After several attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank where the attackers were able to get away in the crowds, the IDF is revamping the way they do business to alert their troops to any suspicious activity by Palestinians in the West Bank.
There have been 16 Israeli soldiers or citizens killed in shooting or stabbing attacks in the West Bank during the past year but the IDF has also been able to stop other attacks before they occur.
This new system relies on both increased visual surveillance as well as analytics which will be connected in an operations control room. The information will then warn soldiers on the ground before a terror attack begins. The system is already being tested in the West Bank by the Samaria Regional Brigade.
The IDF is placing more surveillance cameras and other sensors around the West Bank, around areas of increased traffic like road junctions. The operations room personnel will use advanced computer algorithms to review the camera’s footage to identify any imminent threats. Soldiers will be alerted to risks through smartwatches and other wearable devices according to the IDF.
The Israelis are calling this development the “Digital Regional Brigade” and was a combined effort of the military’s intelligence, technology and ground forces units. In a released statement, the IDF said, “the system knows to identify… and prevent violent terrorist activities. In this way, it provides soldiers with a quick warning of an impending threat.”
In another development, the Israelis are putting together “mixed combat teams” during terrorist attacks in scenarios where the attackers flee and attempt to blend into the crowds, “which will help oversee large swaths of land during a manhunt.” These composite teams will consist of infantry, field intelligence, special forces, and other security services during terrorist incidents.
The Israelis are also beefing up their individual training before troops move into the West Bank. The training is designed to ensure that every combat soldier is able to make correct decisions under pressure and in a short period of time, such as overpowering an attacker at maximum speed. The infantry troops are getting advanced training in five areas that the IDF has identified as needing work:
- improving shooting skills and hand-to-hand combat skills
- “mentally” preparing troops for the types of threats they face in the West Bank,
- Create a unified set of techniques that is most suited for operating in the region
- improving training facilities
- establishing division-wide standards and measurements to accurately assess effectiveness and success.
During the training, the soldiers will utilize virtual reality headsets to better simulate actual combat and terrorist situations that they’ll encounter including stabbing and shooting attacks, as well as Krav Maga and shooting courses. This is designed to speed up the response time for Israeli Defense Forces when they face an incident which will also not allow terrorists to get away.
The Israelis, in an attempt to diffuse other situations before they occur, have arrested 1000 Palestinians and confiscated 270 weapons this year. Security forces, including the IDF, police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), carry out nightly raids in the West Bank to arrest Palestinians suspected of violence against Israelis.
The Palestine Liberation Organization’s Department of Public Diplomacy and Policy stated that the numbers are even higher with 1,600 Palestinians, including 230 children and 40 women, have been arrested since the start of 2019.
By using intelligence gathering, the IDF has been monitoring social media activity, and have arrested individuals who openly state their desire to carry out attacks and monitor social media networks especially like Facebook.
They’ve targeted underground weapons and bombmaking workshops, greatly reducing the number of weapons and illegal explosive devices that could end up in terrorist hands.
In related news, Israel keeps getting sporadic rocket fire aimed at it from Syria. Thus far, no one knows for sure if it is Syrian troops or Iranian proxies. But with each attack, the Israeli Defense Forces have been hitting back and hard with airstrikes. In a statement released by defense officials, the IDF stated the following:
“Last night, two rockets were launched from Syria to Israel, one landing within Israeli territory,” the IDF said. “In response, we struck a number of Syrian Armed Forces military targets. We hold the Syrian regime accountable and will firmly operate against any attempt to harm Israeli civilians.”
The Israeli counterstrike hit the area of the launches outside of Damascus and targeted a training facility for Iranian and Hezbollah forces, and an arms depot in the area of al-Kiswah.
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