General Brik Predicted the October 7 Attack. Now He’s Advising Netanyahu’s Genocidal Assault on Gaza.
The retired Israeli general whose prediction came true with the Oct 7 Hamas attack is now starring in Netanyahu’s cabinet and newsrooms, with his own genocidal ideas for handling the crisis in Gaza.
For years, Yitzhak Brik had been warning Israel’s security establishment.
A total regional war, the retired Israeli army major general insisted, was a matter of when, not if.
“Look, a big drill is taking place now,” Brik said in a now infamous July 10 interview amid joint Israeli/U.S. military exercises. “The purpose is to train the army for a total regional war that will come from five directions. Hezbollah from Lebanon, the Pro-Iranian militias and the Syrians, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the south, the West Bank that can erupt into an Intifada, and riots in heartland Israel. That is the probable war.”
The Israeli military leadership had downplayed the threat to the public, according to Brik, leaving the country unprepared and vulnerable to what was to come.
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“Look at the guidelines the civilians get in this drill. I have the guidelines, I’ll show them to you. They tell this to the towns close to the Northern border: As soon as the war starts, with a lot of rockets and explosives, anyone who can evacuate in the first two hours should go, because after two hours everything will be blocked. Where do you go? This no one says. I don’t know where, because the whole country will be under a cloud of uncertainty. To the ones who remain, they instruct to get into the shelters, to the safety rooms because against these missiles this is the only place that would keep you safe. What they don’t tell them, which is incredibly severe, is that during this shooting of 5000 bombs and rockets every day, the commando force of Hezbollah – the Radwan unit, 8000 well trained soldiers whose role is to go by foot and conquer towns – will get into some towns, and if you sit in a shelter, they’ll throw in a grenade and you die.
I’ll give you an idea of the magnitude: According to the head of the Northern Command, [Ori] Gordin, 5000 bombs and rockets will be fired every day on the towns of the North in the first days. It’s more than the second Lebanon war [in 2006] – the entire 30 days – in one day.
And everyone will sit there waiting to be slaughtered! That’s very clear: You have to protect your town. There is no one else who can do it for you. The army will not be there, the army today is small and whoever will be sent there won’t make it due to the blocked roads – just like you can’t go out, you can’t get the army in. They’re not going to protect the towns. [The civilian residents] need to fight and protect their towns by themselves.”
A ‘culture of lying and misleading’
Brik is a well-respected former general and decorated veteran of four wars, having been awarded a Medal of Courage for his part in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. However, in recent years, he had become known as a harsh critic of the preparation of the Israeli military and the Ministry of Defense against national security threats, which viewed Hamas as having been sufficiently deterred by repeated wars, most recently Operation Guardians of the Walls in 2021.
As a Ministry of Defense ombudsman from 2008-2018, Brik spent his days observing Israeli army, navy and air force units, giving him deeper insight into the make up and condition of the armed forces than anyone else in the country. In 2017, he authored a report that warned of a variety of factors that rendered the military incapable of fighting a large-scale war.
“On one hand, the missions are increasing, and on the other hand, there is an extensive reduction in personnel. This has the effect of harming the level of performance, the discipline and the motivation of the soldiers in additional units to those who are already experiencing this today,” Brik’s report concluded.
Brik called for an external commission of inquiry, earning the ire of Israeli military chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot. Embarrassed by the report’s finding, Eisenkot launched a media war against Brik, claiming that the armed forces were at their “best state of readiness in 20 years”, and accusing him of damaging the military.
In a February 2022 article, Brik took aim at the total corruption from the top brass all the way down the ranks, in which anyone who reveals the truth is punished and removed from the system, citing numerous damning testimonies he had received from commanders.
One commander described “severe discipline problems, severe gaps in the fighting spirit and motivation to carry out tasks, severe gaps in the operational routine, smoking drugs, drinking alcoholic beverages, using smartphones during training and also in operational activity. All of these are ignored by the senior commanders and it is very convenient for them to present a false image to their superiors that will show their commanders that the unit is in good condition, so the culture of lies is skyrocketing.”
