Electronic or human intelligence? This question is currently being asked every day in Israeli intelligence organisations.
Is the huge investment in mostly aerial sensors justified? Are these tools really supplying the data that is needed?
In the past two or three years, the intelligence organisations in the Middle East and in the USA failed to forecast the uprising in Egypt.
They claim, in their defence, that a popular uprising such as this is very hard to foresee. Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya are only part of this failure.
Nothing on the screens of the intelligence experts gave any indication. However, while the intelligence organisations try to find an explanation, the developments do not stop and they are very worrying, and not only to democracies in the region.
While the USA is continuing to demonstrate its impotency to act on international situations that will no question affect its interests, the real worry is in Jerusalem.
While Iran is not openly involved in what is happening in Egypt, it is deeply involved in what is happening in Lebanon and Syria.
So, Israel has an array of spy satellites, it has squadrons of ELINT aircraft and it has other sensors in a variety of ranges.
All these failed. The question is again – can a country rely on sensors, even if they are the most sophisticated ones?
Talking to the experts, an answer is beginning to formulate and the direction is clear – a big NO.
Even the best sensors are worthless in forecasting events that change the basic situation.
Will that shift budgets to alternative methods of intelligence gathering? I doubt it very much.
Heads of states like to see very expensive toys that give them the feeling that the budgets they have approved were spent in the right way.
However, the results are far from sufficient and, as these lines are being written, many minds are working overtime to solve the huge problem.
Dangers in the Middle East continue to loom and they threaten not only Israel.
Take a world map and you will see that the consequences may reach far beyond the lines that define the Middle East.