The officials themselves also misjudged the threat from Hamas, focusing instead on Iran and Hezbollah, the outlet has reported
Israeli security services warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for months that his domestic policies were fueling dangerous political turmoil, the New York Times reported on Sunday. The officials reportedly stressed that internal discord was weakening the country’s security and strengthening Israel’s enemies.
The report was part of an examination of what led up to the latest hostilities between Israel and Gaza. At one point in July, the prime minister even allegedly refused to meet with a senior general that was trying to deliver a threat warning based on classified intelligence.
At the same time, NYT assessed that Israeli security representatives themselves continuously misjudged the threat posed by Hamas, including in the weeks leading up to the October 7 attack on Israeli territory which resulted in the deaths of up to 1,400 people.
The newspaper reported that Israeli military intelligence had believed since May 2021 that the militant group was not interested in any large-scale attacks from Gaza, but was instead plotting an attack in the West Bank, where control is held by the Palestinian Authority, which is a rival to Hamas.
It also said that both Netanyahu and top Israeli security staff had underestimated the threat from Hamas and did not devote enough resources to countering it because they believed that Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah posed more of a danger to the Jewish state.
In September, top Israeli officials came to the conclusion that Israel could be attacked on several fronts in the coming weeks or months by Iran-backed militia groups. However, there was no mention of a possible attack from Gaza at that time.
Another reason for the success of the surprise assault earlier this month, according to the outlet, was the fact that US intelligence agencies had largely stopped tracking the group, believing that Israel was managing the threat it posed.
Meanwhile, while many senior Israeli officials have accepted responsibility for their lapse in judgment, Prime Minister Netanyahu has been reluctant to do so, instead repeatedly pointing the finger at his military and intelligence chiefs for failing to predict and warn him about Hamas’ plans.
On Sunday, he published yet another post on X (formerly Twitter) blaming his cabinet for failing to prevent the October 7 attack. However, after receiving backlash, Netanyahu deleted it and posted another message stating “I was wrong” and vowing to fully back the heads of Israel’s security agencies.