist organisation Hamas”. “Questions of this kind will be looked into in a later stage,” it said.
The document was seen by many Israeli military and intelligence officials, the report said, though it was unclear if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or other top leaders had seen it. The document predicted that Hamas would bombard Israel with rockets, use drones to disable Israel’s security and surveillance abilities at the border wall, and take over southern communities and military bases. Another 2016 Israeli defense memo obtained by the Times said Hamas intended to take hostages back to Gaza. The Oct 7 attack — in which 1,200 people were killed and 240 people were abducted and taken to Gaza — would uncannily mirror the one outlined in the battle plan. But Israeli officials had brushed off the plan, the report said, dismissing it as “aspirational” rather than something that could practically take place, the report said.
The report comes amid public fury toward the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to prevent an attack that appears to have been preceded by numerous warning signs.