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Was it the GRU operation? Electronic Warfare: Jamming and the Selective Communications appears to be the key in the first hours. – 12:47 PM 12/27/2023

The control over the Electronic Warfare: Jamming and the Selective Communications appears to be the key from the first hours (6:30 AM to 8 AM) of the October 7, 2023 Attack on Israel by the Wagner – Hamas Group. It was also the present to Putin on his birthday and the pledge of allegiance to him by the renewed, cleaned up, and reformed Wagner Group from its new Commander Sergey Troshev and the Deputy Minister of Defense Yunus-bek Yevkurov, in the wake of the recent Progozhin’s Revolt. 

The central point of the attack, from many points of view especially the military one, was the Re’im Attack and Massacre.  This Anti-Gay operation was also heavily ideologically loaded by some type of the coalition, as planned, perceived or desired, of the religious and Rightist groups, which has to be investigated further. 

Were the Re’im Festival and possibly the other locations infiltrated from inside of Israel by the Wagner Group fighters and operatives, some of them in Israel illegally or semi-legally? 

Was their portable military electronic jamming equipment disguised as the musical equipment?

Was it the GRU operation? 

Michael Novakhov – My Opinion – 12:47 PM 12/27/2023

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Oct 9 (Reuters) – A careful campaign of deception ensured Israel was caught off guard when the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas launched its devastating attack, enabling a force using bulldozers, hang gliders and motorbikes to take on the Middle East’s most powerful army.

Saturday’s assault, the worst breach in Israel’s defences since Arab armies waged war in 1973, followed two years of subterfuge by Hamas that involved keeping its military plans under wraps and convincing Israel it did not want a fight.

While Israel was led to believe it was containing a war-weary Hamas by providing economic incentives to Gazan workers, the group’s fighters were being trained and drilled, often in plain sight, a source close to Hamas said.

This source provided many of the details for the account of the attack and its buildup that has been pieced together by Reuters. Three sources within Israel’s security establishment, who like others asked not to be identified, also contributed to this account.

“Hamas gave Israel the impression that it was not ready for a fight,” said the source close to Hamas, describing plans for the most startling assault since the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago when Egypt and Syria surprised Israel and made it fight for its survival.

“Hamas used an unprecedented intelligence tactic to mislead Israel over the last months, by giving a public impression that it was not willing to go into a fight or confrontation with Israel while preparing for this massive operation,” the source said.

Israel concedes it was caught off guard by an attack timed to coincide with the Jewish Sabbath and a religious holiday. Hamas fighters stormed into Israeli towns, killing 700 Israelis and abducting dozens. Israel has killed more than 400 Palestinians in its retaliation on Gaza since then.

“This is our 9/11,” said Major Nir Dinar, spokesperson for the Israeli Defence Forces. “They got us.”

“They surprised us and they came fast from many spots – both from the air and the ground and the sea.”

Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, told Reuters the attack showed Palestinians had the will to achieve their goals “regardless of Israel’s military power and capabilities.”

‘THEY RAN RIOT’

In one of the most striking elements of their preparations, Hamas constructed a mock Israeli settlement in Gaza where they practiced a military landing and trained to storm it, the source close to Hamas said, adding they even made videos of the manoeuvres.

“Israel surely saw them but they were convinced that Hamas wasn’t keen on getting into a confrontation,” the source said.

Meanwhile, Hamas sought to convince Israel it cared more about ensuring that workers in Gaza, a narrow strip of land with more than two million residents, had access to jobs across the border and had no interest in starting a new war.

“Hamas was able to build a whole image that it was not ready for a military adventure against Israel,” the source said.

Since a 2021 war with Hamas, Israel has sought to provide a basic level of economic stability in Gaza by offering incentives including thousands of permits so Gazans can work in Israel or the West Bank, where salaries in construction, agriculture or service jobs can be 10 times the level of pay in Gaza.

“We believed that the fact that they were coming in to work and bringing money into Gaza would create a certain level of calm. We were wrong,” another Israeli army spokesperson said.

An Israeli security source acknowledged Israel’s security services were duped by Hamas. “They caused us to think they wanted money,” the source said. “And all the time they were involved in exercises/drills until they ran riot.”

