Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

Tag: IDF


Of Course Hezbollah was Tunneling Under the Border. Why Wouldn’t It?: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, Dec. 4, 2018 — The IDF’s announcement Tuesday morning of an operation against Hezbollah attack tunnels from Lebanese territory into Israel is not necessarily a clear indication of an escalation with the Shiite terror group.

Israel’s Merkava Crowned One the World’s Deadliest Tanks: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2, 2018— Israel’s Merkava Mark IV tank has been crowned one of the five deadliest tanks in the world by the conservative American magazine the National Interest, alongside Russia’s T40 and the American M1 Abrams.

Pushing for an Israeli Victory Is the Only Way to End the Conflict with the Palestinians: Daniel Pipes, Ha’aretz, Dec. 2, 2018— From a practical political point of view, Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, and their idea to take a tougher stand toward Hamas just went down to defeat, if not humiliation.

An Ignorant ‘New York Times’ Trashes the Maccabees: Shmuley Boteach, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 3, 2018— In the latest puerile and asinine op-ed from The New York Times about Jews and Judaism, novelist Michael David Lukas seeks to dampen the joyous energy of the festival of Hanukkah by adding a bummer liberal twist.

On Topic Links

Israel Launches Operation on Lebanon Border to Destroy Hezbollah Attack Tunnels: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Dec. 4, 2018

Hizbullah’s Operational Plan to Invade the Galilee through Underground Tunnels: Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, JCPA, Dec. 4, 2018

Israel Must Reevaluate Its Policy of Nuclear Ambiguity: Prof. Louis René Beres, BESA, Dec. 2, 2018

President Rivlin’s First Light of Hanuka with Haredi Soldiers: David Israel, Jewish Press, Dec. 2, 2018



UNDER THE BORDER. WHY WOULDN’T IT?                           

Avi Issacharoff                                                                                         

Times of Israel, Dec. 4, 2018

The IDF’s announcement Tuesday morning of an operation against Hezbollah attack tunnels from Lebanese territory into Israel is not necessarily a clear indication of an escalation with the Shiite terror group. Except that an examination of the breadth of regional developments, including these tunnels and in particular Hezbollah’s Iran-backed factories for precision rockets, prompts a worrying conclusion: The next war between Israel and Hezbollah is already at the door.

Hezbollah, in the wake of the dwindling civil war in Syria, is a stronger organization than it was before the violence erupted there seven years ago. True, it suffered major losses, with about 2,000 of its fighters killed and four times that number wounded, as it battled against rebels on behalf of the Assad regime. But on the battlefield, Israel is now facing a more dangerous enemy, trained and practiced from a prolonged ground war.

The Lebanon-based terror group has began rehabilitating its abilities against Israel in a number of ways. First, in rocketry. Hezbollah had a vast number of rockets before the Syrian civil war erupted, although most of them were not accurate. Now, under Iranian guidance in Syria and Lebanon, it is working to change that.

The factories for producing accurate missiles that Hezbollah is working to establish, with the assistance of Iran’s Republican Guards Corps, will give the Shiite terror organization impressive capabilities to damage Israeli infrastructure, both military and civilian — the kind of damage that will make the 2006 conflict, when it last battled Israel and rained down rockets on the north of the country, look like a walk in the park.

At the same time, Hezbollah is busy enlisting fresh fighters, training them, and equipping them with Iranian weapons and money. In addition, the organization is engaged in setting up a military infrastructure on the Syrian Golan Heights, under the noses of, and with the agreement of, Syrian authorities, yet ignored by Russia. In 2015, Israel allegedly hit Hezbollah senior commander Jihad Mughniyah, who was leading that project; apparently one of his brothers has taken over.

It now becomes clear that Hezbollah’s preparations for a land operation against Israeli, within the framework of the next war, did not cease even for a moment. The goal is not just directing heavy rocket fire at Israel but also attempting to take control of Israeli communities — scenarios that Hezbollah chiefs have called “conquering the Galilee.”

Like many others, I had heard endless explanations from senior and not-so-senior IDF officers that Hezbollah has no interest in tunnels because of the cost and difficulty of digging them in the northern terrain. The limestone bedrock is completely different from the sandy soil of the Gaza Strip, where the Hamas terror group has tunneled for years. It was also asserted that a ground operation launched under the cover of darkness, in the forested areas of the north, would be more effective and efficient than investing in tunnels. Residents in the north were told the same things by the IDF.

Yet Hezbollah plainly thought differently. With the wisdom of hindsight, it is hard to understand why it wouldn’t do just what it evidently has been doing. In the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the IDF discovered that the “nature reserves” Hezbollah had set up on the northern border included a network of tunnels, carved out in that difficult hilly territory — drilled through the limestone bedrock. Therefore, it was eminently reasonable to imagine that Hezbollah would try to build attack tunnels into Israel.

Another relevant factor here is the departure of the Islamic State jihadist group from the Middle East arena, which has given Hezbollah more energy, resources, and motivation for a renewed confrontation with Israel. The extremist Sunni threat of IS has been almost completely wiped out; now it is possible to focus on efforts to harm Israel, under the close guidance of Iran. Hezbollah has taken over Lebanon and does whatever it wants there. Israeli threats to hit Lebanese infrastructure have made little impression on the group. It exists solely to serve its masters in Tehran.

A final point for consideration is that the IDF effort to uncover and counter the Hezbollah tunnels is not a military “operation” on the Lebanese home front. It is also not a daring commando raid. Rather, this is an engineering operation. True, it has the potential for escalation, but there does not seem to be a reason to worry about a war just because of an operation inside Israeli territory.

Which brings me, finally, to the Gaza Strip. Even the imperative for the work at the northern border by the IDF’s engineering corps and other units does not constitute a real reason to allow the transfer of money — $15 million to be exact, in Qatari cash, every month — to the Hamas coffers, as was apparently agreed after last month’s clashes between Israel and Hamas. With that policy, Israel is buying not quiet but the next escalation. Not from the north, but from the south.




Anna Ahronheim

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2, 2018

Israel’s Merkava Mark IV tank has been crowned one of the five deadliest tanks in the world by the conservative American magazine the National Interest, alongside Russia’s T40 and the American M1 Abrams. Conceived by Maj.-Gen. Israel Tal following the Yom Kippur War, the Merkava is the IDF’s first indigenous main battle tank. The first Merkava I entered service in 1978 and saw its premiere action in the First Lebanon War in 1982.

The Merkava is also one of the first armored vehicles to be equipped with the Trophy Active Protection System (APS), the only fully operational and combat-proven APS against anti-tank guided missiles in the world. “Combined with a tiny general population in which even minor personnel losses were felt across society, the Israeli military envisioned a tank which prioritized defensive capabilities and firepower above all else,” read the report, stating that “the construction of an entirely new class of main battle tank by Israel, a tiny country, is certainly a major achievement.”

Praising the Merkava’s hybrid modular armor, the National Interest said the tank has “excellent protection” with its turret and frontal hull area “sharply faceted to present maximum armored protection at all angles, giving the turret a knife-like edge.” The Trophy system, developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta Group, was praised by the National Interest as being one of the most important aspects of the Merkava.

Designed to detect and neutralize incoming projectiles, the Trophy system has four radar antennas and fire-control radars to track incoming threats such as anti-tank-guided-missiles (ATGMs), and rocket propelled grenades. Once a projectile is detected, the Trophy system fires a shotgun-type blast to neutralize the threat.

The Trophy has been installed on the Merkava tanks since 2009 and received its “baptism by fire” on March 1, 2011. In that incident it neutralized an RPG anti-tank rocket which had been fired from a short range toward an IDF Merkava Mark-IV tank close to the border with the Gaza Strip. The system has since proved its efficacy in several operations, especially during Operation Protective Edge, when IDF tanks were able to operate in the Gaza Strip without suffering any losses.

The Trophy system has not only been installed on the IDF’s Namer heavy infantry fighting vehicle and the new Eitan armored personnel carrier. In June, the US Army awarded a contract worth close to $200 million for the system to shield its Abrams tanks “in support of immediate operational requirements.” A new and lightweight version of the system neutralized more than 95% of munitions fired at it in tests conducted this summer ahead of testing for the US Army’s Stryker armored vehicle.

Israel has built more than 2,000 Merkavas and is currently developing the latest generation of the tank, the Merkava IV Barak, which is expected to be ready for trial runs by the IDF in 2020.

The new Merkava 4 Barak tank is designed as a “smart tank” with dozens of sensors and a task computer, which will present all information to both the crew inside the tank as well as the other tanks and vehicles present in the field.

The new tank’s computer-controlled fire control system will also be able to acquire and lock onto moving targets, including airborne platforms, while the tank itself is moving. The sensors, along with a 360-degree camera fitted outside the tank, will also allow troops to remain in the tank at all times and a new smart helmet designed by Elbit Systems will allow the commander of the tank to see exactly what is outside the tank, such as approaching terrorists or other threats.





Daniel Pipes     

Ha’aretz, Dec. 2, 2018

From a practical political point of view, Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, and their idea to take a tougher stand toward Hamas just went down to defeat, if not humiliation. That’s because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again showed his political skills; the first is now ex-defense minister, the second failed to become defense minister.

From a longer-term point of view, however, the duo raised an issue that for decades had not been part of the Israeli political discourse but, due to their efforts, promises to be an important factor in the future: that would be the concept of victory, of an Israeli victory over Hamas and, by extension, over the Palestinian Authority and Palestinians in general.

Victory – defined as imposing one’s will on the enemy so he gives up his war goals – has been the objective of philosophers, strategists, and generals through human history. Aristotle wrote that “Victory is the end of generalship.” Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian theorist, concurred: “The aim of war should be the defeat of the enemy.” Gen. James Mattis, the U.S. secretary of defense, finds that “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over.”

Palestinians routinely speak of achieving victory over Israel, even when this is fantastical: to cite one example, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas called his Hamas counterpart, Ismail Haniyeh, after eight days of violence with Israel that left Gaza badly battered in November 2012 to “congratulate him on the victory and extend condolences to the families of martyrs.”

Contrarily, in Israel, the notion of victory has been sidelined since at least the Oslo Accords of 1993, after which its leaders instead focused on such concepts as compromise, conciliation, confidence-building, flexibility, goodwill, mediation, and restraint. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert immemorially articulated this attitude in 2007 when he stated that “Peace is achieved through concessions.”

This perverse understanding of how wars end led Israel to make extraordinary blunders in the fifteen years after Oslo, for which it was punished by unremitting campaigns of delegitimization and violence, symbolized, respectively, by the Durban conference of 2001 and the Passover Massacre of 2002.

Such nonsense ended during Netanyahu’s near-decade-long term as prime minister, but it has not yet been replaced by a sturdy vision of victory. Rather, Netanyahu has put out brush fires as they arose in Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Syria, and Lebanon. While agreeing with the concept of an Israeli victory when personally briefed, he has not spoken publicly about it.

Meanwhile, other leading figures in Israel have adopted this outlook. Former deputy chief of staff Uzi Dayan called on the army “to return to the path of victory.” Former education and interior minister Gideon Sa’ar has stated that “The ‘victory paradigm,’ like Jabotinsky’s ‘Iron Wall’ concept, assumes that an agreement may be possible in the future, but only after a clear and decisive Israeli victory … The transition to the ‘victory paradigm’ is contingent upon abandoning the Oslo concept.”

In this context, the statements by Lieberman and Bennett point to a change in thinking. Lieberman quit his position as defense minister out of frustration that a barrage by Hamas of 460 rockets and missiles against Israel was met with a ceasefire; he called instead for “a state of despair” to be imposed on the enemies of Israel. Complaining that “Israel stopped winning,” Bennett demanded that the IDF “start winning again,” and added that “When Israel wants to win, we can win.” On rescinding his demand for the defense portfolio, Bennett emphasized that he stands ‎by Netanyahu “in the monumental task of ensuring that Israel is victorious ‎again.”

Opponents of this paradigm then amusingly testified to the power of this idea of victory. Ma’ariv columnist Revital Amiran wrote that the victory the Israeli public most wants lies in such arenas as larger allocations for the elderly and unbearable traffic jams. Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg, replied to Bennett that for her, a victorious Israel means winning Emmy and Oscar nominations, guaranteeing equal health services, and spending more on education.

That victory and defeat have newly become a topic for debate in Israel constitutes a major step forward. As media figure Ayalet Mitsch correctly notes, “even left-leaning Israelis think it’s time to win again.” Thus does the push for an Israeli victory move forward.




Shmuley Boteach

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 3, 2018

In the latest puerile and asinine op-ed from The New York Times about Jews and Judaism, novelist Michael David Lukas seeks to dampen the joyous energy of the festival of Hanukkah by adding a bummer liberal twist. In Hanukkah, he claims, we are celebrating the defeat of the pallbearers of Western culture at the hands of intolerant fundamentalist guerrillas. The Maccabees, he essentially argues, were a bunch of rightwing nuts. It’s just an “eight-night-long celebration of religious fundamentalism and violence” he declares, one based not on doughnuts or menorahs, but on “subjugating assimilated Jews.”

Lukas isn’t the first to make this silly claim. A columnist for The Forward, just a few years ago, took it upon herself to sentence the Maccabees to the “wrong side of history.” The Washington Post listed “Hanukkah celebrates a fight for religious freedom” as one of its five Hanukkah myths. Those who make this argument seem to draw an implicit parallel between the Maccabees and the “other” fundamentalist death cults we see across the world today claiming divine commission to combat Western culture. They’re also parroting a theory that is according to both the Jewish and secular historical traditions, overwhelmingly baseless.

The Hasmonean revolt was not a fundamentalist- religious movement sworn to the destruction of liberal Western ideologies. It was, instead, a popular campaign to safeguard the freedom of a people to freely practice their faith and traditions regardless of the whims of an emperor. Unlike fundamentalist terrorist groups, which are born from intolerance of other faiths, the Maccabees fought to end the Greek intolerance of theirs. Moreover, the Maccabees did not wage war against a mostly benevolent superpower encouraging religious, political and cultural reforms. Their mission, rather, was to stymie the very deadly plans of a megalomaniacal, absolutist dictator who drew no limits on the level of oppression and exploitation he would thrust upon the powerless citizens of a tiny client-state.

BEFORE WE begin to explore the depth and depravity of Antiochus’ crimes, we must first establish the crucial fact that they represented a stunning departure from Hellenistic imperial norms. Crucial, because it proves that the Jews did not revolt against Hellenistic culture – which, by the time of the revolt in 167 BCE, had been around for at least six decades – but against a king who sought to enforce that culture both to the exclusion of all others and at the pain of death. In other words, the Maccabees revolted against a tyrant who sought to destroy Judaism.

After all, from the moment Hellenistic kings conquered ancient Israel, they brought their ideologies with them. That never seemed to bother the rabbinic Jewish leadership. On the contrary, the Jewish high priest Simon the Great – probably a New York Times-certified “extremist,” considering the rabbis of the Talmud laud him – offered the warmest imaginable welcome to Alexander the Great during the first Greek foray into Israel.

