December 2, 2023

The ten gunmen from Gaza knew precisely the right way to discover the Israeli intelligence hub — and the right way to get inside.

After crossing into Israel, they headed east on 5 bikes, two gunmen on every car, capturing at passing civilian automobiles as they pressed ahead.

Ten miles later, they veered off the highway right into a stretch of woodland, dismounting exterior an unmanned gate to a army base. They blew open the barrier with a small explosive cost, entered the bottom and paused to take a bunch selfie. Then they shot useless an unarmed Israeli soldier wearing a T-shirt.

For a second, the attackers appeared unsure about the place to go subsequent. Then one in all them pulled one thing from his pocket: a color-coded map of the advanced.

Reoriented, they discovered an unlocked door to a fortified constructing. As soon as inside, they entered a room crammed with computer systems — the army intelligence hub. Underneath a mattress within the room, they discovered two troopers taking shelter.

The gunmen shot each useless.

This sequence was captured on a digicam mounted on the pinnacle of a gunman who was later killed. The New York Instances reviewed the footage, then verified the occasions by interviewing Israeli officers and checking Israeli army video of the assault as effectively.

They supply chilling particulars of how Hamas, the militia that controls the Gaza Strip, managed to shock and outmaneuver probably the most highly effective army within the Center East final Saturday — storming throughout the border, overrunning greater than 30 sq. miles, taking greater than 150 hostages and killing greater than 1,300 individuals within the deadliest day for Israel in its 75-year historical past.

With meticulous planning and extraordinary consciousness of Israel’s secrets and techniques and weaknesses, Hamas and its allies overwhelmed the size of Israel’s entrance with Gaza shortly after daybreak, surprising a nation that has lengthy taken the prevalence of its army as an article of religion.

Utilizing drones, Hamas destroyed key surveillance and communications towers alongside the border with Gaza, imposing vast blind spots on the Israeli military. With explosives and tractors, Hamas blew open gaps within the border barricades, permitting 200 attackers to pour via within the first wave and one other 1,800 later that day, officers say. On bikes and in pickup vehicles, the assailants surged into Israel, overwhelming at the least eight army bases and waging terrorist attacks against civilians in additional than 15 villages and cities.

Hamas planning paperwork, movies of the assault and interviews with safety officers present that the group had a surprisingly subtle understanding of how the Israeli army operated, the place it stationed particular models, and even the time it might take for reinforcements to reach.

The Israeli army says that, as soon as the struggle is over, it should examine how Hamas managed to breach its defenses so simply.

However whether or not the armed forces have been careless with their secrets and techniques or infiltrated by spies, the revelations have already unnerved officers and analysts who’ve questioned how the Israeli army — famend for its intelligence gathering — may have inadvertently revealed a lot details about its personal operations.

The end result was a staggering sequence of atrocities and massacres, in what the Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, has described because the worst mass killing of Jews in a single day because the Holocaust.

It shattered Israel’s aura of invincibility and provoked an Israeli counterattack on Gaza that has killed greater than 1,900 Palestinians in every week, the ferocity of which has by no means been seen in Gaza.

It additionally upended assumptions that Hamas, lengthy designated a terrorist group by Israel and plenty of Western nations, had step by step change into extra considering operating Gaza than in utilizing it to launch main assaults on Israel.

Hamas made Israelis suppose it was “busy with governing Gaza,” stated Ali Barakeh, a Hamas chief, in a tv interview on Monday. “All of the whereas, underneath the desk, Hamas was getting ready for this large assault,” he added.

The terrorists have been inside Addi Cherry’s residence, on the opposite facet of an unlocked door.

Ms. Cherry, her husband and their three kids have been hiding inside their eldest son’s bed room, listening to the gunmen wander round their front room.

“Please assist us,” Ms. Cherry texted a buddy, as one of many assailants walked nearer and nearer to the bed room door.

Then he gripped the door deal with.

The Cherry household’s day had begun with a burst of rockets from Gaza, not lengthy after 6 a.m.

Ms. Cherry, an economist, and her husband, Oren, an engineer, rushed with their kids into their eldest son’s bed room, which doubled as a bomb shelter.

Initially, the occasions of the morning felt distressingly acquainted. The Cherry household lives in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, a rural village of some 500 residents, a couple of hundred yards east of the border with Gaza. Early morning rocket hearth — and the following rush to the protected room — is a frequent characteristic of life within the area.

“Like all the time,” Ms. Cherry remembered pondering.

However this morning quickly felt completely different. The rockets stored coming, lots of them headed deep into Israeli territory.

Then, from the fields across the village, got here the sound of gunshots.

Mr. Cherry left the bed room, and peeked via the shutters on their front room home windows.

“Oh God,” Ms. Cherry remembered her husband shouting. “Hamas within the kibbutz! Hamas within the kibbutz!”

