Egypt Warned Israel 3 Days Before Shock Attack, Congressman Says

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House foreign affairs committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told reporters Wednesday that Egyptian officials warned Israel about the potential for an attack days before Hamas militants stormed across the Gaza border to slaughter hundreds of people on Saturday.

Israel has pushed back on the claim, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissing as “fake news” the reports that the country received any sort of warning.

But McCaul, speaking after a closed-door briefing, said lawmakers had heard from the Biden administration, which is working with Israeli officials to help manage the ongoing crisis.

“There seems to have been a failure of intelligence,” McCaul said. “We’re not quite sure how we missed it. We’re not quite sure how Israel missed it. We know that Egypt had warned the Israelis three days prior that an event like this could happen.”

He added that the attack “had been planned perhaps as long as a year ago.”

House Foreign Affairs Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) after classified briefing on Hamas’ attack on Israel:

“We heard from the administration. There seems to have been a failure of intelligence as well. We’re not quite sure how we missed it … not quite sure how Israel missed it.” pic.twitter.com/F3EEKgR0s2

— The Recount (@therecount) October 11, 2023

Lawmakers are also concerned about an “escalation” in the crisis that could potentially draw in militant responses from Lebanon, Iran and elsewhere.

“We know that Hezbollah has 100,000 rockets that would overwhelm the Iron Dome,” McCaul said, referring to the Lebanese militant group and Israel’s high-tech anti-missile defense system.

The catastrophic intelligence failure is key to understanding how the Hamas attack unfolded. Some have pointed to deep divisions in Israeli society, including its military apparatus, sparked by Netanyahu’s efforts to move the country further to the right. In recent months, members of the military have threatened not to show up for duty in protest of Netanyahu’s proposals to reshape the nation’s judiciary.

Egypt shares a border with the Gaza Strip called the Rafah Crossing, which could offer it a means to aid Palestinian civilians — a population that consists in large part of children and teenagers.

However, Egyptian officials have reportedly rejected the idea of setting up safe corridors for civilians to flee into Egypt. Reuters reported that officials are instead discussing how to allow humanitarian resources to flow through the Rafah Crossing.

In the meantime, bombings on the Gaza Strip continue, with Netanyahu vowing this week to “wipe” Hamas “off the face of the Earth.”

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