The evidence suggests that the Palestinian armed group Hamas had hoped to penetrate deep into Israel in a bid to spark a large-scale regional conflict. The group had developed plans in secret for more than a year before the October 7 attack, according to a report in the Washington Post. The newspaper cited more than a dozen intelligence officials from four Western and Middle Eastern countries as sources.
These officials revealed that Hamas intended to “strike a blow of historic proportions” on Israel. One senior official in West Jerusalem told WaPo that “they planned a second phase [of the assault], including in major Israeli cities and military bases.” The militants had apparently also planned ahead for mass atrocities in Israel. One order recovered from the body of a Hamas fighter read, “Kill as many people and take as many hostages as possible.”
While some Hamas shock troops managed to cover only about half of the distance from Gaza to the West Bank, many of them are said to have carried enough supplies and ammunition to continue operations for several days. They also reportedly had reconnaissance data and maps, suggesting that they intended to reach the West Bank.
According to one former US official quoted by the news outlet, this could have been “a huge propaganda win” for Hamas and dealt “a symbolic blow” not only against Israel, but also against the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, has been at odds with Hamas since the group ousted it from Gaza in a 2007 coup.
The article also noted that prior to the attack, Hamas had been engaged in multi-pronged reconnaissance activities, relying on intel gathered using cheap drones, Gazan workers who were allowed to enter Israel, and even on real estate photos and social media posts. The group is said to have been preparing for the assault for more than a year. During that period, measures were reportedly taken to deceive Israeli intelligence services, lulling them into a false sense of security.
Hamas launched its surprise attack on Israel on October 7, with ensuing fighting resulting in thousands of fatalities. The group has also taken more than 240 hostages, including many foreign nationals. West Jerusalem retaliated by launching air and missile strikes on Gaza, later announcing a “complete siege” of the Palestinian enclave and starting a ground operation there.
The new evidence alludes to the gravity of the situation and the elaborate planning behind the attack. The revelation of the depth and extent of Hamas’ intentions underscores the growing threats in the region. It also serves to highlight the complexities and challenges facing the authorities in ensuring the safety and security of their citizens. The incident has far-reaching implications and has raised concerns about the potential for future escalations in the region. These developments will undoubtedly shape the geopolitical landscape and influence policy decisions in the weeks and months ahead as regional powers seek to navigate these turbulent waters.