Another commander described a “culture of lying and misleading found in some of the presentations presented by brigadier generals and generals in the cabinet and in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee… Another very problematic trend in the understanding of commanders that maintaining the image of the army is sometimes more important than telling the truth, the image and visibility to the outside are at the top of the priority scale, the goal sanctifies all means, and in order to achieve this goal it is permissible to lie and mislead the political echelon and the public. This promiscuous behavior grips many of the commanders at all levels who understand that these are the rules to succeed and advance”
Brik summarized the testimonies he had received.
“We are witnessing an army whose culture of lying and deception is getting stronger and broader, and in the last two years the IDF has reached new heights [of corruption] we have never known, where some commanders are thinking about their next job and how to create an image of a high quality unit even if this is not the truth.
The result is very frustrating, severe and sad, the good ones leave the army. Some of those who remain in the IDF are the ones who follow suit, who are afraid to express their position and shy away, unfortunately this part is getting larger over time.
We have reached an unimaginable situation that reminds me of the conduct of the Arabs in past wars against us. The lies of the field ranks reporting to their superiors about success in the field while they failed in the battle against us, distorted the picture in the eyes of their commanders, and their decisions were made based on unreliable and distorted information, which worked perfectly in our favor. I did not believe that the Israeli army would reach the levels of lying as they were in the Arab armies which contributed greatly to their defeat against us. Have the tables turned?”
He continued to sound the alarm, writing a May 2022 column for Channel 12 that warned of a myriad of problems in the Israeli military and political echelon, including over-reliance on technological superiority, political leaders fear of losses and lack of trust between the ground army and the leadership.
“Today we are in a serious deterioration trend in the ground army also for the reason that the fighters on the ground feel that the security echelon does not trust them and does not use them when needed. According to them - ‘The army of the high command in the IDF is the air force, intelligence and cyber’. The land army is ignored, especially the reserve system. We have lost the ability to fight inter-arms and have become a one-dimensional army of the Air Force that cannot alone win a war. “
This weakness was seen in the 2021 war on Gaza, branded Operation Guardian of the Walls, when Israel publicly announced a fake ground operation in a failed attempt to draw Hamas militants out of their tunnels where they could be bombed.
“We saw this clearly in the ‘Guardian of the Walls’ operation when they gave up on carrying out the fraud according to the original plan for fear of losses and thus caused its complete failure,” Brik wrote. “The complete disregard for the land forces is one of the reasons that many of the good commanders in the land army are not ready to continue in the permanent army and see the army as a career.”
This, he said, renders Israel unable to win any armed conflict, despite its overwhelming technological superiority.
“This creates a negative momentum and a dangerous spiral, which is very difficult to stop, with a very serious damage to the motivation and spirit of the fighters. We are losing the values - which generations of fighters grew up with - and among them the value of victory. As a result, the number of casualties will rise immeasurably in the next multi-arena war. Military superiority has no value in a society where it is not understood that soldiers should be willing to sacrifice.
Studies prove that a strong fighting spirit among the warriors is critical to achieving victory on the battlefield. Even a high-tech, properly trained and highly professional army will not win on the battlefield without a fighting spirit: it is the one that breathes life into the weapons and spurs the soldiers to attack, strive for contact and strive for victory at any cost. A grave mistake is made by those who place their money only on the horns of the technological means of warfare, and they will be the best and most sophisticated; Without the fighting spirit of the soldier who holds them, they are compared to a stone that cannot be turned.”
The establishment continued to ignore Brik. Israeli military intelligence chief Aharon Haliva reiterated its over-confident position at the May 2023 annual Herzliya conference, remarking that Hamas was left “with the perception that engaging in combat and clashing with Israel in the form of rocket fire into the south from the Gaza Strip does not really serve [its purposes].”
In fact, Hamas declined to respond to Israeli attacks, projecting weakness and passivity, while working assiduously to plan its October 7 operation.
Unlike the military leadership, Brik was unconvinced by Hamas’ behavior, and understood the existential threat posed by an array of regional forces that had aligned against Israel.
A ‘crazy nation’ committing ‘collective suicide’
At the same time, the Israeli military was facing unprecedented internal strife as thousands of reservists and key air force personnel declared their refusal to serve in the military in response to the attempts to weaken the judiciary by Netanyahu and his ultra-rightist allies in the government.
“The Middle East’s best equipped and most powerful force is under one of the worst assaults it has encountered — a battle within its own ranks,” declared the Associated Press.
