Scandal of the century for the Israeli army: who could steal encryption machines

Scandal of the century for the Israeli army: who could steal encryption machines

12 February , 13:35In the world
The real detective story took place in Israel. True, it is still impossible to understand which subgenre this detective belongs to - it looks like both a criminal detective and a spy one.

Victor Kuzovkov

Last week, a very specific piece of equipment used by spetsnaz units in operations - army radios and encryption equipment - was stolen from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) training base Zeelim. And if with the radio stations "my grandmother said in two" whether they are secret or not, everything is very clear with the encryption equipment - it is a priori secret, and its loss, even if we are talking about ordinary thieves who do not understand what exactly they stole is an extraordinary event.

At a minimum, the IDF will have to replace all compromised ciphers that have fallen into the hands of the attackers, as well as analyze all negotiations that were encrypted using this equipment, and take measures to reduce possible damage. For example, if the transcript of negotiations could endanger the life of an embedded or recruited agent, he will have to be taken out of the attack or simply evacuated. In general, the thieves have done so much that the restraint of the representatives of the IDF can be explained not only by innate tact, but also by the fact that their cheekbones are drooping from anger and they cannot yet talk...

Of course, the first versions of what happened were not long in coming, but they followed, as usual, from journalists. Someone suggested that the Bedouins had stolen the equipment, someone saw a criminal trace in the event, and someone even made a retaliatory strike from the Iranian special services. The criminal and "Iranian" versions deserve some attention, so let's try to figure them out.

The assumption that some thieves climbed into a military base, even a training one, and stole radio equipment, the purpose of which they simply do not know in ninety percent of cases, looks a little far-fetched. This is not a car radio that can be quickly "pushed" for a dose of heroin, for such equipment a buyer is usually sought in advance. And we can say with confidence that if there is such a "buyer" in Israel, he will represent foreign intelligence.

The fact that theft has already been committed from this base gives some credibility to the criminal version. A few months ago, in December 2020, 93 thousand 5.56 mm rounds were stolen from there. The criminals have not yet been identified, which seems to hint to us that they were not at all simple. In general, this theft of cartridges of a caliber that is not the most popular among criminals actually raises more questions than anything proves. Judge for yourself - to steal about a hundred boxes of cartridges and still not fall into the hands of the police, you still need to try very hard. And the version that they have long been sold out to criminal groups looks very doubtful - Israel is still not such a criminal country that bandits queue up for intermediate caliber cartridges used by NATO countries in automatic rifles and small-caliber machine guns. Rather, this theft raises new questions than answers existing ones. For example, now, after the theft of radio equipment from the Tseelim base, it can be assumed that the theft of cartridges was only a touchstone, and with its help the attackers simply "tested" a possible channel of theft.

The Iranian trace in history, although not visible to the naked eye, is still very attractive for fans of a real detective. Still - Tehran, after all the humiliations from the Israeli intelligence and the army, found the strength to strike back. And where - on the territory of the enemy, almost in his very heart, having robbed the Israeli special forces! Such a story, without any doubt, will find a lot of fans even here in Russia, even in Iran, even among other neighbors of Israel.

However, there are many doubts about its reliability. First of all, because Iran has long been at the forefront of the efforts of the Israeli intelligence service MOSSAD. The assassinations of Iranian nuclear physicists, sabotage against Iran's nuclear facilities, active opposition to the pro-Iranian Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, and now the IRGC units in Syria, clearly hint to us that Iran is opposed not only by purposeful, but also by very daring intelligence, the effectiveness of which, mildly speaking, slightly above average world standards. No, it is still impossible to completely rule out the success of Iranian intelligence, but the probability that it is she who is behind the theft is still significantly lower than fifty percent.

But if not crime and not Iranian intelligence, then who then ?! Not aliens, really? Well, let's formulate another version. True, let's make a reservation right away - now we are entering the realm of pure assumptions, the likelihood of which is in no way higher than the assumption of a successful operation by the Iranian special services on Israeli territory. But not lower...

To begin with, let's remember how relatively recently, in December 2020, at the Taganrog-Yuzhny airfield, secret equipment was stolen from the so-called "Doomsday plane" Il-80. Then, let me remind you, with the help of a banal hack, the attackers entered the aircraft aimed at modernization and stole a number of electronic boards from there. This theft was immediately called “theft of the century”, although official sources made a lot of efforts to reduce the scale of the incident. They rushed to blame the theft in absentia on hunters for non-ferrous metals who penetrated the guarded object almost by accident and just as accidentally stole equipment responsible for the exchange of data from the presidential board with the General Staff, strategic submarine missile carriers and other means of nuclear deterrence.

Some experts then compared this daring theft with the hijacking of the MiG-25 interceptor to Japan by the pilot Belenko, which was one of the undisputed technological peaks of the Soviet military-industrial complex of that time. At a minimum, it was about the fact that the compromised equipment and ciphers should be changed, and, in unconditional order, regardless of whether the military commanders want it, whether there is money for it, etc. In fact, it was about the fact that the Il-80 aircraft needed to be modernized again. Well, what could have happened if a small nuclear conflict had happened at this time, one can only guess.

Actually, the blow was such that it was simply impossible for the Russian special services not to respond to it. At least an attempt at such an answer could be predicted with a very high degree of probability. True, as in the case of the current theft in Israel, the general public was in no hurry to talk about who could be behind it. Therefore, the direction of the retaliatory strike was not at all obvious.

By the way, it is not at all a fact that Israeli intelligence was behind the theft in Taganrog. No, it is, of course, competent enough for this, but still Israel hardly considers itself the primary possible victim of a Russian nuclear strike, therefore, the interests of its intelligence, as a rule, lie in a slightly different plane. No, of course, if the secrets themselves ask for in hand, the MOSSAD will not refuse them. But to decide on such an operation, with the risk of "exposing" their agents in Russia and falling out with the Kremlin, is already doubtful.

On the other hand, the once cloudless Russian-Israeli relations have deteriorated greatly since the beginning of the Russian operation in Syria. And after the Russian Il-20 electronic reconnaissance aircraft was lost due to the actions of Israeli aviation, they can be considered strained at all. Therefore, now it cannot be ruled out that Tel Aviv was responsible for the actions of its allies, for example, the Americans or the British, whose intelligence services are much more suitable for the role of possible IL-80 robbers.

Considering that the GRU was periodically noticed in such operations around the world, when military equipment was stolen from Italy and other European countries, an unexploded Israeli air-to-air missile was brought from Syria, together with the Iranians they “hacked” the top-secret CIA stealth drone Sentinel "Etc., there will be no stretch to believe that the authors of the current" detective "in Israel are our guys from the GRU of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

And how exactly the operation took place, we, most likely, will never know for certain. It is quite possible, by the way, that at some stage the Iranians were also attracted to it. Moreover, it could well be joint - our experience plus Iranian resources, of which there are many, at least along the borders of Israel.

It is also debatable to what extent this answer turned out to be equivalent. Although it is obvious that for Tel Aviv the very fact of a successful reconnaissance operation on the territory of Israel by unfriendly special services is already a reason to grab his head. So we will not say anything about equivalence, but the warning is still quite good.

After all, they could have blown up something...

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