AN ISIS fighter uses his phone to lm a military parade in Syria’s northern Raqqa province in 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As Ankara slams Israel over the Gaza border crisis, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said on Wednesday that Israel has provided secret intelligence to help Turkey prevent ISIS terrorist attacks.
Katz made the statement at an intelligence conference in Tel Aviv sponsored by the Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center and Israel Defense magazine.
The minister addressed the growing role of hi-tech in the intelligence arena, saying, “It is not enough to work on technology, we must lead in that arena.”
At the same conference, Deputy National Security Council chief Eitan Ben David said that Israel is hoping US President Donald Trump’s recent withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will increasingly isolate Iran globally, or even lead to a better deal that addresses issues of concern to Israel not included in the original agreement.
Ben David also discussed the dangers of Iran placing an army of Shi’ite militias in Syria and of joint Iran-Hezbollah efforts to advance the Lebanese terrorist group’s weapons capabilities.
Referring to the Russia component of the Iran challenge, Ben David said that Israel’s ongoing dialogue with Moscow “is of major strategic value and is very qualitative... to advance Israeli interests.”
While there is an ongoing debate as to whether Russia adheres at all to Israeli requests to restrain Iran and Syria, after a recent Russia-Israel meeting and Israeli strikes on 50 Iranian targets in Syria, Russian officials seemed to back off from a readiness to sell Syria the advanced S-300 antiaircraft system that would complicate IDF air strikes.
Senior Defense Ministry official Zohar Palti said at the conference that Israel would not tolerate any Iranian presence in Syria, “not 20 kilometers, 30, 40” or at any distance, and that the Iranians “need to go home.”
Palti also said that Israel needed to show determination in the face of the current Gaza border crisis, since the country “cannot compromise on the security of our towns.”
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon emphasized critical security and intelligence questions Israel must answer: How can Israel deter Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and threatening it from Syria, and how can Israel pressure Hamas to end the Gaza border crisis.
Ya’alon added that the reason Israel has managed to keep Hamas from a broader conflict since 2014 “is supreme intelligence superiority,” noting that every time Hamas tried to attack with tunnels, rockets or gunfire as occurred this week, Israeli intelligence identified the threats in advance and has been one step ahead.
Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center chairman Brig.-Gen. Dr. Zvi Shtauber commented on challenges that the intelligence community is facing.
Israeli intelligence has awesome technological collection capabilities, but the challenge lies in mining that mass of intelligence to find actionable and valuable information, he said.
Further, he said that even if Israeli intelligence quantity and tactical capabilities have improved, intelligence agencies worldwide are repeatedly blindsided by the most significant game-changing moments, “or if we get the picture right, we get the speed wrong.”
Shtauber noted that the CIA and other intelligence agencies had mistakenly predicted that Russia and China would become more democratic, missed the global terrorism wave and missed ISIS’s spectacular rise and its equally spectacular fall.
A key issue is that “we do not succeed at improving individual’s abilities to move away from their biases... Intelligence is the result of the people, not just the technology,” Shtauber said.
Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center’s CEO, retired Brig.-Gen. David Tzur, and its conference head, retired Brig.-Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, also addressed a range of intelligence issues.