The National Security Council claimed on Sunday that United States intelligence had no prior knowledge of a document detailing Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack plan, after a bombshell report recently revealed that Israeli authorities obtained such information a year ago.
On Friday, The New York Times reported that the Israeli military was aware of Hamas’ plan to attack Israel more than a year before the deadly Oct. 7 assault that resulted in about 1,200 dead and 240 taken hostage. The document detailing the plan was reportedly viewed by many members of the Israeli military and intelligence community, who dismissed it as “aspirational” instead of taking it seriously.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Sunday that the U.S. intelligence community is “taking a look into” the allegations in the Times report.
“Right now, George, they have no indications that we, the United States intelligence community, had any knowledge of that document beforehand or any visibility into it,” Kirby told George Stephanopoulos of Israel on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Now look, Israel — they’ve already talked about this. [Prime Minister] Netanyahu has said that there’s obviously been some failures in the intelligence world when it came to Oct. 7. They’re going to take a look at this,” he continued. “They’ll do the forensic. They’ll do that and they’ll do it thoroughly. But right now, certainly on intelligence, the focus has got to be on making sure that Israel has what it needs to go after Hamas leadership.”
According to the Times, Israeli officials possessed a 40-page battle plan called “Jericho Wall,” which laid out a potential attack by Hamas on southern Israeli communities. The document said that Hamas would rain rockets on Israel, use drones to disable Israeli surveillance at the border wall, and take over southern communities and military bases.
Ron Dermer, Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, told Stephanopoulos on Sunday that Netanyahu’s government will conduct an investigation into the details of the Times report, but only after the war. Dermer said that Netanyahu was likely not aware of such a document a year ago because he was not Israel’s prime minister at the time.
The report adds to the already existing public outrage in Israel over Netanyahu and his government’s failure to prevent the attack despite several warnings.
Asked by NBC’s Kristen Welker if the White House should have known about the document given how closely U.S. intelligence coordinates with Israel, Kirby declined to give a direct answer.
“Intelligence is a mosaic and sometimes you can fashion things together and get a pretty good picture. Other times, there’s pieces of the puzzle that are missing,” Kirby told Welker on “Meet the Press.”
“As I said, our own intelligence community said that they’ve looked at this. They have no indications at this time that they had any advanced warning of this document or any knowledge of it,” he said.
The temporary truce between Hamas and Israel ended on Friday, resulting in Israeli authorities resuming nonstop bombardment that the Gaza Health Ministry says has killed more than 700 Palestinians in Gaza over the last 24 hours. That number is one of the highest daily death tolls since the violence escalated on Oct. 7.
“We believe that they have been receptive to our messages here in terms of trying to minimalize civilian casualties,” Kirby told Stephanopoulos. “And I would tell you, we saw that as they went into north Gaza. They did [it] in a more precise way, a smaller way.”
More than 15,500 Palestinians have been confirmed killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, 70% of whom are women and children, according to the ministry. More than 41,300 have been wounded.
Israel pulled back its negotiators from Qatar on Saturday, claiming that Hamas violated the terms of the truce agreement. Israeli authorities did not provide details on the violation. Hamas has said that it will not resume captive-prisoner swap talks until Israel ends its destruction of Gaza.