Netanyahu apologizes for post blaming army, intelligence, for Hamas attack

The prime minister deleted his critical post amid calls to accept responsibility for not seeing warning signs.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

After heavy criticism, on Sunday morning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized and deleted a post to X he had written the night before that blamed the army and intelligence officials for the Hamas surprise attack on October 7 that launched Israel’s ongoing war against the terrorist organization.

“I was wrong,” the prime minister admitted. “Things I said following the press conference should not have been said and I apologize for that. I give full backing to all the heads of the security agencies. I support the Chief of Staff and the commanders and soldiers of the IDF who are at the front and fighting for our home. Together we will win.”

After the evening briefing, in which he described the opening of the second stage to the war but would not explicitly take responsibility as head of state for being caught unawares by Hamas’ plans and execution of a massacre of 1,400 men, women, children, and babies in Gaza envelope communities, and kidnapping of 229 hostages, Netanyahu’s office tried to defend him through social media in a series of posts.

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“During the night, after the press conference, serious accusations were repeated that the prime minister had received specific warnings of war. This is not true,” Netanyahu’s account read.

“At no point, was a warning given to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Hamas’s intention to start a war,” it continued. “On the contrary, all the defense officials, including the heads of the Intelligence Directorate and the Shabak, assessed that Hamas was deterred and was going for some kind of arrangement [with Israel]. This was the assessment submitted time after time to the prime minister and the cabinet by all the entities in the defense and the intelligence community right up until the war broke out.”

Benny Gantz, whose party joined the government from the Opposition for the duration of the war, demanded a retraction immediately.

“When at war, leadership needs to behave responsibly, do all the right things and strengthen the forces in such a way that they can do what we need them to do,” said Gantz. “Any other action or statement harms the abilities of the people and its forces. The prime minister must retract his statement from last night and stop dealing with the issue.”

As a former defense minister, Gantz has publicly admitted being partly responsible for the fatal misconception about Hamas, as have current Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Shabak head Ronen Bar.

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Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who is a minister in the Defense Ministry, has also shouldered blame.

He took to X to both criticize and defend Netanyahu, writing, “We don’t weaken IDF commanders. We don’t weaken the prime minister. We don’t weaken the public. We show responsibility…we back and strengthen each other, even when we are wrong. Only together with God’s help will we win.”

Opposition head Yair Lapid blasted Netanyahu for “crossing a red line” in blaming “the soldiers and commanders of the IDF who are heroically fighting Hamas and Hezbollah” instead of giving them his support.

“The attempts to duck responsibility and blame the defense system weakens the IDF while it is fighting the enemy. Netanyahu must apologize,” he demanded.

In his televised remarks, Netanyahu had called Israel’s counterattack against Hamas “Israel’s second War of Independence” which was backed by “many” in the international community because they “understand well that Israel is not only fighting its war but a war for all humanity, a war of humanity against barbarism.”