Several female soldiers in Israel’s border surveillance force, known as tatzpitaniyot, say their alerts about unusual activity in Gaza were ignored by security chiefs.
These warnings, including sightings of Palestinian guerrillas training with explosives and rehearsing their attacks, reportedly went unnoticed before the Hamas attacks on October 7.
The soldiers’ accusations put pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who already faces criticism over the intelligence failure that enabled the Hamas attack.
The female soldiers say their superiors dismissed their concerns, with some senior commanders allegedly downplaying the possibility of a Hamas attack and ordering them to stop being overly concerned.
The tatzpitaniyot, responsible for monitoring a swath of territory using security cameras and sensors, reported signs of unusual activity along the border with Gaza.
This included Hamas’ frequent dispatch of drones in the weeks leading up to the attack and conducting assault training. Despite this information, soldiers say they were ignored and asked to stop sounding the alarm.
Maya Desiatnik, one of the tatzpitaniyots on duty, said: “It’s infuriating. We saw what was happening, we told them about it and we were the ones who were murdered. »
The soldiers’ statements not only raise questions about the handling of intelligence, but also suggest possible complacency within the Israeli government over the threat posed by Hamas in Gaza.
Some critics even say Netanyahu’s approach may have inadvertently contributed to Hamas’s actions.
The accusations challenge the prevailing belief that Hamas had been subdued, and the female soldiers say their warnings did not fit the narrative that Hamas had become more institutionalized and pragmatic.
The criticism extends beyond Netanyahu, involving senior politicians and military and intelligence chiefs who, some analysts say, subscribe to the wishful thinking that governing would moderate Hamas.
Michael Milshtein, head of the Palestinian Affairs Department at Israel’s Defense Intelligence Agency, told POLITICO: “Senior politicians from across the political spectrum, including Naftali Bennett, Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, have bought into the idea, and it was also promoted by the Israel Defense Forces: The Shabak (Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service) was skeptical at first, but later toed the line.
“The speech took root in the upper echelons of Israeli politics and was supported by top military and intelligence officials. Governing was supposed to moderate Hamas and the warnings were not heeded account. But that was just wishful thinking.”