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Monday, August 10, 2009

Israel bases penetrated during security check

TEL AVIV — Israel's military has a problem with deteriorating security in a finding further tarnishing its once formidable reputation.   

Officials said the military has conducted exercises to determine the level of security at bases throughout the country. They said the exercises demonstrated that even maximum-security facilities were found to have been easily penetrated.

"This is a very serious threat because we know that Arab and other states would love to know what is going on in some of these bases," an official said.

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In April 2009, Military Intelligence conducted an exercise meant to test security at Israel Air Force bases. Officials said soldiers in civilian garb entered a secret air force base in southern Israel and stole a computer and codes.

"Inspections are part of the exercises that the IAF conducts in a wide range of issues, including information security," a military statement said. "These inspections are carried out frequently."

The statement said MI's Information Security Unit conducted the exercise. The infiltrators were said to have broken into operations rooms, stole identity cards from squadron commanders as well as a laptop computer that contained classified information.

Hamas and Hizbullah, believed to be working for Iran and Syria, have sought to penetrate military bases. In 2009, the air force base at Nevatim was infiltrated at least four times by Palestinian operatives.

"The IAF puts a special emphasis on information security and preventing it from reaching unauthorized elements," the military statement said. "The inspections were meant to prepare the bases and to uncover flaws in order to avoid them in the future."

The Israel Army has also reported serious security problems in bases near the Gaza Strip. Military sources said an army unit held an exercise in which soldiers infiltrated several bases without difficulty and grabbed highly classified material.

The sources said the army's Southern Command court-martialed several soldiers. They said the biggest security lapse was reported at the army base at Keren Shalom along the borders with Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

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