ARGUMENT: SEEDS OF SURPRISEHow Was Israel Caught Off-Guard?

Published 22 February 2024

There were several reasons for Israel’s intelligence and operational failures on 7 October. But the context within which these failures occurred, what Ariel Levite calls “the intelligence-policy nexus,” was created by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. For over a decade, he helped strengthen Hamas as part of his effort to prevent the emergence of a moderate and pragmatic Palestinian leadership. And, throughout 2023, he caused deep and bitter divisions in Israeli society and military by pursuing a regime-change legislative agenda aiming to hollow out Israel’s democracy. He was repeatedly warned by Israel’s military and intelligence leaders that both policies were weakening Israel and the IDF and making Israel more vulnerable to attack, but he rejected these warnings.