House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) says that lawmakers were told Egypt had warned Israel of a potential attack from Palestinian militant group Hamas before its deadly strike over the weekend.
“We know that Egypt had warned the Israelis three days prior that an event like this could happen,” McCaul said Wednesday following a closed-door intelligence briefing with lawmakers about the ongoing conflict.
He did not provide any specific details about the warning, but he noted it appeared there was a failure of intelligence from both Israel and the U.S. government.
“We’ve heard from the administration, there seems to be a failure of intelligence as well. We’re not quite sure how we missed it. We’re not quite sure how Israel missed it,” McCaul said.
Earlier this week, The Associated Press (AP) said it was told by an Egyptian intelligence official that Egypt — which often serves as a mediator between Israel and Hamas — spoke repeatedly with Israelis about “something big” without elaborating.
According to the AP, the official said the Israelis were “focused on the West Bank and played down the threat from Gaza.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government had placed a heavy focus on the expansion of West Bank settlements upon being sworn into office last December.
“We have warned them an explosion of the situation is coming, and very soon, and it would be big. But they underestimated such warnings,” said the Egyptian official, who spoke with the AP on the condition of anonymity.
The AP reported Israel was also undermined in part by Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plans, which sparked controversy and protests across the country by those who call the proposal a threat to democratic values. The changes would permit the government to overrule Supreme Court decisions and grant the executive branch more power to appoint justices.
Netanyahu was warned several times by defense chiefs and former leaders of Israeli intelligence agencies that his overhaul plans were taking away from the cohesion of the country’s security services, according to the AP.
Fighting has raged since Hamas’s initial attacks Saturday, with Israeli forces launching a major counteroffensive against the group in a series of airstrikes on Gaza.
The Israeli military has said more than 1,200 Israelis — including civilians and soldiers — have been killed, with another 3,000 wounded as of Thursday. In Gaza, an estimated 1,354 Palestinians have died and 6,049 others were injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
The deaths also include at least 27 Americans.
Source: The Hill