Javed Ali broke down the layers of Israel’s intelligence community and how the country’s agencies failed to stop the invasion of Israel by Hamas militants on October 7
An Israeli army tracked medical vehicle moves in a military convoy
Javed Ali, a counterterrorism professor at the University of Michigan believes that the attack “took an enormous amount of deliberate and careful planning,”. He suggests that the complex structure of Israel’s intelligence services, which are as capable as the US’ FBI, CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency but aren’t unified, might have led to crucial details being overlooked in the bureaucratic rush to share information between agencies.
“Israel has one of the most capable and sophisticated intelligence enterprises at the international level,” Prof Ali told The Conversation. He explained the structure of Israel’s intelligence community, mentioning the Shin Bet, similar to the FBI, which keeps an eye on terrorist threats within the country.
Then there’s the Mossad, like the CIA, that monitors threats from overseas. He also mentioned a military intelligence agency, likened to the Defense Intelligence Agency. These agencies work together to protect the state by gathering information in four main ways: human, signals, imagery and open-source intelligence.
An Israeli soldier walk in the grounds of Kibbutz Kfar Aza
AFP via Getty Images)
The first involves traditional spies, while the second includes texts and other forms of communication. Imagery refers to photos, taken by satellites or people on the ground with cameras. Open-source intelligence is public info like internet chat boards, Ali explained. Despite having the tech and resources to gather intelligence in all these ways, Israel doesn’t have an intelligence coordinator, who would oversee all these operations and ensure good communication and teamwork between the agencies.
Ali suggested that having one might have allowed the intelligence Israel had already gathered on Hamas movements to be shared between the agencies and passed up to the country’s top officials, who could then plan preventative measures. Ali, speaking about the Oct. 7 attack, said: “This took an enormous amount of deliberate and careful planning, and Hamas must have gone to great lengths to conceal the plotting from Israeli intelligence.”
He suggested that due to a lack of coordination between intelligence agencies, crucial information was not shared widely enough for action to be taken. The US. which shares intelligence with Israel, probably didn’t pass on any details about the looming attack. Ali believes this is because the US is likely concentrating its intelligence efforts on other global hotspots like Ukraine, China, and Russia, so it may have missed any signs.
Ali also hinted at possible Iranian involvement due to the “advanced features” of the attack. However, he pointed out that U.S. intelligence officials have dismissed such claims since the conflict started. Iran has now publicly declared its stance on the conflict, opposing Israel and the U.S., and threatening to step in if the horrific acts being committed by the latter in Gaza don’t stop immediately.
Israel’s response to Hamas militants has led to the tragic loss of over 12,000 innocent lives, many of them women and children. The state has been targeting refugee camps, hospitals and simple family homes filled with cowering civilians hoping the humble structures will provide them with protection from the onslaught. Many are calling Israel’s actions war crimes, and the United Nations has condemned many of the country’s actions.
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