As part of its subterfuge in the past two years, Hamas refrained from military operations against Israel, even as another Gaza-based Islamist armed group known as Islamic Jihad launched a series of its own assaults or rocket attacks.

NO INKLING

A rocket is fired from Gaza toward Israel, in Gaza, October 7, 2023. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

The restraint shown by Hamas drew public criticism from some supporters, again aimed at building an impression that Hamas had economic concerns not a new war on its mind, the source said.

In the West Bank, controlled by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah group, there were those who mocked Hamas for going quiet. In one Fatah statement published in June 2022, the group accused Hamas leaders of fleeing to Arab capitals to live in “luxurious hotels and villas” leaving their people to poverty in Gaza.

A second Israeli security source said there was a period when Israel believed the movement’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar, was preoccupied with managing Gaza “rather than killing Jews”. At the same time, Israel turned its focus away from Hamas as it pushed for a deal to normalise relations with Saudi Arabia, he added.

Israel has long prided itself on its ability to infiltrate and monitor Islamist groups. As a consequence, the source close to Hamas said, a crucial part of the plan was to avoid leaks.

Many Hamas leaders were unaware of the plans and, while training, the 1,000 fighters deployed in the assault had no inkling of the exact purpose of the exercises, the source added.

When the day came, the operation was divided into four parts, the Hamas source said, describing the various elements.

The first move was a barrage of 3,000 rockets fired from Gaza that coincided with incursions by fighters who flew hang gliders, or motorised paragliders, over the border, the source said. Israel has previously said 2,500 rockets were fired at first.

Once the fighters on hang-gliders were on the ground, they secured the terrain so an elite commando unit could storm the fortified electronic and cement wall built by Israel to prevent infiltration.

The fighters used explosives to breach the barriers and then sped across on motorbikes. Bulldozers widened the gaps and more fighters entered in four-wheel drives, scenes that witnesses described.

‘HUGE FAILURE’

A commando unit attacked the Israeli army’s southern Gaza headquarters and jammed its communications, preventing personnel from calling commanders or each other, the source said.

The final part involved moving hostages to Gaza, mostly achieved early in the attack, the source close to Hamas said.

In one well-publicised hostage taking, fighters abducted party-goers fleeing a rave near the kibbutz of Re’im near Gaza. Social media footage showed dozens of people running through fields and on a road as gunshots were heard.

“How could this party happen this close (to Gaza)?” the Israeli security source said.

The Israeli security source said Israeli troops were below full strength in the south near Gaza because some had been redeployed to the West Bank to protect Israeli settlers following a surge of violence between them and Palestinian militants.

“They (Hamas) exploited that,” the source said.

Dennis Ross, a former Middle East negotiator who is now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Israel had been distracted by violence in the West Bank, leading to a “thin, under-prepared presence in the south.”

“Hamas probably succeeded beyond their expectation. Now they will have to deal with an Israel determined to decimate them,” he said.

Retired General Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told reporters on Sunday the assault represented “a huge failure of the intelligence system and the military apparatus in the south.”

Amidror, chairman of the National Security Council from April 2011-November 2013 and now senior fellow with the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, said some of Israel’s allies had been saying that Hamas had acquired “more responsibility”.

“We stupidly began to believe that it was true,” he said. “So, we made a mistake. We are not going to make this mistake again and we will destroy Hamas, slowly but surely.”

Reporting by Samia Nakhoul in Dubai and Jonathan Saul in London; Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in the West Bank and Matt Spetalnick in Washington, Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Edmund Blair

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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KISSUFIM, Israel — When Hamas militants arrived in the tiny kibbutz of Kissufim, less than a mile from the border with the Gaza Strip, they attacked a carefully picked first target: the white and red metal communication towers on its outskirts.

They made a beeline for the small fenced compound that housed the critical equipment, shooting at it and using a ladder to scale a barbed wire fence to get inside, videos obtained by The Washington Post show.

“They knew exactly what they were doing,” said Shai Asher, 50, a member of the armed kibbutz security squad that battled Hamas gunmen that day, struggling to communicate with each other and unable to call for backup.

