By Altaf Moti
Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist group that was founded in 1987 during the First Intifada, which was a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. Hamas is sworn to Israel’s destruction and has fought several wars with Israel since it took power in the Gaza Strip, a coastal enclave that is home to about two million Palestinians, in 2007. Israel is a Jewish state that was established in 1948 after the United Nations partitioned the historic Palestine into two states, one for Jews and one for Arabs. Israel occupies most of the historic Palestine, including East Jerusalem, which is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians as their capital. Israel’s sovereignty over East Jerusalem is unrecognized internationally. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the longest and most complex conflicts in the world, with roots dating back to the early 20th century.
On 7th October 2023, a major escalation occurred in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when Hamas launched a surprise operation against Israel which it named ‘Tufan al-Aqsa’, meaning ‘Storm of Al-Aqsa’. The operation triggered an intense war that killed hundreds of people from both sides uptill now. The operation also caught Israel off guard, exposing its weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Here, we will analyze how Hamas prepared and executed its operation and why the Israeli intelligence agencies, Mossad and Shabak, failed to stop it. We will also explore how this operation changed the balance of power and perception between Israel and Hamas and what were some of the factors and perspectives that influenced the outcome of the conflict. How did Hamas manage to outwit the Israeli intelligence agencies Mossad and Shabak and launch a surprise operation against Israel? What were some of the factors and perspectives that contributed to the failure of the Israeli intelligence agencies to stop it?
The Israeli intelligence agencies, Mossad and Shabak, are widely regarded as some of the best intelligence agencies in the world. They have a long history of success and achievements in gathering information and preventing threats from Israel’s enemies. However, they failed to stop Hamas’ operation ‘Tufan al-Aqsa’ which was a major blow to their reputation and credibility.
There are many factors and perspectives that contributed to their failure, such as:
– Underestimating Hamas’ capabilities and intentions: The Israeli intelligence agencies had assumed that Hamas was weakened by the economic blockade, internal divisions, and regional isolation. They had also ignored or dismissed the warnings and indicators of a possible Hamas operation such as the increased rocket fire from Gaza, the mass protests at the Al-Aqsa mosque and the statements of Hamas leaders.
– Being caught in a cognitive trap: The Israeli intelligence agencies had a fixed mindset and a rigid framework that prevented them from adapting to the changing reality and the evolving threat posed by Hamas. They had also a confirmation bias, which means that they only looked for evidence that supported their existing assumptions and ignored or dismissed evidence that contradicted them.
– Being blinded by their own success and arrogance: The Israeli intelligence agencies had relied too much on their technological superiority and their human sources which had become outdated and ineffective. They had also failed to understand the psychology and motivation of Hamas which had changed from a defensive posture to an offensive one.
– Being distracted and overwhelmed by other challenges and crises: The Israeli intelligence agencies were preoccupied with the Iranian nuclear program, the Syrian civil war, the Hezbollah threat in Lebanon and the normalization of relations with some Arab countries. They also faced internal problems, such as political interference, bureaucratic inefficiency and ethical dilemmas.
– Facing the complexity and diversity of the Palestinian society and politics: The Israeli intelligence agencies found it difficult to penetrate and monitor the activities and plans of Hamas and other factions which operate in a highly fragmented and polarized environment. Hamas has a decentralized and secretive structure with different wings and cells that operate independently and autonomously.
– Dealing with the role of social media and digital platforms: One of the factors that contributed to the failure of the Israeli intelligence agencies, Mossad and Shabak, to stop Hamas’ operation ‘Tufan al-Aqsa’ was the role of social media and digital platforms. The Israeli intelligence agencies were challenged by Hamas’ use of encrypted messaging apps, such as Telegram and Signal, to communicate and coordinate with its operatives and allies more effectively and efficiently. These apps allow users to send messages, photos, videos, and files that are protected by end-to-end encryption, which means that only the sender and the receiver can access them. The Israeli intelligence agencies could not intercept or decrypt these messages which gave Hamas an advantage in planning and executing its operation.
– Coping with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: The Israeli intelligence agencies were affected by the pandemic which forced them to divert some of their attention and budget to deal with the health crisis and its economic and social consequences. The pandemic also disrupted some of their normal operations and routines such as travel, surveillance, and recruitment.
These are some of the factors and perspectives that contributed to the failure of the Israeli intelligence agencies Mossad and Shabak to stop Hamas’ operation ‘Tufan al-Aqsa’.