US intelligence agencies suspected possible Hamas violence before attack, reports say

Assessment in late September found that Hamas was preparing to increase cross-border rocket attacks

Mourners attend the funeral of an Israeli soldier in Jerusalem. AP
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The US intelligence community had two pieces of information suggesting a high risk of Hamas violence ahead of the militants' attack last Saturday, news agencies reported on Friday.

CNN reported that an assessment in late September found that Hamas was preparing to increase cross-border rocket attacks.

On the day before the attack, US officials circulated reporting from Israel indicating unusual activity by Hamas, CNN reported.

A CIA assessment in early October warned of an increased chance of Hamas-fuelled violence, according to The New York Times. However it described the document as more “analytical” than specific.

The news organisations cited anonymous US officials and sources familiar with the intelligence reports.

The Israeli government and western nations have been criticised for not anticipating the “surprise” Hamas attack that killed more than 1,200 people, suggesting an intelligence failure.

It is not known if the earlier US information had been shared with Israel ahead of the attack, but the two countries regularly share intelligence.

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin on Friday committed further intelligence assistance to Israel.

“We have an extraordinarily vigilant intelligence community that is working every single minute of every single day,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview with CBS News on Thursday.

“I think as Israelis go back and look at what happened here, it may well be not that they didn’t have something but that they didn’t interpret it in what proved to be the right way.”

Updated: October 13, 2023, 8:37 PM