Days after a surprise attack led by Hamas on Israel, questions over how counterintelligence officials missed the attack are arising. Answers to those questions will likely have to wait, said Jonathan Panikoff, director of the Middle East security initiative with the Atlantic Council's Middle East Program.
Panikoff, a former U.S. intelligence officer, told Scripps News that many Israelis are wondering how planning for this attack was missed.
"There is a huge amount of anger; folks are irate but it's also a question," he said. "I think that's probably going to have to be saved for just a little bit. There's no doubt that this was an intelligence failure, a security failure, and there is going to be work done to figure out how that happened. But it's going to have to happen after the military operation after the Israeli offensives in Gaza are completed right now."
As of Monday, 300,000 reserve Israeli forces were called up as Israel said it was conducting a siege of the Palestinian-held Gaza Strip. The siege is in response to Hamas' attack that Israel said left more than 700 of its citizens dead.
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The Palestinians said that Israel's retaliation has left over 400 dead in the Gaza Strip.
Israel believes that some of its citizens are currently being held hostage in the Gaza Strip by Hamas militants. Panikoff suggested that Hamas could use hostages as shields, complicating Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip.
"They will put them in the underground tunnels so Israel thinks twice about striking those areas," Panikoff said. "It's going to complicate Israel's operational efforts and the tactical efforts."
Also of concern for intelligence officials is whether other groups, such as Lebanon-based Hezbollah, could conduct attacks of their own on Israel.
"I think it's certainly a real possibility and something that's of increasing concern to U.S. officials, foreign officials," Panikoff said. "It's also something that the Israelis have warned about for quite a while. The potential for a multi-front war both coming from Lebanon, coming from Iranian proxies actually in Syria and coming from the possibility of Palestinian militants in the West Bank, Hezbollah's entrance I think is probably yet to be determined."
"This all gets back to, frankly, Iran; it's Iran who's funding Hezbollah, it's Iran who's funding the weapons to Hamas," Panikoff added. "And I think that dynamic is yet to play out in terms of where Hezbollah and Iran view this as needing to go and their involvement or whether they want to keep their powder dry and stay out of it now."
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