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Netanyahu 'twice ignored intel warnings of attack on Israel'

Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu 'twice ignored intel warnings of attack on Israel': reports
2 min read
21 November, 2023
Israel's prime minister was warned twice in the months before 7 October that Hamas and Iran-backed groups might capitalise on the 'internal weakness' caused by divisions in Israeli society.
Benjamin Netanyahu won elections at the end of last year, before forming one of the most right-wing governments in Israel's history [Christophe Ena/Pool/AFP via Getty]

Israeli intelligence twice warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about an imminent attack on Israel in the months before Hamas's assault on the country on 7 October, according to media reports.

The Israeli military intelligence division, which is commonly known as 'Aman', warned Netanyahu in March and then in July that Iran-backed groups including Hamas and Hezbollah could launch an attack on an Israel 'weakened' by political and social crisis, Haaretz reported in its Hebrew-language edition on Monday.

In a letter sent to Netanyahu in March, Amit Sa'ar, head of research at the intelligence division, wrote: "All players (in the region) point out that Israel is facing a severe, unprecedented crisis that threatens its unity and weakens it. 

"As for our main enemies: Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, this weakness leads to the collapse of Israel and that the current situation represents an opportunity to accelerate and deepen its crisis."

A few days after this letter was sent, Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant called for the controversial judicial overhaul which Netanyahu and his allies had tried to implement, causing widespread protests throughout Israel.

 Netanyahu sacked him, before deciding to postpone the dismissal a few weeks later. 

Palestinian group Hamas launched an attack on Israel on 7 October, killing 1,200 Israelis and taking around 240 people hostage. Israeli officials have since admitted that there had been a string of failures by security services in the lead-up to the attack.

Since 7 October, Israel has relentlessly and indiscriminately bombed the Gaza Strip, killing more than 13,000 people, most of them women and children, and displacing well over a million.

Netanyahu's office has dismissed the Haaretz report and said that the prime minister had not received any warning of the attack.

Netanyahu won elections at the end of last year, before forming one of the most extreme-right governments in Israel's history.

He spearheaded an overhaul of the judiciary that would see it lose some of its independence. That move saw hundreds of thousands of Israelis take to the streets for months on end in protest.

Over the weekend, PM Netanyahu's son, Yair Netanyahu, blamed the judiciary and military for the 7 October attacks in a series of posts on his Telegram account.