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The National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said Sunday on NBC News that the U.S. intelligence community has indicated it was not aware of Hamas’ plan to attack Israel.
The New York Times recently reported that Israeli officials obtained Hamas’ plans for its Oct. 7 attack more than a year before it happened, citing documents, emails and interviews. The Times reported that the document was circulated among Israeli military and intelligence officials, but experts dismissed the plan as one that would be too difficult for Hamas to execute.
In an interview on “Meet the Press,” host Kristen Welker pressed Kirby about the report, asking: “Was the United States aware of this intelligence, and if not, why not?”
“The intelligence community has indicated that that they did not have access to this document. That there’s no indications at this time that they had any access to this document beforehand,” Kirby said.
“Should they have? Given how closely U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials coordinate and are supposed to coordinate intelligence?” Welker asked.
“Intelligence is a mosaic and sometimes you know you can fashion things together and get a pretty good picture,” Kirby said. “Other times, you know that there’s pieces of the puzzle that are missing.”
“As I said, our own intelligence community said that they’ve looked at this,” he added. “They have no indications at this time that they had any advance warning of this document or any knowledge of it.”
Asked whether this was a failure on the part of Israeli and U.S. intelligence, Kirby said: “I think there’s going to be a time and a place for Israel to do that sort of forensic work.”
“I mean, [Israeli] Prime Minister Netanyahu has already spoken pretty candidly about this and calling it, you know, a failure on their part,” he said. “They’ll take a look at this at the right time. They need to do that. Right now, though, the focus has got to be on making sure that they can eliminate this truly genocidal threat to the Israeli people.”
In recent days, Israel has intensified its bombardment of the Gaza Strip after talks to renew the truce with Hamas collapsed. More than 15,000 people in Gaza have died and about 1.8 million have been displaced after weeks of Israeli attacks, according to health officials. The IDF estimated that more than 1,200 people died and over 200 were abducted in Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7, with around 140 people still held captive in Gaza after more than 100 hostages were released during a temporary truce.
NBC News has not independently verified the Times’ report, or obtained a copy of the 40-page “blueprint” document that Israeli authorities reportedly code-named “Jericho Wall.”
Kirby’s remarks echo those of a U.S. official who told NBC News last week that American intelligence agencies appear to have not received a document of the blueprint. “There are no indicators at this time that the intelligence community was provided the ‘Jericho Wall’ document reported last night by the New York Times,” the official said, adding that the U.S. intelligence community will continue to review its information.
On Friday, an Israeli official familiar with the matter told NBC News that analysts in the country’s military alerted their superiors to Hamas’ “plan designed to start a war.” But their superiors dismissed their concerns.
A female Israeli intelligence analyst who focused on Hamas described — in an email on July 6 with a subject line that read, “Death in the Kibbutz, at any cost” — a May training session by the militant group that began in the early-morning hours and lasted late into the evening. The training included jeeps and motorcycles, and a scenario of shooting down an aircraft. A senior Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed to NBC News the emails that were first reported by Israel’s Channel 12 news and the Financial Times.
The Israeli intelligence analyst followed up the initial email with information about Hamas militants discussing awaiting instructions.
Six days after the analyst sent the emails, an IDF commander commended the analyst’s work, but dismissed the training session as an “imaginary scenario” rather than a concrete battle plan, according to an Israeli official.
dressing the Times’ report, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday vowed that there would be “accountability, looking at what led up to Oct. 7.”
“Right now, the focus is on making sure that they can do everything possible to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” Blinken told reporters on a tarmac in Dubai, where he attended the COP28 climate summit.