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How Hamas exploited Israel’s reliance on tech to breach barrier on Oct. 7

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In December 2021, Israel’s military said a high-tech upgrade to the barrier that had long surrounded the Gaza Strip would protect nearby Israeli residents from the threat of violence from militants.

“Today there is an obstacle, both underground and above, with advanced measures, that will prevent entry into Israel in the best possible way,” Brig. Gen. Eran Ofir, who led the project, said in remarks addressed to communities in range of Hamas rockets. The upgrade cost $1 billion and took three years to complete.

But this Washington Post video shows how on Oct. 7, Hamas exploited vulnerabilities created by Israel’s reliance on technology at the “Iron Wall” to carry out the deadliest single assault in Israel’s history. The video details how Hamas fighters neutralized long-range cameras, sophisticated sensors and remote-control weapons — a tactic known inside the group as the “blinding plan” — to breach the high-tech fence.

The video can be viewed in the player at the top of this page.

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The Post reconstructed the attack by analyzing hundreds of videos and photos posted online, including visuals filmed on Oct. 7 and during preparations by Hamas fighters. We reviewed videos and audio recorded on body cameras worn by militants, scoured footage from Israeli security cameras and spoke to witnesses. We also examined maps and planning documents recovered from slain Hamas fighters.

As our examination reveals, The Post found footage showing 14 separate breaches of the barrier. By comparing the footage with maps, satellite imagery and other data, reporters pinpointed where the intrusions occurred — from the Erez crossing in the north to Kerem Shalom in the south. Israel said there were around 30 breaches in all.

Visual evidence of border breaches

© MapTiler © OpenStreetMap contributors

Visual evidence of border breaches

© MapTiler © OpenStreetMap contributors

Visual evidence of border breaches

© MapTiler © OpenStreetMap contributors

Training videos showing militants attacking mock-ups of Israeli compounds had been posted to social media months earlier and were visible to all. We found that Hamas had also been expanding its training camps for several years, activity that is visible in widely available online maps. The Post geolocated those camps using terrain and other distinctive features that could be seen in the training videos.

Videos posted to social media after the attack began showed that Hamas fighters had been training for months on the tactics it used to breach the fence.

Yet Israel’s security establishment misjudged Hamas’s intentions, according to analysts. Officials believed that the group, which controls Gaza’s government, did not want war. Israel’s military had recently directed much of its attention — and shifted some of its troops — toward unrest in the occupied West Bank.

“We didn’t believe that Hamas had this capability, and so we didn’t see it coming,” Charles Freilich, a former deputy national security adviser in Israel, told The Post in an interview.

The Israel Defense Forces declined to respond to questions submitted by The Post for this story, saying that it would answer them “after the war.” The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under pressure to resign because of the security and intelligence failure, also declined to comment.

Press play on the video at the top of this page to see how the fence failed.

Chris Dehghanpoor, Loveday Morris, Shira Rubin, Jon Gerberg, Samuel Granados, Lauren Tierney, Artur Galocha, and Aaron Steckleberg contributed to this report.

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