Thursday, during her show’s opening, CNN’s Abby Phillip suggested there was some blame to placed on the Israeli government for the October 7 Hamas terror attack on southern Israel.
According to Phillip, based on reporting from The New York Times, Israeli intelligence may have known Hamas was planning such an attack yet did not take adequate steps to stop it.
Partial transcript as follows:
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: What did Israel know and when did they know it? An explosive report provides an answer to both of those questions. That’s tonight on Newsnight.
Good evening. I’m Abby Phillip in Washington. And breaking tonight, The New York Times reports that Israel had the Hamas attack plan — plan of attack more than a year before October 7, and they chose to simply file it away.
Now, the consequences here were deadly. And now, there is a question about if at all, the war, the deadliest day in Israel’s history, thousands and thousands of Palestinians caught in the crossfire of all those bombs, if it was all preventable.
The Times claims that Israel intercepted a Hamas blueprint nicknamed Jericho Wall for a sprawling terror blitz. It, quote, called for a barrage of rockets at the outset of the attack, drones to knock out the security cameras and automated machine guns along the border, and gunmen to pour into Israel en masse in paragliders, on motorcycles, and on foot.
Now, the document, according to The Times, circulated among Israeli military and intelligence leaders, leaders who then dismissed that plan as beyond Hamas’ capabilities, not just once, but multiple times.
The discovery of this document’s existence also adds drama to a decision that is just hours away now. Does Israel try to push a faltering truce to an eighth day, or does Mr. Netanyahu try to bury these failures with more bombs?
I’m now joined by CNN National Security Analyst Beth Sanner, former deputy director of National Intelligence.
Beth, this has already been pretty clear to be a devastating intelligence failure for Israel, but The Times is reporting that these attacks were planned for years, that they knew about the plans, that they had even previous iterations of these written plans. Could this all have been avoided?
BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you know, it probably never comes down to just one thing, right, or one moment. I think that it’s possible, but a lot of things would have to be different because it’s not just about paying attention to a report. It’s actually about how do you think about that report.
And so you had analysts, and not just this one analyst that’s mentioned here, but you had junior female soldiers on the line looking and reporting similar things weeks before, separate reports.
PHILLIP: Yes, they saw Hamas practicing.
SANNER: Right, exactly, exactly. And so those things reported up, but the mindset issues are the things that really affected decisions and they affected decisions that were political decisions, you know, big strategic decisions about where to focus intelligence and then ultimately by seniors to say, well, we don’t believe these reports because it doesn’t fit with our mindset.
PHILLIP: But when you see a document that is this detailed, that is this devastating if it were to come into fruition, first of all, how rare is it to come into something like that as an intelligence officer? And then are you surprised really that that would not be in any way protectively acted on?
SANNER: Well, I mean, you can take a parallel. We did have that for the Russian invasion, basically.
SANNER: And what did CIA do with it? They wrote it up. And they talked about the likelihood of it, and they analyzed it based on that.
And so I would expect, and I haven’t worked directly with Israeli military analysts, which are different than the foreign Mossad, but I would have written a PDB on it that said, in our organization, this is what this says. And then you say, either you think it’s right or not. And maybe you have a dissent in there where an agency says that they think it’s true. But I don’t think this got floated all the way up.
PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, I think that is now the essential question that will face Israeli leaders, perhaps when this war is over.
SANNER: Definitely. PHILLIP: But in the meantime, we’re learning so much more.
Beth Sanner, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
SANNER: Thank you, Abby.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor