The phone lines in the tunnels allowed the operatives to communicate with one another in secret and meant they could not be tracked by Israeli intelligence officials, the sources told CNN.
During the two years of planning, the small cell operating in the tunnels used the hardwired phone lines to communicate and plan the operation but stayed dark until it was time to activate and call on hundreds of Hamas fighters to launch the October 7 attack, the sources added.
They avoided using computers or cell phones during the two-year period to evade detection by Israeli or US intelligence, the sources said.
“There wasn’t a lot of discussion and back and forth and coordination outside of the immediate area,” one of the sources stated.
The intelligence shared with US officials by Israel reveals how Hamas hid the planning of the operation through old-fashioned counterintelligence measures such as conducting planning meetings in person and staying off digital communications whose signals the Israelis can track in favor of the hardwired phones in the tunnels.
It offers new insight into why Israel and the US were caught so flat-footed by the Hamas attack, which saw at least 1,500 fighters pouring across the border into Israel in an operation that killed at least 1,400 Israelis.
The Israel Defense Forces colloquially refers to the tunnels built by Hamas over the last 15 years or so as the “Gaza metro”. The tunnels make up a vast labyrinth that is used to store rockets and ammunition caches, as well as provide a way for militants to move about unnoticed. The IDF also announced it contains vital Hamas command and control centers.