update deskIsrael at War

Democrat lawmakers, NGOs target US-Israel intel sharing

Most of the information the U.S. shares is in the form of raw intelligence, such as live video feeds from drones over Gaza.

An IAI Eitan (export designation Heron TP) unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90.
An IAI Eitan (export designation Heron TP) unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90.

Anti-Israel Democratic Party lawmakers and human rights groups, which until now have focused on undermining weapons sales to Israel, have recently begun scrutinizing U.S.-Israeli intelligence sharing.

Critics’ concerns about intelligence sharing mirror those surrounding the transfer of U.S. weapons—that it has the potential to contribute to civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip and that there isn’t enough independent oversight, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“What I’m concerned about is making sure our intelligence sharing is consistent with our values and our national security interests,” Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said.

He wrote to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines in December seeking more details about the sharing agreement, saying that he worried “what we’re sharing right now isn’t advancing our interests.”

Sarah Yager, Washington director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, an NGO that has come under scrutiny for obsessive demonization of the Jewish state, said the intelligence-sharing arrangement has little oversight and “essentially opens up the entire U.S. vault.”

However, Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CBS in December that the U.S. was “selective as to the information that’s being provided.”

American spy agencies’ support to Israel was directly mainly at locating Hamas leaders and finding hostages captured by the terrorist group, U.S. officials and others told the Journal.

Most of the information the U.S. shares is in the form of raw intelligence, such as live video feeds from drones over Gaza, they said.

The U.S. doesn’t share intelligence related to airstrike operations connected with Israel’s military campaign, those familiar with the matter said.

“Our intelligence sharing is focused on hostage-recovery efforts and preventing future incursions into Israel. That includes monitoring mobilization or movement near the border,” said an administration official.

U.S. officials told the Journal that the secret memorandum requires that Israel ensure that it isn’t using U.S. intelligence in ways that could cause unacceptable civilian casualties or damage to civilian infrastructure.

“Israel provides assurances that operations making use of U.S. intelligence are conducted in a manner consistent with international law, including the Law of Armed Conflict, which calls for the protection of civilians,” a senior U.S. intelligence official said.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari praised U.S.-Israeli collaboration in a press briefing on March 26.

“In all my years, I cannot recall such extensive cooperation as we currently have with the U.S. Central Command, encompassing the entire U.S. military and the U.S. intelligence services,” Hagari said.

“We are experiencing unprecedented levels of intelligence coordination,” he said.

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