“The phone network doesn’t work, WhatsApp doesn’t work, everything is broken down, our radio doesn’t work, all the channels of command are missing,” he recalled. “They had a flawless battle plan that they executed flawlessly.”

For hours, volunteers such as Asher were left to fend for themselves, outnumbered and outgunned. The soldiers that were supposed to protect them were blind to the unfolding disaster, or had been killed or kidnapped.

In a simultaneous wave of attacks on at least seven military posts across the border, Hamas sought to systematically disable key detection, communications and warning systems, using snipers and commercial drones armed with explosives. The strategy allowed its gunmen to advance deep into Israeli territory with little resistance and scrambled the subsequent military response.

The Washington Post spoke to more than a dozen current and former Israeli intelligence and security officials and studied footage from Hamas body cameras to build a picture of how militants were able to overwhelm Israeli military installations and rampage through more than 20 residential communities.

“There weren’t enough soldiers; there weren’t enough capabilities,” said Eyal Hulata, the head of the country’s National Security Council from 2021 to 2023. “The first line of defense became the last line of defense, and this should never happen. Israel knows that.”

The attack, in which more than 1,400 people were killed and 229 others taken hostage, exposed the vulnerabilities of Israel’s border security system, long believed to be one of the most advanced and indomitable in the world. At least 309 Israeli soldiers are among the dead.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had boasted for years of multimillion-dollar investments in an expansive “smart wall,” running the length of the enclave above ground and extending deep into the ground.

Claiming in recent years that Hamas had been successfully contained in Gaza, Netanyahu oversaw the gradual withdrawal of troops from the south. Forces left behind at the military and intelligence bases were trained to rely on sophisticated cameras and sensors to monitor for border infiltrations, and to alert forces on the ground in case of unusual events.

But in the early hours of Oct. 7, at least 1,500 Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants broke through some 30 points along the border barrier. They overran some bases so rapidly that soldiers were killed in their bunks, and the militants took out communication networks so efficiently that the area became a blind spot for the military.

“They coordinated it, in sync, to get the maximum impact,” Hulata said. “The fact we failed doesn’t mean the IDF isn’t prepared to respond,” he added.

The assault came on a Saturday morning, on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah — the end of a two-week string of holidays — ravaging a sleeping nation that had been assured repeatedly by its top security officials that Hamas posed no immediate threat.

“Despite a series of actions that we carried out, unfortunately on Saturday we were unable to generate a sufficient warning that would have thwarted the attack,” said Ronen Bar, the head of the Shin Bet internal security service, in a letter to his employees and their families.

Asked for comment by The Post, the Israeli military replied: “Currently the IDF is focused on the ongoing war, we will get to questions of your kind later on.” The prime minister’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The coordinated attack began with rocket fire from Gaza — a regular occurrence that caused no particular alarm among soldiers and civilians. As the air raid sirens sounded just before 6:30 a.m., Israeli officers stayed below their lookouts.

Then came the familiar booms from the Iron Dome antimissile defense system, drowning out the gunfire from snipers, who shot at a string of cameras dotting the border, and the explosions from more than 100 remotely operated drones that took out watchtowers, according to security experts who analyzed the footage — most of it posted in real time by the militants.

The towers were outfitted with machine guns and cameras, both connected to the border’s thermal imaging sensors and to optical and radar detection systems. They relied partly on automation, partly on remote control.

Once the systems were disabled, fighters from the Nukhba, Hamas’s special operations unit, were able to breach the border with relative ease, videos show, using bulldozers, trucks and motorcycles. From there, it was less than a mile’s drive to the first military installations, which were mostly unguarded outside.

Front-line observation troops were caught off guard when the militants stormed their bases, navigating confidently through facilities and barracks, security officials familiar with the situation told The Post.

Soldiers managed to kill some Hamas gunmen with remotely controlled guns but, within minutes, hundreds more had taken their place. They killed soldiers in their safe rooms and took others hostage while ransacking weapons caches, loading up trucks and motorbikes already laden with AK-47s, grenades and other weaponry.

