Though militarily inferior, Hamas has hit Israel strategically with attrition and population flight

When Israeli troops entered Gaza in July, 2014, they were armed with superb tactical intelligence as well as superior weaponry and training. The soldiers on the ground were supplied at every level with astonishing detail which saved lives.

But thanks to the a radical shift in Israel’s intelligence focus, initiated 10 years ago and followed through since,  those calling the shots in the IDF’s war on Hamas were short of a deeper picture and insights into the enemy’s mindset and guiding motives, data that transcends tactical knowledge

This revision of Israel’s operational intelligence orientation began in 2003 under Meir Dagan, with the approval of the late prime minister Ariel Sharon. It refocused the work of Israel’s clandestine agencies on collecting tactical intelligence and giving up on digging for strategic data on the dynamics of the region and world and their key players. This revolution affected the short and long term operations of of Israel’s external and internal security and counterterrorism arms, the Mossad and Shin Bet, as well as military intelligence AMAN.

The Mossad shut down stations world wide, sacking or sidelining agents who disputed the Dagan overhaul.. The desks specializing in the strategic research of international events were streamlined out of the organization. The new entity began to resemble the US Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Operations Division (SAD), a covert paramilitary unit that focuses on gathering tactical intelligence for the use of operatives serving on foreign soil, especially in the Mid East.

Those agencies eventually became small armies geared more to cooperating with the IDF in times of tension and war, as they strikingly demonstrated in the current Operation Defensive Edge.

During this evolution, spread over years, the Mossad scored some major coups. One was the targeted assassination in 2008 of the lethal Imad Mughniyeh, who for two decades, in the service of Hizballah and Iran, secretly masterminded large-scale terrorist and kidnapping atrocities against Israel and the US.

This week, by focusing on its strategic objectives, Hamas scored two major goals:

1. It dragged Israel willy-nilly into a war of attrition – with no end in sight, according to its leaders. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s repeated assertion that attrition would be countered by hammer blows ddid not alter the fact that the rockets and the mortars keep coming from the Gaza Strip in a steady flow which is attritioning the civilian population.

2.  And indeed, around 70 percent of the population of the villages around the Gaza Strip have packed their bags and left their homes. Despite the aid offered by the government, these people and their families have become refugees or displaced persons in their own country, in order to escape the relentless Hamas pounding of rockets and mortars. This is a strategic achievement on a par with Hamas’ success in closing Ben Gurion international air port for a couple of days last month.

The Islamists are coming close to a third strategic achievement: Israel’s inability to start the school year on September 1 – and not just in the near neighborhood of the Gaza Strip. Voices are being raised in Ashkelon, Ashdod and further north in Greater Tel Aviv and its densely populated satellite towns, by parents who say they will not send children back to school in the current state of security.

So while Israel’s military and intelligence chiefs use tactical yardsticks to weigh their steps and assess Hamas’ intentions, Hamas operates on the strategic level to keep Israel guessing.

Full article:  Though militarily inferior, Hamas has hit Israel strategically with attrition and population flight (DEBKAfile)

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