IDF’s cyber warrior 8200 intelligence unit gets medal for ‘recent operations’

Military doesn’t specify what action the force was involved in; head of directorate says mission was just the first of many

An award handed out to the IDF's secretive Unit 8200 for successful clandestine operations, June 24, 2020. (IDF Spokesperson)
An award handed out to the IDF's secretive Unit 8200 for successful clandestine operations, June 24, 2020. (IDF Spokesperson)

IDF Military Intelligence Directorate Major General Tamir Hayman on Wednesday handed out special medals to a secretive unit renowned for its cyberskills, as recognition for recent operations.

The military intelligence soldiers were honored for “successful secret operations they recently carried out” that were led by Unit 8200, the IDF said in a statement.

The army did not specify any details about the missions. Medals were handed out to both the operations and research divisions of Unit 8200.

“Excellence through a clear need, excellence through a thirst for success, excellence through not compromising on the small details — that is the spirit of Military Intelligence and it is expressed also at this event,” Hayman said. “The operational activities were conducted clandestinely, demonstrating creativity and a strong desire to succeed.”

“The operational capabilities, the collaboration and the unique achievements that have been reflected in your actions cannot be taken lightly,” he said. “This operation is a first and most significant step in a long path that yet awaits us.”

The vaunted 8200 unit — roughly equivalent to the National Security Agency in the US — is highly regarded for its computer prowess.

Last month a cyber attack blamed on the Jewish state was said to have crippled computer systems at a strategic port in the south of Iran. That attack on the Shahid Rajaee Port, in the southern Hormozgan Province, was apparently in response to an alleged Iranian attempt to hack into Israel’s water infrastructure system earlier in the month. Israel has refused to officially comment on a Washington Post report that cited US and other foreign officials as saying Israel was likely behind the computer attack.

The New York Times, citing “high-ranking intelligence officials and experts in the Middle East who are kept informed of covert Israeli actions in the region,” later reported that the attack on the port’s computers systems was by design limited in scope, “creating traffic jams of delivery trucks and some delays in shipments, but causing no substantial or lasting damage.”

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