The first few hours and the subsequent week of Operation Pillar of Defense saw dramatic demonstrations of Israeli intelligence capabilities and military sophistication. The Israelis sought to degrade Hamas's ability to wage its ongoing missile war against Israeli civilians, firstly by targeting the Hamas military hierarchy that was driving the war and secondly by directly depriving the Iran-backed terror group of its weapons.
From the initial targeting of Ahmed Jabari, the commander of Hamas's military wing and a terrorist linked to hundreds of operations over the span of decades, through precision air strikes on weapons caches over the coming days, the Israeli Air Force engaged in more than 1,400 strikes against pre-identified and other targets. The figure is an order of magnitude higher than the 150 targets struck by the IAF during all of Israel's 2008 Operation Cast Lead. By Tuesday morning Israeli sources reported substantial damage to Hamas's infrastructure, linking it to a 40 percent decrease in the number of rockets launched against Israel over the course of the operation.
Journalists and analysts almost immediately noted the immense intelligence undertaking involved in permitting the IAF to identify and eliminate the vast majority of Hamas's advanced arsenal:
While Operation Pillar of Defense started with the targeting and killing of Hamas' military chief in Gaza Ahmed Jabari, the terror organizations in the Gaza Strip were in for an even bigger shock when they realized that virtually the entire lineup of Fajr-5 rockets was eliminated in the space of a few minutes... IDF intelligence... charted the map of rocket deployment, detailing the exact location of each one, its type, where it was pointed and the nature of its immediate surroundings... an accurate bank of targets was prepared in the course of over a year... Just a few minutes following the targeting and killing of Jabari, the second wave of air strikes was already underway and within a quarter of an hour, virtually the entire lineup of Fajr-5 rockets was eliminated.
Early analysis focused on Hamas's efforts to rebuild its shattered morale after the strike on Jabari and the quick elimination of large swaths of its advanced missile arsenal. The success of Iron Dome in by and large shielding Israel's population during the war likely complicated Hamas's efforts to restore its soldiers' and partisans' confidence. The Hamas military leadership continues today to make threats from underground, and it is unlikely that Jabari's replacements will in the near term feel confident enough to travel as he did. It is more likely that Hamas's military leaders will confine themselves, as has Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah since Hezbollah's 2006 war with Israel, largely to bunkers.
Below are selections from a TIP YouTube collection documenting notable IAF and Israeli intelligence successes over the course of Operation Pillar of Defense. Click on the photos to go to the selected videos, or go to TIP's full YouTube playlist on the issue: TIP's Collection on Israel Intel Success and Air Force Strikes During Op Pillar of Defense