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Israel faces dangerous threats due to lack of protection against drones

Israel’s protection against drone strikes is extremely poor, the State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman has said in a new report, triggering a blame game over exactly who is responsible for exposing the country to dangerous threats to its national security.

The report, covering the time period of October 2019-June 2020, found that up to 78 per cent of the Israeli army has no protection from drone attacks. “Broadening the use of drones carries with it many advantages, but the constant advancement in technology and ease of acquiring it carries with it an obligation to deal with the developing security, criminal and safety threat, which includes dangers to the lives of human beings and national security,” Englman is reported saying in the Jerusalem Post, which published details of the report.

Highlighting the scale of the problem while fleshing out the grim reality of Israel’s defence capability, Englman said that as of July 2020, there were 30,000 drones operating in Israel which had undertaken 90,000 flights in the Tel Aviv region alone over the last year. The vast majority of them are said to be unregistered and that there are no technological solutions to follow them or enforce limits on them.

There is sharp disagreement over who is to blame, especially as the problem highlighted in the report was raised in 2017. Disagreements about lines of authority; lack of information sharing and dividing up responsibility are said to be reasons for the lapse in security. Englman’s recommendation was for the police and the Civil Aviation Authority to cooperate to establish the real infrastructure for charging individuals for drone-related crimes.

The Israeli government was sharply criticised in the report for moving operations out of the Israeli capital Tel Aviv. According to Englman, the move harmed the army’s intelligence capabilities by transferring large portions of its units to the Beersheba area without following through on commitments to make the move smoother for intelligence personnel. Some 93 per cent of the intelligence staff who are meant to work in the south do not live there. Many have families and cannot relocate easily.

As a result, the report warned, top intelligence officers are leaving for the private sector in order to avoid having to move to the south.