CIA issued warnings of possible Gaza flare-up ahead of Hamas attack | ET REALITY


A pair of classified CIA intelligence reports issued in the days before a major Hamas attack on Israel warned of a possible escalation of violence, but did not predict the complex, multifaceted attack that Hamas gunmen launched against Israel days later, according to US officials.

The first of the intelligence reports, dated September 28, described the possibility of Hamas launching rockets into Israel over a period of several days.

The second report, dated October 5, was based on the first but was shorter and more analytical.

The Oct. 5 report appeared in a daily CIA intelligence briefing that is widely distributed to policymakers and lawmakers, officials said. But intelligence officials did not report any of the reports to President Biden or senior White House officials. The CIA also did not single out the briefings to White House policymakers as being of particular importance, the officials said.

Several US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, described the reports as routine and similar to other intelligence reports on the possibility of Palestinian violence that were written throughout the year.

A U.S. official familiar with the Sept. 28 report said it contained language warning of possible escalation by Hamas through increased cross-border fire against Israel from Gaza.

CIA analysts regularly write reports on violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the West Bank, which has increased dramatically in recent months. On the day the Oct. 5 report was released, Hamas said two of its members in the West Bank were killed in a shootout with Israeli forces.

But the CIA has recently paid more attention to the risk of violence in the Gaza Strip, as evidenced by the agency’s recent reports describing the dire economic conditions in Gaza, where Hamas exerts its influence. They also said the group’s growing frustration over Israel’s prolonged blockade of the territory could lead to a resumption of border attacks.

CIA and White House officials said they would not comment on classified documents.

While the reports warned of possible rocket launches, they did not say that Hamas intended to employ new tactics against Israel, such as a ground incursion.

It is unclear why Israeli intelligence agencies and their American counterparts did not detect Hamas’ preparations for the October 7 attack. Israeli intelligence agencies share much intelligence from the Palestinian regions with their American counterparts.

The attack began with a large barrage of rockets. Hamas then launched the largest and deadliest raid into Israel in decades, leaving some 1,200 Israelis dead. Hamas gunmen are also holding about 150 hostages.

The failure to detect Hamas preparations has raised questions about whether intelligence agencies misjudged the group’s capabilities and intentions or had diverted resources to monitor other threats. Hamas may also have found ways to prevent intelligence agencies from listening to its communications.

The reports were based on intelligence the CIA collected itself or received from partner services, the officials said, although they declined to discuss the nature of that intelligence. They were written amid weeks of youth protests in Gaza.

For many years, U.S. intelligence agencies have not made Hamas or the Gaza Strip a top priority, compared to other threats they have tracked much more closely, including China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Every year, US intelligence agencies release a report on the top threats to global security. The 2023 report highlighted the threat Israel faces from Iran, Hezbollah and “other partners and proxies,” without naming them.

The last time Hamas was mentioned in the annual report was in 2017. Gaza has not been mentioned since 2013.

Since William J. Burns became CIA director in 2021, he has warned, publicly and privately, that violence between Israelis and Palestinians could escalate, echoing comments from other US officials working in the region.

In remarks delivered at Georgetown University in February, Burns recalled his role as a senior diplomat two decades ago during the Palestinian uprising known as the Second Intifada.

“What we are seeing today bears a very unfortunate resemblance to some of the realities we also saw then,” he said.

More recently, Burns has warned of the risk that Israel’s adversaries may see the growing divisions within Israeli society over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies as an opportunity to intensify their attacks on the Jewish state.

Eric Schmitt contributed with reports.

Leave a Comment