IDF's Combat Intelligence: Keeping watch on the enemy along the Syrian border

“We gather intelligence while in the field to best understand the area and get a full picture of the situation,” said a combat intel officer.

 Soldiers of the IDF Combat Intelligence unit.  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Soldiers of the IDF Combat Intelligence unit.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

As Hezbollah continues to entrench itself along Israel’s northern borders, the troops of the IDF’s 595th battalion of Combat Intelligence Unit are keeping a close watch.

“We gather intelligence while in the field to best understand the area and get a full picture of the situation along the border,” said Company Commander Captain Lihi Moshe. 

Moshe, who has been serving for a year in the role, said that the troops-both men and women spend a lot of hours in the field to gather all details of enemy forces across the border using technology including drones to get high-resolution pictures and better reconnaissance. The troops also have great camouflage capabilities in order to blend into the area around them.

The 595th battalion can also maneuver with various infantry and armored brigades in order to best defend against threats.

“We spend hours in the field, working 24/7, day and night to thwart the enemy,” she said. 

An IDF soldier monitors with an optical device. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)An IDF soldier monitors with an optical device. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

“We spend hours in the field, working 24/7, day and night to thwart the enemy.”

Company commander Captain Lihi Moshe

At the frontline of "war-between-wars"

Though the border with Syria has been quiet, Iran has increased its influence in the Syrian Arab Army by training senior commanders and helping in force buildup. Hezbollah has also increased its presence on the Golan Heights including near the demilitarized buffer zone. 

While the IDF does not respond to most foreign reports, it has admitted to carrying out hundreds of airstrikes as part of its “war-between-wars” (known in Hebrew as MABAM) campaign to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the entrenchment of Iranian forces in Syria, where they could easily act against Israel.

Although Israel usually refrains from targeting terrorist operatives to try to avoid subsequent retaliation, some strikes ascribed to the Jewish state have killed several Hezbollah operatives in southern Syria on the Golan Heights, where the group has been trying to establish a permanent military presence as part of the group’s Golan Project with over 60 bases spread out across the front.

“There has been no change in their activities, we are continuing to see Hezbollah continue to entrench itself in southern Syria,” Moshe said.

Her troops operate along the most active part of the Golan Heights, the Alpha line. 

There have been several attempted attacks in recent months, including in September when suspects were identified as approaching the border and throwing suspicious objects that turned out to be mines. IDF troops approached the suspects and shot toward them to thwart the attack.

 IDF soldiers on patrol.  (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) IDF soldiers on patrol. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

“We gather intelligence while in the field to best understand the area and get a full picture of the situation along the border.”

Company commander Captain Lihi Moshe

Specialized for military success 

Sergeant Anog Zinger has been in the north for the past month after serving along the Egyptian border. 

All troops in her team have their own position, specializing in something else to bring about a successful mission.

“Everyone in the team has a role that they specialize in, someone is a medic or a sharpshooter, and everyone knows how to operate a complete system that leads us to operational success. If the team does not work together — we will not produce good results. Every screw in this machine needs to work,” she said.

Making the combat commitment 

Zinger, who chose to join a combat unit, has always grown up on stories about the IDF, as her father was left disabled from his combat service. When she was drafted into the military, “it felt natural, yet unnatural because my father couldn’t finish his service,” she said. “But going into combat gave my father a feeling that he was finishing his service through me.”

According to her “the shifts are long and it's hard to be in the field for days in the field alone with no phone or showers or bed. We get to the most difficult place mentally, the place farthest from our homes and comfort zone but we learn to deal with it.”

 IDF soldiers carry their equipment. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) IDF soldiers carry their equipment. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Far from home

Sergeant Issy Lyons is even further away from her home after making Aliyah from Hong Kong two years ago join the IDF.

“I wanted to make as much of a difference that I could, and that meant serving in combat,” she told The Jerusalem Post, adding that she heard that Oketz and combat intelligence were the two toughest positions for women.

She serves in a specialized drone team, conducting reconnaissance over enemy forces using various types of remotely piloted aerial platforms.

“Our team is much smaller and dynamic [than Anog’s], we all do the same thing, and everyone does 100 percent of everything,” she said, adding that the team has a very high success rate.

“There’s been a lot of times that we are pushing our limits, we practice a lot to make sure that we are the best that we can be. When there is a technological issue, we work together as a team to fix the problem,” Lyons said.

Before she made Aliyah, she read the news and knew the challenges in the Middle East, but it wasn’t until she was posted to the border that she fully understood the complexity.

“I had no idea,” she said. “But now I feel like I’m doing something to protect the country by standing in front of the enemy and not by standing on the sidelines. We are working as a team against the enemy.”