Israel reportedly had actual Hamas attack plan a year before Oct. 7 assault

Israeli officials considered the intercepted battle plan too ambitious and out of step with their view that Hamas didn't want a war with Israel, documents show

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant
(Image credit: Abir Sultan / Pool / AFP via Getty Images)

Israel possessed what turned out to be remarkably accurate Hamas plans for an attack on southern Israel for more than a year before the Palestinian militants launched their Oct. 7 terrorist incursion, The New York Times reported Thursday. "But Israeli military and intelligence officials dismissed the plan as aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out" and out of step with Israel's view that Hamas wasn't interested in war.

The roughly 40-page document was "circulated widely among Israeli military and intelligence leaders," who code-named it "Jericho Wall," the Times reported. It "outlined, point by point, exactly the kind of devastating invasion that led to the deaths of about 1,200 people."

The Israeli military officials in charge of the Gaza sector initially said they weren't sure what the document revealed about Hamas' intentions, the Times reported. But on July 6, three months before the attack, a veteran Israeli signals intelligence analyst warned that Hamas was conducting training exercises that matched the "Jericho Wall" plan, and that its military capabilities were more advanced than believed. A colonel in the Gaza division brushed off her analysis, writing in an encrypted email that the training exercise was part of a "totally imaginative" scenario and Israel should "wait patiently," the Times reported.

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"It is unclear whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or other top political leaders saw the document," the Times said, but Israeli and U.S. media reported that Egypt warned Netanyahu's government repeatedly that Hamas was planning something big. "We know that Egypt has warned the Israelis three days prior that an event like this could happen," Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told reporters after an Oct. 11 closed-door intelligence briefing.

Israel's failure to heed the warnings and connect the dots before Oct. 7, which ended up being the deadliest day in Israeli history, is considered the country's greatest intelligence failure since missing the surprise attack that started the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas so it can never threaten Israel again. That includes an order by Netanyahu "to kill Hamas leaders around the world when the nation's war in the Gaza Strip winds down," The Wall Street Journal reported, and Israeli spies are already plotting to assassinate Hamas leaders living in Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar. Israel has a long, checkered history of secret assassinations, but Netanyahu "telegraphed his intentions" in a Nov. 22 nationwide address, the Journal noted.

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