Israel’s military has been bracing for a Palestinian insurgency campaign.
The Israeli military has intensified exercises and other operations to help prevent the outbreak of a Palestinian revolt in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
The Israel Defense Forces conducted a major exercise on April 23 near the city of Bethlehem to counter violent protests encouraged by the Palestinian Authority.
“The scenarios included local disturbances, attempted attacks, potential terrorism and the use of riot control measures,” the military said.
Officials said the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered the military to prepare for the prospect of a PA-inspired insurgency campaign. They cited the suspension of Israeli-PA talks and a reconciliation agreement between the ruling Fatah movement and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
“It could be that an escalation will slowly develop,” Central Command head Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon said. “It could come in one explosive event.”
The latest exercise included infantry battalions, Border Police and medical teams. The troops came from the army’s Kfir Brigade.
In March 2014, Central Command oversaw another infantry exercise near Bethlehem. The scenarios included a suicide bombing of a school bus as well as an ambush of civilian vehicles.
“In general, there is a seemingly stable atmosphere with terrorist incidents and disturbances here and there,” Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said on April 23. “Still,we must be prepared for the possibility of a broader escalation as that which we practiced for today.”
Israel Revises Military Intel
Israel has imposed a reorganization of military intelligence.Israeli Military sources said the General Staff has overseen the reorganization of MI in an effort to enhance capabilities. They said MI was required to focus on new forms of communications used by Iranian-sponsored insurgency groups, particularly the social media.
“Without a comprehensive monitoring and understanding of the Internet and Facebook, we could lose understanding of the rapid changes in the region,” an intelligence officer said. “The standard methods are obsolete in these times.”
The reorganization of MI was triggered by the so-called Arab Spring, or Islamist revolts in such countries as Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Tunisia. The sources acknowledged that MI, like many other intelligence agencies, was slow to understand the changes in the region.
“Today’s intelligence systematically misses the most significant historic developments,” a senior MI officer said.
So far, nearly 1,000 officers have been reassigned by MI as units were formed to track the social media and determine cyber threats. MI has appointed a commander for operations that included Unit 8200.
The corps also appointed a commander responsible for cyber threats. MI formed a unit to support information systems, including those needed for cyber warfare.
Sources said the reorganization reflected a growing budget for MI. They said MI was one of the few units spared significant spending cuts over the next two years.
A key challenge for MI was the tracking of insurgency groups, including those sponsored by Iran and Al Qaida. The sources said these groups did not communicate over military channels and lacked a formal chain of command.
“The intelligence systems developed in order to track and monitor any object within spaces that can be as large as dozens of square kilometers are sometimes inconceivable,” an officer told Israel Defense website. “As a result of all this, today’s intelligence is radically different even compared to the methods of the last decade.”