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Israeli military intelligence chief resigns over failure to prevent Oct. 7 attack

Israeli soldier walks by a pickup truck used by Palestinian militants in Sderot, Israel, on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023.
Ohad Zwigenberg
/
AP
Israeli soldier walks by a pickup truck used by Palestinian militants in Sderot, Israel, on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023.

TEL AVIV, Israel — The head of Israel's military intelligence directorate resigned on Monday over the failures surrounding Hamas' unprecedented Oct. 7 attack, the military said, becoming the first senior figure to step down over his role in the deadliest assault in Israel's history.

Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva's resignation could set the stage for more fallout from Israel's top security brass over Hamas' attack, when militants blasted through Israel's border defenses, rampaged through Israeli communities unchallenged for hours and killed 1,200 people, most civilians, while taking roughly 250 hostages into Gaza. That attack set off the war against Hamas in Gaza, now in its seventh month.

"The intelligence directorate under my command did not live up to the task we were entrusted with. I carry that black day with me ever since, day after day, night after night. I will carry the horrible pain of the war with me forever," Haliva wrote in his resignation letter, which was provided by the military.

Shortly after the war, Haliva had publicly said that he shouldered blame for not preventing the assault as the head of the military department responsible for providing the government and the military with intelligence warnings and daily alerts.

This image made from video provided December, 2023, by Israeli Defense Forces shows Aharon Haliva, the head of Israel's military intelligence in Gaza City, Gaza Strip.
/ AP
/
AP
This image made from video provided December, 2023, by Israeli Defense Forces shows Aharon Haliva, the head of Israel's military intelligence in Gaza City, Gaza Strip.

The military said in the statement that the military chief of staff accepted Haliva's request to resign and thanked him for his 38 years of service.

Haliva, as well as other military and security leaders, were widely expected to resign in response to the glaring failures that led up to Oct. 7 and the scale of its ferocity.

But the timing of the resignations has been unclear because Israel is still fighting Hamas in Gaza and battling the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in the north. Tensions with Iran are also at a high following attacks between the two enemies. Some military experts have said resignations at a time when Israel is engaged on multiple fronts is irresponsible and could be interpreted as a sign of weakness.

While Haliva and others have accepted blame for failing to stop the attack, others have stopped short, most notably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said he will answer tough questions about his role but has not outright acknowledged direct responsibility for allowing the attack to unfold. He has also not indicated that he will step down, although a growing protest movement is demanding elections be held soon.

The Hamas attack, which came on a Jewish holiday, caught Israel and its vaunted security establishment entirely off guard. Israelis' sense of faith in their military — seen by most Jews as one of the country's most trustworthy institutions — was shattered in the face of Hamas' onslaught. The resignation could help restore some of that trust.

The attack set off the devastating war that has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to local health officials, at least two-thirds of them children and women. It has devastated Gaza's two largest cities, and driven 80% of the territory's population to flee to other parts of the besieged coastal enclave. The war has sparked a humanitarian catastrophe that has drawn warnings of imminent famine.

The attack also sent shock waves through the region. Tensions have rocked the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as well as cities and towns within Israel itself.

On Monday, Israeli police said that a car had slammed into pedestrians in Jerusalem, wounding three lightly, and security camera video showed two men exiting the car with a rifle before the fleeing the scene. Police later said they arrested the two men.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press

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