What This Article Is About
We will examine a conspiracy theory regarding the events of October 7, 2023, in Israel, which suggests that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, in light of political pressure and increasing calls for resignation, may have deliberately ignored intelligence warnings about a Hamas attack. These speculations are based on the assumption that the escalation of the conflict could serve to unite society around its leader. Key to refuting these claims will be a thorough investigation that clarifies the causes and circumstances related to the intelligence failure.
Evidence: The Existence of the Theory - The Alleged Sequence of Events
The description of the conspiracy theory requires considering the mechanisms suggested by its authors. The argument is based on an alleged causal chain of events. According to it, Prime Minister Netanyahu, after months of public protests against authoritarian judicial changes, could have knowingly escalated tensions. Facing political pressure and calls to step down, he might have intentionally strengthened divisions. The theory suggests that for the past years, he had been giving the green light for settlers’ aggression towards Palestinians and the colonization of new areas under kibbutzim.
Depending on the narrative, the failure to prevent the attack can be presented as taking calculated risks or as an oversight. It is worth noting that many commentators suggest a pattern of behavior where military engagement is used to strengthen political positions.
According to a Forbes article, it went viral that Netanyahu issued an order to “hold back actions” for the Israeli military and moved troops from the areas that were attacked. Hashtags #BibiKnew (Bibi knew) with obvious allusions to the Prime Minister of Israel appeared on TikTok, Facebook, and platform X (formerly Twitter). As Forbes points out, the source of the theory is conservative and far-right celebrity Charlie Kirk, who is a loyal supporter of Donald Trump. He asked on air:
(Charlie Kirk with Donald Trump, wikipedia)
“I’m not willing to say, to go so far to say that Netanyahu knew or there was intelligence here, but I think some questions need to be asked. Was there a stand down order? Was there a stand down order?”
John Hasson in X: „Just so we’re clear: @charliekirk11 is implying Bibi Netanyahu purposely let Hamas murder 1,200 (twitter.com)
It is worth paying attention to Charlie Kirk’s mode of argumentation, which is a pattern of conspiracy thinking for the right-wing and extremist circles in the USA. Namely, that in his opinion, an attack of such scale cannot occur because he has been to Israel many times and the whole country is a fortress.
According to this theory, Netanyahu ignored intelligence warnings about a potential attack and Hamas’ preparations because he aimed to unify Israel under the idea of resistance against a common threat. The calculation was simple: spill blood to strengthen one’s position - as an analogy, one could refer to Putin and the way he provoked the war in Chechnya. 1999 Russian apartment bombings - Wikipedia
Critique of the Theory: Paranoid Overinterpretations
As Professor Michael Butter points out in his book Conspiracy Theories, creators of conspiracy theories often base on their own experiences and apply a reductionist interpretation of the world combined with paranoid (overinterpretation) dot-connecting, which supposedly leads to such and not other conclusions because how could it be otherwise? They reduce the complexity of social reality through simple reasoning of who benefits (according to this concept, Netanyahu gained). Therefore, Kirk’s thinking is burdened with such reductionism combined with the American promotion of common sense and personal experience. It is not surprising then that this man has a long history of spreading conspiracy theories about COVID-19, or the 2021 US elections along with the attack on the Capitol.
superpowers and mythical power of Mossad?
The conspiracy theory that I present here is based on the myth of the Mossad as one of the most effective, ruthless, and powerful intelligence organizations in the world. This myth is promoted by the organization itself through numerous books, films, and series. In popular culture, it is almost a mythical organization. Contradiction: Therefore, it is difficult for a person based on so-called common sense to accept that Mossad makes mistakes.
Critique: Statement of a Former Mossad Director
It is worth citing the extensive statements of Efraim Halevy, who is the legendary former head of Mossad. He points out that this is nevertheless an intelligence failure, and the long-term consequences are much more serious than the Yom Kippur wars. He also noted that the strategy of cutting off (mowing the lawn) successive generations of Mossad agents and the supposed lowering of their potential led to the hydra regrowing but in an increasingly more extreme form. This leads to radicalism - so one could say that he expressed criticism of the approach to conducting the conflict and the alleged ceasefire with Hamas, which turned out to be a fiction, of course.
