Israeli military intelligence chief resigns after 38 years of service over failure to prevent Hamas’s deadly October 7 attack, saying ‘I will carry the pain with me forever’

Israeli military intelligence chief resigns after 38 years of service over failure to prevent Hamas’s deadly October 7 attack, saying ‘I will carry the pain with me forever’

  • Major General Haliva publicly said he shouldered the blame for the deadly attack

The head of Israel‘s military intelligence has resigned over the failures surrounding Hamas‘s unprecedented October 7 attack, the military said, becoming the first senior figure to step down over his role in the deadliest assault in Israel’s history.

Major General Aharon Haliva’s resignation sets the stage for more fallout for Israel’s top security brass over Hamas’ attack, when terrorists stormed through Israel’s border and rampaged through kibbutzim unchallenged for hours.

They killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took some 250 hostages into Gaza, and the attack prompted Israel to declare war on Hamas in Gaza, a campaign which is now in its seventh month and has seen more than 34,000 people killed, according to Hamas.

‘The intelligence directorate under my command did not live up to the task we were entrusted with. I carry that black day with me ever since, day after day, night after night. I will carry the pain with me forever,’ Haliva wrote in his resignation letter.

In the wake of the attack, Haliva had publicly said that he shouldered blame for not preventing the assault as the head of the department responsible for providing the government and the military with intelligence warnings and daily alerts.

He reportedly told his associates: ‘Already that morning I understood that it was over,’ adding that: ‘After the war is over I will have to go.’ Haliva is now expected to leave his post once a replacement is found. 

On October 7, Hamas terrorists stormed through Israel's border and rampaged through kibbutzim unchallenged for hours

Itai Tzarfati, resident of the Kibbutz Nir Oz, walks in front of a house that was burnt during the deadly October 7 attack

An Israeli officer walks on the ground of the Super Nova Festival in Re'im, Israel, 17 October 2023, following the attack by Hamas on October 7

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said in the statement that the chief of staff accepted Haliva’s request to resign and thanked him for his 38 years of service.

‘In coordination with the Chief of the General Staff, the Head of the Intelligence Directorate, MG Aharon Haliva, has requested to end his position, following his leadership responsibility as the Head of the Intelligence Directorate for the events of October 7,’ the IDF’s statement read.

‘The Chief of the General Staff thanked Major General Aharon Haliva for his 38 years of service in the IDF, during which he made significant contributions to the security of the State of Israel as both a combat soldier and commander.’

Haliva was on holiday in the southern Israeli city of Eilat on October 7, and reportedly received an update at around 3am regarding ‘certain signs coming from Gaza’.

He is said to have taken no part in consultations around the reports, but later was quoted as saying that even if he had partaken he would have concluded that Hamas was carrying out an apparent drill.

‘It wouldn’t have changed the final result in any way,’ Israeli media reports him as saying.

The intelligence chief is currently among those involved in the army’s internal investigation into the failures leading up to October 7, with findings expected to be presented by early June.

Major General Haliva had publicly said that he shouldered blame for not preventing the assault

Haliva, as well as other military and security leaders, were widely expected to resign in response to the glaring failures that led up to October 7 and the scale of its ferocity.

But the timing of the resignations has been unclear because Israel is still fighting Hamas in Gaza and battling the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in the north. Tensions with Iran are also at a high following attacks between the two enemies.

While Haliva and others have accepted blame for failing to stop the attack, others have stopped short, most notably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He has said he will answer tough questions about his role but has not outright acknowledged direct responsibility for allowing the attack to unfold. He has also not indicated that he will step down.

The Hamas attack, which came on a Jewish holiday, caught Israel and its vaunted security establishment entirely off guard. 

Palestinians walk and drive away from Kibbutz Kfar Azza, Israel, near the fence with the Gaza strip following a deadly attack on the community on Oct. 7, 2023

Palestinian men celebrate by a destroyed Israeli tank at the Gaza Strip fence east of Khan Younis southern Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023

Israelis’ sense of faith in their military – seen by most Jews as one of the country’s most trustworthy institutions – was shattered in the face of Hamas’ onslaught. The resignation could help restore some of that trust. 

The attack set off the devastating war that has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to local health officials, at least two-thirds of them children and women.

It has devastated Gaza’s two largest cities, and driven 80 per cent of the territory’s population to flee to other parts of the besieged coastal enclave. 

Smoke and flames billow after Israeli forces struck a high-rise tower in Gaza City, October 7, 2023

The war has sparked a humanitarian catastrophe that has drawn warnings of imminent famine.

The attack also sent shock waves through the region. Tensions have rocked the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as well as cities and towns within Israel itself.

On Monday, Israeli police said that a car had slammed into pedestrians in Jerusalem, wounding three lightly, and security camera video showed two men exiting the car with a rifle before the fleeing the scene. Police later said they arrested the two men.

Elena Salvoni

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