- Hamas plan: Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel revealed a massive intelligence failure as the Israeli government appeared to have been caught off guard when Hamas militants infiltrated across the southern border and fired thousands of rockets.
- Experts and former intelligence officials said the air, land and sea attack by Hamas also raised questions about why US intelligence apparently did not see it coming.
- US officials said that while the Israelis knew the attack was coming, they were reluctant to tell Washington.
Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel revealed a massive intelligence failure as the Israeli government appeared to have been caught off guard when Hamas militants infiltrated across the southern border and fired thousands of rockets.
Experts and former intelligence officials said the air, land and sea attack by Hamas also raised questions about why US intelligence apparently did not see it coming. US officials said that while the Israelis knew the attack was coming, they were reluctant to tell Washington.
“We’re not tracking it,” a senior US military official told NBC News. U.S. officials are discussing increasing intelligence sharing with Israel to support the Israeli government’s response to Hamas attacks, a U.S. official and a person familiar with the matter said.
Additional intelligence provided to Israel may include information obtained from drones, wiretapping and satellites, but officials did not elaborate. The attack, which came a day after the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, recalled that conflict when Israel was caught in a coordinated offensive by its Arab neighbors Egypt and Syria.
“This is Israel’s 9/11. “There hasn’t been such a catastrophic intelligence failure in Israel since 1973,” said Mark Polimeropoulos, a 26-year veteran of the CIA who specializes in counterterrorism. Middle East and South Asian Affairs.
Israel’s intelligence services have long been considered the most capable in the world, with an array of human intelligence, wiretapping and other technical means covering the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “It’s almost inconceivable how they could have missed it,” Polimeropoulos said.
He said it was unclear why U.S. intelligence agencies and friendly Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia apparently did not anticipate the attack. “I was stunned.”
But Colin Clark, a senior fellow at the Souf Center, a non-profit organization that focuses on global security issues, said Israel bears the primary responsibility for not predicting Saturday’s attack.
“Israel has excellent world-class intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities and the ability to better understand what is happening in its own backyard. This applies directly to the Israelis,” he said.
Clark added that it was an open question whether Israel’s recent domestic political turmoil could have contributed to the apparent intelligence failure. David Friedman, who was the US ambassador to Israel during the Trump administration, said: “In over 40 years that I’ve been following Israel in one way or another, I’ve never seen that happen. I’ve never seen that happen. is happening .Never seen borders shrink like this. Often, even if a person from Gaza approaches the border, they are intercepted and suppressed before they can do anything. This is something I have never seen before. It must have been a major intelligence blunder. “
US officials said the initial assessment linked the timing of the Hamas attack to signs that an agreement to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel was nearing completion. They also said the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war could also be a factor. After the attack, both Hamas and Hezbollah said the attack was a warning to any Muslim country seeking peace with Israel.
Hamas spokesman Ibrahim Hamad told Al Jazeera that the attacks on Israel were “absolutely a message to Muslim countries that are trying to normalize with Israel.” He urged them to be saved from this “great shame.”
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that as recently as last week, top Israeli military officials and officials believed that Hamas wanted to avoid a full-scale conflict with Israel. NBC News could not immediately confirm the report. “I’m really amazed that something of this magnitude happened and that the Israelis had no idea it was going to happen. I’m just speechless,” said Clark of the Soufan Center. “They’ve had sources in these Palestinian organizations for years.”
CIA Director William Burns was scheduled to speak at a national security conference in Georgia on Saturday hosted by media organization Cipher Brief, spokeswoman Tammy Thorpe said. gave a keynote speech at the event, but canceled due to the Israeli crisis.
For now, experts say, Israel and the US are concerned about the current crisis, but over time there will inevitably be calls for an investigation into how Israel was caught in such a massive and sophisticated attack.