Israeli airstrikes continue in Gaza
Smoke rises above buildings during an Israeli airstrike in Gaza on October 9, 2023.Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • Hamas duped Israel into thinking it cared more about economic stability than a war, Reuters said. 
  • Meanwhile, it was practicing for an attack in plain sight, the report said.
  • Hamas trained its fighters on a mock Israeli settlement, learning how to storm it, Reuters added.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas built a mock Israeli town in Gaza and practiced attacking in plain sight — but Israel didn't react, Reuters reported on Sunday.

Hamas militants launched a surprise offensive on Israel on Saturday, in what has been described as the worst breach in Israel's defenses in decades.

The attack followed a careful campaign of deception by Hamas that ensured Israel was caught off guard over the weekend, an unnamed source, with connections to the group, told Reuters.

Despite convincing Israel that they had no interest in war, Hamas militants were practicing for the offensive in plain sight by setting up a mock Israeli settlement in Gaza to train its fighters.

Gaza is a narrow strip of land wedged between Israel and Egypt, which has been controlled by Hamas since 2006.

The Hamas militants used the town to practice a military landing and train how to storm it, the report said. As per the source, they even made videos of the maneuvers to study them.

"Israel surely saw [the videos], but they were convinced that Hamas wasn't keen on getting into a confrontation," the source told Reuters.

"Hamas was able to build a whole image that it was not ready for a military adventure against Israel," they added.

It is unclear whether Israel was aware of the settlement at all. A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

In the years leading up to the attack, Hamas fighters wanted to give the impression that they were war-weary and more concerned about ensuring that workers in Gaza had access to jobs in Israel.

"Hamas used an unprecedented intelligence tactic to mislead Israel over the last months, by giving a public impression that it was not willing to go into a fight or confrontation with Israel while preparing for this massive operation," the source told Reuters.

Since the attacks over the weekend, Israel conceded that it was duped by Hamas.

Major Nir Dinar, a spokesperson for the Israeli Defence Forces said over the weekend: "This is our 9/11. They got us."

"They surprised us and they came fast from many spots — both from the air and the ground and the sea," he added.

More than 700 people have been killed in Israel since Hamas launched its attacks.

Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday said he had ordered a "complete siege" on the Gaza Strip: "No electricity, no food, no fuel."

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