Only at 8:06 a.m. — an hour and a half after the start of the assault — did the Israel Defense Forces report a “combined attack.” At 8:25, with a large number of Israelis already dead, it declared “a state of alert for war.”

Placing key command centers so close to the border was a key mistake, said a former senior Israeli intelligence officer, who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

“That’s what happens when you suffer a catastrophic systemic failure,” he said, “and military headquarters and other installations are so close to the border. That’s what happens when you forget that all defense lines can eventually be breached and have been historically. That’s what happens when you underestimate your enemy.”

The Israeli military’s regional command-and-control center, near Kibbutz Re’im, suffered a “complete destruction” of “communications systems, their antennas, even the systems that activated the sensors on the fence itself,” said Lt. Col. Alon Eviatar, a member of the reserves and an expert in Palestinian militancy as well as being a former officer in 8200, Israel’s elite intelligence unit.

In parallel, according to footage reviewed by security analysts, a separate Hamas unit stormed an 8200 installation near Urim, about 10 miles inside Israeli territory, detonating an explosive at the entrance to an underground bunker that housed an expansive intelligence apparatus — synthesizing data from Israel, the Palestinian territories and around the world.

“It is the largest and most significant intelligence base in Israel, one of the country’s greatest assets,” said Eviatar. “It was a top priority for them.”

Hamas fighters battled with Israeli forces outside the bunker, Eviatar said. It is still unclear whether any of the militants survived the battle or managed to take espionage documents or equipment back to Gaza, which he said could be “extremely valuable to Hamas leadership and to Iran.”

Forty-five miles to the north, in Zikim, troops at a training base for the Israeli military’s search-and-rescue brigade were among the few units not affected by the disabling of communication systems. They belonged to a separate command center that was spared the blackout that affected most of the other installations.

When a rocket struck the base, the duty officer was able to report the attack to Col. Elad Edri, the brigade’s commander, who sped to the scene.

“We managed to speak to each other by radio, by phone. It was clear, it was okay,” he told The Post. “The bombs didn’t influence my unit. They obviously influenced the units that were there to defend the fence.”

Edri lost seven soldiers but managed to repel the attack and maintain control of the base.

The breadth and speed of the assault points to deep planning by Hamas. Asher, the security guard in Kissufim, estimates that the militants were at his kibbutz just a few minutes after 6:30 a.m., shortly after the first rocket barrage.

At 6:45 a.m., he got a voice note in the kibbutz’s security group on WhatsApp. “This is real action, real action, a real situation,” a member of the team said, as gunfire sounded and sirens wailed in the background.

“Do you have any connection with the IDF?” Asher asked, as squad members tried in vain to call in military reinforcements. The internet would cut out soon after. Asher didn’t know until 10 p.m. that his wife and two children, barricaded in their safe room at home, had survived.

“It was a nightmare,” he said.

After entering the kibbutz, the militants went straight to the house of the community’s head of security, who was forced to retreat to a safe room with his family. He could not join the fight, but he survived.

It was a pattern repeated in other communities, Asher said, citing conversations with residents.

“Their success wasn’t tech; it was preparation,” said Miri Eisin, a former senior intelligence officer in the IDF. They “used military tactics to carry out a terror attack.”

As the hours wore on and the death toll climbed, the rare messages that did make it back to Israel’s main military headquarters in Tel Aviv were interpreted with “a lot of question marks,” said Michael Milshtein, a former senior adviser to COGAT, the Israeli military agency in charge of the Palestinian territories. “After so many years of discounting Hamas,” he said, military leaders struggled to grapple with the scale of the unfolding calamity.

Initially, the IDF sent in special operations units, trained to respond to infiltrations from Gaza. But none of their war games resembled what confronted them on Oct. 7.

“[Hamas] knew exactly where they were going, what they were doing, even though it was their first time there,” said Milshtein, who said that Shin Bet has been trying to crack down on espionage networks from Gaza over the past two years.

Israeli forces that were able to fight their way into communities under attack struggled to manage the situation, lacking higher-altitude assessments of a vast and chaotic battlefield.

