Cablegate: 40th Jpmg: Countersmuggling Technical Discussion

DE RUEHTV #2501/01 3221432
O 181432Z NOV 09

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 002501


E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/18/2019
(PART 2 OF 4)

Classified By: A/DCM Marc Sievers, reasons 1.4 (b),(d)

1. (S) Summary: Concurrent to the Joint Political Military
Group (JPMG) Executive Session, IDF J5 and Israel Defense
Intelligence (IDI) officers briefed U.S. JPMG delegation
members on current arms transfers and weapons smuggling into
Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. IDF J5 and IDI officers first
focused on arms transfers to Hizballah in Lebanon via Iran
and Syria, and provided current estimates of Hizballah arms.
IDF J5 and IDI officers argued that Hizballah's ultimate goal
during any future conflict is to launch a massive number of
missiles and rockets daily into Israeli territory, including
those that can reach the Tel Aviv area. J5 and IDI also
described the sophisticated smuggling routes from Iran into
the Gaza Strip, arguing that Hamas is now more powerful than
prior to Operation Cast Lead. IDF J5 and IDI officers noted
improved countersmuggling efforts by Egypt, but stressed more
must be done to curb smuggling into Gaza. This is the second
of four cables (septel) reporting on the 40th Joint Political
Military Group. End summary.

2. (SBU) Israeli attendees included representatives from the
IDF J5, IDI, Shin Bet, and Mossad. The U.S. delegation was
led by PM Coordinator for Counter Piracy Robert Maggi, and
included PM/RSAT John Schwenk, OSD Israel Desk Officer Eric
Lynn, J5 Israel Desk Officer LTC Alan Simms, U.S. DAO Tel
Aviv Assistant Air Attache Matt Yocum, EUCOM LCDR Molly
McCabe, and U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv political-military officer
Jason Grubb.

3. (S) Maggi stressed the importance of and noted progress
with counter-smuggling efforts into Gaza -- but also
acknowledged the GOI desire to see even further progress. He
said the USG was looking for practical ideas to improve
counter-smuggling efforts. IDF J5 officers argued that
smuggling represents a strategic challenge for the GOI, which
is facing a proliferation of knowledge and capabilities that
are severely limiting Israel's diplomatic options for peace.
IDF J5 made the case that weapons and knowledge proliferate
from state actors, which disrupts diplomatic regional
efforts. IDF J5 highlighted "regional faultlines," with the
United States and Iran leading two opposing camps -- and
countries such as China, Russia, and Qatar remaining on the
sidelines with unclear intentions.

4. (S) IDI officers briefed on arms "deliveries" to the Gaza
Strip and Lebanon, making the case with the latter that these
arms transfers were done openly and should not be considered
smuggling. IDI noted that since 2006, Hizballah has
increased its quantity of sophisticated arms with improved
range and accuracy -- these arms were acquired via Syria and
Iran despite the presence of UNIFIL and Lebanese Armed Forces
(LAF). IDI highlighted the continued desire by Hizballah to
avenge the assassination of its former military commander
Imad Mughniyah, and pointed to failed attempts to do so in
Azerbaijan and Egypt. Finally, IDI reviewed the arms
delivery route from Syria to Lebanon via the Beqa'a Valley,
and then to points south through Beirut.

5. (S) IDI presented estimates of Hizballah arms in Lebanon,
including a breakdown of arms south of the Litani River.
According to the IDI, Hizballah possesses over 20,000
rockets, hundreds of 220 mm and 302 mm rockets, several
hundred "Fajr" rockets, hundreds of simple anti-tank (AT)
launchers with rockets and missiles, and hundreds of advanced
anti-tank wire guided missiles (ATGM), dozens of SA-14, SA-7,
and QW-1 anti-aircraft guns, several Ababil unmanned aerial
vehicles (UAVs), an unknown quantity of C-802 coastal
missiles and up to thousands of improvised explosive devices

6. (S) Given this arsenal, Maggi asked what the IDF thought
Hizballah's intentions were. IDI officers opined that
Hizballah was preparing for a long conflict with Israel in
which it hopes to launch a massive number of rockets at
Israel per day. IDI officers noted in the 2006 Second
Lebanon War, Tel Aviv was left untouched -- Hizballah will
try to change the equation during the next round and disrupt
everyday life in Tel Aviv. A Mossad official noted that
Hizballah will want to ensure it can launch rockets and
missiles to the very last day of the conflict, i.e., avoid
running out of munitions. He estimated that Hizballah will
try to launch 400-600 rockets and missiles at Israel per day
-- 100 of which will be aimed at Tel Aviv. He noted that
Hizballah is looking to sustain such launches for at least
two months.

