The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

As it planned for Oct. 7, Hamas lulled Israel into a false sense of calm

Destroyed houses in Kibbutz Be’eri, which Hamas attacked on Oct. 7. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)
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TEL AVIV — Hamas spent more than a year planning its historic assault on Israel, following battle plans built on open-source materials and high-level intelligence, Israeli intelligence officers told a small group of journalists this week.

The sophistication of the attack, and the growing evidence of long-term, strategic planning by Hamas, sheds new light on the reach of the group’s intelligence apparatus and the complacency of Israel’s vaunted security state.

Even the location of Monday’s briefing was telling: the headquarters of Amshat, a previously defunct intelligence unit within the Israel Defense Forces charged with gathering documents and other technical materials relevant to war.

Amshat was disbanded five years ago, according to the IDF. “Israel, essentially, had decided it was done with war,” said a person familiar with the unit, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security matters. It was revived after Oct. 7 — the bloodiest day in the country’s history, when 1,200 people were killed.