A top US legislator gave further credence Wednesday to assertions that Cairo had warned Israel of looming major violence by Hamas, three days before Gaza’s ruling terror group caught Israeli forces off-guard and massacred over 1,200 Israelis.
Republican Michael McCaul, chairman of the powerful US House Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “We know that Egypt… warned the Israelis three days prior that an event like this could happen.”
Speaking to reporters following a closed-door intelligence briefing for lawmakers on the crisis, he added: “I don’t want to get too much into classified [details], but a warning was given.
“I think the question was at what level.”
An Egyptian official also asserted to The Times of Israel that its intelligence service warned Israeli counterparts that Hamas was planning “something big” ahead of Saturday’s surprise onslaught.
The official speculated that the warning did not make it up the chain of command to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
"אני לא יודע איך אנחנו החמצנו זאת, אני לא יודע איך ישראל החמיצה זאת – אני יודע שמצרים הזהירה את ישראל שלושה ימים לפני המתקפה": דבריו של מייקל מקאול, יו"ר וועדת החוץ בבית הנבחרים האמריקאי pic.twitter.com/Wbfa6nVmqW
— המקום הכי חם בגיהנום (@ha_makom) October 11, 2023
The premier has denied previous reports that he was given such a warning.
McCaul said the attack may have been planned as long as a year ago.
“We’re not quite sure how we missed it. We’re not quite sure how Israel missed it,” he told reporters.
Cairo has not commented officially on suggestions that it may have offered an early warning.
But Egyptian media with close ties to the country’s intelligence services on Wednesday quoted senior security sources denying Israeli press reports that such a warning was issued.
Israel is reeling from the deadliest attack in its 75-year history, after many hundreds of terrorists stormed through the Gaza security barrier Saturday in a coordinated land, air and sea attack on the Jewish Sabbath.
Hamas’s ability to remain undetected while preparing and launching such a large-scale, complex assault from the closely monitored and heavily guarded Gaza Strip has shocked Israelis and observers the world over, representing an unprecedented intelligence and operational failure for Israel.
Palestinian terrorists rampaged through the south of Israel on Saturday morning, killing some 1,200 people, the vast majority of them civilians, and taking at least 100 captives to Gaza. Some 3,000 were injured.
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says 1,100 in the Palestinian enclave have been killed in retaliatory Israeli strikes. Israel says it is targeting terrorist infrastructure and all areas where Hamas operates or hides. Jerusalem has also said Israeli forces have killed some 1,500 Hamas terrorists who infiltrated into its territory since Saturday.
There have also been several deadly clashes on the northern border in recent days, some of them claimed by Palestinian terror groups operating out of Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon, and others by Hezbollah itself.
In Washington, US President Joe Biden has pledged to send more US munitions and military hardware and expressed revulsion at the “sheer evil” of the slaughter of civilians.