Israel is trying to identify breaches and learn lessons from them

Experts are studying five possibilities

AP10_09_2023_000004B Rain of fire: Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on October 8 | AP

Was it human error or tech failure that led to the deadliest terror attack on Israel in decades? And how did Israel’s cutting-edge systems―such as the Iron Dome, the land-to-air system built to intercept incoming missiles and drones―fail to prevent the attack?

Experts are studying five possibilities. One, the chances of a cyberattack that prevented observation screens from accurately showing the feeds from hundreds of cameras, radars and sensors that make up the Iron Dome system. The screens are monitored by young soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) stationed near the Gaza Strip. For now, says sources, this possibility has been ruled out, but a deeper analysis is under way.

Two, the possibility of major breaches in the “smart fence” that separates Israel from the Gaza Strip. The smart fence is a 20ft-high, razor wire-topped metal fence with an underground concrete barrier that runs for 65km along the Gaza Strip. Completed in 2021, it is equipped with cutting-edge surveillance technology to prevent underground and overground attacks.

Three, the possibility that Hamas terrorists disguised in military fatigues drove into Israeli territory undetected. Four, the IDF was so dependent on technology-driven electronic intelligence that it failed at a basic level―the gathering of human intelligence.

Lastly, the possibility that the IDF and intelligence agencies was so focused on the unrest in the West Bank that they failed to pay adequate attention to Hamas, which had been issuing threats publicly and announcing terror plans online.

“There are all kinds of cameras planted along the fence that allow us to see every piece of area adjacent to it,” said Brigadier General (res) Yossi Kuperwasser, a veteran intelligence expert. “Something went wrong, terribly wrong. Once the war is over, we will be studying what happened and learning the deeper lessons.”