Israel’s bombardment of Gaza resumes; IDF knew Hamas attack plans for a year
The “humanitarian pause” in Israel’s military operation in Gaza is over. Israel blames Hamas for breaking the ceasefire by launching several rockets, all of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. In fact, this happened only hours before the pause was to end anyway. Negotiations had already broken down when Hamas and Israel failed to agree on a prisoner swap. Hamas wanted to release several elderly male hostages as well as the bodies of a three hostages killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza. Israel rejected this offer, demanding instead the release of other female hostages.
Several hundred civilians in Gaza have already been killed by renewed Israeli airstrikes. The days of the “pause” were far from quiet. Over the last several days, not only were dozens of Israeli hostages released but also nearly 200 Palestinians who were in Israeli custody. These were women and children, all of whom were under what’s called “administrative detention”. Israel can keep Palestinians detained for even minor infractions for up to 6 months without charge or trial. The courts can renew the custody order indefinitely, so in effect there is no limit on how long they can be detained.
On Wednesday, Hamas said it would be willing to swap all its remaining hostages if Israel releases all 7000 Palestinians in its custody. Of those, over 2000 are in “administrative detention”.
Killings in Jerusalem and West Bank
In East Jerusalem, the IDF shot a teenage Palestinian boy who was celebrating the release of his friend. It’s not clear what the boy’s current condition is. The Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem defended the shooting saying that celebrating the release of Palestinian prisoners had been banned in advance. On Tuesday, two boys, 14 and 8, were killed by the IDF during a raid which the IDF claims also killed two “high-ranking terrorists”. Since October 7, illegal West Bank settlers and IDF soldiers have killed more than 230 Palestinians in the West Bank, which is not controlled by Hamas.
Yesterday, a woman and two men were killed by two Hamas terrorists at a bus stop outside of Jerusalem. The shooters were also killed at the scene by IDF. Hamas issued a statement saying that this was a response to the IDF operation in the West Bank, as well as reports that prisoners released by Israel had been badly mistreated while in custody.
NYT: Israeli soldiers tried to warn leaders of Hamas attack plan for a year, were ignored
The New York Times has reviewed documents showing that Israel had very specific intelligence about the October 7 attack by Hamas for over a year. A 40-page Hamas document acquired by Israeli intelligence operatives laid out plans in great detail. The document said the plan was to breach the wall separating Gaza and Israel and attack several key military bases, including a command-and-control center which is responsible for defense throughout that area.
The plan also called for a barrage of rockets to serve as a distraction from the ground invasion. The document also mentions using paragliders, GPS jamming devices and kamikaze drones. It was almost an exact blueprint for the attack which later took place.
One analyst even observed Hamas militants training and preparing for the attack using a structure Gaza built to replicate the military command post she was working out of at the time.
Unfortunately, Israel’s political and military leadership dismissed these reports with the view that Hamas was not capable of waging such an attack. If anyone in leadership had taken the plan seriously, steps could have been taken to prevent the attack altogether, or at the very least ensure that the IDF assets in that area were prepared to defend against it. Instead, most of the IDF assets were pulled away from that area since the government wanted to focus its attention on the West Bank.
This echoes reports that intelligence officials from Egypt had reached out to Israel’s leadership, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, in the weeks before the attack to warn them that “something big” was coming out of Gaza.