National Security Approach in Israel and Palestine

Israeli intelligence developed modern operational mechanism and professional security approach, while Palestine’s intelligence remained without ambition-lacking a positive national security approach.

by Musa Khan Jalalzai

( September 18, 2017, Islamabad, Sri Lanka Guardian) In 1990s, Israeli and Palestinian intelligence agencies facilitated series of peace talks to end the decades-long-war in Middle East, but radicalization and exponentially growing nationalism on both sides created hurdles. In 2001, new wave of violence prompted the emergence of second Intifada, which according to some reports was prolonged by Palestinian intelligence agencies. The term intifada means shaking off, and in this literal sense the first two uprising in 1987-1993 and 2000-2003 badly failed to win or achieve the Palestinian autonomy.

Intelligence operations in Israel and Palestine evolved in different perspectives while since the Oslo Accord (1993) they fought each other by adopting modern war strategies. Israeli intelligence developed modern operational mechanism and professional security approach, while Palestine’s intelligence remained without ambition-lacking a positive national security approach.

There were numerous stories and newspapers and journals about the evolution of the intelligence infrastructure of Israel and Palestine, and their operational mechanisms, which spotlighted important facts and realities. A question raises how Israeli intelligence succeeded in controlling Palestine based radicalized and insurgent groups, and how Palestinian intelligence failed to mobilize the Arab and non-Arab world against Israel, or lead policy maker on right direction during the last two uprisings. Palestinian authority maintained several intelligence infrastructures. The main intelligence agency was National Security Service and general Intelligence. What strategy they adopted to meet the challenges of their national security, and how domestic intelligence in Israel failed to intercept the infiltration of Palestine’s jihadist groups attacking civilians?

These are questions that need to be addressed in this article. In Israel, everything is not going on right direction. There are stakeholders who want whirling intelligence operations around their own perceptualization of countering insurgency in Palestine. On 02 March, 2016, Chief strategy officer, and professor at the department of political science in Tel Aviv University, Dr. Shay Hershkovits spotlighted internal differences within the Israeli intelligence infrastructure: “On January 12, the spokesman of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) announced the resignation of Brig. Gen. Eli Ben Meiras head of the Research Division due to differences of opinion with the chief of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi. According to several Israeli media channels, the dispute revolved around disagreement on the way the Research Division should be managed-along with personal differences between the two senior officers”.

Relationship between Israeli parliament, military and civilian intelligence agencies and civil society received little attention from print and electronic media, and research forums in Israel. The failure of intelligence in Yumi Kapur war, and the lake of oversight in yesteryears made Israeli policy makers vigilant to review their approach towards domestic security. Since the 1993 Oslo agreement, and presently, main focus of Palestinian intelligence agencies has been to galvanize Arab states imposing sanction on Israel, and targeting Israeli politicians across the Middle East and Persian Gulf. This offensive campaign of Hamas, PLO and other sectarian intelligence infrastructures from Iran to Syria and Lebanon failed to invigorate and awaken all Arab and non-Arab Muslim states from South Asia to South East Asia against Israel, because intelligence agencies, politicians and sectarian militant groups were not on the same page.

The Shia-Sunni politics in all Arab states institutions spread like virus. Sunnis justified the killing of Shias, and major operations of their intelligence agencies were also based on their own perceptualization of the altercation in Middle East. Intelligence information gathering remained controversial, while every agency was responsible to its sectarian stakeholder and spied on their country opposition. Under these circumstances, the case of state building, intelligence reforms and the establishment of a strong Palestinian army remained in procrastination. Corruption and nepotism in the transfer and appointment of intelligence and army officers further exposed disagreement and confrontation between political leadership and state intelligence. Palestinian leaders received billion dollars from all Arab states in yesteryears, but not a single penny was spent on alleviating poverty. They purchased luxurious hotels, houses, markets and farms, where their children are enjoying western lifestyle. Internal conflagration within the infrastructure of security forces, and competition among various political and sectarian stakeholders in intelligence agencies, and the absence of unified war strategy or chain of command resulted in factional and sectarian war within states institutions. However, Palestinian authority remained torn between reining and armed elements, while political and sectarian influence of al Qaeda, Taliban and Afghan Mujahedeen within intelligence and security organs is matter of great concern.

In his article, (The Evolution and Reform of Palestinian Security Forces 1993-2013), Professor Alaa Tartir noted important developments in security and intelligence sectors: “In 1998, the number of security personnel reached between 30,000, and 40,000, increasing to 50,000 by 2000, and 53,000 by 2003 (Le More 2008). By 2004, there were more than 15 different security bodies operation in the occupied territories. This proliferation of security forces argued Ramadan Shallah, the leader of Islamic Jihad, to argue in 1996, ‘Arafat has so many intelligence services in the self-rule areas that if you open your window, Preventive Security peeps in; if you open your door, the Presidential Security Service comes in; if you go out to your garden, you pump into Military Intelligence; and if you go out to the street, you come across General Intelligence”. Mr. Arafat was in full control of his security forces. His intelligence was responsible to him alone, while this way of self-rule-governance caused rivalry and bloody clashes within security agencies. Cash payment to soldiers and secret agents from Mr. Arafat office also caused gun culture. Mercenaries were on payroll, and mullahs were fighting for him through loudspeakers. In 2007, radical group Hamas controlled Gaza while Al Fatah controlled West Bank.

The US and NATO war against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the emergence of Taliban, al Qaeda and Takfiri Islamist groups in Middle East and South Asia once again forced Israel to review its counterterrorism and counter radicalization strategy. These radical elements slowly started infiltrating the Gaza strip. Pakistani and Bangladesh armies provided military training to their Mujahedeen in the fight against Israel. At present, there are speculations that Palestinian groups trained by Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Arab states may possibly try to develop dirty bombs, biological weapons to use it in the town and cities of Israel. Because, material of dirty bomb is easily available in the black market of some European states, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. These elements with the help of some rogue states may possibly inflict huge destruction and fatality on the people of Israel. These radical groups continue to kill Israeli citizens by the day. In January 2017, they killed four Israeli soldiers, and in July 10, 14, 21, 2017, terrorists killed five soldiers and police officers. After the signing of Oslo Accord in 1993, more than 300 Israeli citizens have been killed in only eight years. From September 2000 to December 2005, 1,100 people were killed.

Musa Khan Jalalzai is author of Fixing the EU Intelligence Crisis can be reached at:

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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