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Echoes of 1973 as Israel’s intelligence failed to detect Hamas attack plans

Israel, considered a regional military superpower, failed to anticipate and stop the deadly Hamas attack.
: Israeli security forces stand near a burned car at a scene where a rocket fired from Gaza strip hit a building on October 7, 2023 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Israel's Defense Forces (IDF) say that Hamas "had begun a massive shooting of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory" which the Palestinian militant group has taken responsibility for. The IDF also say that militants had entered Israeli territory in "different locations". A counter attack has been launch against Gaza. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty I

TEL AVIV — The surprise assault by hundreds of Hamas Palestinians on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, was an eerie reminder of another war that caught Israel unprepared when it broke out 50 years and one day ago on Oct. 6, 1973. 

Still, whereas the 1973 Yom Kippur war pitted the might of the Soviet-backed armies of Egypt and Syria against Israel, this time a rather small, besieged terrorist organization, isolated and crowded into the narrow Gaza Strip enclave, without a navy, air force, armored corps or significant intelligence, is challenging one of the most experienced and sophisticated military, technological and intelligence powers in the world.

The hundreds of Hamas commandos who infiltrated Israeli territory overran one of the most expensive and formidable sophisticated barrier and surveillance system Israel had ever built to deter enemy attack, and mocked the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and its vaunted intelligence arm and air force to carry out a massacre of innocent civilians and widespread killing of the surprised soldiers who encountered them. 

Israel, which has been debating for years whether to send troops into Gaza to wipe out the terrorist organizations operating there, discovered to its surprise that Gaza had sent ground forces into Israel. The small Iran-backed group had realized Israel’s darkest nightmare.

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