Shin Bet official in charge of south resigns over Oct. 7 failures: ‘A duty to apologize’

Security agency figure identified only by initial ‘Aleph’ hails victims’ perseverance, pleads for forgiveness; will be replaced by senior official from West Bank division

Troops from the 679th Yiftach Armored Brigade operate in central Gaza, June 2024 (IDF Spokesperson)
Troops from the 679th Yiftach Armored Brigade operate in central Gaza, June 2024 (IDF Spokesperson)

The head of the Shin Bet security agency’s Southern District stepped down in recent days, saying in his farewell speech that he was leaving with a heavy heart due to his department’s failure to avert Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught on southern Israel, Hebrew media reported on Wednesday.

The Shin Bet operator, identified only by his Hebrew initial “Aleph,” is slated to be replaced by a senior official in the organization’s West Bank department, Channel 12 and Walla news reported.

“In this terribly difficult period for the people of Israel and for the [Shin Bet], I saw people — people who began that cursed Saturday at the very bottom of their personal and professional hell, and who were able to pick themselves up, take action and devote themselves to the task at hand,” Aleph was quoted by Channel 12 as saying in his recent retirement speech to colleagues.

“I feel a personal and ethical duty to apologize. To apologize to all those whose loved ones were murdered, whose children were killed in battle, who were kidnapped — those who’ve returned home, and those still in enemy captivity — and all those who are displaced in their own land,” Aleph continued, according to Channel 12.

“Your forgiveness won’t blunt the failure, but it will help make amends, at least for me,” he reportedly added.

Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar’s office did not respond to a request for comment from Channel 12. According to the network, all Shin Bet officials who were directly tied to the failures of October 7 have asked to step down and plan to do so when possible, amid the ongoing Gaza war.

The network noted that the appointment of the top West Bank official, known by his initial “Samekh,” may signal the Shin Bet’s revamping of operations in the Gaza Strip to more closely resemble those in the West Bank. It has been widely reported that the Shin Bet’s intelligence-gathering operations in Gaza were far less comprehensive than those in the West Bank in the lead-up to October 7.

Ronen Bar, head of the Shin Bet security agency, speaks at the annual Cyber Week event at Tel Aviv University, on June 27, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Aleph is among the first security officials to announce their resignation due to failures on and leading up to October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists stormed southern Israel to kill nearly 1,200 people and take 251 hostages, sparking the war in Gaza.

Following the onslaught, tens of thousands of Israelis were evacuated from the Gaza border communities and from the north, where Israel feared Lebanon’s Hezbollah would carry out a similar attack.

Aleph was preceded by Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, chief of the Military Intelligence Directorate, who announced his decision to depart in April, though a replacement has not yet been decided. Brig. Gen. Amit Saar, head of the Directorate’s Research Division, who was also widely expected to quit, stepped down in March after being diagnosed with cancer.

By contrast, Brig. Gen. Yossi Sariel, head of the Directorate’s 8200 signal intelligence unit has reportedly refused to resign, despite reports he ignored repeated warnings of the coming onslaught. According to Channel 12, Sariel has said that resigning would be tantamount to “cowardice.”

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