ICT Spotlight: Brig. Gen. (Res.) Gadi Zohar, Associate at ICT, IDC Herzliya
Between 1974 and 1978, Zohar served as head of terrorism and the Palestinian desk in the Military Intelligence Directorate Research Division in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Between 1981 and 1985, he served as Commander of the Human Intelligence (HUMINT) unit of the Military Intelligence Directorate. In 1986, he founded the terrorism department of the Military Intelligence Directorate and served as its first head. He then served as Head of the Civil Administration in the Coordinator of the Activities of the Government in the Territory (COGAT) between 1991 and 1995, until his retirement from the IDF.
Today, among other things, he serves as Chairman of the Peace and Security Association, which brings together experts in the fields of national security and serves as an Associate at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at IDC Herzliya . In this framework, he takes part in the ICT’s events, including working groups, projects and conferences in his areas of expertise.
Regarding the current issue of “kite terror” originating from the Gaza Strip, it is a minor threat but is a byproduct of the asymmetric conflict being waged.
The big question for Zohar is not how to combat “kite terrorism” itself, but what steps Israel must take to help prevent the next round of violence.
In his opinion, Israel must develop a coherent policy vis-à-vis the hardships in the Gaza Strip, although it must be understood that there is no one unequivocal solution to the Gaza problem. However, a clear policy that provides aid to the population of the Gaza Strip can help reduce the terror threats emanating from the Gaza Strip (of which “kite terror” is one).
The central issue and greatest terrorism threat facing the world according to Zohar, is the increasing numbers of people affected by Islamic radicalization.
In Zohar’s opinion religious extremists are in a constant battle with modern reality and are consistently trying to change the current structure of society and its status quo. Zohar explains that radical Islamists seem to be the most extreme of any of the religious radicals and they at times employ the use of terror tactics.
Zohar argues that terror is a complex organism that varies from one theatre of the globe to another, as well, that all terror organizations differ based on the society within which they operate. Due to the above assessment one cannot identify a single fit all solution for terrorism.
Zohar maintains two central beliefs when it comes to counter-terrorism:
- Education has a great influence and ability in reducing terrorism. Therefore, it becomes imperative to identify the hot spots where terrorist ideology develops and flourishes and to counter it with the establishment of educational and assistance programs.
- International cooperation is imperative in combating terrorism. There must be deep-rooted cooperation and sharing between countries and NGO’s when it comes to budgets, information and intelligence. It is this cooperation and sharing of information that can lead to a better understanding of the root causes of terror and why it develops in one place over another.