Israelis Question “Catastrophic” Intelligence Failure
Never in history has Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad been able to kill and kidnap hundreds of Israelis in a single day. Saturday’s assault was clearly well-planned, highly coordinated, and well-armed, and very likely was in preparation for months or even years. The Times of Israel is reporting an Israeli death toll of over 600, with the military confirming over 100 now in Palestinian captivity.
Israeli officials and media pundits now want answers: how could Israel’s most celebrated and storied intelligence organization Mossad have missed it? How did the military not have any foreknowledge that it was coming? How did the Gaza jihadists overrun several IDF outposts so swiftly and easily?
Current and former Israeli officials are now decrying the “catastrophic” intelligence failure, and warn it may have serious lasting political ramifications. This whole war could even serve to destabilize the Netanyahu coalition government.
Chuck Freilich, Israel’s former deputy national security adviser, has told Politico: “This is a catastrophic failure in regards to Gaza.”
“It’s a failure in terms of intelligence, operationally,” Freilich said. “It’s clear we were caught totally unprepared by this. The divisional headquarters responsible for Gaza was occupied, they’re in disarray, and so the whole response has been delayed.”
He predicts far-reaching “political ramifications”…
“There’s always a short-term rallying around the flag. But once the dust settles we’ll have major political ramifications,” Freilich said. “After the Yom Kippur war, it took three and a half years for [then Israeli Prime Minister] Golda Meir’s government to be toppled — I don’t think it will take that long this time.”
Former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin compared Saturday’s raids to the “intelligence failure” of the Yom Kippur War – which famously saw the Egyptian and Syrian armies mount a surprise attack on Tel Aviv forces.
The common Israeli public has been voicing outrage as well…
Military men are asking similar questions, with Eli Marom – the former head of the Israeli navy, stating in a national broadcast, “All of Israel is asking itself: Where is the IDF, where is the police, where is the security?… It’s a colossal failure; the hierarchies have simply failed, with vast consequences.”
And among Western pundits, an op-ed in The Guardian says it was “unthinkable” and an “intelligence failure for the ages.” Peter Beaumont writes:
Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel, on the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war, will be remembered as an intelligence failure for the ages.
In the space of several hours, dozens of Gaza militants broke through the border fence into southern Israel, surprising local military positions.
Gunmen kidnapped and murdered Israelis in the southern border communities, filming their assault as they advanced in numerous locations. In one instance, a Gaza television journalist delivered a standup report about one attack from inside Israel, an almost unthinkable moment.
Some have gone so far as to speculate that the Netanyahu government may have had awareness that something was coming, but planned to exploit any assault as a justification to wipe out Gaza and to launch a major ground war against Hamas. As of Sunday, PM Netanyahu formally declared war.
“The war declaration was taken in accordance with Article 40 of Israel’s Basic Law, the Israeli government press office said,” according to CNN.
Will a fight at Israeli’s northern border be next?