“Without an overall picture, we had to make a lot of quick decisions,” said Maj. Palmach, one of the Israeli reservists who, without waiting to be called up, put on their uniforms and jumped in their cars that Saturday, speeding south to fight alongside the special operations forces. He shared his story on the condition that he be identified only by his last name because of IDF ground rules.

Palmach battled Hamas gunmen at the entrance to Alumim, preventing them from entering. He then joined an improvised convoy to Be’eri, one of the hardest-hit kibbutzim. Guided by word of mouth and frantic WhatsApp messages, Palmach rescued people from their safe rooms, many as their houses were burning. Militants lit tires on fire and wheeled them into homes to smoke out families that were in hiding, according to other officers who arrived at the scene that day.

Israel’s southern border region is a military zone now. Its tightknit towns are charred and abandoned. Bodies are still being found. Many survivors feel betrayed by a government that promised them safety even as it withdrew protection.

In December 2021, Netanyahu tweeted that the installation of an “underground barrier that stops Hamas’s tunnel weapons” amounted to a “historic” day. He had completed the project, he said, despite “great opposition” from other politicians and the defense establishment.

Amir Tibon, a journalist from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, moved to Nahal Oz in 2014. At least 14 of his neighbors were killed there Oct 7.

When he began living there, combat units were stationed in every community. In recent years, they were redeployed to the West Bank to protect Jewish settlements and to counter new Palestinian militant groups.

“After that fancy underground obstacle that Netanyahu was so proud of, it was decided that the forces weren’t needed anymore,” Tibon said in a recent Haaretz podcast. “If in every community on that dark Saturday there were forces of 20 people, everything would have looked differently.”

Some Israeli soldiers stationed along the border now say they feared a Hamas incursion was imminent and tried to sound the alarm.

“It was clear that something would happen. It was only a matter of time,” Maya Dasiatnik, an observation officer in the Nahal Oz base, said an interview with the Kan public broadcaster on Wednesday.

She said that she and dozens of fellow soldiers had repeatedly reported suspicious activity: people approaching the fence with maps, appearing to study it for its weak spots, getting closer every week. There also were tractors and large groups of armed men, carrying out exercises that looked like military drills.

Roni Eshel, who served alongside Dasiatnik, is believed to be among the hostages held in Gaza.

“She reported all kinds of breakdowns along the border,” Eyal, her father, told The Post. His last contact with Roni was a text message at 9:27 a.m., three hours after her base was raided. The beds, the safe rooms and the central war room were torched.

“It could have been prevented,” he said, “if someone in the army had opened their eyes and ears.”

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In Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and elsewhere in the Middle East, protests have erupted following the October 7 attack in solidarity with the Palestinians, in opposition of Israel and its supporters, and, in some cases, in explicit support for Hamas. In major cities throughout Africa, protestors have expressed solidarity with Palestinians and denounced Israel’s actions. Asian states such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, and the Philippines have seen pro-Palestinian protests. In Europe, North America, and South America, countries such as France, Germany, Norway, Romania, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay have experienced both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests. Some countries, such as FranceGermany, and India, have tried to implement prohibitions on protests in support of Palestinians, citing concerns related to public order and anti-Semitic incidents, though several large pro-Palestinian demonstrations have still taken place in all three countries.

Figure 10: Protest in London in Response Violence in Gaza

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Israel News | National Security & Cyber

However, the Israeli jamming can also mess up the IDF’s rocket warning app ■ U.S. researchers recently geolocated a powerful GPS jammer at base in northern Israel

Avi Scharf
Yaniv Kubovich

Oct 16, 2023

Oct 16, 2023

Israeli defense forces have increased GPS jamming in the region to try to thwart drone attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah.

Paid by Attorney Rakefet Shfaim

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A screenshot from open-source satellite navigation interference tracking website, GPSjam.org from … [+] October 29 shows extensive navigational signal jamming in and around Israel but the area around Gaza near the Egypt border shows no activity.

GPSJam.org

While a number of reports describe Israeli jamming of GPS signals to thwart Hamas drones, there have been suggestions that Hamas itself is jamming satnav signals.