At the same time, it can be said that the thesis that Netanyahu benefited from the conflict seems to be a fiction, since Efraim Halevy speaks directly about his low ratings in society, the party, and the complete lack of an idea for a long-term plan to resolve the Palestinian conflict. He also doubts the plans for the complete elimination of Hamas - personally, it seems to me that he is from the school that assumes it is better to have the hydra under control than to kill and breed successive versions of an increasingly radical and difficult-to-control hydra…
(Efraim Halevy, Former Mossad Director, wikipedia)
Efraim Halevy, Former Mossad Director:
Well, the truth of the matter is, I was surprised myself. I’m not part of the political level, but I want to wait until the facts come out.
It’s not the first time we have had an intelligence failure. I mean, 50 years ago, we had an intelligence failure on the Yom Kippur War. That was a different story. This is a much more compelling story. The consequences are much more serious than was in the Yom Kippur War.
It was a war against foreign countries. The intensity of this event is much more in many ways than any of the other wars we have had ever.
So, let me ask you about that enemy that’s being fought. What’s your assessment of how Hamas has changed and grown, particularly since the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, to become what they are now?
The nature of the leadership changed.
And whereas the founder of the movement was a spiritual leader, who ultimately we killed, we then had the what was called mowing the lawn. Every now and then, you have a confrontation. You mow the lawn. You bring the grass down to a lower level. And then it begins to grow and it grows.
You’re also changing the character of the movement. And you are reaching a point where, each time you succeed in damaging the leadership, you find a new leadership, which is probably more extreme than the leadership that you cast aside. […]
The way Iran is reacting, the way the head of the Hezbollah is reacting, yes, the tension in the north has risen. Areas in the north have been evacuated. I don’t belittle this at all.
But, nevertheless, I do not think that Iran today is interested in having a major confrontation at all, because Iran wants to take what it gained with the relationship with Saudi Arabia, and it wants to capitalize on it, and it wants to solidify this. And, probably, they know that Saudi Arabia, for reasons of its own, would not be interested in a big flare-up in the north.
Some civilians trapped in Gaza allowed to cross into Egypt as Israeli airstrikes continue | PBS NewsHour Transcript
(zdjęcie własne: Mossad buduje swój PR poprzez liczne publikacje)
Critique - Blinding of Services - Did Mossad Fall for Maskirovka?
Some experts suggest that Mossad may not have lost its HUMINT capabilities, i.e., human intelligence, but focused too much on SIGINT. By conducting operations to build tunnels and fill armories with weapons and thousands of rockets (with active involvement and training from operators from Iran and Russia), Hamas deceived Mossad with a maskirovka intended to hide a planned large-scale attack.
Interestingly, the synchronized attack from land, sea, and air began, among other things, with disabling GSM stations with bomb-laden drones, which informatively cut off and made it impossible for the services to respond in the first hour. Transmitters, for example, receiving CCTV images and from border sensors on which the security system was based, were destroyed.
