update deskIsrael News

Head of IDF Intelligence Research Division steps down following cancer diagnosis

Brig. Gen. Amit Saar had previously said he would not serve out his term due to his failure to predict the Oct. 7 Hamas onslaught.

Brig, Gen. Amit Saar. Photo by Oren Cohen.
Brig, Gen. Amit Saar. Photo by Oren Cohen.

The head of the Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence Directorate’s Research Division, Brig. Gen. Amit Saar, will step down in the coming days, after recently being diagnosed with a malignant tumor requiring immediate treatment. 

His predecessor, Brig. Gen. Itai Brun (res.), was asked by the chief of staff to temporarily fill in for him until a new commander for the unit is appointed.

Saar served as head of the Research Division since October 2020. He is considered an expert on the Palestinian arena, specializing in Hamas in Gaza, which is precisely why his failure to predict the Oct. 7 attack was so resounding. 

Immediately after that dark day, he made it clear to his commanders and subordinates that he bore full responsibility for the failure and would not serve out his term. However, Saar’s original plan was to step down only after the war ended.

The Research Division is the flagship of the IDF Intelligence Corps. It receives all intelligence materials collected by the various organizations and units and translates them into an overall intelligence picture. Its role is to provide Israel’s annual intelligence assessment, as well as warnings about various threats, from war to terror attacks. 

The division was significantly upgraded after failing to recognize the indications leading to the Yom Kippur War. Among other things, a special “Red Team” was created at that time to provide an opposing view to any assessment—without being subordinate to the division and reporting directly to the chief of the Intelligence Directorate.

The investigatory committees that will examine the failures leading to the current Gaza war will certainly look into why the Research Division reached the sweeping conclusion that Hamas was deterred and not interested in war. 

Saar himself warned several times in the year preceding the war, including in letters to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that Israel’s security strength was eroding in the eyes of its enemies against the backdrop of the internal strife caused by the judicial reform legislation.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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