During that campaign, the kingdoms of Gaza, Tyre and Sidon waged futile battles to keep Alexander and his culture far out of their homelands. When he came to Jerusalem, however, Jewish tradition teaches that the Jewish High Priest Simon left the city to greet the Macedonian king. There, he begged that Alexander spare the Temple, which he described as a “house in which we pray for you and for your kingdom not to be destroyed.” This stunning symbol of Jewish-Hellenistic cooperation has been preserved not in the books of Hellenized Jews, but in the Pharisaic, rabbinically authored Babylonian Talmud (Yoma, 69a.) While this story stands in stark contrast to the narrative told by The New York Times and Lukas, it seems all but natural, once you accept that, for the Jews of ancient Israel, the existence of competing ideologies in their native homeland just wasn’t an issue. After Alexander’s death, and the division of his empire into Seleucid Syria, Ptolemaic Egypt, and Antigonid Greece, religious tolerance became a central tenet of Hellenistic rule in general, and of the Seleucids in particular.

According to the great Jewish historian Josephus, when King Ptolemy IV gained control over Jerusalem after the battle of Raphia in 217 BCE, he paid homage to his new Jewish subjects by offering sacrifices to their God in the Temple. Even when after flaunted Jewish cultural norms by forcing his way into the Holy of Holies, he elicited a moderate response from what appears to have been a moderate Jewish community…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Chag Sameach!



On Topic Links

Israel Launches Operation on Lebanon Border to Destroy Hezbollah Attack Tunnels: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Dec. 4, 2018—The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday launched an operation to destroy a number of cross-border attack tunnels that it says were dug by the Iran-backed Hezbollah group into northern Israel from Lebanon.

Hizbullah’s Operational Plan to Invade the Galilee through Underground Tunnels: Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, JCPA, Dec. 4, 2018 —One of the main lessons Hizbullah learned from the Second Lebanon War in 2006 was the necessity of changing the aims of its next war with Israel. The new goals included building up its defensive capabilities and developing methods of attack that would allow Hizbullah to fight the war within Israeli territory.

Israel Must Reevaluate Its Policy of Nuclear Ambiguity: Prof. Louis René Beres, BESA, Dec. 2, 2018—Given the upheavals cascading throughout the Middle East since 2011, Israel now faces a unique dilemma.

President Rivlin’s First Light of Hanuka with Haredi Soldiers: David Israel, Jewish Press, Dec. 2, 2018—President Reuven Rivlin lit the first candle of Hanuka Sunday evening, with soldiers from the IDF Haredi Tomer battalion of the Givati Brigade, the Hetz company of the Paratroops Brigade and the Netzah Yisrael battalion of the Kfir Brigade.


IDF Opens Probes into Gaza Special Ops Raid that Went Awry: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Nov. 27, 2018 — The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday announced it was launching two separate investigations into an operation that went awry in the Gaza Strip earlier this month…

Israel’s Next Northern War: Operational and Legal Challenges: Michael Hostage & Geoffrey Corn, Real Clear Defense, Nov. 3, 2018 — Hezbollah has threatened Israel’s northern border for decades.

Why Japan is Building its Military, Fast: David J. Bercuson, National Post, Nov. 6, 2018— With 18 diesel electric submarines, four so-called “helicopter destroyers” that look suspiciously like small aircraft carriers, 43 destroyers and destroyer escorts, 25 minesweepers and training ships, fleet oilers, submarine rescue ships and other vessels, Japan’s navy…

The INF Treaty Hamstrings the U.S. Trump is Right to Leave It.: Elbridge Colby, Washington Post, Oct. 23— The Trump administration has announced that it plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987.

On Topic Links

Israeli Air Force Holds First-Ever Combat Rescue Drill With Six Other Forces: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, Nov. 26, 2018

Looking at the Gaza Strip: From Short Term to Long Term: Kim Lavi, Udi Dekel, INSS, Nov. 20, 2018

Hezbollah Firepower Exceeds 95% of World’s Conventional Armies, Report Says: Sean Savage, JNS, Nov. 9, 2018

In the Middle East, You Win With Fear: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Nov. 13, 2018



SPECIAL OPS RAID THAT WENT AWRY                                                                 

Judah Ari Gross                                                                                                  

Times of Israel, Nov. 27, 2018

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday announced it was launching two separate investigations into an operation that went awry in the Gaza Strip earlier this month in which special forces soldiers were exposed by Hamas operatives, leading to a firefight in which one Israeli officer and seven Palestinian gunmen were killed. In response to the raid and the deaths of its men, the terror group launched a massive three-day attack on Israel, along with other terror groups in the Strip, firing some 500 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli cities and towns near the Gaza border and leading Israel to the brink of war.

On the night of November 11, Israeli special forces soldiers entered the Gaza Strip on an intelligence-gathering raid, the details of which remain under a strict gag order by the military censor. According to Hamas officials, the Israeli soldiers were from the Sayeret Matkal elite reconnaissance unit and entered the coastal enclave through a proper border crossing, either Israel’s Erez Crossing or Egypt’s Rafah. They were said to have been driving through Gaza in civilian vans, approximately three kilometers (two miles) from the border. Israel has not confirmed any of the claims.

During the mission, the unit was stopped and searched at a Hamas checkpoint, and were initially believed to be Palestinian criminals, according to recordings of the terror group’s radio chatter, transcripts of which were published by Hadashot news. At a certain point, the Israeli troops opened fire on the Hamas gunmen, prompting a gun battle. An Israeli lieutenant colonel — who can only be identified by the first Hebrew letter of his name, “Mem” — was killed and another officer, who went back to recover Mem’s body, was wounded. The special forces unit beat a rapid retreat from the coastal enclave, calling in airstrikes for cover and a helicopter evacuation from the elite search-and-rescue Unit 669.

According to the army, one investigation will be conducted within Military Intelligence. The findings will be presented to the head of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Tamir Hyman and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. The military said an initial probe was expected to be completed within the coming weeks. In addition, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon — the former head of IDF Operations — was also charged with a wider investigation into how the army conducts such raids. Alon was instructed to lead a team to “examine and study the challenges and [make] recommendations at the level of the General Staff, of multiple army branches and of the inter-organizational cooperation between different special forces,” the army said.

The Hamas terror group is conducting its own investigation into the Israeli raid. Last week, Hamas published photographs of eight people that it says were involved in the raid. The photographs were distributed on social media along with the email address and two phone numbers of the terror group’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in order to allow people to provide information about the operation. The phone numbers stopped working later in the day.

Pictures of the two cars allegedly used by the Israeli special forces soldiers during the raid were also published. Though freely available on the internet, the photographs could not be published by Israeli media by order of the military censor. The censor approved the publication of the pixelated photograph used in this article.

In a highly irregular public statement, the censor also called on Israelis not to share any information they have about the raid, even if they think it benign. “Hamas is working now to interpret and understand the event that occurred within Gaza on November 11, and every piece of information, even if it is considered by the publisher as harmless, is liable to endanger human lives and damage the security of the state,” the censor said. Hamas officials are said to view the gun battle as a failure, because their primary goal — according to a Hadashot news report — was to capture the IDF soldiers who had placed themselves so near Hamas’s grasp.





Michael Hostage & Geoffrey Corn

Real Clear Defense, Nov. 3, 2018

Hezbollah has threatened Israel’s northern border for decades. Today, however, the nature of this threat has become dire, and the risks of escalation real, as Iran continues supplying Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon with game-changing weapons to devastate the Israeli homeland.

When the next conflict erupts between Israel and Hezbollah, its scale and intensity will bear little resemblance to those of recent memory. Hezbollah today is highly competent, adaptable and lethal. Its forces have gained invaluable battlefield experience in Syria and amassed more weaponry than 95 percent of the world’s conventional militaries, including at least 120,000 rockets and missiles. This is more than all of Europe’s NATO members combined, and ten times as many as when it last went to war with Israel in 2006.

Especially troubling is Hezbollah’s growing arsenal of powerful long-range precision missiles capable of striking targets throughout Israel. Unlike in recent conflicts, Israel’s missile defenses will be incapable of shielding the nation from such a threat. From the outset of conflict, Hezbollah will be able to sustain a launch rate of more than 3,000 missiles per day – as many as Israel faced in the entire 34-day conflict in 2006.

Despite this quantum leap in its capabilities, Hezbollah is under no illusion about its ability to inflict military defeat on Israel. It will not seek victory in the valleys of Lebanon or the skies over Israel, but in the court of public opinion. To do so, it will use combat operations to lay the groundwork for an information campaign delegitimizing Israel. Two tactics will be central to Hezbollah’s efforts: first, deliberately attacking Israeli civilian population centers to compel an aggressive response by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF); second, illegally exploiting the presence of Lebanese civilians to shield itself from IDF attack.

Hezbollah will then manipulate the inevitable casualties by relying on widespread misperceptions about the true nature of combat operations and how international law (the law of armed conflict, or LOAC) regulates such operations. It will use the inevitable images of civilian suffering in Lebanon to portray Israel’s lawful operations as immoral and illegal. By weaponizing information and the law, Hezbollah will seek to force Israel to halt its self-defense campaign before the IDF can achieve decisive victory.

This is the increasingly prevalent face of hybrid warfare, where law-abiding militaries confront non-state actors like Hezbollah who blend robust combat capabilities and unlawful tactics with sophisticated information operations. This difficult reality is highlighted in a new report by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s (JINSA) Hybrid Warfare Task Force, which examines the significant operational and legal challenges Israel will confront when it is compelled to engage Hezbollah and potentially other regional adversaries including Iran.

A key finding is that Hezbollah’s intentional emplacement of rockets, missiles and other vital military assets in villages and cities throughout Lebanon will increase risks to innocent civilians. To gain strategic advantage, Hezbollah will exploit the common – but erroneous – assumption that Israel, by virtue of attacking these sites, must be acting unlawfully, even when the unfortunate effects of these attacks are rendered unavoidable by Hezbollah’s deliberate and illegal use of human shields. This dilemma for Israel is further complicated by our expectation that the IDF will be compelled to undertake large-scale, aggressive operations to neutralize as much of Hezbollah’s rocket threat as possible before it is ever employed.

This will include ground operations deep into Lebanon. In addition to their sheer scale, the nature of such operations in towns and villages will magnify the likelihood of collateral damage and civilian casualties. This will also make it much more difficult for the IDF to utilize the extensive and often innovative measures to mitigate risks to civilians that have been commonplace during more limited operations – for example, warnings and providing civilians time to evacuate before an attack.

Despite these challenges, our task force found an IDF fully committed to compliance with the LOAC, knowing full well Hezbollah seeks to exploit this very same commitment. We worry, however, that the nature of a major combined arms operation will contribute to the operational and legal misperceptions that are so adeptly exploited by enemies like Hezbollah, resulting in false condemnation of Israel from the international public, media and many states.

How this story plays out for Israel will have reverberating effects for other professional militaries, including our own. Unless the challenges of such operations become more widely understood, with more credible assessments of legality, morality and legitimacy, others will be incentivized to replicate Hezbollah’s perverse tactics.

Ultimately, this requires a greater appreciation of the realities of combat against hybrid adversaries. It also requires a greater appreciation for how the LOAC strikes a rational balance between civilian protection and military effectiveness. Nowhere will these considerations be more apparent – and more consequential – than in Israel’s next conflict with Hezbollah.




WHY JAPAN IS BUILDING ITS MILITARY, FAST                                                                 

David J. Bercuson

National Post, Nov. 6, 2018

With 18 diesel electric submarines, four so-called “helicopter destroyers” that look suspiciously like small aircraft carriers, 43 destroyers and destroyer escorts, 25 minesweepers and training ships, fleet oilers, submarine rescue ships and other vessels, Japan’s navy — the Maritime Self-Defense Force — is the second largest in Asia and one of the largest in the world. It is also highly advanced technologically and is growing all the time. The two 27,000 ton Izumo-class helicopter destroyers, the largest in the fleet, with flat flight decks and islands on the starboard side of the vessels, are small compared to the United States Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carriers (approximately 100,000 tons) or Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers (65,000 tons). But if equipped with the new short-take-off-and-vertical-landing F-35B stealth fighter they will still pack a powerful punch. And Japan is considering adding more of these aircraft carriers to its fleet and advanced U.S.-style Aegis class destroyers, capable of shooting down medium-range ballistic missiles.

The irony in all of this is that Japan’s post Second World War constitution still contains a provision — Article 9 — that prohibits it from possessing any offensive military capability. In the early 1950s, Japan began to build its self-defence forces and now has a powerful navy, a modern medium-sized air force that will soon fly the F-35 along with specially built F-15s, alongside more than 300 fighter aircraft and 50,000 personnel, and a growing land army and marine sea landing capability.

Are these military assets “defensive” in nature? Partly, but aircraft carriers, high-speed destroyers, modern fighter aircraft and assault ships are surely as offensive as they are defensive. And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made it plain that in less than two years, he intends to seek to change the Japanese constitution to drastically curtail any obligation Japan has to maintain a purely defensive capability. In other words, he will ask the Japanese people and legislature to bless what Japan has already done. That could be more problematic than people realize.

Like Germany, Japan suffered greatly in the Second World War. Virtually all its great cities were levelled either with atomic bombs (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) or fire raids that were carried out by giant B-29 bombers at low altitude at night. The attacks burned the heart out of Japan’s cities. In March 1945, 100,000 people were killed in one night in a fire raid on Tokyo and many acres of the city were burned to the ground. Submarine blockades of Japan drastically curtailed food and fuel supplies. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers were killed either in the United States’ march across the Pacific or in the Russian invasion of Manchuria near the end of the war. Japan was a prostrate nation by the end of 1945 and its ancient system of government was a shambles.

The result of this terrible defeat was the rise of pacifist thinking throughout Japan. Having suffered from military defeat, few Japanese were interested any longer in military adventurism. At the same time democracy took root under the American occupation of Japan. To give but one example, although women still endure many disadvantages in Japan — as they do here also — the Americans forced the Japanese to accept women as fully equal in civil rights and political authority. Japanese industry re-grew and although Japan is no longer the second largest economy in the world — it was recently surpassed by China — it is still a highly technologically advanced economy turning out everything from advanced motor vehicles to high-quality TV sets and computers. Prime Minister Abe is a strong supporter of free trade as are most of the political hierarchy of Japan.

Why then would the Japanese people support a militarization of their country? We need look no further than the bellicose growth of Chinese nationalism and the recent moves by the Chinese to dominate the South and East China Seas in the way that the United States dominates the Caribbean. The Chinese have made no secret of their ambition with the creation of artificial islands that now host air bases, anti-aircraft missiles, and Chinese “coast guard” vessels that though mostly painted white (as coast guard vessels generally are), mount naval-style guns on their foredecks.

Japan is heavily dependent on sea transport, especially for fuel oil and natural gas, that comes from the Middle East via the Strait of Malacca and the Formosa Strait. With the U.S. under President Donald Trump adopting an increasing isolationist tone, Japan, like Australia and other nations in the region, will have to put more assets into their own defence.



