Eisenkot Wants Better Strategic Intelligence to deal with ISIS

It is not every day that an Israeli Defense Forces commander is ready to publicly admit to the shortcomings of Israeli military intelligence. This is exactly what Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot, did on Monday, Jan.18.
Six salient points emerged – often between the lines – from the keynote speech he delivered at the Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv:
1. ISIS already has a presence on Israel’s borders. In the north, Jaish al-Yarmouk and Jaish Ahrar al-Ashair – two of the rebel militias occupying a part of southern Syria adjacent to the Golan – are actually affiliates of the Islamic State.
In Sinai, on Israel’s southern border, the main threat comes from Ansar Beit El Maqdis, another ISIS affiliate. In Eisenkot’s estimate, ISIS-Sinai could be militarily routed in a year, but the Syrian branch was a much harder nut to crack.
2. If ISIS were to be pushed out of Syria and Iraq, which does not seem likely in the near future, the jihadists may well invade Jordan for another foothold, thereby gaining a third front for threatening Israel.
Israel’s top soldier put it this way: “In Syria, the organization’s successful advance has been halted. In my opinion, this raises the chances of their turning their weapons on us and the Jordanians.”
3. This possibility is a compelling reason why, according to the chief of staff, “The IDF must be ready to cope with an outbreak of hostilities at very short notice.” He added, “It would be a mistake to divert all of the IDF’s resources to fighting terror.”
4. In his view, Hizballah and Hamas pose the most serious military threats to Israel, owing to the surface-to-surface missiles they have piled up – about 130,000 missiles of various types between them.
Describing the situation along the Israel-Lebanon border, Eisenkot said Hizballah had strung together 240 Shiite towns and villages in central and southern Lebanon and transformed them into a continuous military fortress for fighting Israel.
Hizballah was also digging a system of infiltration tunnels from Lebanon under the border into Israel. This admission, no IDF commander has made thus far, despite strong suspicions.
5. Eisenkot spoke frankly and at length about the most recent Israeli intelligence letdowns.
He maintained that, while the service has a good command of enemy intelligence at the local, tactical level, it is short of the long view for drawing conclusions and procuring strategic data.
This challenge must be faced, said the army chief, “if ISIS and other terror organizations are to be forestalled and deterred. Without advance warning, any tactical terrorist attacks may blow up into an unforeseen strategic problem,” and find us unprepared, the chief of staff said.
6. The general pointed to the serious problem presented by Palestinian stabbing attacks, a tactic which he said “effectively sidesteps all of our most highly-advanced countermeasures.” Not a single stabbing attack was forewarned by an intelligence alert, he said.
He also faulted the Shin Bet internal security service for its inadequate response to the wave of Palestinian terror plaguing Israel in recent months.
debkafile adds: The army chief will not have forgotten how Israeli intelligence assessments misfired on Syria, misjudging Bashar Assad’s durability and the prospects of large-scale Russian intervention, as well as underestimating the strategic fallout from Hizballah’s 2014 plunge into the civil war.

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