(NEW YORK) — In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ World News Tonight anchor David Muir, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged he bears some responsibility for the intelligence failures that resulted in his country being caught by surprise by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that his office said killed more than 1,400 Israelis.
Netanyahu had previously blamed his military and security chiefs in a social media post but deleted it after backlash and apologized in a subsequent post.
Muir pressed him on the point in the interview that aired on World News Tonight Monday night.
“I know Israel prides itself with its intelligence capabilities. We now know the Hamas attack had been planned for months. We saw the training videos. Of course we saw the thousands of Hamas terrorists swarming into Israel. How did your government miss this?” Muir asked.
“It’s a very good question, because the first task of government is to protect the people and, clearly, we didn’t live up to that. We had a big, big setback,” Netanyahu responded.
“As prime — as prime minister, do you personally bear any responsibility here?” Muir pressed.
“I’ve said that they’re going to be very tough questions the, the — that are going to be asked and I’m going to be among the first to answer them,” Netanyahu answered. “We’re not going to evade — the responsibility of the government is to protect the people and, clearly, that responsibility wasn’t met.”
Muir continued, “But you know, what I’m asking here, because so many Israeli officials, including the defense minister, the military intelligence chief, the military chief of staff, they’ve all taken some responsibility for Israel being caught off guard — — they didn’t say we have to wait for an investigation here. Do you believe that you should take any responsibility?”
Netanyahu responded, “Of course, that’s not a question. It’s going to be resolved after the war. I think there’ll be time to allocate that.”
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