Before it ended with Hamas rocket fire Saturday night, July 26, the 12-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was used by both parties for regrouping, re-arming, strengthening fortifications and digging in current lines and positions while the sights and sounds of devastation in the Gaza Strip came fully to light.
The pause in hostilities also offered Israeli forces a valuable opportunity for collecting intelligence. In the heat of the fighting, the IDF and its clandestine arms were unable despite strenuous efforts to obtain electronic and SIGINT access to the hidden Hamas and Islamic Jihad command and control centers.
From the way they were constructed in deep, well-furnished bunkers, these centers are presumed to be well equipped with complex tactical and encrypted communications systems at a high algorithm level, with likely capabilities to perform dual functions: Linking the fighting, medium command and staff levels; and electronic interference and possible jamming of the signals of the IDF’s drones, or even their interception, as well as eavesdropping on the IDF’s communications and signals networks and visual devices.
It is highly likely that, deep under ground, Hamas has concealed in its bunkers a sophisticated intelligence production processing system. This breaks surface in the form of sensors and antennas which are installed on roofs and in residential apartments for monitoring IDF signals and feeding the data to the operational production staff underground.
According to, debkafile’s military sources and cyber experts, an IDF plan to use those tunnels and their many turn-offs and offshoots to reach Hamas headquarters has not so far worked. The subterranean terrorist empire built by Hamas is estimated to run to more than 5,000 tunnels and sub-passages under the surface of the Gaza Strip. Their course and exits have never been fully mapped.
In the eight days of its ground operation, the IDF and combat engineers focused on finding and destroying the “terror tunnels” leading under the border into Israel. They can never be certain they have found them all.
On the Palestinian side, it must be said that many veterans of the extremist Hamas and Islamic Jihad campaigns of terror are familiar with Israeli social mores and modes of operation. Many spent years inside Israeli prisons and experienced many hours of interrogation; many more had jobs in Israel for long periods. They have fluent Hebrew. And so, with their help, Hamas can skip the time-consuming and expensive work of translating and processing the raw data falling into its hands and be sure that no distortions have crept in along the way. Hamas planners are therefore well equipped for going straight to the insights they need for striking the Israeli enemy.
For the Palestinians, the truce is a chance for respite, for sending intelligence and other key personnel up to the surface to assess the horrendous damage caused by the war, regroup and replenish their weapons and ammunition stores
But it also provides the IDF with a rare opportunity to see what Hamas is up to, decipher its plans and observe any changes in its operational and behavioral modes. These are pinpointed as vulnerabilities for future use in destroying the enemy.
Israel’s intelligence effort is hugely supported by the questioning of the hundreds of Palestinians taken prisoner in the eight days of ground combat and held at the Sde Teiman detention center in the Negev, northwest of Beersheba.
Some of these captives may jump at the chance to return to the Gaza Strip and work against the leaders who caused them to lose all their possessions and ditched them and their families. For guarantees of rewards in cash, medical aid or even asylum in Israel or other countries, these detainees may be willy to furnish Israeli intelligence with invaluble services as informants and active collaborators on the other side, provided they are carefully selected.
Long lines of prisoners in their underwear with bound eyes may have a momentary impact on Hams morale, but in the long term, as incentives for the enemy to surrender, these methods cause more harm than good.