A senior White House official has stressed that, to his knowledge, the U.S. intelligence community wasn’t aware of Hamas’s plans to target Israel ahead of the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 attacks.
In a Dec. 3 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” National Security Council Coordinator John Kirby claimed that the United States didn’t have “any advance warning” or “any knowledge” of Hamas’s attack plan, despite reports that imply otherwise.
The NY Times also reported a document, specifically a 40-page blueprint code named Jericho Wall, that it claims shows that Hamas’s plan was circulated among Israeli military and intelligence officials. It alleged that Israeli experts dismissed the plan at the time as one that would be too difficult for Hamas to execute without help.
Mr. Kirby doubled down on his assertion that, to his knowledge, nobody in the U.S. intelligence community had access to the document before the attack, calling intelligence gathering a complicated activity that isn’t infallible.
“The intelligence community has indicated that they did not have access to this document, there’s no indications at this time that they had any access to this document beforehand,” he said.
Not the Right Time to Play Blame GameHamas, recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States and other nations, initiated a surprise attack against Israel from the air, land, and sea on Oct. 7. Hundreds of Hamas terrorists poured out of the Gaza Strip into Israel, raiding civilian homes and military bases and killing at least 1,200 people, while taking hundreds more hostage.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has said that more than 15,000 people have been killed during Israel’s ongoing military operations in Gaza. Those numbers haven’t been independently verified. Israel claims that it’s unclear how many were killed by Israeli or terrorist fire.
Mr. Kirby didn’t directly comment on whether he thought the Oct. 7 attack was the result of a failure by Israeli intelligence, who have been famed as among the best in the world. Instead, he pointed to comments already made about the attacks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I think there’s going to be a time and a place for Israel to do that sort of forensic work. Prime Minister Netanyahu has already spoken pretty candidly about this and calling it, you know, a failure on their part,” Mr. Kirby said.
Truce Ends, War ResumesIn recent days, Israel has intensified its bombardment of the Gaza Strip after talks to renew the week-long truce with Hamas collapsed, and Israel’s war with the terrorist group resumed.
Mr. Kirby said, “It’s because of Hamas that this pause ended.” Israel has reportedly been urged to narrow the combat zone and specify safe areas for Palestinian civilians during Israeli operations in southern Gaza.
Mr. Kirby declined to elaborate on any conversations the White House might have had with Israel’s government about limiting civilian deaths in the future.
“I want to be careful that I don’t speak to Israeli military operations and get ahead of what they’re doing. That would be inappropriate for me to do,” he said.
“What I can tell you is that in our conversations with them, they have said that they agree with our idea here that the approach they take matters, that the reduction of civilian casualties and, quite frankly, minimizing damage to civilian infrastructure is important to them.”