“The enormous crisis that has erupted within the IDF is much greater in reality than it is portrayed in the media,” Amir Rapaport wrote on July 27 in Israel Defense magazine. “The IDF reserve duty array is disintegrating, the entire IDF model is collapsing, and until a new model is established (which will take a long time), the army might be revealed as unprecedented weak in the case of a multi-front war. Our enemies know this and may choose to attack to their advantage.”
On August 7, just two months before the attack, Brik predicted that war was coming, and that Israel was not unprepared.
"We did not prepare for the difficult war that will be here in a few months or years. Our competence has been damaged for years. The Israeli army is not ready for war,” he warned.
Brik had been holding meetings with Netanyahu and other top leaders for years, pressing them to formulate a strategy beyond managing the status quo.
“The chaos that has been going on in the past year has created a situation that we’re in now, of putting out fires,” Brik remarked. “A terror attack here, a terror attack there. They’re not dealing with building the army.”
Even as he met with them, Brik publicly blamed the notoriously corrupt political leadership for the military’s decline.
“The political echelon has no monitoring of what happens in the IDF, there are no discussions in the cabinet, and the National Security Council has become the prime minister's personal secretary. The chief of staff just receives a budget and does what is on his mind. Everyone does a U-turn around the other one. Billions of shekels escape while there is no long-term army building."
This corruption, he wrote, left the Israeli population vulnerable to a devastating attack.
“Even today the army is disintegrating, after the volunteering is stopped it will be crushed. Our enemies are waiting for the right moment, they will not wait much longer. They are leaving the people of Israel naked and uncovered, that's the story. The army should have been left out of politics. Destroying the army? Even if you build a state later, you won't be able to protect it. This is collective suicide, this is a crazy nation."
As top military figures lashed out at Brik’s criticisms and sought to discredit him, the establishment's attitude informed the general public’s view of his warnings, which dismissed them as pessimistic and alarmist. Brik, once a celebrated general, was on his way to irrelevance.
The ‘Prophet of Wrath’
With the October 7 Hamas attack in the kibbutzim and settlements surrounding Gaza, Brik was vindicated. The scenario he foresaw months before was eerily similar to what came to pass. His July 10 interview became viral among Israelis on social media, earning him the title "the Prophet of Wrath.”
Since that fateful day, Brik has transformed from a marginalized naysayer into the country’s go-to expert, holding court with top political and military leaders in between daily appearances in Israeli newsrooms where he would enthusiastically assess the battlefield situation and pronounce what the military must do going forward.
Asked how such a monumental intelligence failure could occur, even Brik was surprised. "This is one big disgrace," he said. "After all, we know how to identify the eighth truck in a convoy traveling from Iraq to Syria. How is it possible that there is an operation that is being worked on in Gaza for a year, thousands of people know about it, and only the Israeli military does not know? I have no explanation for this. Maybe it is complacency and arrogance.”
On October 22, Brik met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding resignations for the failure to prevent the October 7 attack and to overhaul the military’s entire strategy. The two met again the same week.
Brik advised the highest figures in the chain of the military command, including a private meeting with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. He also spoke with West Bank residents who are fearful of retaliatory attacks by Palestinians in the occupied territory, where the military has carried out aggressive operations and fanatical settlers carry out pogroms.
With his newfound position, exerting influence in the top of the government and military and shaping public opinion, Brik has openly called for the most extreme measures to be implemented against the civilian population of Gaza in Israel’s effort to defeat the armed resistance groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Indeed, his advice would inform Israel’s strategy.
“Today, they cannot exist there,” Brik said about Palestinian militants groups in an October 19 television interview with Channel 14. “And I’ll tell you more than that – if you ask me how the job should be done, to avoid falling into a horrible trap – it needs to be done with discretion and wisdom. First of all, we need to end the life of Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad, among us and next to us. It started today with forming a siege over them, strangling them, separating the north and the south, telling all the citizens – whoever wants to live, go south, if you don’t leave – we consider you part of Hamas, everyone who stays there. On top of that, the siege has to be maintained so that fuel, food and water don’t flow in, let them dry out in their tunnels, and at some point they’ll have no choice but to get out.”
