(Al Jazeera Media Network) Hamas fighters who attacked a music festival in Israel on October 7, killing hundreds, likely did not know in advance about the event and decided to target it on the spot, Israeli media has reported, citing police and security sources.
According to a copy of the first Israeli police report into the attack, obtained this week by Israel’s Channel 12, Palestinian fighters had originally intended to attack nearby kibbutz Re’im as well as other villages near the Gaza border. They found out about the music festival with drones and from the air as they parachuted into Israel.
Some 4,400 people had reportedly been at the event that Saturday when Hamas broke through Israel’s high-security barrier – which includes radar system and underground sensors – and attacked military posts and villages in southern Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli authorities.
This Saturday, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the “growing assessment in Israel’s security establishment” based on the police investigation and on interrogations of captured Hamas members, is that the group had not planned to target the event.
While police found maps of the target locations on the bodies of killed Hamas members, none was of the festival location. An additional finding supporting the assessment, according to Haaretz, was that Hamas militants did not approach the festival from the direction of the border but from a nearby highway.
In addition, the event had originally been scheduled to take place on Thursday and Friday, with Saturday added to the program only on Tuesday that week.
The report also found that most of the festival-goers had managed to leave the event by the time Hamas showed up and the massacre began.
“The large majority of [people who were at the event] managed to flee following the decision to disperse the event made four minutes after the rocket attack,” according to a senior police source quoted by Haaretz.
The police investigation found that an Israeli military helicopter opened fire on the assailants but also hit some people attending the festival. No further details were provided, Haaretz reported.
“An investigation into the incident revealed an [Israeli military] combat helicopter that arrived at the scene from the Ramat David base fired at the terrorists and apparently also hit some of the revelers there,” the news report cited an unnamed police official as saying.
The police report also revised the death toll from the attack to 364, including 17 police officers, up from 270. It put the number of kidnapped festival-goers at 40.