IDF Faces Scrutiny Over Handling of Intel Ahead of Oct. 7 Attack

By Yoni Weiss

Palestinians take control of an Israeli tank after crossing the border fence with Israel from Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 7, 2023. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Just hours before the Oct. 7 attack, intelligence revealed that Hamas was activating dozens of Israeli SIM cards inside Gaza, potentially indicating an invasion. This information reached the IDF through Shin Bet channels around midnight between Oct. 6 and 7. However, high-level officials in the IDF Intelligence Directorate at the General Staff headquarters seemed unperturbed by the development. The Southern Command, in particular, appeared complacent in its response to the warning.

According to an IDF source, a more proactive approach by the Intelligence Directorate during orderly situational assessments that night could have yielded different results. The source emphasized that a situational assessment involves pre-assessment discussions, information gathering, calls, and connecting the dots. However, no such assessment occurred within the Directorate that night.

The Directorate rejected accusations of complacency, citing additional intelligence obtained and analyzed by its Research Division as proof of its response. While situational assessments did occur at intermediate ranks, particularly in the Research Division and Unit 8200, there was no inter-departmental assessment led by Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, head of the Intelligence Directorate, who was on vacation.

According to Yisrael Hayom, at around 3:30 a.m., IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Matan Feldman woke up Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, realizing the urgency of an intelligence warning. In a subsequent phone conference held between 3:30-4:00 a.m., participants included Halevi, GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, and Head of the Operations Directorate Maj. Gen. Oded Basyuk. Notably, there was no Intelligence Directorate representative on the call.

Halevi’s directive at the end of the assessment was to operate discreetly to avoid exposing moves to Hamas and protect intelligence sources. The article, based on conversations with sources in the General Staff, IDF Intelligence Directorate, Shin Bet, and Southern Command, provides insights into efforts to understand the intelligence picture of Oct. 7 and respond to it.

In response to revelations, the IDF stated that investigations into the events of Oct. 7, including the preceding night, will commence in the coming days, and findings will be transparently presented to the public.

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