Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The situation in Gaza is the proof of a stunning Israeli intelligence failure

The developments in Gaza are the proof that the Israeli intelligence services are the most over-rated on the planet. Long gone is the "Entebbe" image of a daring and all-knowing Israeli intelligence community and as more information comes in about the recent developments in Gaza one is lead to wonder how incompetent the Israelis really are.

Times Online has revealed that Hamas 'spent months cutting through Gaza wall in secret operation' and that the Islamist group was responsible and had been involved for months in slicing through the heavy metal wall using oxy-acetylene cutting torches. That meant that when the explosive charges were set off in 17 different locations after midnight last night the 40ft wall came tumbling down, leaving it lying like a broken concertina down the middle of no-man's land as an estimated 350,000 Gazans flooded into Egypt. Lieutenant Abu Usama of the Palestinian National Security, said of the cutting operation: "I've seen this happening over the last few months. It happened in the daytime but was covered up so that nobody would see."

This begs the question of how the Israeli security complex (for which 1 in 6 Israelis works directly or indirectly) could miss something like this being prepared for months right under its nose? Israel has total intelligence control over Gaza. With numerous listening facilities monitoring all communications in and out of Gaza, with many times of drones flying over this small piece of land, with presumably hundreds of Palestinians agents (recruited in Israeli jails) providing human intelligence (HUMINT) it is baffling to see that, yet again, the Israelis seem to have been caught off guard.

This goes way beyond the narrow intelligence collection issue though.

Even more baffling is the question of how Israeli analysts failed to predict that a blockade would built the pressure towards some type of action towards Egypt. There are plenty of sharp Israeli analysts who could have made such a prediction and my sense is that the Israeli intelligence community is suffering from the same kind of politicization which has so catastrophically crippled the US intelligence community: the 'nay-sayers' and other critical minds are forced out and only ass-kissing bureaucrats are left to do the job.

In a way, Gaza is "Israel's 911": a vivid proof of a systemic dysfunction, a manifestation of a decay and collapse of a socio-political structure wholly unable to cope with its environment. An Empire relying on the two most incompetent and ineffective intelligence communities in the world (the USA 's and the Israeli) cannot survive for very long, not when faced with sophisticated and highly capable foes. As the saying goes, "the fish rots from the head".