[illustrative] Israel drone 311 IAF.
(photo credit: Courtesy: IAF [illustrative])
The IDF is in the process of encrypting its drones, defense officials said on
Wednesday, amid reports that a team of military experts had concluded that
Hizbullah succeeded in ambushing a navy commando force in 1997 after
intercepting surveillance footage of a planned raid in Lebanon.
has been called the “Shayetet Disaster,” 11 commandos from the navy’s Flotilla
13 unit – known as the Shayetet – were killed in the ambush, including the
commander of the force, Lt.-Col. Yossi Korakin.
Nasrallah recalls ’97 Shayetet to 'deflect pressure'
Security and Defense: Terror nova
In August, Hizbullah
leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah revealed footage from what he claimed was an
Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that had conducted surveillance over the
area that the commandos were supposed to raid in September 1997. The force
entered an orchard near the Ansariya Beach, which was full of bombs that
The IDF established a panel to investigate how and if Hizbullah
had prior intelligence about the planned raid. But its assumption was, until
recently, that the ambush was random and that Hizbullah did not have prior
intelligence about the raid.
After Nasrallah’s press conference, however,
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi ordered the Navy, Military
Intelligence and the IDF’s C4I Directorate to establish a panel of experts to
investigate whether the UAV footage presented at the press conference was
The team, IDF sources said on Wednesday, has yet to submit its
final conclusions, but appears to be close to determining that Hizbullah had
indeed intercepted the UAV footage and as a result was able to plan the
The use of an unencrypted UAV in 1997 was likely due to a
miscalculation by Israeli intelligence regarding Hizbullah’s technological
During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the IDF was
surprised to discover advanced intelligence-gathering capabilities – supplied by
Iran – in Hizbullah command centers scattered throughout southern
The IDF relies heavily on its UAVs and the footage they provide
ahead of operations in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
While it is unclear if
Hamas has similar intelligence capabilities, officials said the IDF would not
take any risks and planned to only use encrypted drones in future
On Tuesday, the French daily Le Figaro
information on the military wing of Hizbullah’s structural make-up, with details
on the Lebanese organization’s 10,000 operatives and arsenal of some 40,000
rockets. The piece also focused on Syria’s role in Hizbullah operations, in both
manufacture and transportation of rockets.
Hizbullah has three units
dedicated to the transportation and maintenance of its rocket arsenal, according
to the French newspaper report, which quoted anonymous officials in the French
Defense Ministry and Western intelligence sources.
The unit responsible
for transporting weapons from Damascus, Unit 108, received a delivery of Syrian
missiles headed to Lebanon in January last year, Le Figaro
said. The shipment,
which was apparently spotted by US military intelligence, was said to have
contained 26 M-6002 missiles with a range of 250 kilometers.
main barracks are located near Syria’s border with Lebanon, in the Shi’ite town
of Doma, the report added, with operatives also positioned within Damascus. The
unit has another base next to Damascus Airport, which is vital for the handling
of weapon shipments from Iran – Hizbullah’s principal backer.
newspaper also revealed that Unit 112 is in charge of transporting missiles,
usually by night and towards the end of the month. The weapons are moved using
trucks with false number plates, according to the report.
Unit 100 allegedly deals with deployment and training, and making sure the
missiles reach their final destinations, in various camps located within 150
kilometers from Israel’s northern border. As has been widely reported, Le Figaro
noted that Iranian officers are responsible for training Hizbullah
The report stressed that Hizbullah has now strategically based
itself in Syria, and quoted military experts’ speculation that manufacture of
Iranian missiles is now being handled there to ease transport.