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12 Oct, 2023 18:09

Israeli army chief admits ‘failure’

General Halevi has vowed to “dismantle” Hamas after the IDF was caught off-guard
Israeli army chief admits ‘failure’

The Israel Defense Force did not live up to its responsibility to protect the country when Hamas struck, but now intends to fight the war and destroy the terrorist group and its leadership, IDF chief of staff General Herzi Halevi said on Thursday.

“The IDF is responsible for the security of our nation and its citizens, and we failed to do so on Saturday morning,” Halevi said, in Hebrew, in his first public remarks since the conflict broke out. “We will look into it, we will investigate, but now it is time for war.”

Halevi described Hamas as “animals” and “merciless terrorists who have committed unimaginable acts” against men, women and children, and their attack on the morning of October 7 as “murderous, brutal and surprising.”

The IDF “understands the magnitude of this time, and the magnitude of the mission that lays on our shoulders,” Halevi said.

“Yahya Sinwar, the ruler of the Gaza Strip, decided on this horrible attack, and therefore he and the entire system under him are dead men,” the Israeli general added, vowing to “attack them and dismantle them and their organization” and that “Gaza will not look the same” afterward.

Israel will “do everything” to rescue the hostages that were seized by Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants, Halevi said. There may be as many as 200 people missing from Israeli villages and towns near Gaza that the Palestinian fighters raided over the weekend.

Since Saturday, around 1,200 people have been killed in Israel and at least 1,100 in Gaza, according to local officials.

Halevi became the IDF chief of staff in January. He previously oversaw the IDF Southern Command, including a November 2019 operation against Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Prior to that, he ran the military intelligence directorate (2014-2018).

The Hamas attack came on the anniversary of the 1973 war, which also caught Israel by surprise. Though eventually victorious, Halevi’s predecessor David Elazar ended up being blamed for the military setback.

The 51-kilometer-long border with Gaza is normally patrolled by at least three IDF battalions, but two of them were redeployed to the West Bank to provide security for the Jewish festival of Sukkot, American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported on Thursday. His Israeli source blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the decision.