The aftermath of the assault by Hamas on October 7th raised penetrating questions about the Israel intelligence failure, and why a nation with a storied expertise in espionage and intelligence, failed to foresee the attack.
According to insights from CNN, for two years, Hamas had ingeniously operated an underground network of landlines within Gaza’s tunnel systems.
These secure communication lines facilitated clandestine conversations among Hamas operatives, effectively leading to Israel’s intelligence failure. A small group orchestrated the assault over this period, utilizing these channels for covert discussions and meticulous preparations. These operatives remained undetected until the strategic moment to mobilize hundreds for the attack dawned.
Time-Honored Stealth Strategies
The intelligence community recognized that Hamas’s planning succeeded by embracing traditional espionage tactics, such as direct, in-person meeting coordination, reliance on non-digital, trace-resistant landline communications within tunnels, and a deliberate avoidance of any digital footprint by shunning computers and mobile phones, thereby, dodging Israeli and American intelligence radars.
Aware of Potential Threats
Pre-attack, Israeli forces recognized the presence of a wired communication system within Palestinian militant strategies. In a preemptive maneuver dubbed “Operation Home and Garden,” the Israeli military stumbled upon the said communication lines and surveillance apparatus, aimed at alerting Hamas of Israeli troop movements.
Mastery in Concealment
Walid Hajjaj, a venerated information security authority in Egypt, explained to Sky News Arabia that Hamas’s success lay in its use of an untraceable wired communication network, impervious to the prying eyes of contemporary technology. He elucidated the inherent security of wired networks, noting their immunity to remote detection or interception and the necessity of direct physical access for any successful breach. Unlike their wireless counterparts, which transmit detectable signals through the air, these wired connections transmit pulse signals through cables, rendering them far less susceptible to interference.
Hamas harnessed these wired networks effectively, employing direct, voice-based communication, and face-to-face information exchanges. Their strategy took the Israeli defense by surprise, not anticipating such a rudimentary form of communication. Moreover, Hamas’s tactical avoidance of mobile phones and internet connectivity rendered their operational discussions impervious to the usual cyber-infiltration tactics.
Hajjaj revealed the simplicity behind constructing these wired networks. Using uncomplex and readily available components—akin to those in TV remotes or toys—Hamas was able to create systems capable of sending coded signals, even utilizing Morse code when necessary. They were expertly laid out in the West Bank, surreptitiously connecting strategic points without drawing attention, a testament to the Palestinians’ ingenuity and stealth.
This strategic simplicity meant that while materials for such networks were more readily obtained in the West Bank than in Gaza, Hamas could still maintain an effective blend of wired and wireless networks. The latter, operating at undetectable frequencies, further confounded potential infiltrators.
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