Analysts deciphering images from spy satellites and drones have failed, as have the undercover agents infiltrators

These are Israel's electronic eyes and ears that have failed to warn of Hamas attack

PHOTO/Israel Defense Ministry - Pasada la sorpresa, los analistas que descifran las imágenes de los satélites espía Ofek se vuelcan en identificar en formato 3D los objetivos para el gran ataque que las Fuerzas de Defensa de Israel van a desencadenar
photo_camera PHOTO/Israel Defense Ministry - With the surprise over, analysts deciphering Ofek spy satellite images turn their attention to identifying in 3D format the targets for the big strike the Israel Defense Forces are about to unleash

The reputation of Mossad, Israel's main intelligence service, and even the enormous military potential of its Defence Forces on the ground and in the air, is well known. But much more in the shadows is its significant space power, a vast fleet of spy satellites equipped with different observation and listening technologies, dedicated to preserving the national security of the country of the Star of David. 

But what caused Israel's abundant and ultra-secret electronic eyes and ears in space and on board its countless remotely piloted aerial systems, the drones, to fail miserably? What prevented its expert image analysts from identifying and alerting their chain of command to the criminal assault perpetrated and executed by Hamas terrorists, which has cost hundreds of lives and puts many more at high risk?

What could have confounded the sophisticated algorithms used by the artificial intelligence tools dedicated to deciphering the bizarre codes of the messages that Israel's sworn enemies criss-cross? According to the Spanish experts consulted, it is possible that the control systems of the satellites or their communications with the ground have been subject to cyber-attacks by Hamas hackers or their allies, suffered interference, or were blinded and disabled for hours. If so, both sides are keeping quiet about it.

PHOTO/IAI - Representaci贸n art铆stica de un Ofek con tecnolog铆a radar SAR. Posicionados en 贸rbitas medias de 500 kil贸metros, su antena parab贸lica escruta d铆a y noche cuanto ocurre bajo su 谩rea de acci贸n
PHOTO/IAI - Artist's rendering of an Ofek with SAR radar technology. Positioned in average orbits of 500 kilometres, its parabolic antenna scans day and night what is happening under its area of action

The head of the Israel Defense Forces since January this year, 56-year-old General Herzl Halevi, has no less than seven spy satellites at his disposal. Their powerful active and passive electronic eyes are supposed to monitor everything that happens, moves and is considered a threat to the security of the nation, the protection of its borders and the stability of the countries of the Middle East.

To give us an idea of whether Israel's seven ingenious devices dedicated to paying the utmost attention to its vital interests from above are too many or too few, suffice it to say that they are as many as the defence ministries of Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Spain combined.

PHOTO/Israel Defense Ministry - La resoluci贸n de los Ofek en servicio est谩 estimada entre 1 y 0,5 metros, precisi贸n que debiera haber permitido a los analistas detectar algunos de los movimientos de los terroristas de Ham谩s
PHOTO/Israel Defense Ministry - The resolution of the Ofek in service is estimated to be between 1 and 0.5 metres, an accuracy that should have enabled analysts to detect some of the movements of Hamas terrorists

Ofek spy satellites

Prime Minister Netanyahu's downward-facing electronic spies in space are called Ofek, the newest of which is Ofek-13, which has been in orbit since 28 March and should already be in service, although there is no official confirmation.

They are under the control of the Space and Satellite Administration of the Defence Research and Development Directorate headed by 61-year-old Air Reserve General Daniel Gold, an electronic warfare specialist and the mastermind behind Iron Dome, Israel's efficient anti-missile umbrella.

Standing between 400 and 600 kilometres high and weighing just under 300 kilos, Ofek-13 is equipped with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology. Its parabolic antenna radiates electromagnetic emissions that scrutinise day and night what is happening on the ground and provide data and images to military intelligence technicians, regardless of the existence of clouds.

PHOTO/Israel Defense Ministry - El control sobre los Ofek est谩 en poder de la Administraci贸n Espacial y de Sat茅lites de la Direcci贸n de Investigaci贸n y Desarrollo de Defensa que dirige el general del Aire en la reserva Daniel Gold
PHOTO/Israel Defense Ministry - Control over Ofek is in the hands of the Space and Satellite Administration of the Defense Research and Development Directorate headed by Air Reserve General Daniel Gold

Equipped with an electronic pointing system, Ofek-13 has improved performance over its older siblings, Ofek-10, launched in April 2014, and Ofek-8, launched in January 2008, which is at the end of its operational life. The estimated resolution of the Ofek-10s is between 1 and 0.5 metres, the smallest distance their sensors can discriminate. 

