ISRAEL + HAMAS

Hamas militants trained for its deadly attack in plain sight and less than a mile from Israel’s heavily fortified border

Oct 13, 2023, 6:30 AM | Updated: Nov 30, 2023, 5:46 pm

A still from a video shows Hamas militants at a training camp near the Gaza-Israel border....

A still from a video shows Hamas militants at a training camp near the Gaza-Israel border. (Hamas)

(Hamas)

(CNN) — The footage is from the last two years, but it is chillingly prescient. In a December 2022 video, Hamas fighters can be seen flooding a training area, shooting rockets and capturing pretend prisoners as they surround mock Israeli buildings.

The camp, CNN analysis shows, had just been constructed, and was very close to Erez Crossing, the pedestrian passageway between Gaza and Israel that Hamas fighters ultimately breached last weekend in a bloody attack which killed over 1,200 people in Israel.

Another video taken more than a year ago, shows Hamas fighters practicing take-offs, landings and assaults with paragliders – the same unusual assault mode that Hamas deployed with lethal effect in the same Oct. 7 attack.

A CNN investigation has analysed almost two years of training and propaganda video released by Hamas and its affiliates to reveal the months of preparations that went into last week’s attack, finding that militants trained for the onslaught in at least six sites across Gaza.

Two of those sites, including the arid training site shown in the December video, were a little more than a mile from the most fortified and patrolled section of the Gaza-Israel border. Of the remaining sites: one is located in central Gaza, and the other three in far south Gaza.

Two years of satellite imagery, also reviewed by CNN, show no indication of an offensive Israeli military action against any of the six identified sites.

Not only was there activity in the last several months at the camps, but some camps also absorbed surrounding farmland, converting it from agriculture to barren area for training in the last two years, according to satellite imagery.

In the stunned aftermath of Hamas’ ruthless incursion – where militants abducted 150 people, overran Israeli military bases, and laid waste to towns and farms – questions are being raised about the intelligence and operational failures by Israel’s security apparatus.

The fact that Hamas trained for the attack in plain sight for at least two years raise further questions as to why Israel, home to the Middle East’s most sophisticated military and spying operation, was unable to pick up on and stop the October 7 attack?

When CNN reached out to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for comment, its international spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the findings were “nothing new.”

He added that Hamas has “had many training areas” and Israel’s military had “struck many training areas over the years in the different rounds of escalation.”

Conricus noted that Israel has not had a major escalation with Hamas in over two years, in reference to when hostilities between Israel and Hamas erupted in 2021. It followed weeks of tension in Jerusalem, where a group of Palestinian families faced eviction from their homes in East Jerusalem in favor of Jewish nationalists.

Conricus also said that Hamas may have made the facilities “look civilian.”

However, five of the sites – the sixth is a landing strip – do not have civilian features and are nearly identical in how they are constructed and arranged.

They are all surrounded by massive earthen berms, which are taller than the buildings in the camps. The buildings – most have no roofs – are nearly all made from cinderblocks and cement.

Some camps have gates and fences, while others have street curbs but no paved roads.

Asked about the camps, Conricus said they could not answer CNN’s questions “since they relate to the complex analysis of intelligence at the same time that we are fighting a war.”

“This topic, together with numerous other issues, will be investigated by the IDF at the end of the war,” he added.

In plain sight

Senior Hamas official Ali Baraka, the head of the Lebanon-based Hamas National Relations Abroad, told RT Arabic following Saturday’s attack that the terror organization has been preparing for the attack for two years.

Metadata analyzed by CNN indicates that Hamas conducted the trainings for months, sometimes over a year, before releasing the propaganda montages on their social media channels.

The videos also foreshadow the events of October 7.

In one clip, militants are seen practicing take-offs, landings and assaults with paragliders. The metadata showed it was filmed over a year ago. The shadows and position of the sun in the video also indicates that filmed training sessions either lasted for hours, or took place on multiple days.

During the October 7 attack, paragliders took off at dawn close to two training camps geolocated by CNN that are near the Gaza-Israel border.

The videos show that the same practice take-off location the paragliders used had also been used to test Hamas’ own homegrown drones. Metadata indicates those tests took place months before the paragliding montages took place.

Hamas terrorists are also seen in propaganda videos practicing with the type of weaponry they would use to attack on October 7. They created mock Israeli buildings and streets and are seen executing a number of different assault tactics on them.

At a training site hundreds of feet from the Erez Crossing, a wall of a building has a drawing of two palm trees and an animal figure that looks similar to Israel’s Erez Crossing battalion’s insignia.

The video shows them even practicing taking prisoners and zip-tying their hands at the camp.

Satellite imagery shows that the camp was constructed within the last year and a half.

In three of the training camps, they even created fake Israeli tanks consisting of what appears to be a large outer shell surrounding a truck. Fighters are seen practicing an attack against it, launching RPGs and other explosives.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Israel + Hamas

Emergency services work at a destroyed building hit by an air strike in Damascus, Syria on April 1....

MJ Lee and Jennifer Hansler, CNN

US preparing for significant Iran attack on US or Israeli assets in the region as soon as next week

The US is on high alert and actively preparing for a “significant” attack that could come as soon as within the next week.

7 days ago

bodies are removed after the World Central Kitchen was hit by an israeli air strike...

AAMER MADHANI and ZEKE MILLER, Associated Press

Biden tells Israel’s Netanyahu future US support for war depends on new steps to protect civilians

Biden also told Netanyahu that an “immediate ceasefire is essential” and urged Israel to reach deal "without delay," according to the White House.

9 days ago

bodies are removed after the World Central Kitchen was hit by an israeli air strike...

TIA GOLDENBERG Associated Press

What is World Central Kitchen and how has it helped people in Gaza?

The group has been providing food to Palestinians in Gaza facing widespread hunger since war began.

11 days ago

Demonstrators call for the release of Israeli hostages being held by Hamas during a protest in Tel ...

Abel Alvarado, Ami Kaufman, Mostafa Salem and Becky Anderson, CNN

Israel agrees to US proposal on prisoner-hostage exchange and is awaiting Hamas’ response, CNN analyst says

Israel has agreed to a US proposal on a prisoner-hostage exchange that would release around 700 Palestinian prisoners.

19 days ago

United Airlines aircrafts are parked at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey,...

Ross Levitt, Pete Muntean and Samantha Delouya, CNN

United to resume non-stop service from US to Israel

United Airlines said it will resume flights from the United States to Israel beginning in March.

2 months ago

Nasser hospital in the city of Khan Younis, Gaza, on December 22, 2020....

Kareem Khadder and Zeena Saifi, CNN

‘We are completely besieged’: One of last doctors left in Gaza’s Nasser hospital says patients’ fate no longer in his control

One of the doctors remaining in Gaza's Nasser hospital has described a “catastrophic” situation a week into the Israeli forces’ siege.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Live Nation Concerts

Artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Hamas militants trained for its deadly attack in plain sight and less than a mile from Israel’s heavily fortified border