‘I failed in my life’s mission’: Gaza Division head announces resignation over Oct. 7

In letters to army chief and mayors of border communities, Brig. Gen. Avi Rosenfeld says: ‘Everyone has to take responsibility for their part’

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Brig. Gen. Avi Rosenfeld, the commander of the Gaza Division during a handover ceremony in August 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Brig. Gen. Avi Rosenfeld, the commander of the Gaza Division during a handover ceremony in August 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli general in charge of the Gaza Strip area announced his resignation on Sunday over his role in the failures that led to the Hamas terror group’s October 7 onslaught.

Brig. Gen. Avi Rosenfeld, the head of the Israel Defense Force’s Gaza Division, said in a letter to his superiors that “on October 7, I failed in my life’s mission to protect the [Gaza border communities].”

The officer was due to be replaced in “the coming period,” the IDF said.

Rosenfeld is only the second senior officer in the IDF to resign over the October 7 attack, after the chief of the Military Intelligence Directorate announced he was quitting in April. (Another top intelligence general who was planning to step down over the onslaught quit after being diagnosed with cancer.)

In his letter to the head of the Southern Command and the IDF chief of staff, Rosenfeld said: “I have decided to end my position as commander of the 143rd Division (the Gaza Division) and my service in the IDF, as part of my responsibility as a commander.”

“Everyone has to take responsibility for their part, and I am the one in charge of the 143rd Division,” he said.

Commander of the IDF Gaza Division, Brig. Gen. Avi Rosenfeld, is seen near the border with the Gaza Strip, October 9, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

“As I promised, I will stay until my replacement takes over the role, and I will transfer command over the division in an orderly and responsible manner,” Rosenfeld continued.

“I intend to continue to take part in the investigations and the learning of lessons, to do everything so that what happened on October 7 does not happen in the future,” he said.

Rosenfeld sent a similar letter to the heads of local authorities in the Gaza periphery area.

“On the morning of Simhat Torah, war broke out by surprise, without warning. For many hours we were unable to protect the communities, the tens of thousands of residents, the thousands celebrating at the party [near Re’im],… and the troops in the outposts, against the thousands of terrorists who invaded our territory in dozens of routes, in an all-out attack by the Hamas terror army,” he wrote.

Alongside Rosenfeld, other top defense officials have said they bear responsibility for the deadly invasion carried out by Hamas on October 7, including the head of the Shin Bet security agency and the IDF chief of staff. None of them have announced plans to resign yet, though many are expected to do so once the security situation stabilizes.

However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his government have repeatedly refused to take responsibility for their part in the series of strategic and operational failures that led to the Hamas onslaught, insisting that the matter of their responsibility only be dealt with after the war.

Some 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists burst from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on October 7, carrying out a murderous rampage of unprecedented intensity and breadth. The IDF struggled to mount a response, with bases closest to the border overrun and the chain of command seemingly broken amid the chaos.

The onslaught claimed the lives of some 1,200 people in Israel, with another 251 people kidnapped and much of the area devastated. Most victims were civilians.

Also amid the onslaught, terrorists raided the Gaza Division’s base, the Re’im Camp, killing soldiers and capturing others. The base was recaptured only hours later.

Before the war, the commander of the IDF’s 99th Division, Brig. Gen. Barak Hiram, was tapped to be the next commander of the Gaza Division.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (right) meets with Brig. Gen. Barak Hiram (left) the commander of the 99th Division in the Gaza Strip in this photo published on January 19, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

However, that move appeared to currently be on hold amid the war and controversies surrounding Hiram, including his order to fire a tank shell at a home in the southern community of Be’eri amid a hostage situation during Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, possibly killing some of the captives.

An IDF probe into the onslaught and battle in Be’eri is to be presented in early July, according to a schedule seen by The Times of Israel.

The military announced Wednesday that it would begin to present its investigations into its failures in the lead-up to the October 7 attacks next month.

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