It was 7:20 a.m.

Tons of of Hamas invaders, carrying weapons, shoulder-borne rocket launchers and sporting the group’s inexperienced headband, have been streaming via the village fields.

It was a part of a coordinated assault that, paperwork and video present, assigned squads of assailants to express targets. As some swept via army bases, others charged into residential areas, ruthlessly kidnapping and killing civilians.

They’d attain the Cherrys’ road inside minutes.

The household needed to act shortly. Their bomb shelter — a teen’s bed room — had no lock.

The dad and mom grabbed a chair, and wedged it underneath the door deal with — making it tougher to open.

They dragged a small cupboard, and pressed it towards the chair.

Then they waited. There was a military base subsequent to the village. Its troops can be right here inside minutes, Ms. Cherry remembered pondering.

What she didn’t know was that lots of them have been already useless.

All alongside the border, the Hamas gunmen had already overrun most, if not all, of the Israeli border bases.

Footage from the attackers’ head-mounted cameras, together with the video of the raid on the intelligence hub, confirmed Hamas gunmen — from its extremely educated Nukhba brigade — smashing via the barricades of a number of bases within the first mild of the morning.

After breaching, they have been cruel, gunning down some troopers of their beds and underwear. In a number of bases, they knew precisely the place the communications servers have been and destroyed them, in keeping with a senior Israeli military officer.

With a lot of their communications and surveillance techniques down, the Israelis usually couldn’t see the commandos coming. They discovered it tougher to name for assist and mount a response. In lots of circumstances, they have been unable to guard themselves, not to mention the encircling civilian villages.

A Hamas planning doc — discovered by Israeli emergency responders in a single village — confirmed that the attackers have been organized into well-defined models with clear targets and battle plans.

One platoon had designated navigators, saboteurs and drivers — in addition to mortar models within the rear to offer cowl for the attackers, the doc exhibits.

The group had a particular goal — a kibbutz — and the attackers have been tasked with storming the village from particular angles. They’d estimates for what number of Israeli troops have been stationed in close by posts, what number of automobiles they’d at their disposal, and the way lengthy it might take these Israeli aid forces to achieve them.

The doc is dated October 2022, suggesting that the assault had been deliberate for at the least a 12 months.

Elsewhere, different assailants have been posted to key highway junctions to ambush Israeli reinforcements, in keeping with 4 senior officers and officers.

Some models had particular directions to seize Israelis to be used as bargaining chips in future prisoner exchanges with Israel.

“Take troopers and civilians as prisoners and hostages to barter with,” the doc stated.

The terrorists smashed their method into the Cherrys’ home shortly earlier than 10 a.m., in keeping with texts that Ms. Cherry despatched associates on the time.

They’d already killed the kibbutz guards, in addition to a civilian safety volunteer who had rushed to confront them within the opening moments of the assault, in keeping with the village management.

Now, the terrorists have been going home by home, looking for individuals to kill and kidnap.

“Please ship assist,” Ms. Cherry typed into her telephone.

On the Cherrys’ home, they pressured within the door. Then they charged in, shouting and ransacking the home, Ms. Cherry stated.

“We’re going to die,” Ms. Cherry remembered pondering.

The household waited in terrified silence, hoping the intruders would ignore the door to the bed room and assume everybody was away.

Mr. and Mrs. Cherry put all their weight towards the cupboard, to brace the chair beneath the door deal with.

Man, 15, their eldest son, stood subsequent to the door, holding an 18-pound dumbbell. If somebody did break in, the plan was to drop it on the assailant’s head.

Then the deal with twitched.

The dad and mom started to push the cupboard.

The deal with continued to rattle.

Then it stopped. The assailant walked away.

A number of streets away, the household of Miki Levi, who oversees the kibbutz gardens, had an excellent nearer name.

After a terrorist squad chased Mr. Levi, 47, inside his protected room, the attackers sprayed bullets on the bolstered door, Mr. Levi stated in an interview.

Among the bullets pierced the door, creating massive openings, and Mr. Levi stated he additionally fired again along with his pistol, shredding it additional. His spouse and two younger daughters sheltered to the facet.

Altering techniques, the terrorists later introduced two of his neighbors — a mom and her 12-year-old daughter, Mr. Levi stated.

At gunpoint, the mom and little one have been instructed to influence him to open up, Mr. Levi stated.

“‘Come out and cease capturing,’” Mr. Levi recounted one in all them saying. “‘The terrorists received’t do something to you.’”

Ultimately, the terrorists gave up that method and returned with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, Mr. Levi stated.

It was solely when Mr. Levi shot one attacker within the thigh that they lastly left, he added.

The mom and little one, Mr. Levi suspects, are actually captives in Gaza.

Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfus stated he drove south with out figuring out the place precisely he ought to go.

