The power of Israeli intelligence in its recent attack on Iran – analysis
BY YONAH JEREMY BOB
With Monday morning’s jaw-dropping sharing of a wealth of IDF intelligence about the Iranian drone crew it struck in Lebanon, the power of Israeli intelligence became ever clearer.
The key to the IDF thwarting the planned attack by Iran on Israel was not merely that it identified the Lebanese operatives working with the Iranians who were en route to carry out their attack, but that it traced the presence of particular operatives involved in using drones on their way to the area before they got there.
Let’s analyze the information put out by the IDF. First, there were three casualties from the strike, two of whom were Hezbollah operatives being trained by Iran’s external intelligence Quds Force: Hassem Yussuf Zabib from Nabatieh in southern Lebanon, born in 1996, and Yasser Ahmed Tzahr from Beleide village, born in 1997.
According to the IDF, the two visited Iran several times this year and went through training to operate unmanned aerial vehicles and explosive drones at the Quds Force base.
Stunningly, there are pictures of the two onboard a flight and near an airplane headed to Iran to take part in some of the training sessions.
to IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, the IDF was ordered
specifically to strike Aqraba early on Sunday morning after they
received intelligence that the attack would happen on Sunday.
He said that the drones were like the kind used by the Houthis in Yemen against Saudi Arabia. Each of the drones could carry several kilograms of explosives, and was supposed to be operated in conjunction with a group of Iranian pilots who arrived in Syria several days before, especially for this mission. The IDF has not identified the name of an additional Iranian it said was killed in the strike.
From the above released intelligence, which is likely still only part of the full picture, part of the key is that the IDF has been watching these two individuals.
Tracing those individuals, and likely tracing these two Hezbollah operatives, invariably includes old-school intelligence like HUMINT, or human spying provided by the Mossad.
Other tracing of these operatives, including video footage of some Quds Force operatives taking what appears to be an Iranian drone out to prepare it for a strike, could have been accomplished by Israeli drones, the IDF’s F-35, Mossad or IDF special forces in the field, or again, by hacking some kind of Hezbollah video feed nearby.
The intelligence also makes it clear that Israel’s network for tracking these Hezbollah agents was spread out over multiple countries.
of this highlights that a key to preventing disastrous attacks on
Israel is often not merely having an answer once the attack is in
motion, but having unmatched intelligence prior to the attack. That
would allow for the rug to be pulled out from beneath the feet of the
attackers before they have been able to “hit the on-button” for their
There are some good questions to ask about what security information Israel may have compromised by sharing it with the public, and what the motivations for sharing it really was, which could be anything from psychologically beating Iran in public to politics.
Monday morning’s information showed unmistakably once again, that in
the arena of Middle East intelligence, Israel is second to none.