In the video: IDF Chief of Staff Kochavi: Israel is responsible for attacking an arms convoy on the Syrian-Iraqi border/Walla system!
The satellite flew over Iran and transmitted images to the systems of Unit 9900 in the IDF's Intelligence Directorate. It was supposed to be another shift, but the photo decoder, Sergeant N., 21, noticed twenty trucks standing one after the other near a major road, and something in the picture seemed unusual to her. "One of the trucks was suspicious. I assumed it might have been a weapons smuggling convoy." It is immediately going to update the satellite operators in the unit and alert the intelligence research department officials, who specialize in Hezbollah's buildup, about the process, which in its assessment is underway from Iran and soon through Iraq and from there to Syria. This operation consumes an entire system in the intelligence community, which from that moment on directs the collection of a variety of sensors in order to help verify what the decoder is saying and thwart the smuggling of strategic weapons. The end was in the form of an attack on the convoy on the Iraqi-Syrian border, dubbed the "truck number 8" attack in November 2022, an operation for which then-IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi claimed responsibility.
The trucks before the attack on the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing as seen on the satellite/IDF Spokesperson's Office
"It really doesn't end with sending an alert and an update. From that moment on, a lot of intelligence information comes up from the Research Department, and through it we together try to cross-check and verify information. We called it truck number 8. Why? Because she was number 8 in the convoy," the analyst explained, realizing that the convoy could set off within minutes on a 1,000-kilometer journey that it would finish within days or weeks, and the pressure in Military Intelligence was accordingly.
N. was born and raised in Kadima-Zoran. In high school, she increased Jewish philosophy and almost gave up the fascinating role in Unit 9900 because she didn't really understand the nature of the role and the magnitude of the responsibility. "From the moment I realized there was a 99% chance that it was a smuggling truck, I tried hard to frame the truck. Together, we are trying to raise as many wire ends as possible until we can say with certainty that we recommend thwarting the truck," she tells Walla!.
Every minute that passes becomes critical, and the teams of Unit 9900 and the Research Department understand that every moment must be seized. Lieutenant Z., 23, from Jerusalem, is the first of an extended family of six siblings to enlist in the IDF. She studied physics and Talmud and studied at the Midrasha a year before enlisting. She knew very well that she wanted to be a researcher in the Research Division. In the first stage, she dealt with warnings about intentions to use force against Israel, and after leaving for an officers' course, she began investigating terrorism in the Yemeni region. Today she heads a squad investigating targets for the buildup and incriminating arms transfers from Iran to the northern arena.
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"My work and N's work is parallel and complementary. While N. looks at her websites, I and other soldiers read intelligence information from all the different intelligence units and all sorts," she tells Walla!. "We recognize the willingness of the Iranian Quds Force to carry out a land convoy. The connection between us indicates the action that is being realized. Together we will accompany the transfer and try to incriminate the truck from a convoy of tankers accurately. Convoys leave Iran 24/7. Some are related to the Quds Force and some are unrelated. My job is to put it together, to point out what interests us. Does it include a strategic weapon component or not?"
The Quds Force, which is responsible for transferring weapons and components used to build strategic weapons such as surface-to-air missile systems, surface-to-surface missiles, advanced radars and advanced technological systems, will employ compartmentalization, deception and subterfuge efforts to outwit the Israeli intelligence community, which will try to thwart the smuggling. During all those minutes and days, the IDF's satellite group will monitor the convoy that has already begun moving on the roads from Iran to Iraq. "From that moment, the effort is to get as much intelligence material as possible on the trucks, so that we will have all the angles and subtleties, and we don't necessarily know how long the trucks will be in Iran and when they will start traveling, through which routes, where they will stop along the way," N. said, adding: "As soon as the convoy progresses, I update 'partners.' At this time, I characterize the convoy. How many trucks are there. What they look like, how they behave, and characterize the nuances of each and every truck. It's not for nothing that 20 tankers arrived at the same time. I also know how to locate them from among all the convoys in the area. Get to know the tankers and say which truck is suspicious, point at it all the time, and explain why. I am part of an entire squad that knows the names of cities, streets, roads in Iraq and Syria as well."
The tense hours in the "pit"
Throughout those few days, the decoding and research authorities make estimates based on information from the past, when and where the convoy will pass. "The satellite doesn't orbit the Earth every minute and I have to assess where it's going and send requests to the satellite operators where to photograph it next time, and sometimes they reach a crossroads. That's how it continues until the moment we reach the stopover compound at the Al-Bukamal crossing between Iraq and Syria," N. recalls, noting that at that time the understanding is already sharpening and recommendations are being made on the steps for attacking the truck. "All intelligence agencies are exercising their power to locate what is actually happening at the crossing. Most of the representatives are in the hole, and some of them will be in contact by phone."
During those hours in the pit, while Sergeant N. was busy downloading satellite images and deciphering the details, senior officials from the IDF, Military Intelligence and the Air Force were already behind her. She is less recognizable but certainly knows degrees and accordingly the understanding of the magnitude of the event that is emerging mainly because of her. "The person I worked with told me, 'Your eyes are really red.' My officer became nervous. They asked me if everything was okay. I deciphered for hours on end and my eyes burned. Sitting crowded in a pit, each with his own computer. You wait not to go to the bathroom so you won't miss something. Behind you are senior officials. There is tension because I learned every single detail about the truck. Every part and sign and yet you ask yourself if there was anything else I could have done to support the decision. In my decryption."
