'Hamas caught us by complete surprise': Brig Gen (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser

The former IDF intelligence official called it a collective failure


The weapons used by Hamas terrorists were supplied from Iran which has been assisting them with technology and training,” says former top IDF intelligence official Brigadier General (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser. In an exclusive interview, he says much of the weapons used in the attack seemed to have been smuggled to Gaza from across the Egyptian border or through the tunnels underneath the border. Excerpts:

Q What caused the worst-ever terror attack in Israel’s history?

A We have several sensors, concrete fencing, barbed wires and all kinds of technology. IDF units are deployed along the fence on the Gaza Strip. The soldiers are not covering every metre, but they have positions from where they can see what is happening. And there are all kinds of cameras planted along the fence that allow us to see the entire area adjacent to the fence. Anybody getting close to the fence can be spotted. Somebody did something. I just don’t know what happened. The fence by itself cannot stop anything. Once they managed to destroy the fence and enter the area adjacent to the fence, they caught us by complete surprise. They enjoyed the benefit of surprise, they enjoyed the benefit of being more in numbers and the benefit of operating in many locations simultaneously. And this made it possible for them to cause such an unbelievably terrible massacre of so many people. It is a collective failure.

Q Was there a delay in your reaction time?

A The terrorists brought explosives, destroyed the fence in certain places and came in with their cars. It was a very simple operation. It is surprising because we have observers who are supposed to look at what is happening. After missing the intelligence and early warning systems, nobody noticed that they were coming to the fence in so many places simultaneously. I feel there was a delay, because it took too long when it came to a situation like this. The terrorists were operating without any opposition and killing people without any interruption. Six hours is enough to kill hundreds.

Q Did you face a cyberattack at that moment or did something go wrong with the technology itself?

A The cyberattack option was looked upon and it was refuted. But we will have to wait for the investigation to tell us what happened.

Q Do you think human intelligence was missing? Is it time to go back to the basics?

A We have all the capability in the world, be it human intelligence, signal intelligence and visual intelligence. But even with all these, we came up with nothing. What we did not listen to was the open source intelligence where the Hamas terrorists were telling us in advance on open media what exactly was going to happen.

Q How did so many weapons and vehicles reach Gaza?

A Although some of the weapons were prepared by them, much of it came from Iran. The technology and the training are Iranian. The weapons possibly came [via Egyptian border] or through the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

Q What kind of weapons were used?

A A lot of it may be personal weapons, but there were also some rocket-propelled grenades and Iranian anti-tank rockets. Basically, it is weaponry like the Kalashnikovs. The number of terrorists that penetrated were in the hundreds, using dozens of vehicles. They also used parachutes. They knew the terrain and the locations of police stations and army bases. You don’t need a lot of intelligence gathering to know that.

Q How is Israel defending itself now?

A We are mobilising all our forces to face the eventualities. Our forces are deployed not only in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip, but also in the northern part of the country to face the Hezbollah. We are also deployed in the border at West Bank. At the moment, we are at the highest level of reserves’ call up, ever. And the problem we have right now is that people are so angry with the Hamas that we have 150 per cent of them showing up. They all want to fight. We have called around 3,00,000 reservists. And we are bombarding the terrorists’ positions in Gaza and we will deal them a very big blow.

Q Is it only the Hamas or have other terror groups joined forces?

A Right now it is the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad and groups like the Popular Resistance Committees. But there are many terror groups operating in Gaza and they are working together under a joint coordination command. The Hamas belongs both to Iran and to the Islamic State camps at the same time, they are on both sides.