According to a recent article in the Israeli press, the country has stepped up efforts to jam or spoof GPS/GNSS signals to disrupt potential drone and missile attacks in northern Israel from Lebanon-based Hezbollah. It has also interfered with satellite navigation in and around Gaza.

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) said in a statement to Haaretz that it is disrupting satellite navigation systems “in a proactive manner for various operational needs… Citizens should be aware that the disruption can cause various and temporary effects on location-based applications.”

Observations by Israelis in northern Israel along the frontier with Lebanon appear to confirm the jamming with users noting occasional loss of GPS signals. GPS-enabled interactive navigation apps (Waze, Google, Apple) are apparently not showing traffic data or reports even when the GPS is working.

Real-time traffic data may have been purposely disabled to prevent Hezbollah or others from spotting patterns which may indicate the location of roadblocks or the movements of IDF formations in the area.

However, these observations relate to northern Israel as do most reports on jamming in the region. The latest public snapshot of jamming-spoofing activity from open-source GNSS (global navigation satellite system) interference tracking website GPSJAM shows significant jamming activity around Israel and the eastern Mediterranean region.

But it does not indicate jamming-spoofing activity in the lower lefthand corner of the Israel map overlay above where Gaza sits near the Egyptian border. That may be because there is not active jamming by Hamas or that such jamming is so localized that the tracking sensors that sites like GPSJAM aggregate data from cannot pick it up.

There is a thriving global market for consumer GPS-jamming devices. A quick browse online yields numerous choices for users seeking to evade GPS tracking with low-power devices that disrupt commercial GPS signals. One example is the APJ-16, a $1,200 all-in-one portable jammer.

The APJ-16 is advertised as an all-in-one portable GPS jammer capable of blocking signals on 16 … [+] frequencies at a range of 30 meters.

Jammer-store.com

According to the ad for the device, the APJ-16 can block GPS signals at 16 different frequencies in the 164-5900 MHz band. Users can “can select the frequencies you want to mute to leave others free,” a feature which might be useful for Hamas. The small four-pound (1.8 kg) device has a range of 30 meters (100 ft.) and a battery life of three hours.

Such power and range would theoretically be useful in throwing off the aerial or terrestrial drones which Israeli forces are now operating in Gaza. A 2020 feature in online blog Hackaday on commercially available mini GPS jammers illustrated their function and effectiveness.

Noting that the bulk of the GPS constellation is located at a significant distance (an altitude of 12,500 miles) from the earth’s surface and that antennas on most GPS-equipped devices – phones and to a lesser extent, drones – are quite small, the author pointed out that the signals they receive are weak.

“It doesn’t take much to overpower the legitimate signal,” Hackaday observed. “Keep in mind that a device like this isn’t trying to mimic a GPS satellite, it’s simply broadcasting out enough loud nonsense that the real satellite can no longer be heard.”

While the military grade drones the IDF is using have larger antennas and may enjoy greater signal strength, jammers like the APJ-16 go beyond simple mini car-tracker jammers.

One Israeli drone-maker currently claims that its platforms and operating system are the only drones not affected by Hamas’s GPS blocking efforts. I queried the company regarding this claim but received no response by publication time.

Information on how to build GPS jammers with commercial electronic components has been available for years and Hamas, Hezbollah and many other non-state actors have surely studied it. So have states like Iran which could possibly have provided Hamas and other terror groups with its own jamming equipment or jammers acquired on the open market.

Low power GPS jammers might not be visible to open-source tracking yet because they have not been activated as the IDF has only just begun to penetrate Gaza. Israel and the U.S. likely have intelligence (human or signals intel) as to whether they are present in numbers in Gaza or not.

But there is the possibility that they could be tactically relevant and play a role in the street battles now unfolding. As Hackaday’s author noted, the efficacy of devices costing as little as $8 is concerningly potent.

“Part of me assumed that the Mini GPS Jammer just wouldn’t work, or at least, it would work so poorly as to not be an issue. But no, in a break from tradition, a cheap imported device from eBay managed to actually exceed all of my expectations.”

If more powerful, sophisticated commercial or state-supplied portable GPS blockers can do better, another one of the technological advantages that Israel may have expected could be eroded.

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