A ‘dead’ man is the mastermind behind terrorist group Hamas’ deadly raids, an Israeli intelligence agency has admitted.
On July 27, 2014, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) declared senior Hamas leader Mohammed Sinwar had been killed in an air strike on a residential complex on July 27, 2014, along with more than a dozen other Hamas figures and their families.
The IDF’s “Operation Protective Edge” was a punitive assault targeting Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip after an escalation of violence following the murder of three hitchhiking Jewish teenagers in the West Bank. The seven-week conflict, in July and August 2014, resulted in 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians killed, along with 2200 Palestinian deaths.
But Mohammed Sinwar is alive, the IDF indirectly conceded in a weekend statement.
He’s the youngest brother of Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. And Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant proclaimed Yahya to be a “dead man walking” just days before the revelation.
An IDF tweet announced its troops raided a Hamas military post and training outpost on Saturday, killing 30 Hamas fighters.
Inside, “the soldier searched the office of Mohammed Sinwar, brother of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, where military doctrine documents were located.”
Analysts immediately realised Mohammed Sinwar was supposed to be dead.
Hamas in 2014 “admitted” Sinwar’s death and released a photo appearing to show his body on a bloodstained bed. Israel pointed to the killing as proving the success of its “targeted” Gaza assault.
The IDF now accuses Sinwar of having led Hamas’ subsequent tunnelling operations and rocket attacks – something the deadly Operation Protective Edge was supposed to have prevented.
“He was 100 per cent one of the core team who planned October 7,” a former Mossad counter-terror chief said yesterday.
US West Point military academy analysts say such deception is something intelligence agencies must be aware of. And they must be willing to challenge their own convictions.
“Countering terrorism requires intelligence agencies to confront biases, fight complacency, and think creatively regarding the evolving nature of terrorist attacks and how, when, and why terrorist organisations will deploy a range of tactics in the future,” The Modern Warfare Institute academics write.
Israel’s embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at his military and intelligence chiefs after Hamas militants struck deep inside his nation on October 7. Some 1200 Israelis (including 318 soldiers, 59 police officers and around 800 civilians) died in the surprise attack.
In a since-deleted social media post, his office declared: “Under no circumstances and at no stage was Prime Minister Netanyahu warned of war intentions on the part of Hamas. On the contrary, the assessment of the entire security echelon, including the head of military intelligence and the head of Shin Bet, was that Hamas was deterred and was seeking an arrangement.”
But Egypt says its intelligence agencies phoned Prime Minister Netanyahu in September, warning Hamas was planning “something big”. US intelligence agencies also warned Capitol Hill of “unusual” Hamas activity in the months before the attack.
And now it appears the bloody seven-week Operation Protective Edge campaign of 2014 wasn’t as successful as it was assessed to be.
“The scale of Israel’s intelligence failure is almost as shocking as the brutality and success of the Hamas attack itself on October 7,” the military academy assessment of the disaster reads.
“Israeli security officials probably made three critical mistakes … Israel miscalculated both Hamas’s capabilities and its intentions — and its own defence capability.”
One of the Israeli government’s main failures appears to have been overconfidence and complacency, the MWI article reads.
“Denial and deception activities seek to mislead intelligence operations, including by adulterating intelligence channels with disinformation,” the analysts argue.
Hamas encouraged “a public impression that it was not willing to go into a fight or confrontation with Israel while preparing for this massive operation.”
And Hamas has adopted improved operational security tactics in response to Israel’s “targeted assassinations”. Operatives are known to have communicated for two years via direct-line cable networks rolled out through the tunnels underneath Gaza, avoiding commercial telecommunications systems and sidestepping Israel’s hi-tech intercept operations.
“As a result, Hamas apparently was able to prepare the October 7 attack in secret without arousing Israeli suspicions,” the IWM assessment notes.
Despite this, there were clues an attack was in the works.
“There were some troubling indicators,” the military academy academics state. “Why were they dismissed? One cannot help but wonder how dark the clouds were before the storm.”
One suspected culprit is confirmation bias. This leads analysts and politicians to “undervalue or ignore evidence contradicting an early judgement and value evidence that tends to confirm already held assessments.”
While written before the Mohammed Sinwar revelation, the MWI analysts warned Israel’s military intelligence agencies and government had underestimated Hamas’ capabilities. “Israeli leaders and other observers have been well aware that Tehran had been increasing aid to support Hamas for years. Israel nevertheless very clearly underestimated how much such resources boosted Hamas’s current military capabilities and command and control.”
Originally published as ‘Dead’ man Mohammed Sinwar planned October 7 Israel attacks