JERUSALEM: The head of Israeli military intelligence has resigned after accepting responsibility for the failures that allowed the devastating Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct 7, the military said on Monday.

Major General Aharon Haliva, a 38-year veteran of the military, was one of a number of senior Israeli commanders who said they had failed to foresee and prevent the deadliest attack in Israel’s history.

“The intelligence division under my command did not live up to the task we were entrusted with. I have carried that black day with me ever since,” he said in a resignation letter released by the military.

He will remain in post until a successor is named. Israeli media and commentators expect further resignations once the main military campaign in Gaza wraps up.

US hints at sanctioning Israeli military unit over abuses in West Bank

The Oct 7 attack badly tarnished the reputation of the Israeli military and intelligence services, previously seen as virtually unbeatable by armed Palestinian groups like Hamas.

In the early hours of the morning, following an intense rocket barrage, thousands of fighters from Hamas and other groups broke through security barriers around Gaza, surprising Israeli forces and rampaging through communities in southern Israel.

Some 1,200 Israelis and foreigners were killed in the attack, most of them civilians, and around 250 were taken into captivity in Gaza, where 133 remain as hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

The head of the armed forces, Lieutenant-General Herzi Halevi, and the head of the domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet, Ronen Bar, both accepted responsibility in the aftermath of the attack but have stayed on while the war in Gaza has continued.

By contrast, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far not accepted responsibility for the Oct 7 attack, although surveys indicate that most Israelis blame him for failing to do enough to prevent or defend against it.

In response to the attack, Israel launched an offensive against Gaza that has so far killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health authorities, and left the densely populated enclave in ruins.

US sanctions

The United States appears close to sanctioning an Israeli military unit over alleged human rights violations in the West Bank, a move the Israeli prime minister angrily denounced as “the height of absurdity”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted at such steps when asked by a reporter in Italy about reports that his department had recommended cuts in military aid to an Israeli unit involved in violent incidents in the West Bank.

Blinken, without providing details, said his department was conducting investigations under a law that prohibits sending military aid to foreign security units that violate human rights with impunity.

He then added: “I think it’s fair to say that you’ll see results very soon. I’ve made determinations; you can expect to see them in the days ahead.”

In late 2022, the State Department directed embassy staff in Israel to investigate alleged abuses in the West Bank by the army’s ultra-Orthodox Netzach Yehuda battalion.

That included a January 2022 incident when a 78-year-old Palestinian American died of a heart attack after being detained.

Although the allegations precede the Hamas attacks and Israel’s retaliatory war in Gaza, the suggestion of any sanctions against Israeli forces drew an angry response from PM Netanyahu.

“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 posted late on Saturday on social media platform X.

“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 Defence Minister Yoav Gallant similarly slammed the possibility of sanctions, after discussing the issue with army chief Herzi Halevi.

He urged Washington “to withdraw its intention to impose sanctions” on the battalion.

The Axios website, citing three US sources with knowledge of the matter, reported Saturday that Blinken was expected to announce sanctions against the battalion “within days.”

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

ICJ rebuke
Updated 26 May, 2024

ICJ rebuke

The reason for Israel’s criminal behaviour is that it is protected by its powerful Western friends.
Hot spells
26 May, 2024

Hot spells

WITH Pakistan already dealing with a heatwave that has affected 26 districts since May 21, word from the climate...
Defiant stance
26 May, 2024

Defiant stance

AT a time when the country is in talks with the IMF for a medium-term loan crucial to bolstering the fragile ...
More pledges
Updated 25 May, 2024

More pledges

There needs to be continuity in economic policies, while development must be focused on bringing prosperity to the masses.
Pemra overreach
25 May, 2024

Pemra overreach

IT seems, at best, a misguided measure and, at worst, an attempt to abuse regulatory power to silence the media. A...
Enduring threat
25 May, 2024

Enduring threat

THE death this week of journalist Nasrullah Gadani, who succumbed to injuries after being attacked by gunmen, is yet...