As the Israel-Hamas war cranks into high gear, the only thing with more emphasis than the war is the search for a scapegoat. Egypt’s Intelligence Minister, General Abbas Kamel, jumped to the head of the line by pointing all his fingers at Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Monday, an Egyptian intelligence official reported that Abbas Kamel, Director of the General Intelligence Directorate of Egypt, called Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to alert him about “something fierce will happen from Gaza,” ten days ago. According to the Egyptian source, Netanyahu seemed unbothered, said the IDF is “swamped” in dealing with terror from the West Bank.
Another Egyptian official added additional color.
Mounting questions over Israel’s massive intelligence failure to anticipate and prepare for a surprise Hamas assault were compounded Monday when an Egyptian intelligence official said that Jerusalem had ignored repeated warnings that the Gaza-based terror group was planning “something big” — which included an apparent direct notice from Cairo’s intelligence minister to the prime minister.
The Egyptian official said Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, had spoken repeatedly with the Israelis about “something big,” without elaborating.
He said Israeli officials were focused on the West Bank and played down the threat from Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is made up of supporters of West Bank settlers who have demanded a security crackdown there in the face of a rising tide of violence over the last 18 months.
For his part, Netanyahu didn’t mince words.
However, Israel sternly dismissed the anonymous official’s claim as “totally fake news.”
“The report to the effect that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a message in advance from Egypt is absolutely false,” the prime minister’s office tweeted.
“No message in advance has arrived from Egypt and the Prime Minister has neither spoken, nor met, with the head of Egyptian intelligence since the formation of the government, neither directly nor indirectly.”
If you recall the days just after 9/11, you’ll remember the chorus of Democrat attacks on President Bush alleging that there were warnings (my very first RedState post as a diarist was on that subject). Then, a juvenile Presidential Daily Brief titled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US” was waved about as proof that Bush had been told when 9/11 would happen and did nothing. In reality, the key elements of intelligence (when, where, and in what strength?) were totally absent. I’m sorry, Mr. Egyption Intelligence Minister, but “Hamas gonna do some sh**” isn’t really a warning in the context of an organization that, as recently as May, fired a barrage of over 400 rockets from Gaza into Israel. Unless the warning had a lot more detail than anyone from Egypt is letting on, then it is unlikely that it could have been acted on.
There are lots of moving parts.
Netanyahu is in a weak political position, leading a very fragile coalition. Even a hint of a missed warning would bring his government down. So it is natural that he’d deny receiving a warning. But because of that and because of Netanyahu’s experience, it is hard to believe that if something even vaguely more threatening than normal had been presented to him, he wouldn’t have put Mossad/Shin Bet under a lot of pressure to find out what was going on. His brand had always been protecting Israel at all costs. It is hard to see him not doing that now.
Egypt’s value-added proposition in the Middle East is its ability to tamp down terrorism emanating from Egyptian territory and to reach inside Hamas and the PLO to find out what is going on and to keep them from doing something nuts. If Israel failed to anticipate this attack, Egypt also failed as a security partner. In fact, the weasely, day-late-dollar-short leak that Israel received some nebulous warning gives the aura of Egypt realizing they may have been played and not wanting to be blamed.
As I’ve said before, intelligence is viewed through expectations. No one had a reason to suspect Hamas would do this, and because of that, warning signs that may be obvious in retrospect were ignored or misinterpreted. We also can’t ignore the possibility that this operation was planned under operational security conditions that Israel could not penetrate; see What Was the Role of the Iranian Spy Ring in the US Government in the ‘Intelligence Blunder’ With Hamas? Was There an Intelligence Failure in Israel? and CONFIRMED: Iran Planned and ‘Green-Lit’ Murderous Hamas Attacks on Israel.
The best that can be said for this claim is that it is unhelpful. It could be interpreted as a way of helping Hamas by fomenting a political crisis as the war goes on. There is zero reason to believe this story is true, particularly in light of Netanyahu’s past record.The Knives Just Came out for Netanyahu Read More