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Israel’s head of military intelligence resigns over October 7 attack

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The head of Israel’s military intelligence has resigned, making him the first senior official in the country’s military or political leadership to step down over the failures that led to Hamas’s devastating October 7 attack on Israel.

Major General Aharon Haliva said in his resignation letter that he took responsibility for the military intelligence failings that preceded Hamas’s attack, which is widely regarded as the worst security failure in the Jewish state’s 76-year history, and called for an official investigation to be carried out.

“[On October 7] the intelligence directorate under my command did not fulfil the mission with which we were entrusted. That black day I carry with me ever since, day by day, night by night. I will forever carry with me the pain of the war,” he wrote.

“It is correct to establish a state commission of inquiry that can investigate . . . all the factors and reasons that led to the difficult events [of October 7].”

Haliva’s departure is widely expected to be followed by further resignations among Israel’s military and intelligence leadership, with several other senior officials having admitted failings in the run-up to Hamas’s attack.

It is also likely to increase the pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take responsibility for the failures that led to October 7, and launch a full and thorough investigation. The long-serving premier has consistently sought to deflect blame on to his security chiefs and has said any inquiry would need to wait until the war’s conclusion.

Hamas’s October 7 attack is regarded as the worst security failure in Israel’s 76-year history © Ilia Yefimovich/dpa

The Israeli military said Haliva, a former paratrooper who has led the military intelligence directorate since 2021, would step down and retire as soon as a successor had been found.

October 7 was the deadliest day in the history of the Jewish state, with Hamas militants storming through the barrier separating Israel from Gaza, before rampaging through villages in the south of the country, where they killed 1,200 people and took 250 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Israel responded with a devastating assault on Gaza, which has so far killed 34,000 people, according to Palestinian officials, as well as displacing 1.7mn of the enclave’s 2.3mn inhabitants and fuelling a humanitarian catastrophe.

Israel’s intelligence services have been widely criticised for their failure to warn of the incursion, including in the hours preceding the assault, as well as for their wider strategic assessment that Hamas was deterred from an all-out war.

Israel’s intelligence community has also come under fire for misjudging how aggressively Iran would respond to a presumed Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1, which killed several senior Iranian commanders.

The strike prompted retaliation from Tehran, which launched a barrage of missiles and drones at Israel in a major escalation of the hostilities that have engulfed the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas erupted in October. Israel responded with a limited retaliatory strike last Friday that reportedly caused some damage to an Iranian military base.

While Netanyahu has previously said “everyone will have to give answers” for the October 7 attack, he has repeatedly rejected suggestions that he should resign over the debacle, and resisted calls to hold early elections.

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