It is an accuracy that should have enabled them to detect some of the preparations and movements of Hamas terrorists, for example of the vehicles used to breach the fences and obstacles enclosing the Gaza Strip and assault Israeli territory in blood and fire. But this has not been the case. According to Spanish specialists consulted, "they offer less image quality than the Spanish SAR radar satellite Paz".

The three radar platforms - also known as TecSAR - are complemented by four other electro-optical observation platforms located between 350 and 600 kilometres away. They are the advanced Ofek-16 and Ofek-11, in orbit since July 2020 and September 2016, respectively. They are joined by Ofek-9 and Ofek-7, placed in space in June 2010 and 2007, respectively. All are the work of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), the country's leading aerospace and defence industrial corporation, with a strong export capability for its many weapons systems.

PHOTO/IAI - Imagen oficial de un sat茅lite Ofek (TecSAR) de tecnolog铆a radar en proceso de fabricaci贸n por IAI, en el que se aprecia sus dimensiones reales y su antena desplegada
PHOTO/IAI - Official image of an Ofek (TecSAR) radar satellite being manufactured by IAI, showing its actual dimensions and deployed antenna

Space and airborne listening systems

Much more difficult to tear away is the thick curtain surrounding satellites capable of listening in on the communications of potential antagonists to the Jerusalem government. Officially, the Israeli military does not have any space-based platforms for such purposes, but it is not credible.

It seems reasonable to assume that some commercial satellites in the Amos family - for example, the 6.5 tonne Amos-17, launched in August 2019 - carry on-board equipment to detect targeted internet messages, landline and mobile phone conversations, etc. Or the numerous micro- or nano-satellites placed in low orbits and developed by Israeli research centres and universities. It is one of the best-kept secrets of the Defence Forces, known in Hebrew as the Tzahal.

PHOTO/Israel Defense Ministry -  Los j贸venes de la selecta Unidad 9900 son los responsables de analizar las centenares de im谩genes que a diario proporcionan la flota de sat茅lites esp铆a y las decenas de drones de reconocimiento militar
PHOTO/Israel Defense Ministry - The young men and women of the elite Unit 9900 are responsible for analysing the hundreds of images provided daily by the fleet of spy satellites and dozens of military reconnaissance drones

Why did Israel's military and security units react so slowly to the swift and brutal attack by Hamas terrorists on 7 October? Prime Minister Netanyahu has given no explanation, but the head of military intelligence, General Aaron Haliva - a 56-year-old paratrooper with 38 years of service - has blamed himself for the failure to prevent the massacres and has resigned.

He takes responsibility for the failure of the Military Intelligence Corps' two elite and super-secret organisations, Unit 9900 and 8200, to be effective. The young analysts of Unit 9900 are responsible for analysing the hundreds of images provided day in and day out by the fleet of spy satellites and the dozens of military reconnaissance drones that fly the skies over Israel and its neighbours. They make what is known as visual intelligence or VISINT (VISual INTelligence) a reality.

PHOTO/IAI - La industria de defensa de Israel es pionera en la concepci贸n, desarrollo y fabricaci贸n de drones de reconocimiento y ataque. IAI fabrica diferentes familias de ellos, una de las cuales es la Her贸n, en imagen
PHOTO/IAI - Israel's defence industry is a pioneer in the design, development and manufacture of reconnaissance and attack drones. IAI manufactures different families of them, one of which is the Heron, pictured here

Unit 8200, on the other hand, is dedicated to signals intelligence, or SIGINT (SIGnal INTelligence), whose job is to decipher the changing codes used by the enemies of the State of Israel. Both organisations recruit hundreds of young men of conscription age (18-21), mostly women, and subject them to an arduous selection process.

The hundreds of analysts under the nomenclatures 9900 and 8200 are also in charge of analysing digital images and audios relayed to them by strategic and tactical reconnaissance drones, in particular the Heron and Searcher. Also made by IAI, they are loaded with various high-resolution optronic systems, radar and signal interception equipment. Once recovered from the surprise attack, Israel's spy satellites, drones and military analysts are busy identifying targets for the expected major attack that is about to be unleashed.

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