Israeli Defense Forces Prepare For War
ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES PREPARE FOR WAR
by Sarah Ann Haves
The goal of Israel’s new defense doctrine is to prepare the IDF (Israel’s Defense Forces) for war on several fronts over the next several years. Israel’s commanders have been engaging Israeli troops in many operational exercises, while at the same time, making sure that Israel has effective deterrence on its borders. What this means is that Israel is preparing for war, but would rather not go to war if the Jewish State can continue to deter its enemies.
Israel is preparing for war, but would rather not go to war if the Jewish State can continue to deter its enemies.
Recently, a marked escalation in rocket attacks launched by Hamas in Gaza against Israeli communities in the south, challenged Israel’s deterrence. The IDF struck back hard, killing nearly 20 Hamas operatives. Israel used its Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system to knock 10 rockets out of the sky. More than 120 rockets were, reportedly, launched by Hamas over the course of a few days.
Israel is now the first country, in global history, to successfully use an advanced anti-missile defense system to protect its civilian population. While the Iron Dome is limited in its ability to counteract most missile attacks against Israel, it did perform well. And, it did allow the Israeli government to show Hamas its military superiority in a time of conflict. Israel received word during the escalation that Hamas wanted a cease-fire, and the Israeli government took its time in finally deciding to grant that request.
During the recent height in tensions between Israel and Hamas, the IDF limited its military response in order to avoid all-out war. For example, the IDF struck hard at Hamas operatives, but avoided the terror group’s military bases in the Gaza Strip. Instead of initiating killings against any Hamas target, it only targeted those individuals who were in the process of carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. In the end, the IDF did enough damage to let Hamas know who was in charge, warning that Israel was prepared for war if Hamas wanted it. Apparently, Hamas got the message as a temporary and uneasy quiet returned to Israel’s southern communities for six days.
The cease-fire was broken on April 16 when Al Qaeda-affiliated Salafi jihad forces reportedly launched Grad rockets on the southern Israeli community of Ashdod. Some Israeli officials now think Hamas is losing control of Gaza to more radical elements. Others believe that Hamas has decided to acknowledge the cease-fire while giving approval to other terrorist groups to stage attacks against Israel.
In the new war on terror, an IDF victory is based on how effective Israel’s deterrence is over its enemies. Historically, under the old definition of warfare, a victory between two opposing forces was obtained through the gain of territory. However, today, Hamas is ruling in Gaza, which is a non-state entity. So, the main way that Israeli forces know they have the upper hand is to keep Hamas and other terrorist groups from firing rockets; to protect Israeli citizens; and to restore calm to the south.
In the new war on terror, an IDF victory is based on how effective Israel’s deterrence is over its enemies.
Yet, the Israeli government knows that the current war of attrition with Hamas will continue. The terrorist group is committed to carrying out future attacks on the Jewish State. Not only does Hamas continue to call for Israel’s destruction, it also receives strong financial backing, weapons and training from Iran to accomplish that goal.
MIDDLE EAST TURMOIL
One of Israel’s greatest concerns about the current upheaval in the Middle East is the instability it brings, increasing Israel’s need to prepare its troops for deployment on multiple borders.
Israeli officials are trying to avoid terrorist infiltration along Israel’s eastern and southern borders, which now lack the supervision of moderate Arab forces in Jordan and Egypt. The Jordanian government is occupied with trying to stop Islamic extremists from gaining ground during protest riots. Islamists seeking to obtain more power and influence within Jordan’s government are now threatening the ruling Jordanian monarchy led by King Abdullah II.
The revolutionary change in Egypt has already resulted in a deterioration of relations with Israel. Hundreds of protestors recently demonstrated in front of the Israeli consulate in Alexandria calling for a third Palestinian Intifada (Uprising) to start on May 15. About 1,000 demonstrators stood in front of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, burning the Israeli flag and calling on Egypt to sever ties with the Jewish State.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s military caretaker government has already demonstrated less concern in monitoring terrorist activity in the Sinai, as well as along its porous border with Israel. Egyptian officials have slowed down progress on the completion of a wall to stop underground weapons smuggling from Egypt into Gaza. The vacuum in Egyptian security services has led to increased cooperation between the Moslem Brotherhood and Hamas. Money is flowing to the Hamas political wing, along with the transfer of advanced weapon systems to the military wing. The Hamas government is also recruiting and training terrorists to help it prepare for a long, sustained future war with Israel. The IDF suspects that if Israel’s current conflict with Hamas erupts again, rockets will be raining down on Tel Aviv.