From the information I have from podcasts (I attach below the list of selected ones I have listened to) and interviews with Poles living in Israel, they emphasized the complete lack of response from the services in the first hour of the attack. When rockets were flying in the sky, and automatic warning systems were sending mass notifications to mobile phones. One of the individuals suggested that the people from the highest leadership of Shin Bet, Mossad, and liaisons of these services in the government are individuals appointed by the far right and often Orthodox Jews, who were off grid during the holiday and could not receive immediate messages, hence the decision-making paralysis in the first hours (during the Sukkot holiday, they are said to refrain from using the internet and put away their phones)…
“There are voices from within Israel itself, including from the IDF, suggesting that if we carefully examine what intelligence information we had, it turns out we knew everything, but no one asked the right questions. This isn’t the first time the Israeli intelligence levels failed to connect the dots. […] By Saturday morning, there were already intelligence reports that indeed there was activity on the communication channels of Hamas and something could indeed happen at the border. We do not know to what extent these signals were, likely, ignored. Israeli media also report that Hamas intentionally misled Israeli intelligence services, using communication channels that assured them that they simply did not want another war. […] They were simply running their own operation of misinformation and blinding Israeli services, but in fact, in a physical sense, they blinded both the guards during the breach of the border fence, by shooting and immobilizing the cameras that were there […] primarily neutralizing the guards at the observation points…” transcription Podcast in polish TOK FM
Overemphasis on Iran and normalization of relations with Arab countries
Assuming a mechanistic rather than a random sequence of events leads to the creation of conspiracy theories, whereas most events in history are unpredictable, dynamic, and chaotic. Following this path, many experts pointed out that Israel neglected intelligence data from its immediate surroundings, focusing too much on Iran. Therefore, the cause of the failure could be a flaw in the structure of information flow or the excessive number of directions and the choice to politically emphasize other directions…
Many of you have also heard the recurring opinions of Middle East specialists who said that the normalization of Israel’s relations with some Arab countries could have contributed to a false sense of security regarding Hamas, which could then be perceived as isolated and without financial support. The role of Russia and their problem in Ukraine, combined with information about tightening cooperation between Tehran and Moscow, was also overlooked. However, according to Agnieszka Zegner (Polityka Weekly), the USA claims that there is no evidence of Russia’s involvement in the Hamas attack. Polish podcast: “Not for the first time has someone within the Israeli intelligence ranks failed to connect the dots.” - TOK FM
falsification of conspiracy theories
In addition to the arguments presented here that highlight paranoid overinterpretations of facts and debunking of commonsensical and simplistic thinking about reality, of course, complete falsification can only occur when a special commission in Israel thoroughly investigates the causes of the failure and the information from intelligence agencies. This will not only allow for criminal charges to be brought or conclusions to be drawn about reform (e.g., different methods of communication and border security, lack of keys and access to shelters often managed in settlements by low-paid Arab technical workers), but also to clarify conspiracy theories. These theories serve to polarize Israeli society and construct a negative public relations image of Israel. Of course, the revelation of a conspiracy can also occur when a whistleblower emerges to expose the alleged plot. “If he survives,” a paranoid would say.
In the context of Iran’s and Russia’s involvement, geopolitics and intelligence service experts will have much to say. That is, in creating a new order and establishing spheres of influence, which is Putin’s goal…
Some civilians trapped in Gaza allowed to cross into Egypt as Israeli airstrikes continue | PBS NewsHour
Netanyahu may not last, Biden and aides increasingly believe - POLITICO
Charlie Kirk - Wikipedia
Conspiracy Theorists Go Viral With Claim Israel Knew Of Hamas Attack (forbes.com)
Netanyahu Can’t Stick Around: Former Mossad Chief (spytalk.co)
John Hasson w serwisie X: „Just so we’re clear: @charliekirk11 is implying Bibi Netanyahu purposely let Hamas murder 1,200 Israelis behead children take 100+ people hostage —all as part of a plan to acquire more power in Israel Unbelievable https://t.co/2M7a7AfrNp” / X (twitter.com)
How Years of Israeli Failures on Hamas Led to a Devastating Attack - The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Posłuchaj podcastu: “Nie po raz pierwszy ktoś na szczeblach izraelskiego wywiadu nie połączył kropek” - TOK FM
Posłuchaj podcastu: Jak atak Hamasu na Izrael wpłynie na Bliski Wschód i resztę świata? - TOK FM
Posłuchaj podcastu: Skąd wziął się Hamas i jak urósł w siłę? - TOK FM
Posłuchaj podcastu: USA szuka scenariusza na Strefę Gazy po Hamasie, a z szafy wyskakuje Putin - TOK FM