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January 29, 2014 12:02 pm

Israel’s Head of Military Intelligence: ‘There Are 170,000 Rockets and Missiles Directed at Israel’

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Major General Aviv Kohavi. Photo: INSS.

Israel’s Head of Military Intelligence, Major General Aviv Kohavi, on Wednesday addressed security threats facing the Jewish state, including 170,000 rockets and renewed scope for cyber attacks.

Speaking at the seventh annual ‘Security Challenges of the 21st Century’ conference at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Kohavi said, “There are 170,00 rockets and missiles directed at Israel. There are increased threats from the cyber realm along with great additional potential for intelligence in cyber capabilities.”

In a briefing note published after the speech, INSS said Kohavi described the major strategic threats facing Israel, including the growing range, accuracy, lethality, and number of rockets and missiles aimed at the Jewish state. He also spoke about Iran’s nuclear project, which continues unabated. He addressed asymmetrical warfare and the rise of urban, asymmetrical warfare, and the fact that the IDF now faces more sophisticated enemies, more instability and more porous borders.

Israel is surrounded by threats all around it, he said – Hezbollah, Syria, Sinai, Gaza, and an active enemy in the West Bank, fueling the conventional terror threat, which Israel still faces. Regarding Hezbollah, specifically, the major general described it as not just a terrorist organization, given its sophisticated arsenal.

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He also spoke of the threats to Israel’s home front, the cyber threat, which is both growing and not entirely understood, and the battle for Israel’s legitimacy.

Overall, the environment is far more dynamic, complex, and challenging than ever before, Israel’s head of intelligence said.

The weaker economy is also continuing to fuel insecurity and upheaval, as is the process of Islamization, which can fuel radicalization, he said. In addition, there is a loss of governance and a process of fragmentation, he said, with Syria being a good example. In Kohavi’s estimation fragmentation is happening at the regional level, with the rise of global jihadists, with 30,000 now in Syria.

On the positive side, Kohavi said Israel’s border with Gaza and Egypt is closed, and Egypt is destroying tunnels. Weapons smuggling has declined and Egypt is also cracking down on terrorism in the Sinai.

Kohavi said he sees the chemical weapons deal in Syria as positive, as is the weakening of the Syrian military. The radical axis is weaker, he said, with Hezbollah and Hamas in crisis. Countries in the region are busy with themselves and they have less money to finance terror, he said. The weakening of the Muslim Brotherhood is also an opportunity for the State of Israel. He said Israeli deterrence is stronger, especially at the conventional warfare level.

Kohavi concluded that the changing scenario requires the IDF to change and adapt and have a more varied approach to its intelligence work.

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