Israeli Defense Officials Reject Claims of Intelligence Failures After West Bank Attacks

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Israeli soldiers and emergency services stand at the scene of an attack near the settlement of Givat Assaf in the West Bank, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.
Israeli soldiers and emergency services stand at the scene of an attack near the settlement of Givat Assaf in the West Bank, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. Credit: AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi

Former officials have been criticizing what they call a lack of intelligence about Hamas activity in the Ramallah area, following two deadly attacks in the West Bank within days. Defense officials believe the attacks were committed by local cells possibly linked to Hamas.

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Defense officials have rebuffed the criticism, and one senior official stated that there had been no intelligence failure – but the two attacks may place pressure on the military and Shin Bet security services to reassess methods of interpreting intelligence information.

The suspect in Sunday's deadly drive-by shooting was identified as Salah Omar Barghouti, the 29-year-old son of Omar Barghouti, a senior Hamas member in the West Bank who has been arrested and jailed multiple times by Israel, spending 28 years (non-consecutively) in Israeli prisons.

>> West Bank spirals into violence as Hamas ups efforts to orchestrate attacks | Analysis

The suspect's brother, Assam, was held in an Israeli prison for eleven years for committing security offenses, including a plan to abduct Israeli soldiers. Those claiming there had been an intelligence failure question why authorities were unaware of Salah Omar Barghouti's plans to commit an attack, given his family link to Hamas.

Meanwhile, Ashraf Walid Saliman Na'alwa, who was behind an attack in October that killed two Israelis, was unknown to authorities. Although he acted alone, he avoided capture for two months.

A report aired on Friday by the Israel Television News Company said he was found in the home of a known supporter of Hamas and that the military thinks he may have been there for at least two weeks, again potentially raising questions about the length of time it took to capture him.

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