Israel’s Military Challenges in the New Year
Israel’s Military Challenges in the New Year
By Sarah Ann Haves
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is wading through a U.S. led diplomatic process towards a comprehensive peace deal in the Middle East. America is engaged in peace overtures towards the Palestinians and moderate Arab States, offering Israeli concessions. But, so far, Palestinian and Arab leaders have not offered the kind of incentives that would move the peace process forward.
Meanwhile, Israeli leaders are hoping the American president will engage in tough diplomacy with Iran in order to stop the Persian regime from developing a nuclear bomb. Israel’s government is nervous that a lengthy diplomatic process with Iran and Arab states will overshadow other concerns…. such as the massive build-up of arms in the Middle East that threatens Israel’s qualitative edge in the region.
So while Netanyahu waits on President Obama to finish talking, Israel’s military is preparing for the next round of war with its hostile neighbors to the north and to the south of the country.
WHO ARE THE PLAYERS?
Israel’s future conflicts with its enemies will involve non-state players that have trained armies and sophisticated missiles intent on harming Israel’s home front. Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon are among those terrorist entities that continue to smuggle arms into underground tunnels, waiting for the best opportunity to engage in a military conflict with the Jewish State.
Hamas is working with Islamic extremists in Gaza, connecting with foreign agents abroad who are continually supplying aid and training to terrorist groups. Al Qaeda is known to be operating in the Gaza Strip, interested in also gaining a foothold in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).
The trend that is most disconcerting to Israeli leaders, however, involves the tactics being used to draw on the sympathies of Israeli Arab citizens living within Israel’s Jewish population centers.
THREATS INSIDE ISRAEL
Inside Israel, 20% of the population consists of Israeli Arabs. At least 3-5% of them are fully cooperating with Israel’s enemies, a growing problem not often acknowledged by the Israeli government. Hezbollah continues to try and recruit Israeli Arabs for subversion or terror activity against Israel.
Stopping terrorist groups from being able to recruit Israeli Arabs should be a national priority, according to Dr. Barak Benzur, a leading lecturer with Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center (IDC). Speaking recently at the World Summit on Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Benzur explained that greater attempts to integrate Israeli Arabs into Israeli society could be used to hamper the tactics of Israel’s enemies. Benzur called on Israel’s National Security Council to implement a new integration plan.
TRENDS TOWARDS HOLY WAR
Another worrying trend for Israel is that Arabs living in the Middle East are less interested in nationalism and more interested in identifying themselves as Moslems. Iran has encouraged this by indoctrinating Middle East Arabs into believing that the way to show their commitment as good Moslems is by joining the Holy War against Israel. The lack of stability, and increased poverty witnessed on Arab streets in the region, contributes to the enticement to join Islamic forces fighting not only Israel but also Western troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
ISRAEL’S SECURITY ISSUES
In the future, Israel faces a complex security situation. The greatest threat is from Iran, a country that is developing the ability to put nuclear payloads on ballistic missiles aimed at Israel and Europe. Syria and Hezbollah are known to be stockpiling chemical weapons to use against Israel. In addition, Israel’s home front could be faced with a missile onslaught from Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria, along with the longer-range threat from Iran. If Hamas and Hezbollah, both of whom have some territorial control, are able to develop conventional warfare methods, this could alter the balance of power in the Middle East.
Israel will not allow such a scenario to develop. The IDF will engage in pre-emptive strikes against arms shipments; conduct clandestine attacks on naval vessels carrying weapons to terrorist states; and continue to clamp down on arms dealers trying to smuggle weapons to Israel’s enemies by land and sea.
THE MISSILE WAR
According to Professor Hillel Frisch, Senior Research Fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), Israel’s ability to win future wars will depend on the resiliency of its citizen soldiers. Frisch thinks that Israel will not only be involved in more wars with Iranian proxy elements in the region, but may also be engaged in a long war with Iran, itself. “We have to make sure we have the will that equals theirs,” he said.
In the future, the patience and resolve of Israeli citizens will be tested as they run to bomb shelters when the home front is hit by a barrage of short, medium, or perhaps, long-range missiles.
Major General (Ret.) Eitan Ben Eliyahu, former Commander of the Israeli Air Force (IAF), admitted that it is not easy for citizens to endure living in underground shelters during missile attacks. “Yes, it does freeze the life. But, this is war time. If you try to look at the casualties, they are relatively minor….This is an on-going crisis; and, in-between from time to time, you have to have enough breath, and enough motivation, and deal with it for a long time.”
While the IDF assesses its ability to fight rockets, ballistic missiles and the possibility of weapons of mass destruction being used against Israel in the future, Iran’s foremost objective will be to hide behind its proxies. Using Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Middle East terrorist players to try and carry out the majority of attacks against Israel, Iran will continue to finance these terror operations. The Persian regime will attempt to inspire and encourage terrorists to strike the Jewish State, while at the same time, not look to engage in a direct war with Israel.
DOMINANCE IN INTELLIGENCE GATHERING
The greatest advantage to Israel in any future war will be the Jewish State’s ability to receive superior intelligence information. During Operation Cast Lead, the military conflict that occurred between Israel and Hamas from December 2008 to January 2009, Israel used intelligence data to target terrorists while limiting attacks on the Gaza population. Having the upper hand on intelligence information also allowed Israel’s Defense Forces (the IDF) to avoid booby traps set against Israeli soldiers in Gaza neighborhoods.
THE ENEMY’S TACTICS
Hamas has learned from Hezbollah how to bury weapons in tunnels under homes, so that Israel will not fire on terrorists without considering the lives of ordinary citizens living in the area.
Now that Israel has been falsely accused of war crimes, supposedly conducted during Operation Cast Lead, the Jewish State will be even less inclined to engage the enemy in a long war that could involve citizens caught in the cross-fire.
A NEW WAR DOCTRINE UPDATING INTERNATIONAL LAWS
What is urgently needed, are steps taken by the international community to initiate a new war doctrine with new rules of engagement. It would clearly define the new enemy Israel faces in on-going regional conflicts. This same enemy is conducting terrorist attacks on Western forces in the Middle East.
A new international war doctrine would define how best to fight terrorist entities who hide behind civilian populations. It would press rogue states, like Iran and Syria, to come into compliance with new rules for combat on the battlefield.
These updated laws would allow Israel the ability to fairly defend itself in the midst of guerilla warfare and missile wars that threaten the survival of the Jewish State.
Furthermore, a global war doctrine might discourage biased judges in international court rooms from conducting anti-Semitic campaigns against officers of the IDF. These officers will not stop being involved in military operations that defend Israel from a plethora of terrorists intent on destroying the Jewish nation.
“He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” Psalm 18:34
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting from Israel on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues affecting the nation.
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