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"The attack caught us by surprise": Former director of Israel National Security Council

Helit Barel stated that the attacks could have been avoided if the intelligence wing of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were at the required "level of readiness".

The attack caught us by surprise: Former director of Israel National Security Council

Former director of the Israel National Security Council, Helit Barel. (Photo: ANI)

NEW DELHI: Former director of the Israel National Security Council, Helit Barel, hinted at an intelligence lapse, saying that the multi-front terror attack by Hamas caught the country "by surprise". In an interview with ANI over Zoom, she added that the attacks could have been avoided if the intelligence wing of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were at the required "level of readiness".

Barel said Israel was currently in a state of war and there was a sequence of challenges and tasks at hand. "It is quite clear that this attack caught us by surprise. There is no way that such terrible consequences would have occurred if Israeli forces intelligence were at the kind of readiness that we know and expect. Currently, we are in a state of war...There is a sequence of challenges and tasks at hand beginning with still getting all the areas down south where there were terrorist infiltrations completely cleared," she told ANI.

On the operation carried out by the Israeli defence forces to neutralise terrorists in the region of conflict (near the Gaza border as well as across Israel), she said, "The forces are walking house by house and corner by corner making sure terrorists aren't hiding anywhere. We have the larger task of making sure that all other arenas that Israel faces stay calm including the internal arena...I think it is inevitable that there will be very strong retributions within the Gaza Strip and I think it will be of a magnitude that we certainly have not seen before."

Underlining how civilians across the country were affected by the terror attacks and the retaliatory strikes that followed, Barel said, "We're trying not to get into analysis of exactly how and what went wrong at this time. We don't have all the information and with people in such a bad state and needing stabilizing all over, families from all over the country have been hugely affected by this. We have a number of wounded, dead and hostages."

"But I will say I think everybody from the public to anybody in the security establishment is searching for answers about this and certainly we will not rest until we understand what exactly conspired because the security of the citizens of this state has been severely impaired," she told ANI.

The 'surprise attack' on Israel by terrorist outfit Hamas was condemned by world leaders. From Nepal, Sri Lanka to UK and Japan, world leaders expressed solidarity with Israel at a time when the country facing the fallout of the terror attacks, its worst till date, which has already claimed over 300 lives and likely to mount.

Taking to his official handle on social media platform X, UK PM Rishi Sunak posted, "As the barbarity of today's atrocities becomes clearer, we stand unequivocally with Israel. This attack by Hamas is cowardly and depraved," as he pledged support to his Israel counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu.

"We have expressed our full solidarity to @netanyahu and will work with international partners in the next 24 hours to co-ordinate support," he added. Meanwhile, Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida posted on X, "Hamas and other Palestinian militants attacked Israel from Gaza yesterday. Japan strongly condemns the attacks which severely harmed innocent civilians."

"I express my condolences to the bereaved families and heartfelt sympathies to the injured," Kishida said.

Around 6.30 am (local time) on Sunday, a barrage of rocket fire began from Gaza into Israel, hitting several cities including Tel Aviv, Rehovot, Gedera and Ashkelon. It was followed by several Hamas terrorists entering Israel from the Gaza Strip and laying a siege to Israeli towns.

Senior Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif declared that the rocket launch was the beginning of "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood", urging Palestinians all over the world to resist Israeli occupation.

Hamas would pay a "heavy price for its actions", according to reports. The Israeli forces told citizens living near the Gaza Strip, them to remain inside their houses.

The Al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas, referred to Saturday's attack on Israel as an effort "in defence of the Al-Aqsa Mosque", a disputed religious site significant to both Muslims and Jews, reports said.

In the wake of the deadly attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a stern warning to Hamas, claiming that the terror outfit had begun a terrible war and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) would use all of its strength to undermine their capacity.

"Hamas forces invaded Israeli territory this morning, on the morning of a holiday and Shabbat, and murdered innocent civilians, children and the elderly. Hamas started a cruel and evil war. We will win this war, but the price is too heavy to bear. This is a very difficult day for all of us," the Israeli PM posted on 'X' on Sunday.

Netanyahu said, "Hamas wants to murder us all. It is an enemy who murders children and mothers in their homes, in their beds. An enemy who kidnaps the elderly, children, and girls. Murderers who slap and slaughter our citizens, our children, who all in all went out to spend the holiday."

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