Regev, IDF chief said to spar in cabinet meeting over Oct. 7 warnings to Netanyahu

Transportation Minister Miri Regev tears into army chief Halevi, asks why the IDF was not more effectively deployed on October 7 if it was so concerned about a potential attack

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi (L) and Transportation Minister Miri Regev (R). (Flash90; Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi (L) and Transportation Minister Miri Regev (R). (Flash90; Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Transportation Minister Miri Regev tore into Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi during Thursday night’s cabinet meeting regarding the army’s revelations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received multiple warnings ahead of October 7  that the country’s enemies were seeking to take advance of the upheaval in Israeli society, Hebrew media reported.

“If the Military Intelligence Directorate were so disturbed, why did you allow army-wide vacations in October? Why didn’t you do more?” Regev asked in leaked transcripts aired on Channel 12 on Friday.

Halevi responded tersely, asking Regev, known for her loyalty to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, if she was accusing the IDF of deliberately allowing the October 7 assault to happen.

“All matters regarding the warning we gave about October 7 are being dealt with in internal investigations. If you meant in your question that we knew and ignored or that we wanted such a thing to happen – that’s not even worthy of a response,” Halevi shot back.

“No one told me to ask this, but if you have so much free time, then maybe you can explain to us where was the army on October 7?” Regev responded.

“Miri, enough. I will address this later,” Netanyahu eventually interrupted.

The IDF said on Thursday that it had sent Netanyahu four communiques last spring and summer warning him about how Israel’s enemies “viewed the harm to cohesion in the State of Israel and the IDF in particular,” amid massive public protests over the coalition’s legislative bid to constrain the powers and independence of Israel’s judiciary.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issues a statement against the decision of three European countries to recognize a Palestinian state on May 22, 2024. (Screen capture)

The army did not reveal the content of the letters sent to Netanyahu, saying that as they were issued by the Military Intelligence Directorate, they fell outside of the Freedom of Information Law.

Netanyahu on Thursday rejected the IDF’s assertion that he had been warned of the potential harm that could be wreaked upon Israel amid the upheaval.

“Not only is there no warning in any of the documents about Hamas’s intentions to attack Israel from Gaza, but they instead give a completely opposite assessment,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Netanyahu has consistently refused to take prime personal responsibility for Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught, which his government failed to foresee or prevent. While he hinted at “failures” during a recent interview with American television psychologist Dr. Phil, he declined to say whether they were military or political.

Top defense officials, including Halevi, have said in the aftermath of the unprecedented Hamas massacre that they bear responsibility for the military’s failure to protect Israelis on the Gaza border.

Netanyahu has insisted on waiting until after the war for a state commission of inquiry to make determinations regarding the culpability of the government.

War cabinet minister Benny Gantz in a video message issued May 23, 2024, demanding the immediate establishment of a state commission of inquiry in the events leading up to October 7, 2023. (Screenshot)

Hours after the IDF said it had warned Netanyahu, National Unity leader and minister in the war cabinet Benny Gantz demanded the immediate establishment of a state commission of inquiry, saying that taking responsibility was no longer enough and the government had to act and learn from the mistakes that made October 7 possible.

Israel was rocked by a surprise attack from Hamas on October 7 in which terrorists rampaged through communities in the South murdering some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 252.

In response, Israel launched a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip with the proclaimed objectives of dismantling Hamas and getting the hostages back.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 35,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far, though only some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals. The toll, which cannot be verified as it does not differentiate between terrorists and civilians, includes some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle.

Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

According to the IDF’s tally, 286 soldiers have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border. A civilian Defense Ministry contractor has also been killed in the Strip.

Sam Sokol contributed to this report.

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