After the chain of approvals, responsibility shifts to Air Force personnel who choose the moment of attack on the truck, the location of the attack and the type of armament. A short time later, the attack is carried out and it appears on the screen. The satellite operators instructed on photographing the attack area in order to decipher the extent of the damage to the truck, and the products are again transferred to Sergeant N for examination. "We should see a fire from the truck if it was a fuel tanker. We didn't see any spilled fuel and you realize it's the truck. But you also know at that moment that the whole smuggling story is different in his body to a different story. Next time it will look different. What do you feel at that moment? Excitement."
The truck attack took place more than a year ago, and its attack was first revealed by former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (Res.) Aviv Kochavi, in order to demonstrate the power of Israeli intelligence and its precision capabilities in thwarting weapons smuggling.
Exposed Israeli responsibility for the attack. Former IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi/Reuven Castro
Rachel Empowerment at the Geoint Research Center, Lieutenant A (right), Rachel Empowerment Targets in the Northeast Arena (left)/IDF Spokesperson
The attack on weapons smuggling from Iran to Syria and from there to Lebanon, and many other covert incidents are taking place against the background of a new organizational process that is intensifying to strengthen the connection between the collection and research units, to create harmony and synergy, with an emphasis on the satellite world. The IDF's freedom of action in the air has been reduced for a variety of reasons: Planes are already flying very high or very low under crazy risk in order to avoid exposure While from space, satellites have become much more available and accordingly provide industrial products for the IDF. The fact that most events are multi-theater highlights the importance of a satellite orbiting the Earth about every 90 minutes.
"They can operate anywhere within minutes within thousands of kilometers of the Israeli border and in secrecy. You don't always have to send people or tools into the field under very great risk, and this allows you to follow events over time without the enemy knowing you're tracking them," explained a senior Military Intelligence officer familiar with satellite activity. "In the end, they also allow you to carry out the military operation, such as bringing the intelligence beforehand, intelligence accompanied during the operation, with an emphasis on precise intelligence. If something is needed to attack then accurate. This is important, and to recognize that the attack succeeded - all in a set of tools from space. It's a process of the last decade and commercial players have also entered the event. A man like Elon Musk is providing internet from space to Ukraine."
The Chinese are on the highest learning curve in space and the Americans are waging a cold war against them in the field, and as a result of the multiplicity of players, including commercial companies, there is an effort by the UN and countries to regulate activity in space and set rules alongside the emerging threats. "We no longer want the satellite force for war or operation, but for the war between wars for ongoing activity. We want a better grip on our enemies around the clock even when they are hiding in urban environments. To take one picture once a day and not necessarily just once a week, to catch the enemy coming out of the building," explains the senior officer. Therefore, Military Intelligence must diversify its sources of collection, and space meets this very well. There are advantages and there are disadvantages. In the end, the satellite does not have the resolution of a drone, even though the sensors from space are improving and the costs are high, but when strategic weapons systems are mobile and cross-country, you understand what the advantage is from space."
Satellite photo after the attack/IDF Spokesperson
The officer adds, "It's not self-evident to keep all the satellites alive in survival, with high reliability, available for any activity, the young guys give you a mission character with poison in their eyes, but on the other hand there's burnout here. They are bounced on every operational event. Work shifts into the night. Constantly answering phones. It's something that's hard to preserve for decades-long careers. But in the end, there's something about this model of the young guys – Rebec on every mission."
Lieutenant Z. explained throughout the interview that the harassment accompanies them throughout the job. "In empowerment, there is never time. We are in a constant learning competition. We mostly work 24/7. My mission is my life's mission to provide a response to the transfer of weapons, and the responsibility on our shoulders is heavy. Once every two weeks, Israel operates in the CBC according to foreign reports. Some are visible and some are not. We strive to reach the edge. Each axis is strengthened and weapons transferred from Iran, air, sea, and land. Now it was a convoy. Tomorrow? It could be a lone truck."
Sergeant N./IDF Spokesperson
An intelligence officer watches a truck delivering weapons to terrorist/IDF Spokesperson
When they were very tired, Sergeant N. and her squad mates gathered for a conversation summarizing the incident in order to learn from him, for better or worse, and to prepare for another smuggling that had a lead in those moments. Soon after, they will return to the offices and begin the next war of minds without telling any of their family and close friends about what happened that night. "We have soldiers aged 20-19 who work crazy hours and give of themselves on weekends. They give of themselves 200% to defend Israel's security. What is not prevented here we will encounter in the Third Lebanon War. Today we are influencing reality," said Lieutenant A., 22, from Jerusalem who serves as head of the Evil Axis Empowerment Squad in Unit 9900. "The biggest challenge is the enemy that is learning and changing. Each such case makes the next time much more difficult. They are not stupid and every time we have to think in a sophisticated way and think what he will do next time. You have to go to a variety of sources and bring any kind of image from any source so that we can address things that we won't see in a satellite image. The other challenge? Direct collection by satellite in a smart way. Even when you located the truck? The big challenge. It's to see that on the way, the Iranians aren't tricking us, and at that moment they're transferring something else elsewhere, including just before the attack."
Lieutenant Z. concludes that the tension includes an effort to prevent harm to uninvolved civilians. "It's hard to grasp or grasp that there's a connection between our work and the impact on human lives. The moment we realize that I have to frame a target, there are human lives in my hands and we are endangering them. It's a thought that doesn't let go," she describes. "You strive as much as possible to minimize damage. Our accuracy is a supreme value. Missing exactly will lead to failure."
- More on the subject:
- Hassan Nasrallah
- Military Intelligence
- Arms Smuggling