Four Strategies That Worked in Hamas’s Favour, against Israel

On October 7th, the world was shocked to witness terrorist attacks being carried out at different places inside Israel. Israel’s intel agency Mossad had failed—this was a wake-up call to intelligence agencies across the world. 1000 terrorists were apparently prepared for this attack over a period of 2 years, right under the nose of Israeli agencies.

Mossad has a mammoth budget of $3 billion and 7,000 employees, yet it could not predict such a massive attack where 700 people have been declared dead so far and 100’s of others injured.

Irony is, on oct 1st, Israel’s national security advisor, Tzachi Hanegbi, said that for the past two years, Hamas has not initiated any rocket launches as part of its decision to curb its violence.

Israeli experts have now come forward to explain how, in four steps, Hamas carried out the attack:

  1. Deception
  2. cooperation
  3. Narrative building
  4. Final execution and diversion tactics

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Retired military general Yaakov Amidror, who served as Israel’s national security advisor in 2011–2013, points out three levels of failure. There was the operational failure of Israel’s intelligence services to detect the well-organised attack; then there was the army’s inability to block it; and finally, Israel’s broader take on Hamas was entirely flawed.

“We made a huge mistake, including me, in believing a terror organisation can change its DNA.”

Between 2021 and 2023, Israel was undergoing a politically turbulent phase; this is when Netanyahu and the ex-Mossad chief were accused of corruption. The country saw an unprecedented amount of protests, and Naftali Bennett’s government had come to power, though it lasted just one year. All that while the Hamas was planning an attack on Israel.

Israel was also concentrating on the Ukraine war. Earlier this year, in January, the US moved its stored ammunition in Israel to Ukraine.

The deception phase started with Hamas managing to create the impression that their focus was on the economy, while Hamas conducted training for an attack, even in plain sight. Israel, in turn, misinterpreted this training as mere posturing.

As per the Hamas-related group statement, the final plan was made in August. Iranian IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) officers have collaborated with Hamas since August to strategize for an aerial, terrestrial, and maritime invasion. But the practice for this began as early as 2021.

During the final attack, terrorists used bulldozers, hang gliders, and motorbikes to challenge the most powerful army in the Middle East. In the last 2 years, Hamas has managed to conceal its military plans and convince Israel that they are not seeking a confrontation.

One of the most remarkable tactics involved constructing a simulated Israeli settlement within Gaza. Within this mock settlement, they practiced military landings and conducted training exercises for a storming operation. They even created videos documenting these manoeuvres.

Despite these activities being visible to Israel, Israel was convinced that Hamas had no real intention of engaging in a confrontation. They considered this posturing!

“While we believed that a radical body that takes power gradually becomes moderate, they were gaining strength and preparing the next stage of their war.” Michael Milshtein, head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at Tel Aviv University’s Dayan Centre.

Not prepared for a Fight– Cooperation

Earlier this month, Israel’s national security advisor, Tzachi Hanegbi, said that for the past two years, Hamas has not initiated any rocket launches as part of its decision to curb its violence in an “unprecedented” manner.

“Hamas is very restrained and understands the meaning of further defiance,” he said in an interview with army radio on October 1.

Hamas intentionally led Israel to believe that it was not prepared for a conflict and that it wanted to cooperate.

Meanwhile, during its many meetings with IRGC officials in Beirut, Lebanon, Hamas came up with a strategy aimed at creating a situation similar to the surprise attack that occurred during the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago when Egypt and Syria caught Israel off guard, forcing it to fight for its existence.

On the other side, Israel was of the opinion that the economic progress of Gaza would reduce the radicalization. Gaza is economically poor because it is isolated. After Gaza was taken over by Hamas in 2007, nobody from Gaza was allowed to work inside Isarel, but after 15 years, Israel changed its heart.

In 2021 just 7000 Palestinians could work inside Israel,by 2023 the demand for work permits had risen to 20,000.

Silence before the Storm—Narrative building

Hamas’s strategy was clear: instead of carrying out smaller attacks, they would carry out one massive attack, overwhelming the Israeli forces. Hence, Hamas has over the last few years been publicly projecting an image of reluctance to engage in a fight or confrontation with Israel while secretly preparing for the large-scale operation.

Meanwhile, Hamas worked to convey to Israel that its primary concern was ensuring job opportunities for the residents of Gaza, a densely populated region with over two million people.

Hamas’ display of restraint to fight Israel generated a lot of public criticism from some of its supporters, with the aim of reinforcing the perception that Hamas was primarily concerned with economic issues rather than initiating a new war.

In the West Bank, which is under the control of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah group, there were individuals who ridiculed Hamas for maintaining a low profile. In a statement issued by Fatah in June 2022, Hamas leaders were accused of leaving their people in poverty in Gaza while living in “luxurious hotels and villas” in Arab capitals.

Israeli agencies believed that Yahya Al-Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, was more focused on governing Gaza than on hostile actions towards Israel. During this time, Israel shifted its attention away from Hamas as it pursued a deal to normalise relations with others in the Middle East. There were also protests happening across Israel in last one year.

Final execution:

According to the WSJ report,  Iran granted final approval for the recent attack involving Hamas in Beirut. The report also reveals that Iranian security officials assisted in planning Hamas’s unexpected attack on Israel, with authorization given during a meeting in Beirut last Monday.

Israel has traditionally prided itself on its ability to infiltrate and monitor Islamist groups. This is why it was crucial for Hamas to prevent any leaks of information. Many Hamas leaders were kept in the dark about the plans, and even the 1,000 terrorists involved in the assault had no knowledge of the exact purpose of their training exercises.

On the day of the operation, it was divided into four parts, as described by the Hamas source:

  1. The initial phase involved launching a barrage of 3,000 rockets from Gaza while simultaneously conducting incursions by terrorists who used hang gliders or motorized paragliders to cross the border. Israel had previously reported a lower number of rockets, stating 2,500 initially.
  2. Once the terrorists on hang-gliders had touched down, they secured the area to facilitate the entrance of commando trained terrorists, who aimed to breach the fortified electronic and cement wall built by Israel to prevent infiltration.
  3. Explosives were used by the terrorists to breach the barriers, and they rapidly crossed over on motorbikes. Bulldozers were employed to widen the gaps, allowing additional terrorists to enter using four-wheel drives.
  4. Taking Hostages, this was a strategy that worked massively in favour of Hamas. Hamas knew Israel will retaliate and hence taking hostages was imp.

Hostages taking & Diversion tactic

Terrorists who were commando trained assaulted the Israeli army’s southern Gaza headquarters and disrupted its communication systems, rendering personnel unable to contact their commanders or colleagues.

The last phase involved the transfer of hostages to Gaza, which was largely accomplished during the early stages of the attack.

Terrorists kidnapped partygoers leaving a rave near the kibbutz of Re’im near Gaza in one well-publicized hostage taking. As gunshots were heard, dozens of people were captured on social media racing through fields and down a road.

The Israeli security source questioned, “How could this party occur this close to Gaza?

The Israeli security source claimed that due to certain troops being redeployed to the West Bank to safeguard Israeli settlers after a spike in violence between them and terrorists, Israeli troops were not at full strength in the south of the country near Gaza.”They (Hamas) exploited that,”

Political chaos, few years of internal turbulence, misjudging the enemy’s capability to overwhelm— this is what lead to the massive terrorist attack on Israel.

Lets hope peace returns in the region soon.

Info Credit: Reuters

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