Matthew Levitt is the Fromer-Wexler Fellow and director of the Reinhard Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute.
Articles & Testimony
Despite the completely surprising nature of the attack, Hamas did in fact give multiple signals that a major operation was in the works.
Hamas’s attack took nearly everyone by surprise—most devastatingly, Israel, which struggled to respond as hundreds of fighters streamed across the border from the Gaza Strip to unleash a campaign of terror. But in the months before the attack, Hamas had in fact warned that a conflict could be coming. In late August, Saleh al-Arouri—the group’s number-two leader, based in Beirut—told a Lebanese news channel that the Israeli government’s policies, particularly what he described as its land grabs in the West Bank and its desire to control the al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, could spark a regional war. “We are preparing for an all-out war,” he said, “and we are closely discussing the prospects of this war with all relevant parties.” Indeed, in April, a delegation from Hamas met in Beirut with Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, to discuss cooperation between the two organizations as an “axis of resistance” against Israel. The meeting was not the first...