Israeli intelligence gaps found during last IDF Gaza operation

IDF Spokesperson's Unit said it has not heard of the investigation and that several in-depth investigations were carried out following the fighting.

IDF intelligence soldiers (illustrative) (photo credit: IDF)
IDF intelligence soldiers (illustrative)
(photo credit: IDF)

An internal IDF investigation carried out following Operation Guardian of the Walls in May found that there were significant intelligence gaps that prevented the military from meeting expectations that it had set prior to the fighting.

According to a report by Channel 12’s MAKO Pazam news site, the highly critical internal investigation found a “detached operational picture” that harmed the functioning of units as well as the public trust in the Israeli military.

Israel fought an 11-day war with terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip in May and carried out intensive strikes against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets, including what the military said were key infrastructure and personnel belonging to the two groups.

The two terrorist groups fired over 4,000 rockets and mortars to Israeli cities in the South and center of the country whenever they wanted, killing 12 civilians and one soldier.

Combined, the two groups have around 14,000 rockets – both long range and short. The majority, if not all of the rockets and mortars are locally produced. Hamas also used explosive drones, naval weaponry and more against Israel during the fighting.

 IRON DOME interceptors destroy rockets launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel in the skies over Ashkelon in May. (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS) IRON DOME interceptors destroy rockets launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel in the skies over Ashkelon in May. (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Following the conflict, the military conducted several investigations including a General Staff forum into the army’s preparations and readiness in order to immediately learn for future conflicts.

Prior to the conflict, the IDF had said it had superior intelligence collection capabilities over the terrorist groups in the blockaded coastal enclave, and according to the report, “The gaps in the intelligence picture did not arise prior to the operation.”

According to the report, there was sharp internal criticism by officers who said there was a shortage in intelligence regarding the rocket arrays, anti-tank guided missiles and snipers belonging to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

Though the IDF was able to destroy several dozen rocket launchers, following the fighting the military admitted that Hamas rocket barrages and the ability to locate buried rocket launchers continue to be an area of weakness.

Despite having killed several leaders in the group, the investigation also found that there was also a lack of intelligence about the locations of Hamas leaders the military wanted to take out. Instead, the military destroyed the homes of the targets, including battalion and company commanders.

The IDF nevertheless said that the conflict was a success and that the military struck the groups in the Strip with an extreme force that deprived Hamas and PIJ of many of their capabilities.

“During three days of Operation Guardian of the Walls, the Southern Command and the Gaza Division destroyed 70 multi-barreled launchers. They destroyed a multi-barrelled launcher every hour,” Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi said in June at an event in memory of former IDF chief Amnon Lipkin-Shahak at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

Lt.-Col. Dori Saar during Operation Guardian of the Walls.  (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)Lt.-Col. Dori Saar during Operation Guardian of the Walls. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

He added that thanks to techniques and capabilities developed during the fighting, “We were able to bring a new connection between the sensors and intelligence” and expose the multi-barreled launchers.”

But according to the internal investigation, IDF platforms attacking enemy targets such as fighter jets, helicopters and artillery forces did not have enough intelligence in order to provide effective firepower.

The investigation also found that the military also undermined public trust by disseminating inaccurate reports in the media about the conflict.

“The overestimation of a situation that is detached from an operational reality, as disseminated by military officials in the media, has led to severe feelings among the general public to the point of undermining trust,” it read, adding, “This situation has impaired the capabilities of the military due to the enemy’s exploitation of the situation and the public’s feelings.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in response that it has not heard of the investigation in question as the channel “refused to provide details and therefore it is not possible to comment on the substance of the matter.”

“After the Guardian of the Walls, a large number of in-depth investigations were carried out in all IDF units for the purpose of drawing lessons and improving. The investigation in question is not known,” the statement read. “At the General Staff level, these advanced capabilities, some of which were first used in the operation, destroyed significant offensive capabilities belonging to Hamas and caused significant damage to the organization’s rocket production and manufacturing capabilities.”