Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Resigns Over Role In Failing To Prevent Oct. 7 Attack

Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Resigns Over Role In Failing To Prevent Oct. 7 Attack

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The head of Israeli military intelligence 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 resignations among 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.

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.

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.Israel Defense Forces via AP

Shortly after the attack, 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.

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.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid welcomed the resignation, saying it was “justified and dignified.”

“It would be appropriate for Prime Minister Netanyahu to do the same,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

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 the local health ministry. The ministry’s count doesn’t distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, but it says at least two-thirds of the dead are children and women.

The fighting 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. Beyond Hezbollah and Iran, 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.

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This story has been edited to correct the spelling of Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva’s surname.

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Associated Press writer Julia Frankel contributed to this report from Jerusalem.

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