THE INF TREATY HAMSTRINGS THE U.S. TRUMP IS RIGHT TO LEAVE IT.          Elbridge Colby                       

Washington Post, Oct. 23

The Trump administration has announced that it plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987. This treaty banned the United States and Russia from possessing any ground-launched ballistic and cruise missile systems with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles). The administration’s decision is sure to elicit a cacophony of criticism, but the truth is that the United States should no longer tolerate the INF status quo. The reasons basically boil down to two: Russia appears unwilling to give up the systems that violate INF (meaning INF is essentially a dead letter), and, more important, the United States no longer benefits from a ban on ground-based intermediate-range systems — but because of China, not Russia.

This is not to downplay the importance of INF. The treaty played a major role in enabling and locking in the diminution of tensions that ended the Cold War. In particular, it eliminated all of the Soviet Union’s SS-20 intermediate-range missiles, which posed a particularly pressing threat to NATO’s defenses in the 1970s and 1980s.

This was all well and to the good. But today is another day. Russia is no longer abiding by the treaty, and Moscow gives no indication of being open to coming back into compliance. The treaty has therefore become a one-way arrangement: The United States is abiding by it, but Russia is not.

This would not by itself be a compelling argument for withdrawal, because the United States does not require INF-restricted systems for effective deterrence and defense in Europe, and staying in the treaty highlights Russia’s perfidy. The United States and its NATO allies must take steps to improve their defense posture against Russia, but noncompliant systems are not necessary to do this. Since the Russian threat is more modest in scale than the Soviet one was, the United States could meet the need by investing in better penetrating strike aircraft and munitions, sea- and undersea-launched missiles, improved ground-based fires, more resilient basing, better logistics, more effective and affordable air and missile defense, and the like.

Rather, the most compelling reason for withdrawal is that the United States could materially improve the military balance against China in East Asia by developing and deploying INF-noncompliant systems. China poses a much larger and more sophisticated long-term military threat than Russia, and U.S. strike options are more constrained by the geography of the Pacific. Washington would benefit from having the ability to deploy survivable land-based ballistic and cruise missile systems to provide a larger, more diverse and resilient greater strike capability in the event of a conflict in the western Pacific.

The United States is currently complying with a treaty unilaterally and suffering for it — albeit in a different theater. It was worth spending several years trying to bring Russia back in compliance, but that course has clearly failed. Now is as good a time as any to adapt our arms-control architecture to our strategic needs. Many will argue that leaving the INF treaty is tantamount to tearing down the late-Cold War arms-control architecture, thus bringing the world to the nuclear brink. But such statements are gross exaggerations. First, INF did not need to be a disarmament treaty; most arms control treaties involve ceilings rather than bans, as well as transparency and inspections. There is nothing inherently destabilizing about INF systems. In reality, it was likely that then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev simply wanted to reduce the economic burden imposed by the Soviet military, and getting rid of INF systems was a convenient way to do that.

Second, if anyone should be calling for withdrawal, it should be the disarmament community. For those who look at arms control as a useful strategic tool but not a panacea, violations are important but not existential, because resting a nation’s security on arms control would be foolhardy in the first place. It is disarmers who argue that we should put our faith in treaties — but if there is no consequence for violating them, what hope is there for disarmament?

All that this means, however, is that there is a middle course open. Russia clearly believes it needs INF systems, and the United States could benefit from them in Asia. A revised INF that regionalized the treaty and replaced the ban with ceilings and transparency measures, as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty does with strategic systems, is therefore a natural area of potential agreement. Ending up there could make sense for all parties.


On Topic Links

Israeli Air Force Holds First-Ever Combat Rescue Drill With Six Other Forces: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, Nov. 26, 2018—In the first international drill of its kind, the Israeli Air Force hosted six foreign air forces for an helicopter combat search-and-rescue drill in November.

Looking at the Gaza Strip: From Short Term to Long Term: Kim Lavi, Udi Dekel, INSS, Nov. 20, 2018—In the most recent escalation between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the message conveyed by both parties was that they are not interested in paying the price of a war that will ultimately return them to square one.

Hezbollah Firepower Exceeds 95% of World’s Conventional Armies, Report Says: Sean Savage, JNS, Nov. 9, 2018—Israel and Hezbollah have been adversaries for decades now, dating back to the Jewish state’s involvement in the Lebanese civil war.

In the Middle East, You Win With Fear: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Nov. 13, 2018—The past six months have brought us violent demonstrations along the Gaza Strip border, cross-border infiltrations, rocket fire and incendiary kites and balloons. This means that a so-called “agreement” or truce is not a viable option.


Why Israel Let Hamas Win: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 15, 2018— Israel’s security cabinet’s decision Tuesday afternoon to walk away from the war Hamas initiated Monday and to accept a “ceasefire” is frustrating and infuriating.

Praising Netanyahu’s Caution: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Nov. 15, 2018 — People demonstrated in the streets of Sderot on Tuesday, and who could blame them?

In the Middle East, You Win With Fear: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Nov. 13, 2018 — The past six months have brought us violent demonstrations along the Gaza Strip border, cross-border infiltrations, rocket fire and incendiary kites and balloons.

A Rude Awakening for the Palestinian Dream: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 7, 2018— When something is built on an unstable foundation, it is only natural for its long term survival to be at risk.

On Topic Links

Israel Heads Toward Elections as Jewish Home Says it Will Leave Coalition: Raoul Wootliff, Times of Israel, Nov. 16, 2018

Netanyahu Showed Why He Is ‘King Bibi’ By Agreeing To Gaza Cease-fire: Charles Bybelezer, Media Line, Nov. 15, 2018

Barring a Miracle, War with Gaza is a Matter of When, Not If: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Nov. 13, 2018 Restore Deterrence in Gaza Now: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2018



Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 15, 2018

Israel’s security cabinet’s decision Tuesday afternoon to walk away from the war Hamas initiated Monday and to accept a “ceasefire” is frustrating and infuriating. Hamas shot nearly 500 projectiles into Israel in under 24 hours. It blew up a bus with a Kornet anti-tank missile. Sixty Israelis were wounded, several critically. One civilian was killed. Numerous homes were destroyed.

Israel has never experienced any rocket onslaught from Gaza remotely as intense as what Hamas and Islamic Jihad shot off on Monday and Tuesday. And yet, rather than respond with equal – or better yet – far greater force and teach Hamas and Islamic Jihad a lesson they would long remember, the security cabinet sufficed with a couple hundred pinpoint air attacks, and then accepted the IDF’s advice and opted for the ceasefire. In so doing, they left the residents of southern Israel virtual hostages of Hamas and Islamic Jihad who have retained the capacity to attack them at will.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s sudden resignation on Wednesday may help his little party Yisrael Beitenu get reelected to Knesset in the next elections. But if it does, then Liberman will have won his political survival at Israel’s expense. Hamas is entirely justified in presenting Liberman’s resignation as proof that it defeated Israel this week.

Winners don’t quit. Losers do. But beyond being frustrating and infuriating, the cabinet’s decision is a cause for deep concern. Why did the cabinet opt to stand down in the face of Hamas’s unprecedented onslaught? Leaving concerns about the prospect of war in the north with Iran, Hezbollah and Syria out of the picture for a moment, there are on the face of things, two basic explanations for the cabinet’s decision. First, maybe the WhatsApp jokes making the rounds are right. Maybe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers are a bunch of stupid chickens. Liberman effectively accused them of stupidity and cowardice at his press conference Tuesday afternoon when he announced his resignation.

But there is no evidence that Netanyahu is stupid. To the contrary. As for fear, there is ample evidence that if he and his ministers were fearful, they have good reason to be deeply worried. This brings us to the second and more realistic reason to view the cabinet’s decision to stand down in the face of Hamas’s aggression as a bright red warning light. The source of that concern is the IDF’s General Staff.

Israel does not seek to overthrow the Hamas regime in Gaza. And for good reason. The price of a war to overthrow Hamas would be exorbitant both in terms of the human and monetary cost of war. And the return would be dubious at best. Israel doesn’t have an army big enough to spare three divisions to control a post-Hamas Gaza. The other option often touted by the far Left is that Israel pay the price of overthrowing Hamas and then hand Gaza over to the PLO. The PLO, though, is no less hostile than Hamas. Israel has no interest whatsoever in empowering the PLO by giving it Gaza.

Given the absence of a better alternative to Hamas in Gaza, rather than work to overthrow the terror regime, Israel has focused its efforts on keeping Hamas as weak as possible. And so, since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, Israel’s effective strategy for dealing with the terror regime can be equated to mowing the grass. Every time Hamas becomes too powerful, Israel finds itself in another round of war with it. The purpose of Israel’s operations is to cut Hamas down to size and walk away, until the next round of war.

But this week, Hamas made clear that Israel needs to mow it down. A terror regime capable of sending 500 projectiles into Israeli territory in less than 24 hours and destroying a bus with an anti-tank missile is a terror regime that has become too powerful. So why didn’t the cabinet order the IDF to mow the grass in Gaza? Why didn’t our leaders order the IDF to kill Hamas commanders Yahye Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh? Why didn’t they order the IDF to destroy the rocket launchers and the crews that operate them? Why didn’t they order the IDF to destroy Hamas’s bases and missile depots? There are two possible explanations for their decision not to give these orders. Taken separately and together they point to an acute problem with the IDF’s senior ranks that requires immediate attention.

One explanation has been highlighted by retired senior IDF commanders and Yediot Aharonot’s military commentator Yossi Yehoshua. This explanation argues that the cabinet decision to stand down on Tuesday owed to the General Staff’s refusal to take the actions necessary to cut Hamas down to size. The General Staff’s refusal, they say, stems from the role lawyers are now playing in the IDF’s targeting decisions. Since Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, military lawyers have been attached to fighting units down to the battalion level. These attorneys are allegedly prohibiting required action by claiming that strategically significant and operationally vital actions like killing Hamas commanders and bombing rocket launching units constitute war crimes…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link: Ed]



Jonathan S. Tobin                                                                                                                  

JNS, Nov. 15, 2018 

People demonstrated in the streets of Sderot on Tuesday, and who could blame them? They had spent days running back and forth to bomb shelters and safe rooms, enduring the tension and dangers of being subjected to hundreds of rockets fired at their town, as well as the rest of southern Israel, by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists from Gaza.

But their reaction to news of a ceasefire between Israel and its foes didn’t bring the usual joy and relief. They were mad that, once again, Hamas had terrorized and held hundreds of thousands of Israelis hostage — and gotten away with it. More to the point, they blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing them and the country by refusing to respond more forcefully to the 450-plus rockets fired on the country. They said he had not only abandoned them, but encouraged Hamas to repeat this dismal process the next time it suited them. Nor were these demonstrators alone in castigating Netanyahu. Some members of his coalition sniped at him for what they considered timorous behavior.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman denounced Netanyahu, and went so far as to resign because of the prime minister’s failure to escalate the conflict against Hamas. Lieberman’s motives were transparently political since he opposed military action only weeks ago. His goal was to position himself to Netanyahu’s right if the country goes to early elections. But opposition leaders also joined in the Bibi-bashing, giving some on the left the rare opportunity to criticize him from the right for allowing a dangerous security situation to develop, and then not resolving it in a satisfactory manner. Most embarrassing was the way his critics in the Knesset and the media used video clips of Netanyahu saying the same things about former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s similar policies towards Gaza when Netanyahu was in the opposition.

But being hoisted on his own petard in this manner didn’t appear to faze the prime minister. Nor should it. The world looks a lot different from the perspective of being the person who must make life-and-death decisions, as opposed to those who can criticize from the sidelines.

The impulse to say enough is enough about the terrorist state in Gaza is almost irresistible. As long as Hamas rules the independent Palestinian state in all but name only, there will always be a dagger pointed at Israel’s throat. While Hamas agrees to ceasefires and now speaks of being willing to accept an agreement in which Israel would be forced back to the 1967 borders, it isn’t interested in peace. Its goal, made painfully obvious by the violent mass protests conducted every Friday at the border with Israel since March, is the elimination of the Jewish state. Long-term peace with it is impossible.

Why then doesn’t Netanyahu seek a final reckoning with it, rather than forcing Israelis to endure weeks like the last one, punctuated every few years by a massive counter-attack — like the operations launched in 2008, 2012, and 2014 — that always stops short of deposing Hamas? Though he is routinely denounced as an opponent of peace, when it comes to the use of military force, Netanyahu is one of the most cautious prime ministers Israel has known. The reasons are part personal and part strategy.

As a young man, like his brother Yonatan, the slain hero of the 1976 Entebbe rescue, Netanyahu served in an elite military unit often sent to do the most difficult and dangerous tasks. He understands the cost of battle and has only ordered troops into battle after every possible alternative is exhausted. Over and above his sure grasp of Israel’s diplomatic and military situation, the fact that he spends Israel’s most precious resource — the lives of its soldiers — only with great reluctance is part of the reason why he is trusted by most Israelis.

More than that, Netanyahu doesn’t believe that sending the army into Gaza is in Israel’s best interests. He knows that even a decisive knockout blow against Hamas would likely make the situation even more unbearable for the Israeli people. The fact is that Israel is in a “no win” situation with respect to Gaza. The fault for this belongs to the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who withdrew every soldier, settler, and settlement from the strip in 2005. Though he vowed that if Gaza became a terror base, Israel would strike back and re-occupy it, his successors realized that such a vow was easier said than done.

The cost of such a campaign would be prohibitive in terms of Israeli casualties, and catastrophic when one considers how many Palestinians would be sacrificed as human shields as Hamas made its last stand. The opprobrium that would be directed at Israel from a hypocritical international community that regards the Jewish state as the only one on the planet that doesn’t have a right to defend itself would be a problem. But the real concern would not be foreign criticism, but the fact that the aftermath of even a successful military effort would leave Israel with the issue of governing Gaza. Maintaining an occupation would also be costly. So would an attempt to install the rule of the Palestinian Authority there. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas desperately wants to get control of Gaza, but is only willing to do so by fighting to the last Israeli.

Netanyahu also realizes that, as bad as it is, the status quo — both with respect to Gaza and the West Bank — is better than the available alternatives, all of which would present a greater danger to Israel, and make a Palestinian state more, rather than less, likely. Rather than satisfying the need of his people for a resolution of the Gaza problem, the prime minister is playing the long game. He understands that standing pat and waiting — however long that wait must be for the Palestinians to give up their century-long war on Zionism — without making foolhardy choices to give up territory or to launch wars with unpredictable consequences is the smartest strategy.

The frustration of the residents of Sderot and other Israelis under fire is real and understandable. But as painful as it may be, those who care about the Jewish state and understand the complex politics around it should also acknowledge that Netanyahu is right to avoid another war if at all possible.               




