Israel's military intel chief resigns, citing failures over Oct. 7 attack

Tanks, armored vehicles and military machinery belonging to the Israeli army on April 17, 2024. 

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The intelligence chief of Israel’s Defense Forces has resigned citing failures linked to the Hamas terror attack carried out on Oct. 7, during which 1,200 people died in Israel and more than 200 were taken hostage.

“On Saturday, October 7, 2023, Hamas carried out a murderous surprise attack against the State of Israel, whose consequences are severe and painful. The intelligence division under my command did not live up to the task assigned to it,” Major General Aharon Haliva said in a resignation letter supplied by the IDF.

“At the beginning of the war I expressed to you my desire to accept responsibility and finish my duties,” he added. “After more than six months, and at the same time as the investigations begin, I would like to resign from my position.”

Haliva had previously assumed responsibility for failure to prevent the devastating attack, amid mounting domestic criticism and demands for accountability from Israel’s highest echelons. He is the first senior official to step down over the incident.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far not directly accepted fault for the attack, despite protests calling for his resignation and survey results indicating that the majority of Israelis believe he should acknowledge culpability, according to Reuters and the Times of Israel.

Haliva’s resignation comes as the IDF faces intense scrutiny over the proportionality of its months-long retaliatory war campaign in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas has retreated with its hostages.

World leaders and U.N. agencies have raised alarm bells over potential human rights violations in the enclave, where the Hamas-run health authorities say deaths have topped 34,000 since Oct. 7.

Netanyahu has spoken out against the possibility of the U.S., a long-term Israeli ally, imposing sanctions on the Netzah Yehuda unit of the IDF, which has allegedly been involved in human rights abuses against Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank. CNBC has reached out to the IDF for comment on the allegations.

Axios first reported the prospective measures, citing three unnamed sources, which CNBC could not independently verify.

“It is forbidden to impose sanctions on the Israel Defense Forces!” Netanyahu said in a Google-translated post on social media platform X.

“In recent weeks, I have been working against the imposition of sanctions on Israeli citizens, including in my conversations with senior American government officials,” he added. “At a time when our soldiers are fighting the monsters of terror, the intention to impose a sanction on a unit in the IDF is the height of absurdity and a moral low. The government headed by me will act by all means against these moves.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday and discussed “efforts to protect Israel’s security and negotiations to secure the release of hostages, enable an immediate ceasefire, and increase the flow of life-saving humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” according to a White House readout.

“The Secretary also underscored the importance of measures to de-escalate tensions in the region,” the statement said. It comes amid international concerns of a deepening spillover of the Gaza conflict in the broader Middle East region after drone and missile attacks traded by Israel and Iran last week.

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