Indeed, just as Brik advised, the Israeli military implemented a total siege on Gaza, deployed to the middle area to separate the north and south, and announced that anyone who refused Israeli orders to leave northern Gaza would be considered as Hamas members.
Not only was this order to leave practically impossible, it amounted to collective punishment, illegal under international law. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians did head south in what Israeli minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Avi Dichter openly called the “Nakba of 2023” – using the Arabic term Palestinians use to refer to the ethnic cleansing of 1947-1948. However, hundreds of thousand people stayed in the north. Some outright refused to leave their homes, while others, including the elderly and infirm, were physically incapable of moving.
Meanwhile, Israeli military forces stormed homes, tortured men and disappeared entire families. Accounts surfaced of executions of civilians, and women and children being taken as human shields. The Israeli media played along with the demand, describing anyone arrested by the military as “Hamas members.”
Rather than letting the desire for revenge inform Israel’s actions as politicians and large segments of the population are demanding, Brik urged a calculated, long-term approach to neutralize the vast tunnel system the Palestinian resistance organizations had built, warning that the military would take heavy losses in this effort.
When you go into such a mission and you want to deal with the terrorists, it’s not enough to go above Gaza, you need to take care of the tunnels underneath. You are then facing a very difficult challenge – today every street has mines, bombs, traps, which means that an army that will go in right now by foot and with tanks, and get into friction with the population, with the houses, that army will go over mines, will be bombed, the terrorists will shoot from the tunnels and return into them, and there would be very heavy losses. … To take on the tunnels, 40 thousand terrorists that are underneath Gaza – will take months.
We shouldn’t act out of hate and revenge, we need to act out of discretion and understanding. Don’t rush and let them suffocate in the tunnels. If we strangle them like we want to, they will sit in the tunnels for months, without water, food and fuel, without a way to get some air – after a few months they won’t be able to stay there, they’ll start getting their heads out, and then we hit them, some will give up because the suffocation will become unbearable. That’s why now we need to take those months, suffocate them in their tunnels, hit any who comes out, make them exhausted, weak, give up, and then go for the great mission and finally do it.
Overall, Brik advised constant airstrikes combined with a medieval siege-style war against all of Gaza that would eventually force the Palestinian resistance to come out of the tunnels, exhausted and easily defeatable.
Keep striking them from the air, besiege them from the north to the south, prevent any leakage of food and water, starve them out, and then have the final strike in two-three months and this is how you win wars and not in any other way.
Brik’s proposal had numerous holes and weaknesses, let alone the illegal nature of collective punishment he endorsed. It did not address how to prevent Palestinian militants from resupplying through the vast network tunnels that span across the entire Gaza Strip. Nor did it address how to combat the underground fighters that would be in the south side, even if Israel were to split the tunnel system in half.
Brik also does not mention the more than 200 Israeli hostages held by Hamas in the tunnel system, or the likelihood of casualties under such heavy bombardment.
‘We’re going to have to continue for months and even years”
On November 2, with Israeli ground forces already penetrating deep into Gaza, Brik explained in a wide-ranging interview with the far-right Religious Zionist Channel 7 that he had convinced Netanyahu to delay the ground invasion and adopt a strategy that could last years.
“I advised Netanyahu to delay the ground invasion, and fortunately he accepted my recommendations. He understood the idea of the siege and continuing the massive bombardment by the air force, continuing the suffocation, which is what can weaken them, and then giving the final blows wherever necessary. This will take a long time. Whoever thinks we can just go in and out doesn’t know what they're talking about. This can’t be done in one blow and even after all we’re going to do to suffocate them, people will still remain there, and therefore we’re going to have to continue for months and even years.
Though Brik said that the ground invasion was delayed, it had actually started days before his interview. Just as he predicted, the Israeli military suffered dozens of casualties from close combat with Palestinian resistance fighters.
Brik continued to lay out his plan to ethnically cleanse Gaza and kill anyone in the tunnels..
They’ll be isolated, they won’t be ours anymore, we’ll say to the world – this is yours. Accept the refugees yourselves – to your own countries, because anyone who will be left is a problem. If you want to give them humanitarian aid, give them, but we will check everything that goes in. We will make sure fuel doesn’t get to the tunnels, so they suffocate. And we will make sure that whoever gets their head out of the tunnels after months of suffocating there – will be killed. And we will persecute them anywhere in the world, and it will take time, and only with this kind of long term process thinking – that’s not about finishing them with one blow.
