Ronen Bergman

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Israeli soldiers at a state ceremony on Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Wednesday at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, in Jerusalem. Credit Gali Tibbon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On Wednesday, Israel observed Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is one of the most important days on the country’s calendar, observed with innumerable ceremonies and gatherings. At many of these, a motto will be recited: “To remember, not to forget.”

Of course, in Israel no one forgets. One reason is that in this country, the Holocaust is not merely a matter of historical remembrance. It is part of our present. Many of Israel’s founders believed the Jewish state was necessary because the Jewish people would always be under the threat of destruction, others could not be relied upon to protect the Jews, and the preservation of the Jewish people required a country of their own.…  Seguir leyendo »

Remains of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet that crashed in northern Israel on Saturday, after coming under antiaircraft fire. Credit Abir Sultan/European Pressphoto Agency

In the early hours of Saturday morning, the Middle East was on the brink of yet another war.

During the night, according to my high-ranking sources, Israel’s intelligence services had been tracking an Iranian drone that was launched by the Quds division of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the Tiyas air base in central Syria.

A minute and a half after the drone entered Israeli airspace, an Israeli Air Force attack helicopter shot it out of the sky. Simultaneously, eight Israeli fighter jets fired missiles at the drone’s command and control center at Tiyas, blowing it up, along with the Iranians manning the center.…  Seguir leyendo »

Photographs and the identity card found in the house in Brazil where Josef Mengele lived. Credit Associated Press

For decades, Israel’s espionage agency, the Mossad, kept a file on Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor responsible for, among other atrocities, selecting which new inmates at Auschwitz would die immediately in the gas chambers and which would be put to work first or subjected to his horrible “medical” experiments.

The file is thousands of pages long and documents the Mossad’s efforts to capture or assassinate the war criminal: countless hours of labor, huge sums of money, scores of agents and sources, wiretaps, break-ins, secret photographs and just about every other ploy in the espionage tool kit, including recruiting Nazis and journalists.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting of an incapacitated Palestinian attacker, demonstrating outside military court in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. Oded Balilty/Associated Press

On March 24, Sgt. Elor Azaria arrived at an Israeli military post in the heart of the West Bank city of Hebron shortly after two Palestinians had stabbed a soldier in the arm and shoulder. The two assailants were shot during the attack; one was killed and the other, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, was wounded and lying helpless on the ground. Sergeant Azaria cocked his rifle and fired a bullet into Mr. Sharif’s head, killing him. He had just told a fellow soldier, “He stabbed my friend and he deserves to die.”

On trial for manslaughter in military court and represented by a battery of top-flight lawyers paid for by donations to a crowdfunding website, Sergeant Azaria gave a different motive for his action.…  Seguir leyendo »

In most countries, the political class supervises the defense establishment and restrains its leaders from violating human rights or pursuing dangerous, aggressive policies. In Israel, the opposite is happening. Here, politicians blatantly trample the state’s values and laws and seek belligerent solutions, while the chiefs of the Israel Defense Forces and the heads of the intelligence agencies try to calm and restrain them.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer last week of the post of defense minister to Avigdor Lieberman, a pugnacious ultranationalist politician, is the latest act in the war between Mr. Netanyahu and the military and intelligence leaders, a conflict that has no end in sight but could further erode the rule of law and human rights, or lead to a dangerous, superfluous military campaign.…  Seguir leyendo »

If body-counts and destroyed weaponry are the main criteria for victory, Israel is the clear winner in the latest confrontation with Hamas. There’s no doubt that Israel could conquer the entire Gaza Strip and completely wipe out Hamas’s military apparatus. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has chosen not to do so and now enjoys his highest approval ratings ever.

But counting bodies is not the most important criterion in deciding who should be declared the victor. Much more important is comparing each side’s goals before the fighting and what they have achieved. Seen in this light, Hamas won.

Hamas started the war because it was in dire straits; its relations with Iran and Egypt were severed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Politics, to Ariel Sharon, was like a Ferris wheel. But he didn’t make do with just staying on the wheel; he did all he could to climb to the top and stay there.

Mr. Sharon exuded strength, authority, leadership and charisma. His briefings before missions were precise, clear and unequivocal, instilling in his men a sense of trust and confidence. His orders were delivered in a lighthearted, sometimes cynical tone, with a piercing sense of humor. And he fought at the front of his forces, taking great risks.

While he was still a young, relatively junior officer, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion wrote in his diary about Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

The assassination of Hamas’ military chief Ahmed al-Jabari in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Air Force calls to mind the saying, “when you’re holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” While Israel indeed acted with remarkable precision based on reliable intelligence, the question remains: Did Israel use its hammer — an instrument it wields with virtuosity — prematurely in this case, to deal with a dilemma that perhaps called for different treatment?

While Israel has an abundant history of liquidating enemy leaders by pin-point attacks, for years it has refrained from doing it. Somehow, it seems no surprise that the assassination of Jabari comes just months before a general election in Israel, and at a time when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being criticized for not taking steps to stop the ongoing firing of rockets at Israeli communities from Gaza.…  Seguir leyendo »

In January 2007, Israeli intelligence officials were horrified by information acquired when Mossad agents broke into the hotel room of a senior Syrian official in London and downloaded the contents of his laptop. The pilfered files revealed that Syria, aided by North Korea, was building a nuclear reactor that could produce an atomic bomb.

Until then, according to military intelligence officials, Israeli intelligence thought Syria had no nuclear program. But that was because Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, had set up a parallel and separate system of command and control for building the reactor. The discovery caused a panic in Israel, and grave concern in Washington, which had relied heavily on Israel’s assurances that it knew everything about Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Among all the bombs, explosives and guns, the number of martyred dead is rising. Though this is the will of Allah, it is nevertheless possible to cause the enemy greater damage without exposing the Muslims to danger. How is it to be done?”

This question, which appeared as a post in May on the Web site Al7orya, one of the most important of Al Qaeda’s closed Internet forums, is only one example of the evidence that has been accumulated by American and Israeli intelligence in recent months of a significant ideological change under way within Osama bin Laden’s organization. Seven years after 9/11, it may well be that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of suicide terrorism and a shift toward advanced technologies that will enable jihadist bombers to carry out attacks and live to fight another day.…  Seguir leyendo »

The assassination of Imad Mugniyah, the Hezbollah terrorist, in Damascus last week was a warning that even the most elusive prey can be hunted down — given skill, determination and patience on the part of the hunter. The blast that dispatched Mr. Mugniyah, a top target for Israeli and American intelligence for most of three decades, was heard loud and clear by Khaled Mashal, the exiled political chief of Palestinian Hamas, who at the time was meeting with Syrian intelligence officers only a few hundred yards away.

In 1997, Mr. Mashal escaped death at the hands of the Mossad, the Israeli spy agency, when a poisoning attempt in Amman, Jordan, went disastrously wrong.…  Seguir leyendo »