These days, the idea of Israel engaging its enemies in a war, whether in near or
distant arenas, without its “silent attack force” is unthinkable.
silent attackers would be the soldiers of the IDF’s Electronic Warfare (EW)
Section, whose mission is to cause rival forces to enter a state perhaps best
summed up in the famous Psalms verse: “They have eyes, but cannot see. They have
ears, but cannot hear.”
In recent days, a senior source from the
Electronic Warfare (EW) Section, a part of the IDF’s teleprocessing corps C4i,
spoke to The Jerusalem Pos
t about how far this field has come from its rather
“It began small, and became large over the past
decade. Now, it’s a monster,” the source said, adding that “The government
instructed us to prepare and know how to operate EW in every operational
These preparations are approved by IDF General
There are two types of standard electronic warfare in most
militaries: defensive and offensive. In the IDF, every platform or strategic
weapon, like submarines, missiles, and radars, have electronic warfare defenses
installed in them.
Offensively speaking, the task of the EW Section is to
disrupt enemy communications, blind radars and neutralize explosive devices. The
anti-explosives aspect of electronic warfare is run by the Engineering Corps,
and the remainder is in the hands of the EW Section.
“Due to the massive
rise of wireless communications, terrorist operations now rely heavily on this
technology,” the source explained. This includes single-band communications,
high-frequency waves, short waves, Wi-Fi, ultra-high frequency and
“Offensive EW is a very dynamic world. It’s changing
at a crazy pace,” the source said.
In the past, EW was reserved for
targeting rival militaries. But now, the IDF must focus most of its EW
capabilities against terror organizations on its borders, such as Hezbollah and
Hamas, a task made harder by the fact the organizations do not use standard
military equipment to communicate.
“Once, two rival militaries would be
involved in a communications race. Every five to 10 years, they would revamp
their equipment. Today, by the time you get your new devices, the rival is
moving on to the next era,” the source explained, spelling out the problems of
dealing with non-state actors.
“Hezbollah is very disciplined, and can
[change] faster than a military. When Hamas in Gaza want to purchase something,
they get it off the shelf. This is a real challenge,” he added.
terror organizations purchasing communications networks wholesale, the enemy can
quickly get the latest available encryption and encoding devices. This has
forced the IDF’s EW Section to keep a close eye developments in the civilian
communications sector, an area the military calls “technological
Simultaneously, the source said, the IDF developed an
electronic warfare doctrine based on a good infrastructure that is adaptable to
changes, but without the need to alter the whole system during
“This is not a kinetic attack. The mission is not to destroy a
target, to damage, or neutralize it, but rather to disrupt. I’m aiming at the
enemy’s command and control.
His management, organization and commanders
are the target,” the source said.
The desired result is a rival on the
battlefield whose commanders cannot speak to field units, and who can’t
coordinate or synchronize activities.
“I’m directing EW at the head. This
is also a form of psychological warfare. I can engage in this and then deny it.
It wrecks the functionality of the enemy,” the source added.
comes to discussing actual techniques, the source naturally prefers to keep his
cards close to the chest. In some attacks, electromagnetic radiation is beamed
directly at the target device. Other forms remain highly classified and cannot
“There are no borders in the world of the electromagnetic
spectrum. The waves can be sent from all types of platforms, from F- 16 jets to
submarines,” the source said.
“And this is happening as the IDF is
merging all of its platforms – sea, underwater, land, air and
Despite the impressive technology and skill involved, EW is far
from being precise, the source noted.
“The devices don’t always behave
the way we’d like. It’s trial and error,” he added.
On occasion, when
Israelis experience a rare disruption to their satellite television service, the
finger is often pointed at the EW Section. But the source said that more often
than not that blame is misplaced.
There are many sources of possible
disruptions, such as a foreign military ship cruising nearby on the
Mediterranean using disruptive signals.
“We always try to make sure that
nothing gets disrupted for civilians. That’s our aspiration.
there are disruptions, then [our goal is to assure] it won’t be critical,” the
source said. “We are in an ongoing dialogue with the Electric Corporation and
Mekorot, the national water carrier, to ensure we are coordinated,” he
As the pace of technological development continues to advance,
this secretive world will remain critical to Israel’s 21stcentury engagements.