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Failure at the Fence (full documentary) | FRONTLINE + @WashingtonPost

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Unraveling the Gaza-Israel Border Crisis: The Day the Iron Wall Failed

In a quiet town near the Gaza-Israel border, the tranquility shattered on October 7. A meticulously planned assault by over a thousand Hamas fighters breached what was considered an impenetrable defense – the Iron Wall. This tragic event, now etched in history as the deadliest assault on Israeli soil, unfolded in Kfar Aza.

The Iron Wall’s Illusion of Invincibility

For more than two decades, the Iron Wall stood as a symbol of security, completed in 1996 and fortified with cutting-edge surveillance tools. Upgraded in 2021 and proudly dubbed the Iron Wall by Israeli officials, it crumbled within minutes under the relentless assault by Hamas militants. The promise of impenetrability shattered, leaving a community devastated.

The Voices of Kfar Aza: Witnesses Speak Out

Among those directly impacted was Israel Lender, a resident of Kfar Aza. His harrowing experience unfolded as Hamas gunmen stormed his house, turning it into a sniper’s nest. Lender’s firsthand account unveils the sheer terror and chaos that ensued during the 36 hours of hiding with his wife.

The Blinding Plan: Hamas’s Strategic Maneuver

Hamas’s success lay in a detailed strategy known as the “Blinding Plan,” aiming to sever connections to Israel’s surveillance and security systems. This plan, meticulously outlined in training videos and open-source satellite imagery, went unnoticed by Israeli intelligence. The assault exposed critical vulnerabilities in Israel’s defense apparatus.

Surveillance Balloons and Sentry Tech Towers: A Fragile Defense

A crucial part of Israel’s defense system includes Skystar surveillance balloons and Sentry Tech towers armed with machine guns. However, the attackers exploited outdated equipment, cutting surveillance balloons and targeting towers. The result – a compromised defense system that couldn’t respond effectively to the breach.

Intelligence Missteps: Ignored Warnings and Overlooked Evidence

The tragedy further unraveled as it became evident that Israeli intelligence was aware of Hamas’s plans. Shockingly, critical information was publicly available on social media and training videos. The failure to connect the dots and dismiss the threat as mere training exercises led to a catastrophic breach.

Human Toll: Lives Lost and Communities Shattered

The attack claimed over 1,200 lives, with 240 taken hostage. Kibbutzim and communities along the border faced not only physical destruction but also the deep emotional scars of lost lives and kidnapped friends and family. The entire community of Kfar Aza became a microcosm of the broader tragedy that unfolded.

Reassessing the Iron Wall: Lessons Learned and Unlearned

Retired Colonel Dany Tirza, the former head of the Israeli military’s fence administration, acknowledged the failure and emphasized that the Iron Wall was not designed to withstand a large-scale, coordinated attack. The incident prompted soul-searching within the IDF, raising questions about the integrity of the barrier and the overall concept of operations.

Conclusion: The Unforeseen Tragedy That Shook the Iron Wall

The events of October 7 shook the foundations of what was believed to be an impenetrable defense. The tragedy in Kfar Aza serves as a stark reminder that even the most fortified structures can crumble in the face of strategic planning and coordinated attacks. As Israel grapples with the aftermath, the world watches, and communities affected strive to rebuild amidst the ruins.

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