Photo Credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi speaks with Military Intelligence Chief Aharon Haliva, November 4, 2022.

The thing about the “conceptzia” is that it’s not the result of a malfunctioning military intelligence system, rather it’s part of the human condition. It’s a rare thing for individuals in high levels of command in military and espionage agencies to accept novel information that contradicts their established worldview, and those individuals more often than not become outcasts and lose their ability to influence decisions.

According to several media reports this weekend, for more than a year before the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack, the Intelligence Division had information about the attack plan, which was aimed at dozens of localities and IDF posts and included a simultaneous breach of the border line at dozens of points. Most of this information was also shared with the Shin Bet and it seems that at least some of it was known to the political elite, which changed in the middle of this period. However, the security apparatus in Israel was not prepared to deal with the threat and probably did not believe that this was a plan that Hamas, led by Yahya Sinwar, intended to implement.


In 2014, Israel attacked Hamas after the discovery of a tunnel near Kerem Shalom near the southern Gaza Strip. The war followed the discovery of the bodies of three Israeli youths kidnapped and murdered by Hamas, but it was also a response to a military intelligence evaluation that Hamas was planning to use the tunnel to attack and murder the residents of Kerem Shalom. The kibbutz was evacuated for several days and the tunnel was bombed. Hamas responded with a massive rocket attack and a 51-day war ensued during which some 30 tunnels were destroyed, at least partially.

Then came Operation Guardian of the Walls in May 2021, when Hamas fired thousands of rockets for more than a week, at Jerusalem and other major cities inside Israel, but the remaining rounds of skirmishes were between the IDF and the Islamic Jihad, while Hamas was keeping out of the confrontations. This gave birth to the IDF’s conviction that Hamas had absorbed sufficient destruction and was deterred from joining another round. Add to that the liberal work permit program that allowed Gazan workers to make a decent living in Israel, and the new conceptzia came to life: it makes no sense for Hamas to risk another war with Israel when it prefers to enjoy the stability and prosperity afforded by those work permits.


German soldiers cross the border into Russia over the river Narva during Operation Barbarossa, June 22, 1941. / Public domain

Beginning in July 1940, the Red Army General Staff identified the Wehrmacht as the most dangerous threat to the Soviet Union and predicted that the Wehrmacht’s main attack would come through Belarus, which later proved to be correct. Stalin disagreed and ordered his army to defend Ukraine. On June 14, 1941, guards on the Belarusian border relayed to Moscow the date of the planned invasion which they had gotten from two captured German agents: June 18. Other Soviet agents confirmed the date repeatedly.

A group of Polish women gathered on the opposite bank of a frontier river on June 15, cupped their hands around their mouths, and shouted in broken Russian to the Soviet guards on the other side: “Soviets, Soviets, the war is coming! Soviets, the war will start in one week!”

But Joseph Stalin refused to believe that Hitler would break his pact with him and open an eastern front while he was still engaged in efforts to invade England. It made no sense. And on Sunday, June 22, 1941, Hitler launched the largest land offensive in human history against the Soviet Union, with 10 million combatants.

I won’t discuss here the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, about which US military intelligence had received warnings starting in the fall of 1940. I choose to skip it because of the accumulated evidence, that President Roosevelt chose to ignore the reports of a Japanese attack because he was hoping the attack would help enlist the American public into supporting the British against the Germans, when the country was largely in a separatist, if not pro-fascist mood.

On to Eli Zeira, Director of Israel’s Military Intelligence in 1973, who was found to be negligent in fulfilling his duty by ignoring reports of Egyptian and Syrian preparations for a two-front attack on Israel.

Ashraf Marwan, the son-in-law of the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, and a close advisor of his successor Anwar Sadat, was the most important source that warned Israel about the impending attack. Marwan, nicknamed “the angel,” warned then Mossad chief Zvi Zamir, in a meeting in London, that Egypt would start a war, one day before the war broke out. Marwan even said the war would start on Friday at 6 PM. It started at 2 PM.

Zeira, and in turn, Chief of Staff David Elazar, chose to ignore the warnings because of the conceptzia according to which Egypt would not start a war before it established sufficient air power to reach inside Israel. They were wrong, costing the country some 2,500 dead soldiers and many thousands injured.


Hamas, it turns out, planned its attack for last Seder night, Friday, April 15, 2022. The IDF recognized early signs of an attack and raised the alert. Hamas perceived the change in preparations on the Israeli side and canceled the attack. Hamas also then began to separate commanders and operatives for fear of leaks: Hamas worried that Israel had succeeded in penetrating deep into the organization and was obtaining information. The IDF did not understand that the increase in alertness was the reason for the cancellation of the attack and believed it had been a false alarm.

Two Unit 8200 female officers had been warning about a planned Hamas mass crossing of the border months before the attack. The younger officer shared this information with a senior Southern Command officer and the head of Unit 8200. She also reported the pending attack on the week before October 7 to her direct superior officer, who canceled his vacation to update the Chief of Military Intelligence, Aharon Haliva during his visit to the base.

The senior female officer had submitted a detailed scenario of what she believed would be the Hamas attack, including the mass invasion.

Both officers reported the increasing Hamas training near the border fence in the week before October 7 and warned that an invasion was coming.

The night before the Hamas attack, consultations were held with Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, and Military Intelligence chief Aharon Haliva following the intelligence reports about unusual activity among Hamas members in Gaza and their training along the border fence.

Senior Israeli officials who commented on the details of that consultation said that one of the options that was considered was to put the IDF forces on alert at the border, but at the end of the consultation, it was decided not to do so at this stage. The four top leaders of Israel’s security apparatus decided that Hamas was just carrying out show maneuvers to boost its popular support.

Finally, according to Channel 12, IDF female border observers warned repeatedly for months about changes they were seeing on the ground which required special attention. According to the report, they told their commanders that there were anomalies near the border, they described how more and more people who had never frequented this area were suddenly arriving, how farmers who used to come day after day to work the fields suddenly stopped coming and were being replaced by others. In short, those observers had been ringing all the bells and raising all the red flags about the impending Hamas attack.

Those female observers were not only ignored, but when they decided to go up the chain of command and alert one of the senior commanders in the sector, the response they received from him was: “I don’t want to hear about this nonsense ever again. If you bother me with these things again, you will be put to trial.”

Let’s hope that this senior officer is put to trial after the war, together with the entire security brass that failed the nation. But no matter how severe their punishment and humiliation, let me reassure you that the next conceptzia is right around the corner, and new conceptzias will sprout after that one, as long as armies and spy agencies are run by humans.

And I’ll bet you robots will be just as faulty.


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