Thursday, February 29, 2024

NDTV Explains: Was Israel Warned Of Hamas’ Attack And What Did Egypt Say?

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Over 4,000 people have died in the Israel-Hamas war so far (File).

Israeli state media said Thursday its military did receive intel about a Hamas attack – three days before a rocket barrage and roving squads of gunmen killed over a thousand people – but opted not to take action. Media reports said Israel did not act because Egypt did not specify the magnitude of the attack. Reports also said Egypt’s warning was played down as Israel was focused on settlers in the West Bank.

Also, British publication The Financial Times quoted two unnamed Israeli officials as saying the intel was not actionable; i.e., it did not have details of how the attack might unfold.

LIVE COVERAGE: Israel Vows Hamas’s Destruction After Deadly Attack

Cairo has not formally commented on report it may have offered an early warning, but it does have close ties with Tel Aviv and often acts as a mediator in its disputes with Gaza.

Egypt, meanwhile, has locked down its Rafeh border crossing with Gaza, Reuters reported Tuesday.

This came as Israel pounded the densely-populated Palestinian territory that is home to 2.3 million people, most of whom are civilians. Israel’s assault has alarmed Egypt; Cairo has urged Tel Aviv to provide safe passage for civilians rather than encourage them to flee into its territory, Reuters reported.

On Monday, when news first broke that Israel may have been warned of Hamas’ strike, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office denied Egypt’s claims on intel inputs.

An Egyptian official told the Associated Press the Israelis had been warned of “something big” about to happen, although, the official admitted, this was without elaboration.

US Confirms Egypt Warning

On Wednesday, however, a United States Senator confirmed intel had been shared.

Republican Michael McCaul of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “We know Egypt warned Israel three days prior. The question is, ‘at what level’ (was the warning).”

READ | Egypt Warned Israel Three Days Before Hamas Attack: US Lawmaker

Back-and-forth between Israel and Egypt (and the US) over intel underline the chaos that followed Hamas’ attack. Questions have been asked of the Iron Dome aerial defence system, which failed to intercept many of the estimated 5,000 rockets fired by Hamas.

READ | How Hamas Outfoxed Israel’s Iron Dome, A Nearly Impenetrable Air Defence

Questions have also been asked of Mossad and Shin Bet, the external and internal intel agencies; the former is seen as one of the best, and is ranked alongside the US’ CIA.

READ | NDTV Explains: How Israel’s Mossad Functions, Why It Failed To Stop Hamas

Mossad’s failure to detect the attack is also bad news for the US, which is a key Israel ally. “We’re not quite sure how we missed it… how Israel missed it,” Mr McCaul said.

Israel’s Big Warning For Gaza

Israel has launched a massive military operation in retaliation to Hamas’ attacks, including blocking all supplies of food, fuel, medicine and water to the Gaza Strip.

Much of the global community has been silent so far in the face of Israel’s “complete siege”. And today Energy Minister Israel Kantz denied all humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

READ |“No Water Tap Will Be Opened Until…”: Israel’s Big Warning For Gaza

“No electric switch will be turned on, no water tap will be opened and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees (hostages taken by the Hamas) are returned,” he said.

Israel Prepping Ground Assault

Tel Aviv’s attack so far has been limited to aerial and artillery strikes but reports indicate it is now ready to launch what will likely be a brutal and bloody ground attack.

This is, however, going to be complicated by the densely populated and packed urban terrain and Hamas’ network of underground tunnels, and the danger it poses to hostages.

READ |Signs That Israel Planning “Something Big”, Weighing Gaza Ground Assault

An invasion would bring heavy casualties on both sides and questions about whether Israel can devise an exit strategy for the conflict.

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