Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

All In Plain Sight: How Cunning Strategy of Hamas Caught Israel Off Guard

The recent assault by Hamas on Israel stands as a stark reminder of the ever-evolving tactics employed by militant groups across the globe. This carefully orchestrated campaign of deception not only caught Israel off guard but serves as a vital lesson for nations worldwide. The incident highlights how terror organisations possess the capability to divert attention, leading even the most vigilant security establishments astray.

Let us have a look into the intricate web of subterfuge spun by Hamas, shedding light on the strategic implications of this shocking breach. This event underscores the critical need for nations to reassess their security paradigms and remain vigilant in the face of evolving threats.

In a meticulously orchestrated campaign of deception, Hamas blindsided Israel with a devastating assault, employing an array of tactics including bulldozers, hang gliders, and motorbikes, effectively pitting itself against the Middle East’s most formidable military force.

This October 7th, 2023, attack marked the most significant breach in Israel’s defences since the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, culminating from two years of subterfuge by Hamas. The group kept its military plans concealed, while subtly persuading Israel that it sought no confrontation. While Israel believed it was engaging with a war-weary Hamas through economic incentives for Gazan workers, Hamas fighters were discreetly honing their skills, often in plain view.

Hamas deliberately projected an image of reluctance towards conflict, employing an unprecedented intelligence tactic to mislead Israel. This gambit led Israel to underestimate the impending threat, echoing the surprise assault of the Yom Kippur War five decades earlier.

Amidst these preparations, Hamas constructed a replica of an Israeli settlement in Gaza for tactical training exercises. Despite these visible activities, Israel remained convinced that Hamas was averse to direct confrontation.

Simultaneously, Hamas aimed to convey to Israel that it prioritised employment opportunities for Gazan residents, ostensibly to maintain stability in the region. However, this facade proved to be a strategic smokescreen, leading to a catastrophic miscalculation on Israel’s part.

Since the 2021 conflict with Hamas, Israel endeavoured to stabilise the Gaza economy by offering incentives, including work permits for thousands of Gazans in Israel and the West Bank, where salaries were substantially higher. And finally Israel was successfully misled by Hamas, who effectively diverted their focus towards economic considerations while clandestinely preparing for an assault.

This deliberate restraint exhibited by Hamas garnered criticism from its own supporters, further reinforcing the perception that economic concerns, rather than war, dominated their agenda. In the West Bank, controlled by President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah, Hamas faced criticism for its apparent inactivity, with accusations of their leadership seeking refuge in opulence while their constituents suffered.

Hamas capitalised on Israel’s distraction, particularly in light of efforts to normalise relations with Saudi Arabia, diverting attention away from their covert preparations.

During the operation, Hamas meticulously avoided leaks, with many of its leaders unaware of the grand scheme. Even the 1,000 fighters deployed in the assault remained unaware of the ultimate objective. The operation was executed in four phases, featuring a massive rocket barrage from Gaza, airborne incursions on hang gliders, followed by a ground assault, and finally a commando unit’s siege on an Israeli military stronghold in southern Gaza. The assault also involved the relocation of hostages to Gaza, a feat largely accomplished in the early stages of the attack.

In retrospect, Israel’s security apparatus and intelligence network faced a colossal failure, as Hamas exploited vulnerabilities to execute an unprecedented assault.

It underscores the imperative for unceasing vigilance, emphasising that even the most astute security apparatus can be blindsided by a determined adversary’s cunning tactics. This incident resonates beyond the borders of Israel, offering a cautionary tale to all nations in an era where asymmetric warfare and strategic deception have become defining features of modern conflict.

The need for intelligence agencies and defence forces to adapt, innovate, and anticipate the unexpected has never been more pressing. As the world navigates an evolving landscape of security challenges, the events surrounding this audacious attack will undoubtedly shape the strategies and preparations of nations in their quest for safeguarding peace and stability.

(Binay Singh is a well known Author, Columnist and Senior Research Fellow, Strategic Studies at SPMRF. Views in the article are his own)