October 7th attack
October 7th attackAtia Mohammed/Flash90

Washington Post reported on Sunday that evidence surfacing since October 7 shows that Hamas terrorists had prepared for a ‘second wave’ of assaults, hoping to inspire violence in Judea and Samaria and beyond

Items found on the bodies of slain terrorists: maps, drawings, notes, weapons, and more found that they planned to continue on their murderous rampage way further than the initial attack on the Gaza surrounding communities.

Several weeks after the outbreak of the war, analysts are beginning to reveal details of Hamas’s broader plan – not just to kill and capture Israelis but to spark a conflagration that would sweep through the entire region and lead to a wider conflict.

Many current and former intelligence and security officials from four Western and Middle Eastern countries have disclosed the full intention of Hamas planners to strike in specific locations at historic proportions, knowing that Israel would respond with an overwhelming attack. Several officials, speaking for the first time on this subject, said that the intelligence regarding Hamas’s motivations has become even stronger in recent days.

Following the initial attack of 22 local communities involving a mass slaughter of soldiers and civilians, findings suggest that Hamas was prepared to go much further. Some terrorists carried enough food, ammunition, and equipment to last several days. They also carried with them instructions to continue deeper into Israel following their initial wave of attacks close to the border. Plans even included striking larger Israeli cities and continuing the attack up to the border of Judea and Samaria. Hamas planned and prepared for a massacre of Israeli civilians in the hope that the attack would result in severe Israeli retaliation, and it was highly likely that the attack would provoke Israel’s government into sending troops into Gaza.

As a result, Hamas leaders publicly expressed that they were willing to suffer heavy losses, including the deaths of many Gazan civilians living under Hamas rule. Ghazi Hamad, a member of the Hamas politburo, told Beirut’s LCBI television in an interview aired on Oct. 24, “We knew that we would have to pay a price, and we were ready to pay it. We are proud to sacrifice martyrs.”

Hamas was prepared to fight this battle at the expense of the lives of many people in Gaza. Plans and training went on for over a year, including the use of imported AK-47 rifles, handguns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and thermobaric projectiles that generate powerful pressure waves and intense fires with temperatures exceeding 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. They analyzed and focused their training on large population centers and military bases as potential targets.

They obtained their intelligence information from cheap surveillance drones and elicited additional information from Gazan day laborers who were permitted to enter Israel for work, often in the same farming communities that were on Hamas’s target list.

They monitored Israeli websites, studied real estate photographs and social-media postings of life inside kibbutzim, as well as the layouts of houses. Ali Soufan, a former FBI counterterrorism official and founder of the Soufan Group, claims that their intelligence gathering was not particularly sophisticated, but it was systematic.

Only a tiny circle of elite military planners was in the know about the most crucial details of the attack, and information was even withheld from Hamas’s political leadership and main supporters, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the Lebanese-based Hezbollah militant group.

Israel believes that Yehiya Sinwar, Hamas’s military leader, was the plan’s top architect. He is fluent in Hebrew and well-versed in Israeli political culture and news media. Sinwar and other Hamas leaders began sending Israel subtle hints of a new Hamas approach – “Hamas wants no more wars.” Clashes between Hamas and Israel ceased after 2021, and Hamas notably avoided any violent confrontation with Israel, some even claiming that Hamas officials made many attempts to reinforce the impression that they were being cooperative towards Israel. In line with this new atmosphere developing on the Israel-Gaza border, Israel agreed to grant work permits to 20,000 Gazan laborers. It also allowed Qatar to transfer $30 million in development funds as cash and also through Gazan retail stores.

Israeli officials welcomed the relative calm on its southwestern border as it was also dealing with problems elsewhere. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was threatened by historic domestic unrest, unprecedented waves of demonstrations against his far-right government’s proposed judicial reform, and Israel’s military perceived Hezbollah in the north and violent Palestinian groups in Judea and Samaria as far greater security threats.

Most of the surveillance footage and other data passed through Israeli channels, but Israelis could not access them or failed to comprehend what was said, according to military analysts. They used handheld radios, land-wire networks in the tunnels, and codes on the open networks. They knew we were listening to them,” said Eran Etzion, former deputy head of Israel’s National Security Council, “and they created an alternative reality.”

Following their initial attack on the Gaza border communities, Hamas had planned a second phase, in which they planned to attack major Israeli cities and military bases,” said a senior Israeli official, who wished to remain anonymous.

Whether the attackers held realistic expectations of progressing as far as the West Bank is unclear; Hamas officials did expect and actually welcomed an extensive Israeli retaliation. Hamas had prepared itself for Israeli bombs and also believed it could fight off an IDF ground assault by defending itself from its network of tunnels.

Hamas knew Israel would strike back hard. That was their plan. To finalize their goal, they had to incorporate and emphasize Palestinian suffering as a critical component in bringing about the instability and global outrage it tends to exploit.

Hamas regards October 7 as a victory, mainly because it managed to focus the world’s attention on the Palestinian conflict. The day after October 7, Hamas immediately changed the focus of discussion: on Israel and not on themselves. And that’s exactly what they wanted.