There is a mythical aura surrounding Israeli intelligence. Much of it is well-deserved, as a string of spectacular covert operations has consistently shown in the decades since the formation of the Jewish state.
Victor Kotsev, Asia Times, 10 April 2010
Feats such as the 1967 destruction of the Egyptian air force, Operation Entebbe (1976), the destruction of Osirak (1981) and, more recently, of the Syrian plutonium reactor (2007), have enshrined the central role of the intelligence arm in Israeli military strength and deterrence.
Not to mention a chillingly successful abductions and assassinations program, whose most famous targets range from Nazi criminal against humanity Adolf Eichmann to Palestinian Black September terrorists to Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu to Hezbollah arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh (2008).
Nevertheless, no spy agency is infallible, and recent events have revealed gaping holes in the formidable Israeli intelligence apparatus. Firstly, the killing in January in Dubai of a senior Hamas commander, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh (all but unanimously attributed to the Mossad), however well executed in January, blew up, and this by definition detracts from a covert operation’s success. There were some tangible negative consequences for the Jewish state, such as increased international criticism and the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat from London.
Secondly, if the indictments filed against Israeli journalist Anat Kamm on Wednesday prove true, it would appear that about 2,000 classified Israeli military documents, including 700 marked “secret” and “top secret”, were copied and remained undetected in private possession for years. These are all documents whose content could “gravely damage state security and endanger the lives of both soldiers and Israeli civilians”, in the words of counter-intelligence agency Shin Beth’s chief, Yuval Diskin.