Official pushes back after PM’s brother blames army for not waking him earlier on Oct 7

Iddo Netanyahu claims security chiefs didn’t want to hear what he would have to say before Hamas onslaught began, because he might have ‘ordered them to act in a way they didn’t want’

File: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference at the Ministry of Defense, in Tel Aviv. November 22, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
File: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference at the Ministry of Defense, in Tel Aviv. November 22, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

A senior defense official on Tuesday pushed back against comments made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother, who appeared to lay blame at the door of security services for not waking the premier in the early hours of October 7.

As has been widely reported, senior IDF and security officials, including the heads of the IDF and the Shin Bet, held an assessment hours before the start of Hamas’s brutal onslaught on southern Israel on that day, having received indications that something was afoot in Gaza, but concluded that further deliberations could wait till morning.

Iddo Netanyahu claimed in comments to the Melting Pot podcast Tuesday that the security services didn’t wake the premier in the hours ahead of the assault because they did not want to hear what he would have to say on the matter, implying that he would have ordered a military alert.

“The army acted according to its own assessments. They didn’t bother to wake up the prime minister in the middle of the night, a sign that they didn’t care about what the government or the prime minister would have to say on the matter,” Iddo Netanyahu said.

“They preferred not to hear what he would say, because he might have ordered them to act in a way that they were not interested in acting,” said Netanyahu, a radiologist, author and playwright.

“A commission should investigate what went wrong, what the failures were, and come to conclusions,” he said.

Iddo Netanyahu. (YouTube screenshot)

The Shin Bet did dispatch an elite counterterror force, known as a Tequila team, to the Gaza border as a precaution, but the small team could only handle a small, limited assault, and was no match for the thousands of terrorists that burst through the border shortly after 6:30 a.m.

“We update the prime minister when we think the threat is tangible,” the unnamed official told Channel 12 news Wednesday.

“That’s not what we believed that night. Sending the Tequila team was to gather more information and for a margin of safety,” the official said. “When you update a prime minister, it’s when you decide to raise the profile [of the threat].”

Channel 12’s reporters noted that while the comments were made by the prime minister’s brother, they could indicate the premier’s mindset and how he may respond when asked difficult questions about the events leading up to the devastating onslaught.

The outlet added that the comments by the premier’s brother were similar to arguments put forward by Netanyahu on a number of occasions, claiming that if he had been woken at 4 a.m. on October 7, things may have been different that day.

In late October, the prime minister in a tweet repeated previous claims that he was not warned by security chiefs about an impending Hamas attack, and claimed all security chiefs had consistently assured him the Gaza terror group was deterred. His comments drew sharp criticism over the apparent attempt to blame them and evade responsibility for the disaster. He deleted the post some nine hours later, and issued a rare apology shortly afterward.

Netanyahu has notably refused to take direct personal responsibility for the October 7 atrocities, breaking with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and security chiefs who have said they failed in preventing the murderous rampage.

Instead, the premier has said he had not received any intelligence warnings from the security establishment.

Zaka personnel cleaning the remains of bloodstains from the October 7 massacre, in Kibbutz Be’eri, December 19, 2023 (Chen Schimmel/Flash90)

Additionally, the prime minister has so far resisted setting up a state commission — the most powerful and consequential investigative panel — to look into the failings that enabled the October 7 onslaught. He has said investigations are necessary but will need to wait until after the war.

Netanyahu and his conduct vis-à-vis Hamas over his many years in power are expected to be a key matter of interest for any investigative panel.

Right-wing ministers reacted in anger last month when IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said he was setting up an outside team to investigate only the army’s failure, presumably concerned that such a probe could also reflect badly upon them. Ynet later reported that Halevi had frozen that probe amid the criticism.

Some 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists stormed southern Israeli communities on October 7, massacring some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting another 253.

The government has come under increasing pressure to reach a deal for the release of the hostages and bodies of those killed still remaining in captivity after over 100 people were freed as part of a weeklong truce in late November.

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