Prof. Efraim Inbar

Israel Hayom, Nov. 13, 2018

The past six months have brought us violent demonstrations along the Gaza Strip border, cross-border infiltrations, rocket fire and incendiary kites and balloons. This means that a so-called “agreement” or truce is not a viable option. We cannot trust Hamas to keep the calm. Only when Hamas is afraid of IDF retaliation, which has yet to come, will calm prevail. Israelis tend to overlook the fact that in the Middle East, it is fear, above everything else, that governs how people act.

Unfortunately, from time to time, we must give our enemies a violent reminder, lest they continue terrorizing us. The very fact that Hamas continues its actions unabated shows a lack of deterrence, without which no truce is worth the paper it is signed on. Expecting Hamas to honor agreements with the Jewish state it wants to annihilate is inexcusably naive. Extortion that leads to an “agreement” is a prelude to more extortion.

The assumption that boosting the quality of life for Gazans will reduce Hamas’ violence and hatred is fundamentally flawed. There is no place on this planet where there is a direct correlation between quality of life and terrorism. This holds true in the Palestinian case as well.

Recent polls show that Gazans are actually less hostile toward Israel than are their brethren in Judea and Samaria, where the quality of life is better. Perhaps the suffering in Gaza has taught them that prolonged conflict with Israel comes with great pain. While it is true that it takes time to change the behavior of large groups of people, what ultimately makes a population embark on a new political path is the degree to which it suffers. Germans suffered immensely during the two world wars and have since shed their violent past. Egypt also realized that a peace deal with Israel trumps more violence.

The goal of war is to inflict pain on the other side, to make it change its behavior. There is no point in giving Hamas candy while it fights against us. The exact opposite is true: It should be forced to pay a heavy price for its aggressive behavior. This is the message Israel should be sending Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and other enemies. To survive in the Middle East, Israel has to make it clear that it will inflict unimaginable pain on anyone who attacks it.

Israel is naturally reluctant to re-occupy the Gaza Strip. It would also serve no purpose to try to engineer its political system. Israel would not benefit from bringing the hostile Palestinian Authority back to the Gaza Strip. Likewise, it is understandable why Israel does not want to be dragged into a protracted military campaign when its eyes are trained on the most important threat: Iran. That said, the IDF can ratchet up the pressure by several notches without conquering the Gaza Strip, in order to send Hamas the message that more conflict will result in more pain.

Despite the events of this week, Israel must continue with its incursions into the Gaza Strip and even widen their scope. We must prove that we are not afraid of using ground forces to punish those who want us dead. The fear of casualties, however important, should not come at the expense of Israeli deterrence, which is essential for establishing long-term calm on the border and preventing future fatalities.

Only a crushing and devastating blow to Hamas will pave the way for a truce that would not be a victory for the terrorists. Such a truce would survive much longer than a half-baked truce that survives only several months until another extortion scheme.



A RUDE AWAKENING FOR THE PALESTINIAN DREAM                                          

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Arutz Sheva, Nov. 7, 2018

When something is built on an unstable foundation, it is only natural for its long term survival to be at risk. It is also natural for it to be in need of constant support just to keep from falling. The belief that it will eventually be able to stand on its own two feet causes people to lend their support, but only egregious fools continue to do so if there is no hope of its ever being independent, because in that case, everythiing those supporters have invested is doomed to be irretrievably lost.

The Palestinian Authority is in exactly that position today and this article will expound on the reasons it has no hope of every being able to become a viable and independent entity. The prime reason for this situation is the very reason the PA was founded. In 1993, the Israeli government tried to find someone who would accept responsibility for eliminating the terror network created by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, someone willing to be rewarded for anti-terrorist activity by being granted the authority to rule the area and administer the lives of the Arabs living there. This was the “deal” concocted by the Israelis, and the “contractor” who accepted the challenge was the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat. The Israeli government actually believed that Arafat was serious about eliminating terror and establishing an autonomous administrative system for running those territories.

Of course, this deal was doomed to failure from the start due to the residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and also the government of Israel. The Arab residents considered the Palestinian Authority (PA), the governing arm of the PLO, to be the operative arm of Israeli policy, an organization collaorating with Israel by means of the coordinated security system that exists up until this very day.

“Security coordination” to the Palestinian Arab mind is a laundered word for cooperation, meaning PA security forces attempt to apprehend the terrorists that belong to organizations other than their own and hand them over to Israel. Many of the Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza see this as no less than treason. In order to cover up that perceived betrayal and silence its critics, the PA employs thousands in both real and artificial jobs (the kind where the worker does not have to do anything in order to be paid) . For the sake of earning a livng, people are willing to shut their mouths and utter not a word about what they really think of the PA and the reasons for its existence.

No matter, members of the PA know exactly in what esteem the authority is held by the public. To combat this and in order to create legitimacy for themselves and the PA,  they invented a national ethos whose purpose was establishing a state under conditions to which Israel could never agree: the “right” of return for millions of “refugees” to Israel and insistence on Israel’s relinquishing Jerusalem. These impossible demands were raised knowing full well that Israel would never agree to them, and that there would never be a Palestinian Arab state, so that Israel could continue to remain the eternal enemy.  Anyone who thinks that a Palestinian Arab state adjoining Israel would live in peace with it does not comprehend the basic tenet of the Palestinian dream – fanning the flames of Israel-hatred, encouraging terror against its citizens and blaming it for all the ills of Arab society.

That is why – according to the PA media – Israel is the result of a European colonialist venture originating in Europe’s desrie to rid itself of the Jews, the Jews are nothing but cosmopolitan communities with no homeland, Judaism is a dead, not living religion, the Jews have no history in the lands belonging to “Falestin.” In addition, the Palestinian Arabs are victims of a Euroean conspiracy and their legitimate goal is to free all of “Falestin” from the “river to the sea.” Therefore “peace” with Israel can never be more than a temporary ceasefire, with the final goal the destruction of the Jewish state.

Over the past 25 years, more and more Israelis have begun to understand the failed “Oslo Accords” deal their government signed, and that is why the Israeli left, which engineered this fatal mistake, has gradually lost much of the public support it had during the initial euphoric period after the agreements were signed. The “Arab Spring” – which is more reminiscent of a wintery swamp filled with fire, blood and tears – helped the Israelis awaken from the dream of “a new Middle East” described in utopian terms by Oslo Accords master architect, the late Shimon Peres.

Today, it is clear that all Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas wanted and Abbas still desires is the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state on the ruins of the Jewish one. It is hard to find any enthusiasm among Israelis for continuing to pump oxygen into the artificial entity known as the Palestinian Authority, whose only source of life is the money it gets from other countries and pours into salaries for its employees and the murderous terrorists serving sentences in Israeli prisons…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link: Ed]


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!


On Topic Links

Israel Heads Toward Elections as Jewish Home Says it Will Leave Coalition: Raoul Wootliff, Times of Israel, Nov. 16, 2018—The Jewish Home will leave the coalition, bringing down the government and forcing new elections, senior sources in the Orthodox-nationalist party told The Times of Israel Friday.

Netanyahu Showed Why He Is ‘King Bibi’ By Agreeing To Gaza Cease-fire: Charles Bybelezer, Media Line, Nov. 15, 2018—For his entire tenure, the knock on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been that he reflexively chooses the path of least resistance based exclusively on electoral calculations.

Barring a Miracle, War with Gaza is a Matter of When, Not If: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Nov. 13, 2018—In the past 24 hours nearly 500 Hamas rockets have pummelled civilian targets in southern Israel, the most intense assault ever launched by the terrorist-run government in the Gaza Strip.

Restore Deterrence in Gaza Now: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2018—All of us abhor military confrontation or war, which inevitably leads to casualties. Today Israel faces a major threat from Hamas in the south; Iran and Hezbollah could become involved if we go for the military option.


Israel Has Reached Decision Time on Gaza: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, Oct. 17, 2018 — Events in Gaza are moving quickly, and Israel has now reached a critical fork in the road with two main paths…

Putin May Not Want a Fight with Israel, But He May Get It: David J. Bercuson, National Post, Oct. 5, 2018— Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad can sleep a little better these days now that Russia has completed delivery of a new system of long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.

Russia and NATO Show War Games Aren’t Just Games: James Stavridis, Bloomberg, Sept. 6, 2018— Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad can sleep a little better these days now that Russia has completed delivery of a new system of long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.

Canada’s Fighter Jet Debacle: This is No Way to Run a Military: David Krayden, National Post, Oct. 3, 2018  — Last week the United States Marine Corps flew the F-35 joint strike fighter into combat for the first time.

On Topic Links

Israel’s All-Terrain EZRaiders Latest Law Enforcement Rage: David Israel, Jewish Press, Sept. 21, 2018

What Will the Next Israel-Hezbollah War Look Like?: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, Oct. 7, 2018

A Tale of A Lone Soldier: Ariel Rudolph, Jerusalem Online, Sept. 14, 2018

Two Junk Submarines, and Our Long Tradition of Terrible Military Procurements: Nima Karimi, National Post, Oct. 3, 2018


ISRAEL HAS REACHED DECISION TIME ON GAZA                                                  

Yaakov Lappin

JNS, Oct. 17, 2018

Events in Gaza are moving quickly, and Israel has now reached a critical fork in the road with two main paths: a significant military escalation, which has the potential to gain momentum and turn into a broader armed conflict; or a long-term arrangement, designed to restore calm to the area.

Opinions in the security cabinet have been split on whether to give Egyptian mediation efforts more time to reach an arrangement with Hamas or whether to respond more forcefully to Hamas’s border attacks. Until the middle-of-the-night rocket attack that smashed a house in Beersheva into rubble, and which saw a second rocket head towards central Israel, it was easier for proponents of the mediation efforts to make their case.

The Israel Defense Forces had been able to largely contain the Hamas-organized border rioting, which included grenade and IED attacks, and Israeli cities were not under fire. The western Negev region, however, was under constant low-level Hamas attacks, including arson, incendiary balloons and border disturbances; life for local residents there has not been easy these past six months. Gaza’s civilians—trapped between endless feuding between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority—have seen their situation deteriorate considerably, and are on the verge of an economic and humanitarian crash.

Hamas thinks that by playing a game of dangerous brinkmanship and ramping up the pressure on Israel, Jerusalem will be more likely to enter into an arrangement that lifts security restrictions on Gaza. It is a gamble that could blow up in Hamas’s face. At 3:40 a.m. on Wednesday morning, sirens went off in Beersheva and changed the direction. The family inside the home narrowly averted a terrible fate, thanks to the alertness and quick thinking of a mother who rushed her family into a rocket-proof safe room. A major red line had been crossed, and an intelligence investigation had begun in Israel to figure out who crossed it.

Already, in the hours after the attack, the IDF indicated that it was linking Hamas, Gaza’s ruling regime, and the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second-largest faction in Gaza, to the attack. Hamas and PIJ were quick to deny any link to the rockets, even going so far as to describe it as “irresponsible.” The IDF seemed unimpressed. A military spokesman noted that the attackers launched mid-range, locally produced rockets that “are in possession of only two organizations in Gaza: Hamas and PIJ, which very much narrows it down.”

The spokesman said the military was less concerned about which organization launched the projectiles, noting that Hamas “bears full responsibility.” The Israeli Air Force then struck 20 Hamas targets across Gaza, including an offensive terror tunnel that crossed into Israel, tunnel-digging sites in Gaza and a maritime tunnel shaft on the Gazan coastline, designed to let Hamas commando cells head out to sea without being noticed. Additional targets destroyed by Israel included rocket and weapons’ factories.

But that response still falls into the normal Israeli retaliation pattern and indicates that Jerusalem had not yet taken a decision on whether to take things further or not. Factors that sway that decision include the results of the IDF’s intelligence investigation, which should shed more light on exactly who fired the rockets, the result of the Egyptian mediation efforts and the status of other key fronts, particularly the highly explosive northern arena, where Israel is busy trying to keep Iran out of Syria. If Israel can avoid having to deal with multiple active arenas at the same time, it would prefer to do so. It is not so clear that this can, however, be avoided. The IDF has drawn up responses for a range of scenarios, and would be ready to strike Hamas and PIJ more severely if it receives a directive from the government to do so.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has taken the unusual step of publicly announcing his conclusion that the time for talk has passed, and that all of Israel’s efforts to de-escalate the situation—by injecting essential goods into Gaza, like fuel and electricity—have failed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, following a military evaluation meeting that he took part in, that Israel “would act with great force”—a possible signal that Israel was not prepared to absorb the rocket fire and go back to business as usual.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas views Gaza as a rebel Islamist province that should be brought to its knees for splitting away from Ramallah’s rule. He has played his own role in blocking chances for a truce arrangement. Abbas has placed heavy economic sanctions on Gaza and refuses to act as a channel for international investment in Gaza’s civilian infrastructure until Hamas surrenders to him.

The result is a highly unstable, explosive situation that is teetering on the brink of escalation. The coming hours should reveal in which direction Gaza and Israel will go. If the result is conflict, then it will be one that Hamas and its allies brought upon the heads of the Gazan people.

As IDF Southern Command chief, Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi said, “Hamas pretends to govern in Gaza, and tells the Gazan population that it seeks to improve their lives. However, in reality, Hamas specializes in riots at the border fence and in using explosive devices, incendiary and explosive balloons, and, as we saw last night, rockets. Hamas worsens the lives of ordinary Gazans.”



          PUTIN MAY NOT WANT A FIGHT WITH ISRAEL, BUT HE MAY GET IT                                                 David J. Bercuson                                                                                                                                   National Post, Oct. 5, 2018

Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad can sleep a little better these days now that Russia has completed delivery of a new system of long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. These missiles replace an obsolete system of S-200 missiles that Syria has operated for some time. The S-200s have proven useless in deterring or defeating Israeli air strikes aimed at Iranian military installations in Syria and at Syrian transfer of advanced weapons to its client, Hezbollah, based mainly in Lebanon. The sale — objected to by both Israel and the United States — came in the wake of the destruction of a Russian reconnaissance aircraft by Syria’s older anti-aircraft missiles, which were actually aimed at Israeli fighter-bombers raiding Syria but which brought down the Russian aircraft instead.

The sale of the S-300 missiles to Syria is an important step both in the deterioration of Russian-Israeli relations and in the slide to an even greater regional conflict, perhaps one as significant as the 1973 October War, during which Egypt (now at peace with Israel) and Syria attacked Israel and initiated an almost month-long conflict that almost drew in the Soviet Union and the United States. This sale, therefore, might prove to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most serious foreign policy mistake.

During the still-ongoing Syrian civil war, Iran backed the Syrian regime alongside Russia and Hezbollah. When Russia began to mount an intensive air campaign against the Syrian rebels, danger arose that clashes might occur between Russian and Israeli aircraft (this same danger existed between NATO aircraft bombing ISIL targets in Syria and Russian aircraft). In both cases protocols and secret communications networks were set up to allow NATO, Israel and Russia to avoid confrontations in the air. Why were the Israeli aircraft attacking targets in Syria? Not to intervene in the civil war, but to attack Iranian military installations that began to appear in Assad’s territory, and to continue to intervene in the transfer from the Syrian military to Hezbollah of sophisticated weapons systems.