7. (S) IDI then shifted focus to the Gaza Strip, describing
three circles of arms smuggling: 1. arms sources and

TEL AVIV 00002501 002 OF 002

financing, such as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and unfettered arms
markets such as Eritrea and Yemen, and possibly China; 2.
transit areas and states such as the Red Sea, Yemen, Sudan,
Syrian, Lebanon, and Libya; and finally, 3. the "close
circle" along the Sinai-Egyptian border and Philadelphi
route. Maggi asked what percentage of arms transfers
occurred via land, sea and air. IDI noted that it was
difficult to determine: smugglers tend to prefer the naval
route -- as there are fewer obstacles -- but the last segment
almost always occurred overland. IDF J5 added that land
smugglers are learning from past experience and building new
overland "bypasses." When asked about air routes from Iran
over Turkey, IDI officials indicated that Turkey has been
made aware of such activity, although a Mossad representative
suggested Turkey may not be entirely aware of the extent of
such activity, given the IRGC's smuggling expertise. The GOI
highlighted that focusing solely on the last phase of
smuggling (e.g. along the Philadelphi route) would only lead
to limited success, and that wider efforts were key.

8. (S) IDI also provided an analysis of weapons entering Gaza
following Operation Cast Lead. IDI noted that one of the
goals of Cast Lead was to damage Hamas' ability to produce
its own weapons. In this regard, the IDF was successful, but
Hamas is reconstituting its capabilities. According to the
IDI, Hamas possibly possesses a few rockets with ranges over
40 km -- perhaps as far as 60-70 km, or within range of Tel
Aviv. In addition, the IDI believes Hamas possesses quality
AT systems such as the Kornet PG-29 and quality anti-aircraft
artillery (AAA). These weapons join an already potent
arsenal including Grad rockets with ranges up to 40 km,
ammonium perchlorate (APC) oxidizer for indigenous rocket
production, hundreds of 120, 80 and 60 mm MBs, dozens of
mortars, C5 K air-to-surface rockets, PG-7 AT rockets and
launchers, SA-7 MANPADS, PKS AAA MGs and thousands of rounds
of ammunition, and quality AT, such as Sagger missiles and
launchers, and light anti-tank weapon (LAW) rockets.

9. (S) IDF J5 presented some basic benchmarks for possible
countersmuggling solutions for Gaza. First, Egyptian
national commitment is required. Other benchmarks outlined
by the IDF included a clear chain of command, control of the
Sinai and its inhabitants, systematic treatment of tunnel
infrastructure, trial and imprisonment of smugglers, and
overcoming traditional failures such as bribery and lack of
coordination. IDF J5 noted that Egyptian Intelligence
Minister Soliman has been supportive, while there is growing
awareness on the part of Egyptian Defense Minister Tantawi --
who the IDF views as an obstacle to counter-smuggling
efforts. However, IDF J5 said there is a lack of
coordination between the Egyptian Army and intelligence
service on counter-smuggling efforts.

10. (S) The IDF has observed a more systematic response by
Egypt in recent months, including assigning guards to newly
discovered tunnel entries, or even blowing up tunnels -- by
IDF estimates, the Egyptian Army has collapsed 20-40 tunnels
in the last 4-5 months. Nevertheless, the IDF continues to
see a lack of urgency on the part of Egypt regarding
smuggling into the Sinai; little attention has been paid to
improving the socio-economic conditions of Bedouins primarily
responsible for Sinai smuggling. While Egypt has made
several key arrests -- including prominent smuggler Muhammad
Sha'er -- others are still at large. Finally, the IDF noted
the construction of an underground barrier and sensors'
network -- but in many cases, the smugglers have dug deeper
tunnels to avoid the network.

11. (S) The IDF J5 outlined consultations with geology and
tunnel experts, whom suggested several possible solutions to
the Sinai-Gaza tunneling network: constant and specific mine
activity in the vicinity of the border to a depth of 20-30
meters; the use of a shock device or stun charge, or smoke at
a tunnel entrance for deterrence purposes; constructing
underground obstacles 90 meters deep to destabilize current
tunnel infrastructure; close supervision and inspection of
buildings in urban areas, in which there is a high
concentration of trucks and newly built rooftops and roads;
and the arrest of major smugglers -- such as Darwish Madi --
and utilization of interrogation to discover major tunnels
and dismantle smuggling networks.

12. (U) PM Coordinator for Counter Piracy Maggi has cleared
this cable.

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