Intelligence: Plans Collide In Gaza

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January 3,2009: The Israeli attack on Hamas forces in Gaza on December 27th, hit fifty targets within 220 seconds. The fifty Israeli aircraft assembled off the coast, and delivered a well rehearsed attack designed to take out Hamas targets before key commanders could get away. Israeli intelligence had discovered Hamas plans for such an Israeli attack, which involved key Hamas personnel  immediately dispersing to hiding places. These included hospitals, where the Hamas men would dress in staff uniforms and blend in. Other safe havens included nursery schools, and other places where the Hamas officials would be surrounded by lots of civilians at all times. Thus the tight timing for the Israeli attack, intended to catch the key Hamas personnel before they could disperse.

Hamas knew that the Israelis have an informant network in Gaza. The key to Israeli success in dealing with Palestinian terrorists has always been an informant network within the Palestinian community. Many of these Palestinian informants are doing it for the money. Israelis pay for information. They also use other inducements (help with the bureaucracy, medical care, etc). If that fails, they use blackmail and threats. Palestinian terrorist organizations have been unsuccessful in their attempts to shut down the informant networks, and many innocent Palestinians have died simply because they were falsely accused of being informants.

In addition, the Israelis gain a lot of information via electronic intelligence work and UAVs that are constantly in the air over Gaza. Israel seeks to make the terrorists think that it's the gadgets, not informants, gathering the information. To the Israelis, inducing paranoia among the Palestinians is seen as a successful weapon. All this has helped keep the terrorists out of Israel for nearly five years now, something no one thought was possible.

The Israelis also have hundreds of police and military operatives who can pass as Arabs (their families came from Arab countries shortly after Israel was founded in 1947). These Israelis speak fluent Arabic (with a Palestinian accent), in addition to their Arab appearance. These agents dress as Palestinians and enter Palestinian areas to recruit and run Palestinian informants. At least in the West Bank. In Gaza, the Israelis use pro-Fatah Palestinians. At least a third of the Gaza population is still pro-Fatah, and continued Hamas pressure has not changed that.

The Israelis also make use of the phone system to avoid civilian casualties. For example, the bombing campaign after the initial attack was directed mostly at the thousands of rockets Hamas had stockpiled. Most of these were stored in civilian housing. This was a technique pioneered by Hezbollah in Lebanon. There, some homes would have a basement excavated, to provide more space for rockets. Israeli intelligence is still identifying these storage locations. When one is found, the Israelis will phone the home just before the attack and tell the civilians they have a few minutes to get out before the place blows up. In at least one case, the civilians were defiant, and went to the roof, believing that the Israelis would not bomb with women and children in plain sight. In response, the Israeli fighter came in low and fired some 20mm cannon shells right next to the building. The panicked civilians fled the building and the place blew up shortly thereafter.

 


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