Israeli intelligence chief quits over 7 October attack

World

The Israeli military intelligence chief has resigned after failures that led to the deadly 7 October Hamas attack on Israel.

Major General Aharon Haliva was one of several senior commanders who said they failed to predict and prevent the most devastating attack in the country’s history.

He is the first senior figure to quit the IDF since the assault.

In his resignation letter, he said the intelligence division under his command “did not live up to the task we were entrusted with”.

Major General Haliva, who has served 38 years in the IDF, added: “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.”

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Lower-level intelligence officials reportedly had information that Hamas was hatching a plan to launch an attack, but Israel did not foresee the group’s surprise attack when militants stormed the Gaza border and rampaged through Israeli communities, military bases and a music festival.

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Some 1,200 Israelis and foreigners were killed, mostly civilians, while about 250 were taken as hostages in Gaza.

FILE - Police officers evacuate a woman and a child from a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, the head of Israel's military intelligence directorate resigned on Monday April 22, 2024 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. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov, File)
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Hundreds of Israeli civilians were killed in the 7 October attack. Pic: AP

Hours after the assault, Israel declared war on Hamas – which is now into its seventh month – with the aim of eradicating the militant group and rescuing the hostages.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed since, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

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Last 48 hours ‘horrific even by Gaza’s standards’

Other IDF chiefs were expected to resign after 7 October as some acknowledged the failures involved, including Lieutenant-General Herzi Halevi, and the head of the domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet Ronen Bar, but both have remained as the war continues.

On the failures, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously said “everyone will have to give answers” including himself, but he has so far not accepted direct responsibility.

The IDF said its chief of general staff had thanked Major General Haliva for his service where he made “significant contributions to the security of the State of Israel as both a combat soldier and commander”.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid welcomed the resignation on X, saying it was “justified and dignified” adding: “It would be appropriate for Prime Minister Netanyahu to do the same.”

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‘We will make our own decisions’

Netanyahu ‘will fight’ IDF sanctions

Meanwhile, the US is set to impose sanctions against the IDF battalion Netzah Yehuda for alleged human rights violations while operating in the occupied West Bank, the US-based Axios news site reported on Saturday.

The IDF said it was not aware of such measures as Mr Netanyahu added: “If anyone thinks they can impose sanctions on a unit of the IDF – I will fight it with all my strength.”

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Washington had called for a criminal investigation after the battalion’s soldiers were accused of being involved in the death of Palestinian American, Omar Assad, who died of a heart attack in 2002 after he was detained and later found abandoned at a building site.

A battalion commander was reprimanded and two officers were dismissed, but Israel did not seek criminal charges.

There have been other incidents more recently, some captured on video, where Netzah Yehuda troops were accused of, or charged with, abusing Palestinian detainees.

US President Joe Biden said an announcement could be made “very soon”.

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