Anyone watching Hamas‘ training exercises about a year ago could not have imagined that those maneuvers would move from the realm of assumption to reality.
In December 2022, fighters from Hamas appeared in videos released by the group, showing them jumping and flowing in a training area, firing rockets, and capturing prisoners while surrounding virtual Israeli buildings.
These videos caught the attention of the American network CNN, which investigated coordinates similar to what happened on the 7th of October, which quickly escalated into a war between the two sides that continues for the seventh day.
Analysis by the American network suggests that the training site was very close to the Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel, which was breached by Hamas at the end of the past week in a bloody attack that led to the death of about 1,300 people in Israel.
Another video clip captured more than a year ago showed Hamas fighters training for takeoff, landing, and glider attacks, the same style of attack used in the Saturday attack.
CNN reports that Hamas fighters have been training for a surprise attack for about two years in at least six locations throughout Gaza. According to the report, two of these locations, including the training site seen in the video, are located about a mile from the most fortified part and border patrols between Gaza and Israel.
As for the rest of the sites, one of them is in the center of Gaza, and the other three are in the southernmost part of Gaza.
Hamas militants were also seen in promotional videos training with the types of weapons they used in the October 7 attack.
They created fake Israeli buildings and were seen executing various attack methods on them.
In addition, they fabricated fake Israeli tanks in three of the training camps. Militants were seen launching RPGs and explosives at them.
Satellite images shown by CNN over two years did not reveal any sign of Israeli military action against any of the six identified sites.
Hamas’ training for the attack, which has been ongoing for at least two years, has raised more questions about why Israel, known for its advanced military and intelligence operations in the Middle East, failed to detect and prevent the October 7 attack.
Why wasn’t it detected?
When CNN contacted the Israeli military for comment, its spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, said, “Hamas has many training areas; the army has targeted many of them over the years in various escalation rounds.” At the same time, he pointed out that Hamas may have made the facilities “appear civilian,” despite five of those mentioned sites being airstrips that do not have any civilian characteristics. They are nearly identical in how they are built and arranged, all surrounded by massive earthen barriers taller than the buildings in the camps.
Moreover, most of the buildings have no roofs and are made almost entirely of bricks and cement.
Some camps have gates and fences, while others have barriers in the streets, but there are no paved roads.
In plain sight
Ali Baraka, a senior official in Hamas and head of Hamas’ National Relations in Lebanon, told Russia Today in an interview after the Saturday attack that Hamas had been preparing for the attack for two years.