The IAF has been unable to employ targeted killings in the fight against Hizbullah to any significant degree due to an acute lack of real-time intelligence, a high-ranking IDF officer said on Thursday.
The difficulty in obtaining intelligence, the officer said, has caused Israel's three intelligence organizations - the Mossad, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Military Intelligence - to forgo their "daily ego wars" and to work together in unprecedented harmony.
"The intelligence is difficult to obtain, in part because of Hizbullah's defensive measures, and also due to the fact that we are in a state of war," the officer said.
"It is always more difficult to gather intelligence during a war than before the fighting begins," he said.
The officer called the joint work by Israel's intelligence agencies an historic "breakthrough" worthy of appreciation.
Since the beginning of Operation Change of Direction on July 12, the IAF has carried out more than 6,400 sorties over Lebanon and has hit over 4,000 Hizbullah and Lebanese targets. Some of the missile strikes, the officer said, were "along the lines" of targeted killings, but most failed.
The IAF did have great success on the first day of fighting when it struck 59 high-value targets in Lebanon, including some of Hizbullah's long- and medium-range missile launchers in central Lebanon.
Mistakes were made along the way, senior officers said, mostly due to faulty intelligence. This week, the IAF struck a car in Lebanon believed to be carrying a senior Hizbullah operative. Instead the car turned out to be driven by three Lebanese army soldiers. They were killed in the strike.
Another example occurred two weeks ago, when IAF fighter jets dropped 23 tons of bombs on a bunker in Beirut where the IDF believed Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and other Hizbullah leaders were hiding. It turned out that Nasrallah wasn't there.
Then came Sunday's missile strike on a home in Kfar Kana in which 28 civilians were killed.
A high-ranking IDF officer said Thursday that the Operations Directorate had "provided the target" based on what turned out to be faulty intelligence.
Over the last few years, Military Intelligence has prepared comprehensive dossiers on Hizbullah positions in more than 170 villages in southern Lebanon.
However in many cases recently, battalion and brigade commanders have complained that the information was not passed on to them in time for the ground fighting.
The dossiers include detailed maps and information showing the number of Hizbullah guerrillas as well as their positions, fortifications and arsenals.
Last week, an IDF commander said that due to the sensitivity of the intelligence sources used to produce the dossiers, the information was withheld from the units and was only shown to the intelligence officers at the divisional level, and a few at the brigade level. None of the battalion intelligence officers who were supposed to prepare the units before battle saw the dossiers.