The footage dates back to the past two years, but it’s eerily prescient. In a video broadcast in December 2022, Hamas fighters can be seen flooding a training area, firing rockets and capturing mock prisoners as they surround mock Israeli buildings.
CNN’s analysis shows that the camp had just been built, and was very close to the Erez Crossing, the pedestrian crossing between Gaza and Israel that Hamas fighters breached last weekend in an attack. Bloody attack Which claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people in Israel.
Another video, taken more than a year ago, shows Hamas fighters practicing take-offs, landings and parachute attacks – the same unusual attack technique that Hamas used to deadly effect in the same attack on October 7.
A CNN investigation analyzed nearly two years of training and propaganda video released by Hamas and its affiliates to reveal the months-long preparations for last week’s attack, and found that militants trained for the attack in at least six locations across Gaza.
Two of those sites, including the barren training site seen in the video released in December, were just over a mile from the most fortified and patrolled part of the Gaza-Israel border. Among the remaining sites: one site is located in central Gaza, and the other three are in the far south of Gaza.
Satellite images reviewed by CNN over two years showed no indication of offensive Israeli military action against any of the six sites identified.
Not only has there been activity in the camps over the past few months, but some of the camps have also absorbed the surrounding farmland, turning it from an agricultural area into a barren training area in the past two years, according to satellite images.
Following a brutal Hamas incursion – in which the militants kidnapped 150 people, stormed Israeli military bases, and destroyed… Cities and farms – It raises questions about the intelligence and operational failures of the Israeli security services.
The fact that Hamas trained for the attack in plain sight for at least two years raises further questions about why Israel, home to the most sophisticated military and espionage operations in the Middle East, was unable to follow up and stop the October 7 attack?
When CNN reached out to the Israeli military for comment, its international spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, said the findings were “not new.”
He added that Hamas “had many training areas” and that the Israeli army “bombed many training areas over the years in various rounds of escalation.”
Watch this interactive content on CNN.com
Conricus noted that Israel has not seen a major escalation with Hamas in more than two years, referring to the time when hostilities broke out between Israel and Hamas in 2021. This came after weeks of tension in Jerusalem. Where set of Palestinian families faced eviction from their homes in East Jerusalem on behalf of Jewish nationalists.
Conricus also said that Hamas may have made the facilities “appear civilian.”
However, five of the sites – the sixth being an airstrip – bear no civilian features and are almost identical in how they were built and arranged.
They are all surrounded by huge earthen berms, which are taller than the buildings in the camps. Most of the buildings – which have no roofs – are made almost entirely of brick and cement.
Some camps have gates and fences, while others have street barriers but no paved roads.
In response to a question about the camps, Conricus said they could not answer CNN’s questions “because they are about complex intelligence analysis at the same time that we are fighting a war.”
He added: “This issue, along with many other issues, will be investigated by the Israeli army at the end of the war.”
Ali Baraka, a senior Hamas official and head of Hamas’ national relations abroad based in Lebanon, told RT Arabic following Saturday’s attack that the terrorist organization had been preparing for the attack for two years.
Metadata analyzed by CNN indicates that Hamas conducted the training for several months, sometimes more than a year, before publishing the propaganda montage on its social media channels.
The videos also foretell the events of October 7.
In one of the clips, the militants are shown training on taking off, landing, and attacking with gliders. Metadata showed it was filmed more than a year ago. The shadows and position of the sun in the video also indicate that the training sessions depicted either lasted for hours or lasted for several days.
During the October 7 attack, paratroopers took off at dawn near two training camps geolocated by CNN near the Gaza-Israel border.
Videos show that the same take-off site used by the gliders was also used to test local Hamas drones. Metadata indicates that these tests were conducted months before paragliding operations were conducted.
Hamas terrorists were also seen in propaganda videos practicing the type of weapons they would use for the October 7 attack. They created fake Israeli buildings and streets and were seen carrying out a number of different attack methods on them.
At a training site a few hundred feet from the Erez Crossing, on the wall of one of the buildings is a drawing of two palm trees and an animal shape that resembles the insignia of the Israeli Erez Crossing Battalion.
The video shows them training to take prisoners and tie their hands in the camp.
Satellite images show that the camp was built over the past year and a half.
At three of the training camps, they created fake Israeli tanks consisting of what appeared to be a large outer shell surrounding a truck. The fighters were seen attacking it, firing RPG shells and other explosives.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”