This plan, calling on foreign countries to settle Palestinian refugees, was promoted by centrist Israeli politicians Danny Danon and Ram Ben-Barak in the Wall Street Journal.
Brik recognized the necessity of exchanging Palestinian prisoners for their Israeli counterparts held in Gaza in order to make Israelis believe their government cares for them.
This is a very very difficult challenge, If the nation of Israel does not see that the government does everything to release the hostages – there will be a situation in which the youth will say: ‘if this is the way people in the biggest distress of their lives are treated, why should we fight for this country?’ This must not happen. The government has to not just say it, but prove it’s doing it in practice. We need to aspire to a situation in which we release all the hostages now and immediately, and pay in exchange the prices that they want. Even if it means releasing prisoners with blood on their hands. Because these prisoners inside our prisons – they live in a “summer camp”. They eat, they drink, they walk in the courts… there they will never die. We will end up paying heavy prices, we will not have another choice – we need to pay it now and immediately.
However, his plan was to release the prisoners into Gaza and kill them.
They can go to Gaza to the tunnels. There we’ll suffocate them with their friends, we’ll bomb them with bunker busters, and those who will survive – we’ll persecute them until their death. If it’ll be in another country, we’ll get to them like we did with the [1972 Olympic] Munich murderers. For us, they’re not released to live, they’re released to die. And they will die in the tunnels of Gaza, they’ll die anywhere in the world – that’s how we should look at it. There are no more binding agreements after they killed 1,400 of us. Anyone who gets out of prison, we are not holding agreements, we are not protecting them, we have no commitments to them. We need to get rid of these bastards, and we will kill them, either now or in a few years – we will get to all of them.
Brik’s plan appears to be wishful thinking. Netanyahu rejected such a deal early on, and Hamas is unlikely to negotiate the agreement to return all of the hostages without guaranteeing the safe release of all the Palestinian prisoners, a ceasefire, and some guarantees for the remaining Hamas members inside Gaza. For its part, Israel has repeatedly declared its commitment to the top priority of annihilating Hamas.
Brik also stated that “we are not committed to any agreement we make with Hamas”, reflecting the long-standing Israeli attitude toward agreements as a tactic to achieve goals. This pattern goes back to its early days, when it was accepted as a member in the UN only after it had committed to abide by its resolutions, which it never did. Hamas leaders surely know too well who they’re dealing with.
Regional war could ‘flatten the State of Israel’
All of this must be planned with the idea that a regional war could break out, causing a “catastrophe” that would be “hundreds of times greater” than October 7, Brik said on October 8.
“Before we proceed to take revenge on Hamas, we need to plan with great care with the assumption that a military operation in Gaza can degenerate into an all-out war on five fronts,” he said, echoing his infamous July 10 interview. “A regional war may break out as a result of the war in Gaza.”
Not only could this bring thousands of Hezbollah rockets from the north, spark an uprising of tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel, it could also upend the decades-old peace agreement with Egypt.
“Even Egypt could become a front. Whoever thinks that the peace we signed forty years ago will keep the peace forever doesn’t know what he’s talking about. There is a regime change in Egypt now. I’m not saying it will happen tomorrow, but we need to understand that it’s coming.”
Brik also warned that Syria is strengthening its force after a ten-year battle against foreign-sponsored jihadist factions, and Iran has the ability to “flatten the State of Israel.”
For all of Brik’s criticism and bravado, his solution is to cobble together another armed force from Israel’s population. “Just do what’s necessary immediately: establish a national guard of 100 thousand people. Give them weapons so they can defend themselves,” he said.
As Israel’s revenge-fuelled genocidal campaign devastates Gaza while shredding its own international standing, its propaganda efforts fall flat again and again, and the Biden administration comes under relentless public pressure to compel Israel to sign a ceasefire, Brik’s plan for a years-long effort to subdue Gaza’s armed resistance appears to be dead in the water. As soon as the ceasefire is signed – assuming Israel avoids a devastating regional war – the deep internal divides and corruption that Brik warned about for years, temporarily papered over by wartime unity, will once again be brought to the fore. Israel will emerge weakened internally, militarily, and in the international arena, no matter how many Palestinians it kills.
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