The installation of the new Russian missiles sets up a variety of dangerous possibilities. If Russian missiles (presumably operated by Russian military personnel) begin to shoot at Israeli aircraft, the Israeli air force will undoubtedly attack the missile sites and possibly kill or injure members of the Russian military. The protocols that have allowed the two nations to operate in the same airspace will then break down, possibly triggering more clashes. No one can say whether the new Russian missiles are capable of bringing down the upgraded Israeli F-16 fighter bombers generally used by the IAF, or even the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters that Israel is known to be operating in the skies over Syria.

If so, the propaganda coup for Russia will be immense, as will its arms sales to nations that might find themselves on the wrong end of F-35 strikes. If not, the opposite effect will occur — the S-300 will be shown to be ineffective against either the very advanced Israeli F-16s or their F-35s. That would mean political embarrassment to Russia and, no doubt, make it harder for them to sell their new missiles. It is virtually certain that Israel will not stop its air attacks, no matter what.

The other outcome, even more disturbing, would be United States intervening on Israel’s behalf to help the Israelis cope with the S-300s or to protect the reputation of the F-35 fighter, which has now been ordered — and in some cases delivered — to at least nine NATO nations aside from the United States.

So what can account for Putin’s decision to deploy the missiles? Perhaps it is this: there has been so much Russian intervention to save Assad’s regime, that the Russian Federation is now drawn deeper into Syria than was even the case in the days of the old Soviet Union. Back then the U.S.S.R. was not only an ally and major military supplier to Syria, but it was also an implacable foe of Israel. In the early 1970s, Israeli and Soviet aircraft even clashed in the skies near the Suez Canal. In trying to balance a live-and-let-live arrangement with Israel against protecting his now vassal state of Syria, perhaps Putin has decided to let Israel go.

Now that Assad, full of “his” military victory over the rebels, has announced that his next goal is to wrest the Golan Heights back from Israel (which captured that area in 1967), the Russians are in danger of being dragged into a far more serious and much more dangerous situation than they have been in in Georgia or even in eastern Ukraine.                              Contents


RUSSIA AND NATO SHOW WAR GAMES AREN’T JUST GAMES                                                                   James Stavridis

                                                Bloomberg, Sept. 6, 2018

Over the coming weeks, both NATO and Russia will launch a series of super-high-end war games. These games are hardly for fun — rather, they are deadly serious practice sessions for hundreds of thousands of soldiers, thousands of combat aircraft, and flotillas of combat ships. While no one will die (other than by accident, a not uncommon occurrence in such exercises), the messages going back and forth are crystal clear: We are prepared for war.

Russia’s exercise is called Vostok — which means “east” — and will be held principally east of the Ural Mountains. It is the largest military exercise by Russia since Soviet times (in 1981) and will deploy 300,000 troops and more than 1,000 military aircraft. Of note, China will participate with thousands of its troops operating alongside the Russians (there will also be a token contingent of troops from Mongolia, which has been a partner to both Russia and NATO at times).

The message to the West is obvious: Russia and China might work together militarily against NATO in the East or the U.S. and its allies in the Pacific. The futuristic novel “Ghost Fleet” by Peter Singer and August Cole gives an excellent description of a high-tech war that begins unexpectedly in the Pacific with Russia and China allied against the U.S. These war games provide a preview of that sort of military activity could look like — and it should be very worrisome to U.S. planners.

NATO will conduct its own huge military exercise, named Trident Juncture 2018. It will take place on the northern borders of the alliance and will involve 40,000 troops from all 29 nations, a couple of hundred aircraft and dozens of warships. While not as spectacularly large as Russia’s Vostok, it will serve as a “graduation exercise” for NATO’s new Spearhead Force, a serious, highly mobile capability that can put NATO combat troops into the Baltic states to repulse a Russian invasion within a matter of days.

Led by a highly motivated Italian unit that could be fully ready to fight in 48 hours, the spearhead force also includes Dutch and Norwegian forces. Advance word says the exercise will include a mock invasion of Norway by U.S. Marines. This robust event is part of a vast improvement over the anemic states of readiness in NATO just a decade ago.

Of note, two high-capability militaries that are not NATO members, but are close coalition partners — Sweden and Finland — will participate. When I was supreme allied commander of NATO a few years ago, I deeply admired the professionalism and military excellence of both nations, which participated with NATO in many global operations. The Russians are deeply concerned about the possibility of Sweden and Finland considering NATO membership, and their involvement in Trident Juncture will stoke those fears in Moscow. All of this means tension and the possibility of miscalculation. We should pay particular attention to four key elements of these very serious games.

First, we need to recognize that there are internal messages working here on both sides. In the Russian case (and especially from the perspective of President Vladimir Putin), the games signal the high capability and professionalism of the nation’s troops. This builds on the patriotic pride that was created by the invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, and is a signal to the general population that their military is more than capable of holding on to those gains. As for NATO, the message is similar, and directed toward the front-line states that border Russia — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Norway — and NATO partners Finland and Sweden. In the West, the message is one of capability and credibility — a willingness to fight if necessary.

Second, the role of China is nuanced. The Russian games were originally conceived as a deterrent not to NATO, but to China. Let’s face it: China, with its vastly larger population and need for economic growth, looks at the vast, natural-resource-rich tracts of Siberia the way a dog looks at a rib-eye steak. Yet a growing nationalism on the part of President Xi Jinping and unease over the Donald Trump administration’s hawkish policies on trade has China looking to develop a stronger relationship with Moscow. And Russia, frustrated with the antipathy of the U.S. (driven these days not by the White House but by Congress) is willing to draw nearer to China. While the longer-term relationship is fraught, it is a partnership (and a war game) of convenience at the moment.

Third, there is real military improvement that stems from such exercises. Pushing the European allies and Canada to deploy troops allows an increase in military interoperability on many fronts: technical synchronization of radio communications; alignment of targeting from different nations’ aircraft (a significant challenge in the NATO Libyan operation, for example); highly complex anti-submarine warfare operations; and multi-unit infantry and armor maneuver. All of these are challenging, and practice will make both sides much closer to perfect…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




David Krayden

National Post, Oct. 3, 2018

Last week the United States Marine Corps flew the F-35 joint strike fighter into combat for the first time. That same day, one of the fighters also set a first: crashing in South Carolina — fortunately without the loss of life. As military aviators would remark, crap happens (or words to that effect). The state-of-the-art fighter jet first flew as a prototype in 2006 and has been flying with the United States Air Force since 2011. The Royal Air Force in the U.K. also uses the F-35. And just this year, in a moment of sheer historical irony, the Royal Australian Air Force took delivery of its first F-35s.

Why irony? Because just as Australia was welcoming its new jets to its defence inventory, Canada was at the doorstep begging for Australia’s used F-18s. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan had come calling because politics had again intervened in Canada’s storied but sorry defence procurement planning. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, not knowing what to do with the obsolescent CF-18s — ordered by his father in the late 1970s for a 1982 delivery — had been musing about buying some Super Hornets from Boeing but had decided not to in a peevish fit of trade retaliation.

Of course the Super Hornets were only a “stop-gap” measure anyway, as both Trudeau and Sajjan emphasized. The contract to replace the entire fleet of aging CF-18s would be delayed again because Trudeau did not want to buy the previous Conservative government’s fighter replacement choice: the F-35. But there’s an additional irony here. The F-35 was not just the choice of the Harper government. It was initially selected by the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien. The primary reason: interoperability with our primary allies. The U.S., U.K. and Australia would all be buying the F-35 so it just made sense.

I was working at the House of Commons at the time for the Official Opposition defence critic, who thought the decision to participate in the development, and eventually, the procurement of the F-35, was a refreshing but rare moment of common-sense, non-political defence planning on the part of the government.

It seemed the Liberals really didn’t want a repeat of the fiasco that surrounded the EH-101 helicopter, the maritime patrol and search and rescue helicopter that the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney had selected after an assiduous military assessment. The chopper was dubbed a “Cadillac” by Chrétien in 1993 and quickly cancelled when he won the election. This cost Canada millions in cancellation fees for backing out of the project, and then the Liberals ultimately purchased the same aircraft for search and rescue — now rebranded as “Cormorants.” They remain in service today.

This kind of debacle couldn’t be allowed to happen again with the F-35. But it did. And it is. And it seems it always has. In many NATO countries, national defence is a bipartisan or nonpartisan issue. Any cursory examination of Australian and British defence policy over the past five decades will reveal that no matter the party in power — ie: Liberal/Conservative or Labour — defence policy remains constant. Of course the defence departments are subordinate to the government of the day, but those governments don’t use defence as a political tool to punish the opposition.

In Canada, the Liberals and Conservatives work together as well — but often in the worst interests of Canadian Armed Forces. The F-35, again, illustrates that point. The previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper pointedly supported the acquisition of the F-35, but dithered over three terms because Harper thought the expenditure might erode his voter support.

Ironically, it was NDP leader Thomas Mulcair who was the most vocal proponent of the F-35 during the marathon 2015 federal election campaign. Had Harper been re-elected, I don’t believe the Royal Canadian Air Force would be looking at new fighter jets to fly or even the contract to manufacture them. But he wasn’t re-elected. Justin Trudeau is the prime minister, and our next generation of fighter aircraft is still nowhere in sight. The entire fleet of CF-18s is approaching absolute retirement age and that won’t be changed by the absurd plan to buy Australia’s used aircraft while our allies take delivery of planes that Canada was — in a fit of judicious, nonpartisan planning — eyeing decades ago. It really is no way to run a military, but there’s no end in sight.



On Topic Links

Israel’s All-Terrain EZRaiders Latest Law Enforcement Rage: David Israel, Jewish Press, Sept. 21, 2018—The EZRaider is presented by its maker, Israeli startup company DSRaider, as a breakthrough vehicle in a new category all by itself in all-terrain riding, allowing the user complete control with minimum training.

What Will the Next Israel-Hezbollah War Look Like?: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, Oct. 7, 2018—Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy and a non-state organization based in Lebanon, had fought the IDF in the 1980s and mostly in the 1990s when the Israeli military was deployed in Lebanon. In 2006, the two sides clashed again, for 34 days, a war that ended in a kind of a tie. They might fight again because of escalation or if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, following an Iranian attempt to produce a nuclear weapon.

A Tale of A Lone Soldier: Ariel Rudolph, Jerusalem Online, Sept. 14, 2018—M. was born in Israel but after her parents divorced, when she was six years old, her mother left Israel and M. grew up in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. She completely identified with her Israeli roots and maintained contact with her Israeli peers, visited Israel occasionally and associated with the Jewish community in England.

Two Junk Submarines, and Our Long Tradition of Terrible Military Procurements: Nima Karimi, National Post, Oct. 3, 2018—It was recently discovered that Canada (apparently Transport Canada) has expressed interest in purchasing a surveillance drone from Germany. This, however, as David Pugliese reports, is no ordinary drone: not only is it second-hand, it is also severely gutted, “without many core components it needs to fly.”



The Next War in the Middle East: Vivian Bercovici, Commentary, Oct. 5, 2018— Everyone says they don’t want war, but the fourth armed conflict since 2006 between Hamas and Israel may be imminent.

How to Deal with Hamas: Make Concessions or Fight?: Hillel Frisch, Algemeiner, Sept. 28, 2018— Israel’s leading politicians, Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have been engaged in a fierce debate with Minister of Education Naftali Bennett over how to react to Hamas’ attempt since the March of Return began to change the status quo.

Terrorism and Civil Society: Elliott Abrams, Israel Hayom, Oct. 9, 2018— On October 4, the White House issued its new National Strategy for Counterterrorism.

Interview: Stabilizing an Unstable Region: Noa Amouyal, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2018— During the Cold War, the United States and Russia fiercely competed for spaceflight capability dominance.

On Topic Links 

In Surprise Move, Nikki Haley Resigns as US Ambassador to UN: Times of Israel, Oct. 9, 2018

13 Times Nikki Haley Stood Up for Israel at the UN (And AIPAC): Adrian Hennigan, Ha’aretz, Oct. 9, 2018

Letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Maj.Gen.Gershon Hacohen, Jewish Press, Sept. 28, 2018

Will the West Cede the Golan Heights to a Psychopath?: Moshe Ya’alon and Yair Lapid, Times of Israel, July 1, 2018


                              THE NEXT WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Vivian Bercovici

Commentary, Oct. 5, 2018

Everyone says they don’t want war, but the fourth armed conflict since 2006 between Hamas and Israel may be imminent. As Israeli Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, warned Hamas on Thursday: “The holidays are over.” Throughout September and early October, Israel pretty much shut down to celebrate the annual succession of Jewish high holidays. The party is now, officially, over. In the last few days, there has been a buildup of troops and munitions on the Gaza border, partly in anticipation of a sharp increase in hostilities on Friday evening. For almost seven months now, Hamas has organized weekly demonstrations at multiple locations along the Gaza-Israel border.

It has become somewhat routine: The overwhelmingly male, youngish crowd at the border promises to enter Israel and murder civilians, after which they will storm Jerusalem and liberate all of “occupied Palestine” from the Zionists. Often, several violent demonstrators will attempt to cross into Israel with knives, Molotov cocktails, and other crude weapons to attempt murder and sow mayhem. In spite of all this, the foreign press dutifully reports Hamas propaganda as fact, declaring the protests to be “peaceful.”

The loss of life that ebbs and flows on these Fridays following afternoon prayers is unfortunate but inevitable. Though these Hamas hoodlums do not pose an existential threat to the state of Israel, they absolutely do to the tens of thousands of Israelis living in communities along the border. And then, there are the arson kites, a Hamas innovation that has burned approximately 10,000 acres of agricultural land and nature preserves in Israel in the last six months. In relative terms to America, the charred Israeli land mass is roughly the size of Connecticut. It’s no joke.

Yet, in an unprecedented and extraordinary interview with Italian journalist Francesca Borri and published today in an Israeli newspaper, Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s political leader in Gaza, dismissed the arson attacks as mere “messages” causing no real harm. But Sinwar and his crew have been ramping things up along the border recently, sending boys to toss grenades, Molotov cocktails, and other crude incendiary devices at the IDF soldiers. They’ve also been active at night and early morning, causing the IDF to go on high alert. This is textbook Hamas. They are being squeezed on multiple fronts and the only way to take control, in their playbook, is to invite war. During his interviews with Borri, which took place at various locations in Gaza over a five-day period. Sinwar was adamant that Hamas wants peace, but that outcome is only possible on his terms. Those terms–that Hamas should retain a military force and all borders must be opened unconditionally—are absurd.

