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The head of Israeli military intelligence resigned because he failed to prevent the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, which was the deadliest assault in Israel's history

The head of Israel’s military intelligence directorate has resigned due to Hamas’ attack on October 7. Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, the head of Israel’s military intelligence, is the first senior Israeli official to step down due to the mishandling of

By TIA GOLDENBERG (Associated Press)

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The head of Israeli military intelligence resigned on Monday over the failures surrounding Hamas’ unprecedented Oct. 7 attack, the military said, becoming the first senior figure to step down over his role in the deadliest assault in Israel’s history.

Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva’s decision could set the stage for more resignations among Israel’s top security brass over Hamas’ attack, when militants blasted through Israel’s border defenses, rampaged through Israeli communities unchallenged for hours and killed 1,200 people, most civilians, while taking roughly 250 hostages into Gaza. That attack set off the war against Hamas in Gaza, now in its seventh month.

“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 horrible pain of the war with me forever,” Haliva wrote in his resignation letter, which was provided by the military.

Haliva, as well as other military and security leaders, were widely expected to resign in response to the glaring failures that led up to Oct. 7 and the scale of that attack’s 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. Some military experts have said resignations at a time when Israel is engaged on multiple fronts is irresponsible and could be interpreted as a sign of weakness.

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

While Haliva and others have accepted blame for failing to stop the attack, others have stopped short, most notably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who 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, although a growing protest movement is demanding elections be held soon.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid welcomed the resignation, saying it was “justified and dignified.”

“It would be appropriate for Prime Minister Netanyahu to do the same,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

The Hamas attack, which came on a Jewish holiday, caught Israel and its vaunted security establishment entirely off guard. 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 resignation came as Jews around the world prepared to celebrate Passover, a weeklong holiday that begins Monday evening and marks the biblical exodus of Jews from slavery in Egypt. With roughly 130 people still held captive in Gaza, Passover is certain to take on a more somber hue this year: for many Israelis, it’s difficult to understand a celebration of freedom when many people are still being held hostage.

Hamas’ assault started the intense conflict that has resulted in the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza, as reported by the local health ministry. The ministry’s count does not differentiate between fighters and civilians, but it states that at least two-thirds of the casualties are children and women.

The fighting has caused severe damage to Gaza’s two largest cities, and forced 80% of the population to seek refuge in other areas of the besieged coastal region. The conflict has led to a humanitarian disaster that has prompted warnings of imminent famine.

The assault has also caused significant unrest in the area. In addition to Hezbollah and Iran, tensions have affected the Israeli-controlled West Bank, as well as cities and towns within Israel itself.

On Monday, Israeli authorities announced that a car had crashed into pedestrians in Jerusalem, lightly injuring three, and security camera footage showed two men leaving the car with a rifle before fleeing the scene. Authorities later stated that they had arrested the two men.

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This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva’s last name.

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