Basic Goldfus, 46, a paratrooper commander, had been on depart at residence, jogging in his neighborhood north of Tel Aviv. Then he noticed a video from the south, exhibiting terrorists cruising via a metropolis, totally unimpeded.

With out ready for orders, the final stated he ran residence, turned into his uniform and headed south.

He picked up weapons and two troopers from his base in central Israel, and referred to as associates and colleagues to search out out what was taking place.

Just a few picked up. Of the remaining, “There was no one actually understanding the total image,” Basic Goldfus stated in an interview.

The pace, precision and scale of Hamas’s assault had thrown the Israeli army into disarray, and for a lot of hours afterward civilians were left to fend for themselves.

Utilizing the few scraps of knowledge he may glean, Basic Goldfus stated he and the troopers headed to a village north of Nahal Oz, after which step by step labored their method south.

It was round 10 a.m. Throughout him was carnage and atrocity.

Lifeless Israelis lined the roads, alongside the husks of burned-out, overturned automobiles.

On the web site of an all-night out of doors rave, gunmen had killed an estimated 260 partygoers.

“Our bodies have been burning,” Basic Goldfus remembered seeing on the web site.

The assault by Hamas had unleashed a violent free-for-all. Some residents of Gaza had poured over the undefended border after it was breached, at occasions streaming what they have been doing on their telephones. Gazans have been looting and ransacking houses, taking computer systems, garments, crockery, televisions and telephones, survivors stated.

In some Israeli villages, residents had been burned alive of their houses, whereas terrorists stalked civilians at each flip, in search of individuals to seize and kill. Grandparents, toddlers and a nine-month-old child have been seized and taken back to Gaza, a few of them squeezed between their kidnappers on bikes.

And through a lot of the mayhem, the Israeli military was nearly nowhere to be seen.

Close to Kibbutz Reim, Basic Goldfus stated he bumped into one other senior commander by likelihood. Like him, the officer had rushed to the scene on intuition, with none directions, and had assembled a small group of troopers.

There after which, the 2 males got here up with their very own advert hoc technique.

“There’s no orders right here,” Basic Goldfus stated. “I stated: ‘You’re taking from this place and additional south — and I’ll take from this place and additional north.’”

That was how among the Israeli counterattack occurred: troopers or civilian volunteers — together with retired generals of their 60s — speeding to the area and doing what they may.

Israel Ziv, a former basic, reached a close-by battle in his Audi.

Yair Golan, a retired deputy chief of workers and former leftist lawmaker, stated he took a gun and commenced rescuing survivors of a bloodbath at a rave, who have been hiding in close by bushes.

“We’re introduced as much as run as quick as attainable towards the fireplace,” stated Basic Goldfus. “In order that we might be the primary one there.”

The intelligence hub close to Gaza was one of many first locations to be recaptured by Israel.

Within the late morning, troopers and reservists from completely different models reached the bottom from separate instructions, overpowering the ten Gazan gunmen who had filmed their lethal assault on video.

The digicam mounted on the Hamas commander’s head captured the second he was shot and killed. The digicam falls off, bouncing alongside the bottom. By the point the video stops, the commander might be seen slumped on the bottom, revealing his lengthy beard and thinning hairline.

In different components of southern Israel, the primary formal reinforcements got here from an Israeli commando unit that arrived in helicopters, in keeping with the senior Israeli officer.

They have been adopted by different particular operations models, together with Israeli navy seals and a reconnaissance unit educated to function deep inside enemy traces, reasonably than on Israeli soil.

Typically, the commandos joined forces with volunteers with out physique armor who had rushed into the fray to rescue relations.

Noam Tibon, a former basic, drove south along with his pistol to attempt to retake Kibbutz Nahal Oz, the place his son, Amir, a journalist, was trapped.

Within the early afternoon, the elder Mr. Tibon joined a squad that was making its method via the kibbutz, home by home.

By Sunday afternoon, a number of villages and bases nonetheless had some sort of Hamas presence. The entire space wouldn’t be totally secured for days.

Ms. Cherry emerged round 5 p.m. on Saturday in Kibbutz Nahal Oz to search out her residence turned the other way up, the microwave torn from the wall, drawers ripped from their cupboards and a pool of drying blood on the ground.

She had heard a gun battle in and round her residence earlier within the day. She believed a terrorist had died in the home — and that his bloodied corpse had been carried off by fellow fighters.

Some survivors refused to open up, even after the military arrived.

When troopers reached the house of Oshrit Sabag, one other resident of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, she feared they have been terrorists in disguise.

Even after the troopers started chatting to at least one one other in Hebrew, to show who they have been, Ms. Sabag, 48, was unconvinced.

It was solely their Jewish prayers that made her chill out.

“‘It’s O.Okay., it’s O.Okay.,’” Ms. Sabag remembered them saying. “‘We’re Jewish.’”

Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

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