Unit 8200 (Hebrew: יחידה 8200, Yehida Shmoneh-Matayim) is an Israeli Intelligence Corps unit responsible for collecting signal intelligence and code decryption. It also appears in military publications as the Central Collection Unit of the Intelligence Corps.
Unit 8200 was established in 1952 using primitive surplus American military equipment. Originally, it was called the 2nd Intelligence Service Unit and then the 515th Intelligence Service Unit. In 1954, the unit moved from Jaffa to its current base at the Glilot junction.
Unit 8200 is the largest unit in the Israel Defense Forces, comprising several thousand soldiers. It is comparable in its function to the United States' National Security Agency but is a Ministry of Defense, rather than civilian, body. It is led by a Brigadier-General whose identity remains classified.
Subordinate to Unit 8200 is Unit Hatzav (Hebrew: יחידת חצב), responsible for collecting OSINT intelligence. The unit monitors and collects military intelligence-related information from television, radio, newspapers, and the internet. The translation of various items accounts for part of what is termed "basic intelligence," which is collected by the units. According to media reports, the unit provides over half of the overall intelligence information for the Israeli Intelligence Community.
The IDF's most important signal intelligence-gathering installation is the Urim SIGINT Base, a part of Unit 8200. Urim is located in the Negev desert approximately 30 km from Beersheba. In March 2004, the Commission to investigate the intelligence network following the War in Iraq recommended turning the unit into a civilian National SIGINT Agency, as is in other Western countries, but this proposal was not implemented.
Ronen Bergman revealed in a 2009 book that a Hezbollah bomb, disguised as a cell phone, was picked up by agents, and taken for investigation to Unit 8200's headquarters in February 1999. Inside the laboratory the cell phone exploded. Two officers were injured.
In 2010, the New York Times cited "a former member of the United States intelligence community" alleging that this unit used a secret kill switch to deactivate Syrian air defenses during Operation Orchard.
- Unit 8200 history
- "IDF Record Book 2010". Bamahane (3052): p. 83. September 8, 2010. (Hebrew)
- Le Monde Diplomatique, 2010 September, "Israel’s Omniscient Ears: Israel’s Urim Base in the Negev Desert is among the most important and powerful intelligence gathering sites in the world. Yet, until now, its eavesdropping has gone entirely unmentioned," http://mondediplo.com/2010/09/04israelbase
- Book: Hezbollah got inside MI's inner sanctum Ynet, 13 Sept 2009
- Stuxnet Worm is remarkable for its lack of subtlety, by John Markoff, New York Times 27 September 2010
- "Stuxnet worm is the 'work of a national government agency'". The Guardian. 24 September 2010.
- The Unit - Forbes.com