By Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom—
Anyone who deals with technology, or is familiar with it, can’t remain indifferent to what is happening in the IDF’s Unit 8200. The technological breakthroughs, the intelligence superiority, the advances – these all position the unit, and Israel, as a world leader that is at the same level as the US, Russia, or China.
The public is virtually unaware of all this. By its very intelligence/operational nature, 8200 mostly operates in the shadows. When it makes headlines, it’s usually in a less-than-positive context, one that focuses on the typical profile of the soldiers who serve in it or the enormous salaries its veterans earn when they enter the world of high-tech.
Very little is said about the unit’s real work, or how important that work is to Israel. This has to do with a genuine concern about losing assets or exposing intelligence to the enemy, thus hurting the enormous superiority of intelligence Israel has over its enemies (and sometimes, its partners). So this interview is a rare and one-time peek into the unit’s activity and the future of the technological world it operates.
In an exclusive interview to Israel Hayom, Col. Y., deputy commander of the unit’s digital operations, reveals that the unit has made a breakthrough in its ability to identify targets automatically, which he says will comprise a dramatic blow to the enemy’s abilities in the wars to come. He also shares details about how Israel is handling Iran and Hezbollah, saying, “There is no technological-intelligence problem that does not have a solution.”
Y. is married to Michal, whom he met while they were both serving in the unit, and they have two young daughters. He grew up in Rishon Lezion, enlisted in 8200 and has remained there while rising through the ranks. He has served as head of planning as well as commander of one of the unit’s centers of operations, as well as intelligence aide to both Aviv Kochavi (now IDF chief of staff) and Herzi Halevi when they were heads of the Military Intelligence Directorate. Y. has a BA in law and history from Tel Aviv University and an MA in business administration from TAU and an MA in public policy from Harvard. A decade ago, he was awarded the Israel Security Prize for his work in promoting the unit’s cyber capabilities.
According to Y., 8200 has undergone dramatic changes in the past few decades. He points to four main reasons: The first has to do with the “red” site, the enemy. “When I arrived, the enemies were mainly state entities. We were a passive unit that operated mostly based on the lessons of the Yom Kippur War. Today, on the spectrum from the Iranian nuclear program to a lone terrorist in Judea and Samaria, from states to terrorist armies, the difference is endless, and there is no one recipe for how to do it correctly.” Continue Reading….