Syria, Iran and Hezbollah have been sustaining one blow after another in the past two years. Despite the immense amount of resources they have been investing in preventing cracks, the leaks continue.
After years where sophistication, slyness, and originality were mostly found on the other side, Israel's intelligence service has been recovering in respect to its confrontation with the evil front on the north. This has been reinforced by Prime Ministers like Sharon, Olmert and Netanyahu who are not scared to provide great leeway for secret operations and their thunderous operational implications.
The turbulent years of the Palestinian Intifada gave rise to a "merged command post" – the headquarters bringing together the various intelligence arms fighting terror in the territories, Military intelligence, and the Shin Bet. This winning combination provided the information needed by the third arm, the Air Force, in order to embark on targeted assassinations.
On Wednesday, we witnessed a different kind of winning combination – the Military Intelligence branch provided the information and the Navy executed the operation.
Just like with Palestinian terrorism, this impressive success story does not entail Hezbollah's elimination or puts an end to the warm ties it enjoy with Iran and Syria, yet it does constitute a major tactical blow and mostly a strategic blow.
The list of success stories by what the other side believes to be Israel's intelligence agents is quite impressive. In the past four years, several strange mishaps maligned the Iranian nuclear project and significantly hindered the uranium-enrichment process. The disappearance of an Iranian nuclear scientist, the crash of two planes involved in the project, and fires that broke out in two labs only reinforced the sense that someone was trying to undermine the nuclear project.
Meanwhile, opposition elements published extensive and reliable information about what is going on within the project, causing Iran great embarrassment and prompting IAEA inspectors to start inspecting.
Great embarrassmentOn July 12, 2006, Israel's Air Force used accurate intelligence information to eliminate Hezbollah's almost entire long-range missile arsenal. A year later, based on various reports, a mysterious mishap occurred at a plant producing scud missiles and jointly operated by Syria and Iran.
Later, the nuclear reactor built by Syria with North Korean aid was bombed, Imad Mugniyah was assassinated, and so was General Muhammad Suleiman, who led Syria's nuclear project.
In January 2009, based on foreign reports, Israeli planes launched three strikes in Sudan targeting arms shipments from Iran to Gaza. A month later, Egyptian authorities nabbed a group of Hezbollah fighters who planned to murder Israeli tourists. Two months ago, a secret enrichment plant that the Iranians were trying to hide was exposed in Qom, and a month ago the Americans detained a German ship that carried Iranian cargo for Hezbollah. A German ship carrying a similar cargo was nabbed Wednesday.
Hezbollah's and Iran's silence is the best testament to their great embarrassment. Yet will all this change anything? Will the world indeed unite against terror alongside Israel, as Prime Minister Netanyahu demands? Don't count on it.
Ronen Bergman, a correspondent for Israel’s largest daily Yedioth Ahronoth, is the author of the “The Secret War With Iran ”