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Head of military intelligence for Israel announces his resignation

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Let's go overseas now - Israel's head of military intelligence announced he would step down today. It's the first high-level resignation stemming from the October 7 attack by Hamas - that, of course, the deadliest attack in the history of the state of Israel. And it raises questions about the prospects for more resignations to come. NPR's Peter Kenyon has more from Jerusalem.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Israel's military released the resignation letter of Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, which acknowledged what many Israelis have been feeling for months. He wrote that the intelligence directorate under his command, quote, "did not live up to the task we were entrusted with." Haliva added, "I carry that black day with me ever since, day after day, night after night," and said the horrible pain of the war would stay with him forever.

Some believe more resignations are in the offing, but there are some questions. Yossi Mekelberg, an analyst with the U.K.-based Chatham House think tank, says besides missing the October 7 Hamas attack, many Israelis say the airstrike on April 1 that killed top Iranian generals in Syria but led to an unprecedented Iranian barrage against sites inside Israel was another intelligence blunder, one that may have hastened Haliva's resignation.

YOSSI MEKELBERG: So two such major intelligence failures in the space of few months, I think, led to even more pressure on him to resign.

KENYON: Mekelberg says resignations would have started sooner but for the fact that the military operation aimed at neutralizing Hamas is still going on six months later, which no one predicted. He says a number of military and intelligence officers are basically in line to either resign or be fired. The big question is, what about Israel's senior politicians? Mekelberg says as long as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a majority in the Israel parliament, the Knesset, he would likely have to do the right thing and voluntarily resign from power, which he thinks is unlikely.

MEKELBERG: Yeah, and, you know, Netanyahu and some of his closest minister are not inclined to do the right thing. They try to survive in power, and the way that it works in the democratic system, as long as they maintain their support in Knesset, that's the way it will continue.

KENYON: Analyst Nimrod Novik, Israel fellow with the Israel Policy Forum, was an adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. He agrees that there will be more resignations, and they will be painful for loyal Israelis like Maj. Gen. Haliva.

NIMROD NOVIK: Apparently, he is the first, probably not the last. It's a sad moment for a man who served the country well for 40 years, but it is the right decision.

KENYON: Novik also says Israel is saddled with a prime minister who refuses to take responsibility, despite widespread sentiment among the public that he should go. He says whether he will or not remains an open question. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.