The IDF has to remain vigilant in training its soldiers for a future war against the Jewish State.
In the north, Syrian President Bashar Assad has faced an unprecedented challenge to his regime, and his response has been to blame outsiders for his woes and his government’s failures. His father, Hafez Assad, lost the Golan Heights to Israel when he was president of Syria. Bashar wants the Heights back either by peace or war. Bashar’s recent crackdown on protestors has been brutal, and the Syrian people live in fear of being arrested by massive secret police forces patrolling Syrian cities and towns. The Syrian regime seems bent on exerting its power over its own population, while at the same time, declaring that this is a fight against foreign forces and the “Zionist” enemy. Only time will tell whether Syria’s internal conflict will lead to an external conflict with Israel.
ISRAEL’S ADVANCED WEAPONS SYSTEMS
In preparation for a multiple war on multiple fronts, Israel has ordered four more batteries for its Iron Dome system, which should expand the capabilities of this counter-rocket defense system. The IDF is also hoping to receive its first battery to test the David’s Sling anti-missile defense system which is supposed to be operational by 2013. Furthermore, Israel’s defense forces plan to increase the number of interceptors for the Arrow missile defense system.
The United States continues to help Israel maintain its QME (Qualitative Military Edge), though it has delayed the development of its most advanced air system that is, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), also known as the F-35 stealth jet. Israel had hoped to use the F-35 to boost its deterrence capabilities since the jet is able to avoid enemy radar systems. Now, Israel is contemplating an upgrade of its F-15 and F-16 fighters, along with a purchase of some US Air Force F-15 jets. This will fill in the gap until the JSF is operational, perhaps by 2018.
Israel needs to make sure its naval forces are prepared for a future war, and right now, the IDF is divided on how to proceed with financial purchases for advanced operations. Most of Israel’s imports are via the Mediterranean Sea.
In May, Israel may be confronted by another large flotilla, hosted by several hostile “human rights” groups that want to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. The IDF is trying to decide if it should be deploying large ships to enforce the blockade, or smaller patrol ships to protect its coastlines. In the future, Israel hopes to purchase or build larger and more effective submarines, with second-strike capabilities, reportedly able to fit cruise missiles with nuclear warheads
A DECISIVE WIN
One desired outcome of the IDF’s multi-year military plan is to ensure that any conflict with its enemies will be short-lived, but also result in a decisive Israeli victory. Israel cannot afford a long, extended war with significant collateral damage, as IDF officers have already been unfairly accused of war crimes in defending the Jewish state. Therefore, the Israeli government is measuring its defense measures along with the desired outcome of a strong and effective deterrence.
In the future, the IDF’s conclusion of whether it won the war or not will be based on how badly its enemy was beaten, and how well it maintained quiet on its border for an extended period of time.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said that “Israel’s true defense is a combination of defensive capabilities and deterrent offensive capabilities.” But, Netanyahu knows that Israel’s capabilities are most effective if it can keep one step ahead of opposing forces. And, he is aware that deterrence against Islamic extremists is temporary, lasting only until the next round of hostilities.
During times of relative quiet on Israel’s borders, especially its border with Gaza, the IDF has to remain vigilant in training its soldiers for a future war against the Jewish State. Israel cannot afford to do otherwise, as it waits for Hamas and other terrorist groups to recover from this recent round of violence.
The only way Israel can deter Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and other terrorist forces is for the IDF to show visible strength. It also must keep up its intelligence capabilities to be able to target senior terrorist operatives. Israel cannot afford to rest, like other nations, as it prepares for the next significant battle against the Jewish homeland.
“For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.” Psalm 18:39
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.