Sinwar refused to utter the word “Israel” or even the phrase “Zionist entity,” resorting to euphemisms such as “Netanyahu” and the “Occupation” instead. He also dismissed the fact that the Hamas Charter continues call for the annihilation of Israel as being, somehow, an irrelevant historical detail. He wants peace, he says. If there is to be war, it is because Israel has not agreed to his terms. It’s such ham-handed propaganda that it almost hurts to read this clumsy attempt to influence Israeli and world public opinion. Sinwar wants war because it’s the only option he has. Much as the global MSM loves to berate Israel for turning Gaza into an open-air prison with its ongoing “blockade,” there is media silence regarding the much harsher border closures and restrictions that prevail at the Gaza-Egypt border.

And then there’s the recent monkey-business of PA president Mahmoud Abbas. Desperate to bring Hamas to heel so that he may assume power over the Gaza Strip in addition to the West Bank, Abbas has cut off all funds and supplies–like fuel—it typically funnels to Gaza. In conjunction with the recent American announcement that it would cut off, immediately, all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency—a major employer in the Gaza Strip–Abbas’s move is a death knell for the beleaguered theocratic enclave.

Hamas is cornered. Israeli technology has neutralized their underground terror tunnels; the United States, among other countries, is fed up with Hamas’s promotion and celebration of terror and refusal to moderate their extremist agenda that is pledged to annihilate Jews and Israel; and the Arab world–including their Palestinian brother, Abbas–is turning the screws. War is quickly presenting as Hamas’s only option. It’s the last, most reliable way to distract the miserable masses from their failure to govern.



                                    HOW TO DEAL WITH HAMAS: MAKE CONCESSIONS OR FIGHT?    

                                                          Hillel Frisch

Algemeiner, Sept. 28, 2018

Israel’s leading politicians, Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have been engaged in a fierce debate with Minister of Education Naftali Bennett over how to react to Hamas’ attempt since the March of Return began to change the status quo.

Netanyahu and Lieberman want to reach understandings with Hamas to restore the relative calm that prevailed for nearly four years after the 2014 conflict with the terror group in Gaza. They are willing to make humanitarian concessions and probably acquiesce to a sizable prisoner release of hard-core terrorists in order to restore the calm, even temporarily. Bennett, by contrast, is bitterly opposed to making concessions, and seeks a fourth round of confrontation that will considerably weaken Hamas.

The merits of the debate are difficult to assess because of the wisdom of both approaches on political and military grounds. The question, of course, is which of these strategies would be better for Israel at this particular point in time. Netanyahu and Lieberman have a strong case in calling for restraint and even concessions towards Hamas. They see Israel’s strategic concerns in hierarchical terms. By far the most important threat to Israel is Iran’s nuclear program. Immediately following that is Iran’s attempts to set up a permanent military infrastructure in Syria, which would include a sizable pro-Iranian militia presence on the Golan front.

The two men believe that nothing should detract from the focus on Iran or the renewal of sanctions against the Islamic Republic, and the Trump administration supports them in this. In fact, according to both Netanyahu and Lieberman, the decision by Hamas to heat up the Gaza front in late March was initiated by Iran, and designed to shift the Israeli focus away from Iran to the Palestinians. Such a change of focus, Iran hoped, would embolden key European states such as France and Germany to take countermeasures against US sanctions on Iran.

Netanyahu and Lieberman reason that time is of the essence in confronting Iran, not only because Trump’s pro-Israel administration has only two more years until its fate is decided by the next presidential election, but because there is a fear, given the legal challenges the president faces at home, that that time might be even shorter.

For his part, Bennett makes a plausible argument against acquiescing to Hamas’ exploitation of Israel’s complicated geo-strategic environment. As far as Bennett is concerned, the focus on Iran is guaranteed by a president resolved to roll back Iran on its nuclear program and aggressive behavior towards its neighbors. A supportive US Congress and the legal framework within which the sanctions operate, which gives them a life of their own, cannot be sidelined by other crises, Bennett says — including a fourth round of fighting between Israel and Gaza.

Based on these assumptions, Bennett argues that buying periods of quiet through concessions comes at considerable cost, especially if this means an increase in imports into Gaza, which would give Hamas the wherewithal to improve its military capabilities. Any form of ceasefire, whatever it is called, gives the organization time to train for the next round, he asserts. This means greater and more lethal firepower.

Bennett is correct that Hamas uses its time wisely to increase its capabilities. For example, in 22 days of Operation Cast Lead in winter 2008-09, the organization, along with others, launched 925 rockets that hit Israel. This increased to 3,852 during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 — an almost 200 percent increase, even taking into account the much longer duration of fighting in 2014 compared to six years earlier (55 days compared to 24). Casualties were also significantly higher: 72 versus 13 Israeli deaths in 2014, as opposed to 2008-2009. The increase was mainly due to effective attacks from tunnels within Gaza and greater use of mortars against Israeli troops encamped in areas adjacent to Gaza.

Though Israel has developed technology to deal with both these problems, Hamas has proved to be an innovative enemy that might come up with further surprises in the next round. The longer the respite, one might safely assume, the greater the probability that it will do so.

Looking at how Israel secured deterrence on the Gaza front lends support to Bennett’s line of thinking. “Understandings” between Israel and Hamas have always been short-lived, if acted upon at all. The 2005 “lull,” marketed as an informal understanding between the Palestinian factions and Israel, translated into a 345 percent increase in missile and mortar attacks compared to 2004. After the 2012 round, the “understandings” brokered by the ousted Egyptian Morsi government lasted little more than a year, until the deadly trickle of missile and mortar launches began anew.

Still less did “humanitarian” gestures buy quiet. From the point of view of Hamas, the greatest humanitarian move was the release of over 1,000 hard-core terrorists in 2011 in return for the release of one Israeli soldier. This did not prevent a second round in October 2012. Over time, only the three large-scale rounds of violence created accumulated deterrence between rounds, in which missile launches after each round appreciably decreased.

The best option, then, is for Israel is to prolong negotiations as long as possible, concede as little as possible, and wait until the sanctions against Iran come into full force — and then prepare for the next big round, not to defeat Hamas, but to tame it and keep the Palestinians divided.



                             TERRORISM AND CIVIL SOCIETY        

                                                          Elliott Abrams

                                                Israel Hayom, Oct. 9, 2018

On October 4, the White House issued its new National Strategy for Counterterrorism. This is a long and welcome document and I want to discuss only one element of the strategy: the role of civil society. The White House strategy correctly states that fighting terrorism includes “prioritiz[ing] a broader range of nonmilitary capabilities, such as our ability to prevent and intervene in terrorist recruitment, minimize the appeal of terrorist propaganda online, and build societal resilience to terrorism.” It adds that “to defeat radical Islamist terrorism, we must also speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism.”

The view that terrorists have an ideology and that we need to combat it rightly permeates the document. At one point it says, “We will undermine the ability of terrorist ideologies, particularly radical Islamist terrorist ideologies, to create a common identity and sense of purpose among potential recruits. We must combat the resilience of terrorist narratives by acknowledging that their ideologies contain elements that have enduring appeal among their audiences.” This is an important statement because it shows that the administration views the fight against terror as going far beyond kinetic or military action.

Here is the paragraph on civil society: “INCREASE CIVIL SOCIETY’S ROLE IN TERRORISM PREVENTION: Through engagement, public communications, and diplomacy, we will strengthen and connect our partners in civil society who are eager to expand their limited terrorism prevention efforts. We will raise awareness of radicalization and recruitment dynamics, highlight successful prevention and intervention approaches domestically and overseas, and empower local partners through outreach, training, and international exchanges. We will also promote grassroots efforts to identify and address radicalization to insulate civilian populations from terrorist influence.”

All this strikes me as quite right but it points to a problem the document does not acknowledge: Some of our putative allies in the struggle against terror view civil society not as a partner but as an enemy. They simply seek to crush it in ways that can only assist people trying to sell terrorist ideology.

The best (or rather, worst) example is Egypt. The regime there has underway a broad effort to destroy civil society. This began in 2011 with the closing of several American nongovernmental organizations, including the International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, and Freedom House. Their offices and personnel were accused of receiving foreign money, and in fact, because Egypt is a very poor country most NGOs depend on foreign money. Those now-infamous “NGO trials” continue to this day. While U.S. officials often refer to Egypt as a close ally, the United States government has not yet succeeded in getting the government of Egypt to drop charges even against the American citizens who were working for those semiofficial U.S. NGOs.

The repression of civil society goes much further. President Donald Trump himself intervened in 2017 to get Egypt to release Aya Hegazy, an Egyptian-American who with her husband ran an NGO dedicated to helping street children. Most recently, Egypt jailed a woman who complained about sexual harassment in Egypt, for the crime of “spreading false news.” As a Carnegie report stated, “In February 2015, [Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah] Sisi issued a law for ‘organizing lists of terrorist entities and terrorists’ that conflates any ‘breaches of the public order’ as defined by the state with terrorist activities. Once again, the use of vague legal concepts opens the door for civil society organizations, activists, and political parties to be included on the list of terrorists and terrorist entities.”

Here we get to the heart of the problem: There is an important contradiction between the White House strategy, which rightly says civil society must be a key ally in fighting terrorist ideology, and a policy of destroying civil society. One more example: In Egypt today, there are between 40,000 and 60,000 political prisoners. They languish in overcrowded prisons where they have years to contemplate the injustices done to them while jihadis offer ideologies that explain why this happened and try to recruit them. Egypt’s prisons are jihadi factories. How does this fit with anyone’s counterterrorism strategy?

The new administration strategy is absolutely right to prioritize actions that fight terrorist ideology “to prevent and intervene in terrorist recruitment, minimize the appeal of terrorist propaganda online, and build societal resilience to terrorism.” Countries that crush civil society cannot achieve this, so defending civil society should be a serious element in our national counterterrorism strategy – even if some of our allies think otherwise.                                     Contents



Noa Amouyal

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2018

During the Cold War, the United States and Russia fiercely competed for spaceflight capability dominance. Today, a more sinister race for hegemony is brewing and its ultimate conclusion will not only have ripple effects for the Middle East, but the world. So says former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, who now serves as a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies. Ya’alon outlines three specific threats to the Middle East that all comprise of an overarching desire to control the region and impose its own absolutist worldview.

The current situation in the Middle East generated by three Islamic movements vying for hegemony and influence in the region and beyond,” Ya’alon tells The Jerusalem Report. “The most dangerous element is Iran,” he begins, echoing a sentiment that is felt throughout much of Israel’s security community. Iran’s use of proxy forces like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen should not be taken lightly, he warns. “This is a very significant challenge, not just for Israel, but the entire region,” he says.

The second threat, according to Ya’alon, is ISIS and its desired mission to create an Islamic caliphate. While ISIS has lost major territory in the Levant, Ya’alon cautions against ruling out their potential for executing terror attacks throughout the Middle East, North America and other parts of the world. The third, and perhaps most complicated, is the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood, which today is primarily associated with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ya’alon’s carefully outlined view of how he sees the Middle East today was crafted during his time at the INSS, which he joined a year ago. He believes this is a critical time for the region, where leaders are faced with nearly unprecedented challenges. “The only stabilized element in the Middle East is instability. I believe that the Middle East is going through the most significant crisis since the time of Mohammad in the 7th century,” he says bluntly. “It’s not the Arab Spring or the Islamic Winter, we need to look at it from a wider perspective.”

And looking at the situation from a wider perspective is exactly what he’s doing at the INSS. “Watching the developing situation from the INSS and analyzing it, is a very good opportunity to discuss issues and look at them from different angles – ‘out of the box.’ At INSS we meet people from abroad, experts as well as practitioners, share our ideas and worries and try to find out how to meet the challenges ahead,” he says. “I don’t have to spend energy trying to create coalitions, compromising my ideals, or maneuver politically. I have time available for professional work.” Content with the pace of his work at the institute, Ya’alon says that joining it was a natural fit for both him and the think tank, “The INSS as a unique platform. It’s a meeting point of experts from academia, young people and practitioners like myself,” he adds.

His perspective on the Middle East is delineated in his research paper called “United States Policy in the Middle East: The Need for a Grand Strategy” and is an example of the symbiotic relationship he enjoys with the think tank. In the paper, he not only offers his unique assessment of the situation, but also provides a platform where his ideas are read by the best of the best in the security field both in Israel and abroad. The paper, and his conversation with us, offers recommendations for President Trump as he concludes the first year of a topsy-turvy presidency. “There is a change in the US rhetoric,” Ya’alon says of the new administration, which has distanced itself as much as possible from President Barack Obama’s belief that working with and containing Iran was a path to peace in the region.

Ya’alon doesn’t seem entirely convinced that the Trump Administration has formulated a clear policy in the Middle East, which is why he believes papers like his can help guide an administration that seems to be feeling its way. “I hear there are certain reactions to the article, but this is a way that we [at the INSS] deal with the situation. We have ideas, we publish articles, we talk about it in the media in Hebrew and English and try to propose ideas of our own. Of course, we don’t have the responsibility, but we have the knowledge about the Middle East and I’m not sure that this kind of knowledge is everywhere,” he says…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]



On Topic Links

In Surprise Move, Nikki Haley Resigns as US Ambassador to UN: Times of Israel, Oct. 9, 2018—UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is tendering her resignation, marking the latest shake-up in the turbulent Trump administration just weeks before the midterm election.

13 Times Nikki Haley Stood Up for Israel at the UN (And AIPAC): Adrian Hennigan, Ha’aretz, Oct. 9, 2018—While U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations invariably offered their backing to Israel at the UN, Nikki Haley seemingly made the Israeli cause a personal obsession.

Letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Maj.Gen.Gershon Hacohen, Jewish Press, Sept. 28, 2018—The state of Israel and its citizens have been fortunate to have you at the helm for the past nine years. One can readily envisage the nightmare scenarios had your ideological and political opponents been leading the country. Your steadfast opposition to the “peace plan” that President Barack Obama tried to dictate has been particularly significant.

Will the West Cede the Golan Heights to a Psychopath?: Moshe Ya’alon and Yair Lapid, Times of Israel, July 1, 2018—We live in a world full of complex diplomatic dilemmas, but for once here is a simple one: Would you take an area that is flourishing in a western democratic state, where fifty thousand people of different religions and ethnicities live in harmony, and hand it over to a violent dictatorship ruled by the worst mass murderer of our time so that he can destroy the area and murder most of the residents?




From Death To Rebirth In 48 Hours: Israel Honors Fallen Soldiers & Celebrates Independence Day: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Apr. 16, 2018— The fine line between tragedy and triumph is perhaps nowhere as clear as in Israel…

Walking in the Footsteps of Those Who Fought in 1948: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, Apr. 17, 2018 — Members of the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli civilians are jointly commemorating the decisive battles of the 1948 War of Independence ahead of national celebrations of Israel’s 70th anniversary.

Imagine That You are That Israeli Soldier: Giulio Meotti, Arutz Sheva, Apr. 13, 2018 — Imagine you are an Israeli soldier in Kissufim.

Enhancing the IAF’s Qualitative Edge: The Air-Launched Cruise Missile Option: Guy Plopsky, BESA, Apr. 16, 2018— The proliferation of advanced weapons systems across the Middle East has increased significantly over the past decade.


