The Threats and Challenges Facing Israel

Iranian efforts to smuggle precision weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, to deploy military bases in Syria and to place advanced weapons systems in Syria and Iraq did not stop even after a massive campaign of air strikes, attributed to Israel.

We have to practice our fear faces

In the background, one cannot ignore the political context within Israel. All the key players in the coalition negotiations – President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz – talk in gloomy tones about a real change in Israel’s security, hinting that citizens are not fully aware of the gravity of the situation.

Oct 27, 2019

Sooner or later, things will get messy. Iranian efforts to smuggle precision weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, to deploy military bases in Syria and to place advanced weapons systems in Syria and Iraq did not stop even after a massive campaign of air strikes, attributed to Israel.

Tehran has signaled on several occasions that it still has a score to settle with Israel over earlier strikes. Following the exchange of blows between the two sides in late August and early September, Iran has laid down a new equation, according to which every new Israeli attack will be met with a swift military response.

A possible conclusion is that the next round of clashes between the two sides is imminent. This could be a result of pre-emptive Israeli action against an Iranian retaliatory attack or a deliberate IDF strike against growing Iranian power in the region or the smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah.

The backdrop for all this is the growing assessment that the instability in various arenas around Israel (Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip) could last for a long time and that these arenas have an affect on each other, more than was the case in the past.

High tensions in the north could deteriorate into military strife in the south. According to military intelligence, the Hamas government is striving for stability and is concerned about a war, but Islamic Jihad is a free agent with its own considerations, unconcerned about possible damage to Gaza in case of a slide into another military confrontation.

In the background, one cannot ignore the political context within Israel. All the key players in the coalition negotiations – President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz – talk in gloomy tones about a real change in Israel’s security, hinting that citizens are not fully aware of the gravity of the situation.

Netanyahu, in a video clip he released just before handing back to Rivlin his mandate for forming a government, tried to accuse Gantz of ignoring the danger. He claimed that his rival persisted in his refusal to seriously discuss the formation of a unity government, “even though I earlier acceded to his request to meet the army chief of staff, who presented him with the array of threats and challenges facing Israel.”

Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi spoke in cooler tones in a meeting between top army brass and Netanyahu, saying that “decision making is done professionally, in a considered and judicious manner, based on what is good for Israel.” We’ll have to wait and see.

Trump’s fiasco

The rising tension between Israel and Iran is developing against the backdrop of a most significant regional development, the continued American withdrawal from the Middle East. Each week brings its tidings, mostly coming directly from the mouth of President Donald Trump.

In recent days the dimensions of the fiasco that ensued after his decision to remove his forces from the path of Turkish forces invading Kurdish areas in northeastern Syria have become apparent to everyone except his blind followers.

This move played into the hands of the Russians, the Turks, the Assad regime, the Islamic State and to some extent Iran. The Kurds were badly affected, and Israel certainly gained nothing.

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