IDF initiates review of its performance during and before Oct. 7 massacre
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi while conducting a situational assessment of the northern border Feb 27, 2024 (Photo: IDF)

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi: ‘We failed to protect civilians at the start of the war — our most important mission.’

By Yaakov Lappin
March 7, 2024

(JNS) — The Israel Defense Forces has initiated a review process of its performance during and prior to the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas in southern Israeli communities, military Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi announced on Thursday.

The review is expected to last throughout the coming months and focus on the military’s defensive capabilities during the time leading up the attack, and what took place during the assault and the days that followed.

In a letter sent to IDF commanders, titled “Reviews of the Swords of Iron War,” Halevi said that the conflict began “with a surprise that resulted in a difficult outcome and a significant loss of civilian and soldier lives. Since then, the IDF has been defending and striking successfully and effectively — we had a difficult start, we recovered and we are making significant progress.”

Defining the main purpose of the review as learning to improve, Halevi said: “We suffered tough events at the start of the war, and we failed to protect civilians—our most important mission. If we do not bravely assess our doings, we will experience difficulty in learning and improving; we will experience difficulty standing before Israel’s people and proclaiming that we have inquired, learned and will know how to better protect them.”

He added that “reviews hold an honorable place in our military values. They are the lever that allows for improvement after failure, a way to be better after success — the tool with which a unit can build itself a climbing route that will elevate it indefinitely. Just as charging in the face of enemy fire requires strength and courage, holding ourselves accountable, and facing reviews also requires bravery and leadership.”

The review of the IDF’s subsequent offensive operations phase against Hamas will be handled by each unit after it concludes fighting, “as early as possible,” said Halevi.

“Senior-level reviews among the General Staff in this area will be conducted later after we have finished the defensive reviews,” he added.

“We will conduct these reviews while fighting in a multi-arena war. The IDF’s forces are focused on achieving the goals of the war, operating on all fronts. The existence of operational reviews while fighting is necessary to improve the IDF’s combat capabilities. This requires a balance and quality distribution of attention from the commanders with the focus of course being fighting,” Halevi added.

The chief of staff will in the coming days and weeks approve review plans for all of the IDF’s forces. The review will involve collecting and explaining information with the participation of all involved, and then a discussion of conclusions and insights for the future.

Halevi said that “there is no reason to be afraid of disputed conclusions and insights; these will be discussed in depth up the chain of command. We will learn from differing opinions and arguments.”

“Unfortunately, some of our people are no longer here with us, and we will not be able to hear their point of view. Therefore, each commander must decide on the primary focus throughout each investigation, based on either the learning potential, the gravity of the outcome or any other complexity,” said Halevi.

‘This is a war for our home’

Meanwhile, in Gaza, the IDF announced on Thursday evening that its elite naval commando unit, Shayetet 13, together with the Maglan special forces conducted a targeted raid on terrorist targets located in high-rise buildings in the Hamas area of Khan Yunis, in the southern end of the Strip.

Employing covert operations, the two units eliminated several terrorists in close-quarter combat and sniper ambushes while finding dozens of concealed weapons, stated the military. Two Hamas terrorists surrendered during the operation and were transferred to Israeli authorities for further investigation.

Earlier on Thursday, the IDF in Khan Yunis found a weapons production facility in the Hamas area of Khan Yunis, as well as explosives and military equipment.

“The troops also located terror tunnel shafts and dismantled command centers used by terror organizations in the Gaza Strip,” said the military. Troops called in a fighter-jet airstrike after identifying six armed terrorists entering a military compound, the military said.

During operations in central Gaza, IDF troops killed approximately 10 terrorists in the past day, according to the IDF.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah in Lebanon fired projectiles at Rosh Hanikra, Ya’ara and the Upper Galilee in northern Israel, the military said, sparking IDF return artillery fire.

Later, Israeli Air Force jets struck two Hezbollah military compounds in Aitaroun and Ayta ash Shab in Southern Lebanon.

Also on Thursday, during a speech at the IDF Officers Course Graduation Ceremony, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “We are progressively achieving the war objectives: the dismantling of Hamas as a military and governing body and the return of all the captives. The outcomes of this just and important war will mark a chapter in the history of the State of Israel and will lay the groundwork for processes that will continue for many years, regarding its strategic status in the Middle East, the attitude we receive from our friends and the deterrence we create against our enemies.”

“This is a war for our home, a war for our values as a people, a war for our right to exist as a Jewish and democratic society, in the heart of a hostile region,” Gallant told the officers. “And you, who now stand on the parade ground, have been granted the authority to lead.”

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