The paper, authored by Robert J. Jackson Jr. of New York University School of Law and Joshua Mitts of New York University School of Law, concludes that based on a "significant spike" in short selling of listed Israeli companies, persons unknown were aware of the operation was impending, and sought to profit illicitly. Short selling – or shorting – allows traders to bet a stock will perform poorly and reap rewards if they're correct.
Shorting is a relatively rare practice compared to traditional trading and with good reason. Losses can be vast if forecast poor performance doesn't materialize, and many investment advisors warn against engaging in the practice under any circumstances. Strikingly though, the academics found shorting of Israeli companies in days immediately before October 7 "far exceeded short selling that occurred during numerous other periods of crisis, including the recession following the financial crisis, the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, and the COVID-19 pandemic."