August 13, 2010
Twenty JINSA officers, members and professional staff traveled to Israel in June for a unique weeklong program planned to obtain the latest, accurate information on Israel's security and political situation. And to provide for the group an opportunity to participate in meetings similar to those conducted for the security professionals that travel on JINSA programs.
The group was informed of the latest Israeli thinking on the global counter terror picture, the current security threats emanating from the Middle East both to the United States and Israel as well as new developments in the field of counter-terrorism strategies and technologies. Indeed, many of the briefings the group received were by the same experts that brief participants in JINSA's Trip to Israel for American Admirals and Generals and the Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP) for American police chiefs and sheriffs.
The JINSA delegation was also able to travel to sites not normally made available to visitors including an in-depth look at a "border" checkpoint, the Bomb Disposal Training Center in the center of the country and the Mabat 2000 camera network in Jerusalem's Old City.
The intense schedule undertaken by the JINSA group included meetings with Mossad Director Meir Dagan, the Chief of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, and a panel discussion with three high-ranking analysts with the Israel Security Agency (Shabak).
The JINSA group traveled to Ashkelon to a hilltop overlooking Gaza to meet with Knesset Member Avi Dichter, former Director of the Shabak and former Minister of Internal Security. Dichter briefed the group on Gaza noting that Gaza today is a separate "nation" run by Hamas. He pointed out that Mahmood Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority had not been to Gaza since Hamas defeated Fatah and expelled Palestinian Authority members from Gaza.
The JINSA delegation was also told that today about 20% of the Gaza population are openly members of Hamas – politically and militarily.
The JINSA group also traveled to the Homefront Command Base in Ramle for a meeting with Brig. Gen. Ya'ir Golan, Commander of the IDF's Homefront Command.
Maj. Gen. Shahar Ayalon, the Israel National Police's commander of the Tel Aviv District, briefed the JINSA delegation, while Commander Ilan Mor took the participants on a nighttime security tour of Tel Aviv to include the African refugee neighborhood. The group was advised that there are between 50,000 and 80,000 African refugees in Israel, from primarily the Sudan and Eritrea. Other officials indicate that these figures are much lower. These stateless refuges, also referred to asylum seekers, are living in Israel without United Nations or other international participation or assistance. However, these refugees do receive some support from non-governmental organizations. While most are genuine refugees, others are believed to have a military background and have arrived in Israel with the goal of carrying out terror attacks in the not too distant future.
In several meetings, the JINSA delegation was briefed on the efforts by Israel's enemies to de-legitimize the State of Israel in various platforms, such as the media and international courts. To this end, JINSA was given the video of the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, which clearly shows a coordinated and pre-planned attack against the Israeli soldiers.
Israelis are predicting a low probability for an initiated wide-scale enemy attack; although they are quick to point out that it is not a low probability for war. Despite the current relative stability in Gaza and Lebanon, both Hamas and Hezbollah are building up their forces. Thanks to Iran, both terrorist organizations now possess missiles that can hit Tel-Aviv.
Mubarak is seen as one of the most critical figures contributing to the stability and security in the region. There is no known successor at this time who is regarded as a forceful leader who can maintain current policies.
At the end of a successful week, the participants returned to the United States with a much clearer understanding of the internal and external challenges facing Israel as well as the direction individuals and organizations must undertake to combat those who seek to isolate Israel and undermine her legitimate and sovereign rights as a democratic nation.