The prime minister has retracted claims that he was not warned of the October 7 Hamas attack
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apologized for a post blaming the country’s security services for failing to predict the Hamas attack after taking flak, including from members of his own war cabinet.
On Saturday, after Netanyahu’s late night press conference, his office wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that “under no circumstances and at no stage was Prime Minister Netanyahu warned of Hamas’s war intentions.”
His office added that “on the contrary, all the security officials, including the head of military intelligence and the head of the Shin Bet [security service], assessed that Hamas had been deterred and was looking for a settlement.”
However, the post sparked a fierce backlash from Israeli officials and politicians. Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet and former defense minister, urged Netanyahu to “retract his statement… and stop dealing with the issue.”
“When we are at war, leadership must show responsibility… and strengthen the forces in a way that they can… realize what we demand from them. Any other action or statement – harms the people’s ability to stand and their strength,” he added.
The rebuke was also echoed by opposition leader Yair Lapid, who accused the prime minister of “crossing a red line.” While Israeli soldiers “are fighting bravely against Hamas and Hezbollah, [the prime minister] is trying to blame them, instead of supporting them,” he said.
As a result, Netanyahu backtracked on his comments on Sunday, admitting that he was “wrong” and issuing a formal apology. “I give full backing to all the heads of the security services. I am sending strength to the [IDF] chief of staff and the commanders and soldiers of the IDF who are on the frontlines and fighting for our home,” he wrote.
During the press conference on Saturday, Netanyahu stopped short of assigning blame for who was responsible for the Hamas attack, which came as a surprise for Israel, while admitting that it was “an awful debacle.”
“After the war everyone will have to give answers, myself included,” he said.
His comments came after US House Foreign Affairs Committee head Michael McCaul claimed earlier this month that Egypt, which borders Gaza, warned Israel of potential violence several days before the attack. Netanyahu, however, dismissed reports about the specific Egyptian warning as “totally fake news.”