On Topic Links

Israel Prepares to Remember 23,646 Fallen Soldiers and 3,134 Terror Victims: Michael Bachner, Times of Israel, Apr. 18, 2018

What is Yom HaZikaron and How Does Israel Observe It?: IDF Blog, Apr. 17, 2018

70 Years of the IDF (Photos): IDF Blog, Apr. 16, 2018

Improving Israeli Military Strategy Through Avant Garde Analysis: Prof. Louis René Beres, BESA, Mar. 25, 2018




Charles Bybelezer

The Media Line, Apr. 16, 2018


The fine line between tragedy and triumph is perhaps nowhere as clear as in Israel, and perhaps no more evident than this week as the Jewish state commemorates its fallen soldiers beginning Tuesday evening and its 70th anniversary twenty-four hours later. The transition from somberness to elation in many ways is a microcosm of the Jewish people’s tumultuous history, having suffered 2,000 years of persecution in exile only to return to its homeland to create one of the most dynamic, if not complex, societies in the world.

Even so, the trials, tribulations and hardships that have defined Israel since its rebirth have been felt across the board, with no individual escaping the ramifications of four major conventional wars launched by the Jewish state’s Arab neighbors—after its declaration of independence in 1948; in 1956; in 1967; and, again, in 1973—aimed, each time, at annihilating the fledgling nation. Having failed to achieve this goal, Israel’s enemies shifted their strategy towards asymmetric warfare, initially through the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization which perpetrated three decades of terrorism against the Jewish state; and, today, primarily through Iran’s Lebanon-based Hizbullah proxy and Gaza Strip-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad underlings.

Overall, 23,645 IDF soldiers and other security and intelligence personnel—including 71 over the past year—have since 1860 been killed while defending the pre-state Jewish population and then Israel proper. An additional 3,134 Israeli civilians were murdered in attacks since the nation’s establishment, with countless others injured during wartime or simply while riding a bus or walking the streets. Accordingly, in a country of only eight million people, few, if any, Israelis have not been, directly or indirectly, effected by violence, especially given that every youth is conscripted into the military at the age of eighteen. As such, the nation will come to a complete standstill on Yom Hazikaron, as it is called locally, not unlike last week when Israel marked Holocaust Remembrance Day.

But come nightfall Wednesday, the mood will swing like a pendulum, from sorrow to jubilation, as Independence Day is ushered in. Events will be held throughout the country, highlighted by the official torch-lighting ceremony in Jerusalem, followed by what has become tradition in Israel on its birthday; namely, treks, barbecues and, of course, parties. With every anniversary comes an opportunity to take stock—to recall the past, analyze the present and plan for the future. And while Israel is a relative oasis in an otherwise troubled region, it remains a nation plagued by instability.

Internally, political dysfunction and paralysis (not to mention the prime minister’s legal troubles) have prevented the formulation of coherent strategies to address many problems, ranging from societal divisions—between Left and Right, secular and religious, Jewish and Arab—to the sky-rocketing cost of living and deplorable levels of poverty. Equally important is Jerusalem’s failure to devise a comprehensive approach for dealing with the Palestinians, granted this is a tall order given Ramallah’s previous dismissal of numerous peace plans and ongoing anti-Israel incitement—manifest in its “pay-for-slay” policy of transferring hundreds of millions of dollars annually to Palestinian prisoners and to the families of those killed in confrontations with Israeli forces.

On the flip side, Israel’s tremendous technological and military prowess has, progressively, transformed Jerusalem into a significant player in the international arena, with ties to the United States (the Jewish state’s “anchor”) complemented by burgeoning relations with China, India and a multitude of African and Latin American states, among others.

Nevertheless, as always, Israel must be vigilant in the face of external threats, foremost Tehran’s regional expansionism and potential nuclearization. Most acute is the Islamic Republic’s ongoing effort to entrench itself militarily in Syria, where the Israeli army has over the past two years conducted well over 100 strikes targeting Iranian assets and convoys of advanced weaponry destined for Hizbullah. That each mission has the potential to spark a larger conflict was made stark in February, when Israel responded to the penetration of its air space by an Iranian drone by hitting a dozen targets in Syria, before an Israeli jet was downed by a barrage of surface-to-air missiles for the first time in three decades.

Meanwhile, to the south, the Islamic State is attempting to regroup in the Sinai Peninsula and Hamas continues its provocations, the latest example being the so-called “March of Return,” which for the past three Fridays has drawn tens of thousands of Palestinians to the Israel-Gaza border, leading to deadly conflagrations with the IDF.

However, there are signs that Israel is, to a degree, slowly becoming integrated into the broader Middle East, a positive development given the Arab world’s historical rejectionism. A growing alignment of interests—primarily the shared desire to curb Shiite Tehran’s hegemonic ambitions—has led to a rapprochement between the Jewish state and Sunni Muslim countries, creating cooperative possibilities that Israel’s founders could never in a million years have envisioned, let alone seven short decades. Indeed, this may be the greatest lesson to internalize as the country marks its most melancholy and joyous days; that is, despite some dark periods, the course of Israel’s development demonstrates that beyond every horizon there is light.



Yaakov Lappin

JNS, Apr. 17, 2018


Members of the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli civilians are jointly commemorating the decisive battles of the 1948 War of Independence ahead of national celebrations of Israel’s 70th anniversary. “When you study the War of Independence, which is fascinating, in an in-depth manner, you see that the IDF was born in this war,” Education Officer Lt.-Col. Shuli Ben Moha, who is running the commemoration tours, told JNS.

“In this war, the IDF built itself up. Its values were born in it. Its DNA was formed. This is the incredible aspect of the War of Independence. The things that were born in it can be seen to this day. It is moving to learn and read about this,” she added. Ben Moha said that the walking tours took place in Israel’s north, central, and southern regions on consecutive days in early April, with each day containing four routes for civilians to choose from.

Those who walked down the routes heard about the battles that raged there seven decades ago, as the newly born Israel fended off an attack by the states of the Arab League and local militias. Participants of the tour learned about acts of bravery that turned the tide and left a major mark on Israeli history, added Ben Moha. “We are using this wonderful opportunity of marking 70 years since the War of Independence, which was a seminal event of great significance, to bring people closer to the war’s legacy. We have a real opportunity to do that,” she said.

The war’s most significant and unique battles were chosen for the tours, Ben Moha said, describing them as having the most influence on the outcome of the conflict. These include the site of Ramat Yochanan, east of Haifa, “where the Druze sect sealed its blood pact [with the Jews of Israel] that exists to this day. We remember a significant battle there.”

In central Israel, the IDF and civilians walked along the Convoys Ridge, which is located on the approach to Jerusalem from the coastal plain. This is the site where convoys of armored supply vehicles broke through the Arab siege on Jerusalem and entered the city, rescuing its Jewish inhabitants. In the south, tourists heard “the incredible story of how southern communities stood firm [in the face of assaults by Arab League forces],” said Ben Moha.

Members of IDF brigades will, on some of the routes, walk along the sites where soldiers from the same brigades fought 70 years ago for independence. Lt. Guy Shtuser, Squad commander in the 401st Armored Corps Reconnaissance Company, spoke to JNS from Metzudat Koach, near Kiryat Shmona. This was the site of significant War of Independence clashes, which resulted in Israeli control of this strategically important area. Some 150 civilians joined 30 military personnel from the Armored Corps, the Paratroopers, and the Engineering Corps on the tour.

“We see this, first of all, as something that the military is doing for civilians. It is creating a bond that is a little different from the daily routine,” said Shtuser. During the walking tours, civilians also asked the military personnel about their current activities and heard about the fateful events of 1948. Shtuser’s squad is a part of the reconnaissance unit of the 401st Brigade — a unit whose members travel on foot in front of tanks, setting up lookouts and securing the territory. Shtuser, who has been a squad commander for almost a year and a half, noted that the message of the 1948 war resonates with him to this day. “We know we have to safeguard the borders because if we will not be there, if we will not be ready, what we are defending won’t be there for us.”




Giulio Meotti                                    

Arutz Sheva, Apr. 13, 2018


Imagine you are an Israeli soldier in Kissufim. It is a kibbutz on the border near the Gaza Strip. It is there since the Fifties, built by pioneers from Latin America within the “recognized borders” of Israel, those of 1948. After the tragic evacuation of the Jews in 2005, Kissufim is the front line for Israel. Beyond it, there is nothing else. The kibbutz over the years has suffered infiltrations of Palestinian fedayeen, Hamas missile launches, attempts to build tunnels that emerge between its houses and, in October 2017, even an Israeli strike that killed 7 Palestinian terrorists under the kibbutz in one of those deadly tunnels.

Imagine being that Israeli soldier two months after the strike. You are facing a Palestinian uprising beyond the fence that separates Israel from that enclave ruled by Hamas, an organization dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state, a sort of Afghanistan of Islamism, terrorism, submission and torture facing the Mediterranean Sea.

The riot has been going on for two hours, with stone throwing and attempts to break the fence. The military order for all is not to approach less than a hundred meters from that fence. Soldiers attempt to disperse the riot with tear gas, megaphones and other instruments. One of the Palestinian leaders of this riot approaches the border. The soldier has the order to hit him non-lethally. There is no other way to stop an invasion if the assailant is determination to pass through the fence. The soldier interrupts the order because a child appears near the target. Then, the soldier fires and wounds the Palestinian. An illegal video is filmed by soldiers who have nothing to do with the action and in the background we hear fellow soldiers cheering for the success of the operation. “Woh, what a video!”

An Israeli non-governmental organization funded by many European countries in order to de-legitimize Israel, Breaking the Silence, spreads the video. We are in the days after the lethal confrontations in Gaza after the “March of the Return”. The propaganda needs important material and that video of four months earlier offers the opportunity. And immediately goes around the world.

The media launched it with sensationalist headlines, transforming the legitimate Israeli attempt to stop the invasion of a border and ended with the wounding of a Palestinian – invasion that would later witness the participation of 50,000 Palestinians under the leadership of Hamas – in a sadistic and free videogame of the “Zionist occupiers” who shoot the Arab.

It is a classic case of the anti-Israeli delegitimization: the context, the consequences and the causes are eliminated, only the performance remains, chiseled to transform the defenders into aggressors, the besieged as executioners. They speak Hebrew, that’s enough. Nobody wants them to see Palestinians partying after the attacks on Israeli civilians or Arabic sermons in the al-Aqsa mosque against the “sons of pigs and monkeys”.

This is the story of the recent Hamas’ attempts to demolish the border line between Israel and Gaza. Everything disappears: guns, grenades, human shields, children and indoctrinated families, the money that Hamas gave to the injured and the families of the victims (3,000 dollars to the dead, 500 to the wounded), the cannibalistic proclamations of the leaders of the terror (“we will eat the livers of the Israelis”, “we will pull the hearts out of their bodies”), the double identity of the photographer killed (he was a member of the security forces of Hamas), the true nature of the victims (at least 15 of the 19 victims of the first weekend of riots were members of the Palestinian jihadist organizations) and the reason for Israel, which thus prevented the outbreak of war (the one in 2014 took off after the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli boys).

Everything must evaporate, step aside, get out of the screen and newspaper articles, to leave room only for the unequal and iniquitously described confrontation between a great military force and a people armed with stones and joy.

In these thirty years of wars and frictions between Israelis and Palestinians, nobody remembers the Israeli military missions aborted due to the presence of Palestinian civilians, the checkpoints removed and exploited to carry out attacks, the Israeli humanitarian aid trucks entered in Gaza, the Israeli hospitals always full of injured and sick Palestinians, Palestinian ambulances used to transport weapons and murderers, UN schools from which missiles are launched, tunnels dug under mosques, trials and convictions given to Israeli soldiers who have broken rules of engagement.

The Great Lie has eaten the truth of the conflict, namely that Israel, the besieged at every border, it is the true weak part of the conflict. The conquest of the hearts and minds of the West is the biggest Palestinian booty. This is how the “Palestinian question” has become strategic over the last fifty years and has dominated the UN stage. Without the newspapers, the NGOs, the chanceries, the news of the evening, the social media and the squares, the Palestinians today would be more irrelevant than the Tibetans or the Papuans, their victims yes of an authentic “occupation”, but last in the hierarchy of international compassion. Terror works. Anti-Israel terror also goes viral.





Guy Plopsky

BESA, Apr. 16, 2018

The proliferation of advanced weapons systems across the Middle East has increased significantly over the past decade. Many states in the region are acquiring modern air and air defense systems. These systems, as some experts have correctly observed, present the Israeli Air Force (IAF) with a new qualitative challenge.

To maintain its technological edge, the IAF is investing considerable resources into upgrading its fourth-generation platforms and acquiring new fifth-generation F-35I “Adir” multi-role fighters, which, in addition to stealth, also feature advanced network-centric and electronic warfare (EW) capabilities. The next logical step for the IAF is to expand its standoff precision-strike capabilities through the acquisition of long-range, very low-observable (stealth) air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) capable of engaging targets in heavily contested environments.

A key concern for the IAF is the proliferation of modern long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. Most notable is the acquisition of such systems by Iran, which has procured and introduced into service the Russian-made S-300PMU-2 (SA-20b) “Favorit.” Manufactured by Russia’s Almaz-Antey Aerospace Defense Concern, the road-mobile S-300PMU-2 incorporates advanced electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) features, making the system difficult to jam or spoof. It is armed with long-range 48N6E2 interceptors capable of engaging aerial targets at distances of up to 200 km. Tehran’s S-300 deal also includes advanced 96L6E “all-altitude” 3D target acquisition radars with good ground clutter rejection, enhancing detection and tracking of low-flying targets. Iran currently operates four S-300PMU-2 battalions.

Another Middle Eastern state that recently acquired a modern Russian-made long-range SAM system is Egypt. Though Jerusalem’s relationship with Cairo has improved markedly in recent years, historical grievances coupled with Egypt’s acquisition of modern air defense systems and combat aircraft make the country a potential concern in the long run. Cairo selected Almaz-Antey’s S-300VM (SA-23) “Antey-2500” system, which, like the S-300PMU-2, incorporates advanced ECCM features, is capable of engaging multiple targets simultaneously, and can deploy within a short time period.

The Antey-2500 is a tracked system, offering superior off-road mobility to the Favorit. The system utilizes two types of interceptors: the 9M83ME, which can engage aerial targets at ranges of 120-130 km; and either the 9M82ME or its extended-range 9M82MDE variant, which can engage aerial targets at distances of up to 200 km and 350 km, respectively. (There is no reliable information on whether Cairo procured the standard or the extended range variant of this missile).

While the range figures listed above are impressive, it should be emphasized that they are nominal. The real ranges at which a given target can be intercepted with a high probability of success is dependent on a wide range of factors. The probability of a small, maneuverable target (such as a tactical fighter) being intercepted by a very large, heavy SAM (such as the 9M82ME/MDE) is low, particularly at long ranges. Indeed, the 9M82ME/MDE’s primary purpose is terminal defense against ballistic targets (at ranges of up to 30km) and long-range interception of cumbersome strategic aerial assets (for example, airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft and aerial-refueling tankers). Nevertheless, even large, heavy SAMs can prove deadly against a tactical fighter over long distances if the latter fails to take appropriate evasive maneuvers, as was recently demonstrated.

