Monday, July 21, 2014

How the Israelis Know Where to Look

I returned Saturday from a vacation in Italy having spent a week admiring that country's vast treasures of art, history, and architecture. I had been pretty much out of touch with the news while abroad but had heard bits and pieces of the attack on the Malaysian jet by Russian-supported separatists in Ukraine, the ground invasion of Gaza, and the continuing crisis on our southern border.

The globe seems to be overwhelmed with unmanageable crises and yet the President's press secretary, Josh Ernest, assures us that his boss' policies have "made the world more tranquil." Either the world looks very different to people in Washington than it does to us living in the hinterlands or Mr. Ernest has been spending too much time in Colorado availing himself of opportunities afforded by Colorado's new pot laws.

Anyway, I came across a piece at Debkafile on how Israel knows where to look to find targets for their air and ground forces. Here's an excerpt:
IDF (Israeli Defense Force) obtains its eyes on the ground either voluntarily, inadvertently or by interrogating prisoners.

The spies on the ground of the Shin Bet, IDF combat intelligence-gathering and AMAN field units, trained in clandestine operations in an Arab environment, may pick up data bonanzas from ordinary people in war zones, who are willing to talk out of various motives:

Financial: Ordinary Gazan Palestinians, in contrast to their ruling elite, are in dire financial distress. They may be persuaded to part with valuable information for a cash reward or a permit to cross into Israel.

Revenge: They are deeply fragmented by factional and personal rivalries. Certain elements may offer information to settle scores with their opponents.

Safe Guarantee: A Palestinian in Gaza may be willing to sell valuable secrets to buy an IDF guarantee of safety from attack for himself, his family and his property for the duration of the Israeli-Hamas military conflict.

Buying long-term collaborators with financial or medical rewards is one of the key HUMINT operations which are performed under cover of the IDF ground incursion.
How likely is it, do you suppose, that the Palestinians have cultivated the same sorts of sources among Israelis?

Of course, different measures are employed against captured combatants but even with these the Israelis prefer subtlety to force:
Contrary to conventional assumptions, Israeli interrogators have not found violence to be the most productive method of extracting secrets from unwilling subjects. They obtain their best results by tricks and subterfuge and, dovetailing the information obtained with the data incoming from other sources, human and other.

They also act on the premise that their subjects may be utterly faithful to their national and religious ideals, but some may also be human beings with personal ambitions, wives, aging parents or sick children in need of medical or other assistance. Therefore, a detailed rundown on the subject’s CV obtained in advance will give the investigator the advantage of knowing where to apply pressure to extract information.

This sort of pressure is apt to produce a gold mine, the key piece of information for unlocking such secrets as the locations of terrorist tunnel openings – the first of which Israel ground forces in fact found Friday night in schools, private homes and greenhouses.

It may also yield from prisoners such valuable data as the whereabouts of the booby traps Hamas rigged for invaders, the identities of contact men, the Hamas chain of command, its combat systems, its technological resources and its command and control centers.
One of the things Israeli interrogators have learned is that Hamas has built its command and control center in the basement of a hospital to protect it from Israeli air attack. They've placed their rocket launchers in schools and homes for the same reason. That is a very illuminating fact for two reasons: It's an acknowledgement that Israel tries hard to avoid civilian casualties, a fact which Hamas exploits, and it offers a stark contrast with Hamas which would not be deterred at all from bombing an Israeli hospital whether or not there were military targets therein.

As Benjamin Netanyahu said the other day, Israel uses missiles (Iron Dome) to protect it's people. Hamas uses people to protect it's missiles. Indeed, Hamas is reported to be telling people in Gaza not to flee their homes because they know that if the people flee the Israelis will be less reluctant to assault urban areas, and they also know that if the people stay and some are killed this works to Hamas' advantage in the court of world opinion.

It could in fact be argued that Hamas cares less about the welfare of the Palestinian people who are useful merely as human shields than do the Israelis. If Hamas did care about their people they would've spent a far larger percentage of the millions of dollars in aid they've received from the global community, including the U.S., on mitigating the rough edges of the poverty in which Gaza is mired and less on weaponry and tunnel building.

All of which illustrates the difference between a civilized people and barbarians.