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Former Mossad deputy chief: The hostages must be top priority, 'unrealistic' Hamas massacre planned without Iran's knowledge

Former Mossad deputy chief Ehud Lavi in an interview with Israel's Channel 12 news on November 12, 2023 (Photo: Screenshot)

The former deputy head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, who led Israel’s operation to acquire Iran’s secret nuclear archive, gave an interview to Israel’s Channel 12 news on Sunday saying he doesn't believe the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas could have happened without the knowledge of the Iran.

“That such a significant, reality-changing event, like the attack on October 7, would happen without the Iranians knowing? That sounds unrealistic to me,” said former Mossad deputy chief Ehud Lavi.

The Wall Street Journal published a report early last month stating that officers from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had helped Hamas to plan its attack since last August.

During the interview, Lavi spoke at length about the Israeli and foreign civilian hostages being held captive in Gaza and the need to make sure their return home remains top priority.

“The top goal [of the war] should be the return of the hostages,” he said. “I am not aware of what is happening behind the scenes, but I know that the intelligence, experience and hearts of the professionals involved are in the right place.”

Without being specific, the former chief of Israel's Intelligence and Special Ops agency, indicated that there would have to be “concessions” on the Israeli side.

“I trust the prime minister, the defense minister and Minister Benny Gantz [who make up the war cabinet] to make the decisions, but they have a lot of considerations… We will be required to make concessions.”

Lavi said that Israel’s quest to eliminate Hamas leadership could take time and might not happen during the current fighting.

“In my opinion, the decision to eliminate Hamas is not limited in place and time, whether we kill [Hamas’s Gaza leader, Yahya] Sinwar today or in two months in whichever place he runs to, if he does, or whether we kill [leader Ismail] Haniyeh in two months or during the fighting,” Lavi said. “What matters is that all Hamas leaders should realize that they are vulnerable everywhere, whenever the State of Israel decides.”

Lavi warned Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, to watch out and not “cross the line” in his terror organization’s daily attacks on Israel's northern border, where two Israeli civilians and six IDF soldiers have been killed.

“It would be a mistake on Nasrallah’s part to think that we are in the same place as on October 7. The State of Israel has the ability to wage a two-front war,” Lavi said.

“In my personal estimation, Iran has very big assets that it could lose if it engages Hezbollah in a campaign against us when the Americans are here. I assess that the Iranians are telling themselves that the Americans will wipe out everything they have built for years. But the situation is dynamic,” he explained.

When asked about the responsibility for the failed intelligence and other oversights that led to the Oct. 7 massacre, he replied said that it was not a mistake for the Mossad to have stopped its supervision of the Gaza Strip in recent years but that the responsibility was with those state organizations that had been tasked with monitoring the area.

“Every organization needs to have a goal it focuses on and for which it is accountable. If you are in charge of Iran and we find out one day that they have obtained fissile material, the responsibility for that would be first and foremost of the Mossad,” Lavi said. “If we were surprised on Oct. 7, the responsibility is on the organizations that were given that task.”

The responsibility for the failure to foresee and stop the massacre will have to be determined after the war, the ex-Mossad chief stated.

“There was an intelligence failure, there was an operational failure. This whole day was one big, colossal disaster. At the same time, is this a failure of the Mossad, the Shin Bet, or Military Intelligence? I suppose it will be determined by the investigative commission on the morning after [the war].”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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