update deskIsrael at War

IDF detected Hamas terrorists switching to Israeli SIMs ahead of Oct. 7

Further details surrounding the issue have not been cleared for publication.

Gazans wave flags and take photos next to a burning IDF tank on the Israeli side of the border fence with Khan Yunis, Oct. 7, 2023. Photo by Yousef Mohammed/Flash90.
Gazans wave flags and take photos next to a burning IDF tank on the Israeli side of the border fence with Khan Yunis, Oct. 7, 2023. Photo by Yousef Mohammed/Flash90.

Hours before Hamas’s Oct. 7 onslaught on the northwestern Negev, Israel Defense Forces intelligence officials learned that hundreds of terrorists in the Gaza Strip activated Israeli SIM cards in their phones, the Military Censor cleared for publication on Monday.

The anomaly was reportedly detected around midnight on Oct. 7, some 6 and a half hours before thousands of Palestinian terrorists stormed the security fence before murdering approximately 1,200 people, wounding thousands and taking 253 hostages back to Gaza.

Further details surrounding the SIM card issue have not been cleared for publication.

The IDF subsequently downplayed the report, claiming that while “several indicative signs accumulated” ahead of the attack, intelligence officials only noticed “dozens” of SIM cards being activated in Gaza.

“As previously published, on the night of Oct. 7, indicative signs were received for which situation assessments were conducted and operative decisions were made accordingly,” stated the military.

“The indicative signs are based on a variety of tools and capabilities, including technological tools whose method of operation cannot be detailed,” added the statement.

Last week, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi announced an internal military probe into the military’s failures leading up to Oct. 7, calling the investigation a “duty and not a privilege.”

“We will soon begin the process of investigating the events of Oct. 7 and what led to them, despite the fact that we are still at war. … In the name of learning, we have the duty to investigate,” said Halevi.

Israel’s Walla news site last month cited military sources as claiming that while the IDF was aware of Hamas’s repeated attempts to blow up the security fence on the Gaza border in preparation for the Oct. 7 attacks, it opted to dismiss the rehearsals as a “provocation.”

IDF surveillance teams warned their commanders of attempts to damage the barrier, and the intelligence info was subsequently forwarded to higher-ups at the Gaza Division and Southern Command, Walla said.

Senior army officials, including combat engineers, strongly criticized the IDF’s response to the warnings, according to the news site. IDF reservists told Walla that if the warnings had been followed up, the Gaza fence could have quickly been reinforced, which could have delayed or even prevented the invasion of thousands of terrorists on Oct. 7.

In October, The New York Times reported that Unit 8200, the IDF’s signals intelligence unit, stopped listening to Hamas’s handheld radios a year before the attacks, deciding it was a “waste of effort.” It was one of a series of failures said to have led to the Hamas massacre.

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