On February 10, 2018, following a strike against Tiyas Airbase in Homs Governorate, an IAF F-16I “Sufa” fighter was shot down by a Syrian Soviet-era S-200VE (SA-5b) system using a long-range V-880E SAM. According to a subsequent IAF study, “[t]he aircrew failed to assess the situation, and did not defend itself as needed,” enabling the missile to approach within close proximity to the fighter. The SAM’s proximity-fused blast-fragmentation warhead worked as intended, detonating near the aircraft and showering it with fragments, prompting the crew of two to eject.

Deliveries to Syria of the SA-5b, along with colossal V-880E missiles (which have a 240 km operational range), commenced shortly after the First Lebanon War, during which Syrian air and air defense forces performed abysmally. Although the SA-5b possesses much greater range than other ground-based SAM systems operated by Syria, it was designed primarily to intercept strategic bombers and other cumbersome strategic aerial assets – not small, maneuverable fighters…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]



On Topic Links

Israel Prepares to Remember 23,646 Fallen Soldiers and 3,134 Terror Victims: Michael Bachner, Times of Israel, Apr. 18, 2018—Israelis will bow their heads at 8 p.m. Tuesday for a minute of silence as sirens sound in remembrance the country’s fallen soldiers and terror victims.

What is Yom HaZikaron and How Does Israel Observe It?: IDF Blog, Apr. 17, 2018—Yom HaZikaron is the day of national remembrance in Israel to commemorate all the soldiers and people who lost their lives during the struggle to defend the State of Israel.

70 Years of the IDF (Photos): IDF Blog, Apr. 16, 2018— For Israel’s 70th anniversary, the Ministry of Defense revealed a rare collection of photographs from the establishment of the State of Israel which can be seen below..

Improving Israeli Military Strategy Through Avant Garde Analysis: Prof. Louis René Beres, BESA, Mar. 25, 2018— One normally thinks of the avant garde with reference to artistic exploration, but it can also be applied to other fields of human learning, including military strategy. A French expression, it is by its very nature activist, and suggests in any context the energizing idea of “marching forward.”


How the IDF Is Preparing for Multi-Front War: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, Feb. 19, 2018— An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) plan designed to get it prepared for the challenge of multiple-front warfare is entering its third year.

How Israel Could Take the Fight Directly to Iran: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Feb. 17, 2018— The conflagration this past weekend between Israeli and Iranian forces is being billed as a new stage in the longstanding, albeit to date largely covert, war between the two adversaries.

Israeli Bombing Syria ENHANCED US National Security: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Feb. 15, 2018— Sinai strikes are a reminder that Israel should never count on Arab states to guarantee its safety. It’s the other way around.

Syrian Downing of F-16I Begs Question: Why Didn’t Israel Deploy F-35s?: Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News, Feb. 14, 2018— As the Israeli Air Force continues to investigate the Feb. 10 loss of an F-16I to Syrian anti-aircraft fire…


On Topic Links


One Step Ahead: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2018

IDF Acknowledges Serious Hezbollah Missile Threat to Israeli Natural Gas Rigs: Algemeiner, Feb. 7, 2018

U.S. Air Force Weighs International Squadrons to Strike Terror Targets: Julian E. Barnes and Gordon Lubold, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19, 2018

US May Boost Marine Corps Force in East Asia: Jeff Daniels, CNBC, Feb. 9, 2018




Yaakov Lappin

BESA, Feb. 19, 2018


An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) plan designed to get it prepared for the challenge of multiple-front warfare is entering its third year. The ability to operate effectively on multiple battle fronts simultaneously will be crucial for Israel’s ability to deal with unpredictable, explosive events that can begin on one front but quickly spread to others. According to Israeli intelligence assessments, none of Israel’s enemies wants a full-scale war any time soon (and neither does Israel), but the growing tension in the region means incidents can quickly escalate.


During a speech given to the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya at the start of January, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot identified the five fronts that pose threats to Israel’s security. He noted that a “big, strong Iranian umbrella is hovering” over all five of these sectors. The first is Lebanon, where Hezbollah, with Iranian assistance, has built up a major capability. Based on a relatively simple concept, Hezbollah’s assets in Lebanon are designed with strong layers of defense around them, combined with an ability to heavily strike the Israeli home front with projectiles. This is a model the Iranian Republican Guards Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah believe can challenge Israel’s military superiority.


Eisenkot named the second front as Syria, which has undergone drastic changes over the past year. Members of a Russian-led coalition, consisting of Iran, the Assad regime, Hezbollah, and Shiite militias, view themselves as the victors in Syria’s conflict and seek a presence on the Golan Heights. Iran has plans to establish an air, ground, and naval presence in Syria. “The danger to us is significant,” Eisenkot said.


The West Bank forms the third threatening sector. Hamas seeks to orchestrate terror attacks from there and divert “fire” away from Gaza, which it rules. Unorganized terrorism and ISIS-inspired lone attackers remain threats here too. Gaza is the fourth sector. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas and other armed Palestinian factions have built up terrorist guerilla armies, armed with arsenals of projectiles. These forces are embedded in a densely populated urban jungle. The Sinai Peninsula, where ISIS remains highly active, is the fifth sector.


Beyond the five fronts, Iran to the east – its nuclear ambitions and regional hegemony efforts – continue to threaten Israel.  The potential of reaching a high level of escalation “is immediate,” Eisenkot cautioned. The IDF’s preparations for multiple-front war rest on several capabilities. The first is Israeli intelligence supremacy. This gives the military a high-quality picture of enemy assets and activities and the ability to launch mass, precision strikes in the event of a war. The second key capability is robust air power.


During a speech delivered to the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in 2017, former Israel Air Force Chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel stated that Israel’s air power remains its most generic military force, giving it the flexibility to deal with multiple fronts quickly and simultaneously. “Speed – physics – still has a significance,” Eshel said. Threats, whether asymmetrical forces or older classical enemy divisions, can appear in bordering areas, or thousands of kilometers away. “When these approach, they can become a big problem. The solution of air power… arrives within minutes to hours,” Eshel said.


With no other military force able to respond this quickly, the IAF remains Israel’s first port of call in multiple-front warfare. Eshel said the IAF must be able to operate in three main sectors simultaneously, presumably referring to the north (Lebanon and Syria), the south (Gaza), and the east (Iran). “In the morning, aircraft can be over the northern front. By noon, they can be to the east, thousands of kilometers away. And in the evening, they could be operating over Gaza. No other force can do this,” he said.


The IAF is structuring itself to deal with symmetric and asymmetric threats, near and far, all at the same time. In addition, the idea of a preemptive strike, if necessary, is making a return to military high command due to new air capabilities. The IAF’s strike rate has “doubled twice” in recent years, Eshel said, meaning that several thousand targets can be hit within 24 hours, every 24 hours. This degree of air power is unprecedented in military history.


The days in which the IDF relied mainly on air power to wage a full-scale conflict are long gone. In line with the IDF’s multi-year plan, a major effort is underway to improve war readiness among ground forces. This year, enlisted operational forces are set to begin training for 17 weeks to match every 17 weeks of active security missions. This division of labor is designed to bump up combat readiness significantly, and not to let routine missions erode combat readiness.


In addition, the IDF has been creating light infantry brigades and deploying them to the borders with Egypt and Jordan. Their mission is solely limited to border security, thus freeing up enlisted combat forces, which would take part in ground maneuvers, for more war training. To counter the threat of armor-piercing RPGs and anti-tank missiles, which are highly prevalent in Gaza and Lebanon, the IDF is mass producing modern armored personnel carriers (APCs) and tanks. These are the tracked Namer and the wheeled Eitan APCs. The latter can travel 90 kilometers an hour on roads, giving it the ability to leap from one battle front to another.


Israel is also mass producing the Merkava 4 tank. On all these platforms, the Defense Ministry is installing Rafael’s Trophy active protection system. This gives the armored vehicles the ability to intercept incoming missiles and to instantly detect and share the location of enemy cells that are firing at them, enabling rapid, accurate return fire. As the IDF strengthens its ground war abilities, various command levels are training to improve their ability to launch multi-front attacks simultaneously…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






Charles Bybelezer

The Media Line, Feb. 17, 2018


The conflagration this past weekend between Israeli and Iranian forces is being billed as a new stage in the longstanding, albeit to date largely covert, war between the two adversaries. For the first time, Iranian troops perpetrated a direct attack on Israel, initially by sending a drone across the border from Syria and then by firing the anti-aircraft missile that downed an IDF jet which had reentered Israeli airspace after conducting a retaliatory mission.


The events were significant both because of the success in downing the Israeli warplane, the first such occurrence in decades, but also because it evidences Iran’s growing foothold in the Syrian theater, a development that Jerusalem vehemently opposes and has vowed to prevent at all costs. Overall, Iran’s actions suggest that it feels sufficiently emboldened to use its own forces to harm the Jewish state.


The incident constitutes a strategic shift, according to Lt.-Col. (ret.) Yiftah Shapir, a career officer in the Israel Air Force and the former head of the Military Balance Project at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, “as it marks the first occasion that the Iranians openly engaged Israel, whereas previously this was done via its proxies. It may be,” he qualified, “that the Iranians misjudged the [intensity of the] Israeli response and that the status quo will be restored for a period of time.”


By contrast, Saturday’s flare-up was not the first time that Israel directly struck Iranian assets. In December, the IDF reportedly destroyed a military facility being built by Tehran ​​in al-Kiswah, just south of Damascus. Notably, in 2015, Israeli strikes killed at least six Iranian troops in the Syrian Golan Heights, including a general in the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Also targeted was Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the notorious former Hezbollah operations chief, Imad Mughniyeh, who was himself killed in an Israeli-attributed 2008 car bombing in Syria.


Furthermore, the Mossad has been implicated in the assassination of multiple nuclear scientists on Iranian soil, not to mention the deployment of the Stuxnet cyberweapon, a computer worm developed in conjunction with Washington that wreaked havoc on Iranian nuclear installations even after being discovered in 2010. So whereas the latest confrontation along the northern border was in some ways exceptional, it does not inevitably entail a long-term escalation or that the conflict be brought out into the open, although these are both distinct possibilities.


In fact, while the political and military echelons have made clear that Israel is not seeking an escalation, its so-called “red lines” – namely, the transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria – continue to be violated; this, despite the IDF having conducted well over 100 cross-border strikes to protect its interests over the past 18 months. Additionally, Iran has started construction on a subterranean facility in Lebanon to manufacture long-range precision missiles that could allow Hezbollah to target, with great accuracy, critical Israeli infrastructure in a future war. Taken together, these developments raise the question of whether Israel’s deterrence vis-a-vis Tehran and its Lebanese proxy may be weakening, which would necessitate modifying its military strategy…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]







Yoram Ettinger

Jewish Press, Feb. 15, 2018


Israel’s unique contribution to US’ national security and US defense industries was reaffirmed on February 10, 2018, by Israel’s effective military operation against Syrian-based Iranian-Syrian surface-to-air missile batteries, early-warning radar stations, a launching-base of unmanned aerial vehicles and a command-control bunker. While Israel lost one F-16 combat plane, its air force demonstrated exceptional capabilities in the areas of intelligence, electronic warfare – especially radar jamming – firepower capabilities, precision, maneuverability, penetration of missile batteries, early-identification and destruction of advanced unmanned aerial vehicles and their mobile controller, etc.


Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) are analyzing the lessons of this recent operation, most of which will be shared, promptly, with the US – the manufacturer and provider of most of the systems operated by the IDF – as has been the case with a multitude of Israel’s military operations and wars.  For example, much of the battle-tactics formulation in the US Army Headquarters in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas has been based on the Israeli battlefield experience.


The February 10, 2018 Israeli Air Force operation against Syrian-Iranian military targets has reinforced the legacy of the late Senator Daniel Inouye, who was the Chairman of the full Appropriations Committee and its Defense Subcommittee.  Senator Inouye considered Israel a moral ally of the US, as well as the most effective battle-tested laboratory of the US military and defense industries – a primary outpost, in a critical region, sparing the US billions of dollars, which would be required to deploy additional US military forces to the area.


Senator Daniel Inouye, who was also the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, contended that the flow of Israeli intelligence to the US exceeded – quantitatively and qualitatively – the flow of intelligence from all NATO members combined. Chairman Inouye maintained that Israel’s battle experience – shared with the US – enhanced US national security, yielding billions of dollars to the US treasury.


For instance, the shared-lessons of the June 1982 Israeli destruction of 19 Syrian-operated advanced Soviet surface-to-air missile batteries and 97 Soviet combat planes, saved the US’ defense industries 10-20 years of research and development, enhanced the competitiveness of US military systems in the global market, increased US exports and expanded US employment. Moreover, the lessons of the Israeli military operation upgraded the capabilities of the US Air Force and the US’ posture of deterrence, exposed the vulnerabilities of advanced Soviet military systems – which were deemed impregnable until then – undermined the regional and global Soviet strategic stature, tilted the global balance of power in favor of the US and prevented the loss of many American lives.


When visiting the General Dynamics plant (currently, Lockheed-Martin) in Ft. Worth, Texas, which manufactures the F-16 and F-35, I was told by the plant manager that the US manufacturer was privy to an almost daily flow of operational, maintenance and repair lessons drawn by Israel’s Air Force, which generated over 600 upgrades, “worth mega-billion of dollars.”  Common sense suggests that similar mega-benefits are afforded to McDonnell-Douglas, in St. Louis, Missouri, the manufacturer of the F-15, which is also operated by the Israeli Air Force.


In Dallas, Texas, a retired US combat pilot suggested to me that “a most productive time for US combat pilots are joint-exercises with Israeli pilots.” Responding to my doubts – since Israeli pilots fly US-made planes and are not smarter than US pilots – the US combat pilot elaborated: “Israeli pilots fly, routinely, within range of the enemies’ radar and missiles, and therefore always fly under a do-or-die state of mind, which results in more daring and creative maneuvers, stretching the capabilities of the US plane much more than done by US pilots.”


The February 10, 2018 Israeli Air Force operation highlighted the US-Israel mutually-beneficial, two-way-street, featuring Israel’s unique contributions to US national security and defense industries. It provided additional evidence of the exceptionally high rate-of-return on the annual US investment in Israel, which is erroneously defined as “foreign aid.”  Israel is neither foreign to the US, nor is it a supplicant; it has been an unconditional, productive junior partner of the US in the liberty-driven battle against rogue regimes.






Barbara Opall-Rome

Defense News, Feb. 14, 2018


As the Israeli Air Force continues to investigate the Feb. 10 loss of an F-16I to Syrian anti-aircraft fire, experts here are privately questioning why, given the operational circumstances that denied Israel the element of strategic surprise, it did not opt to deploy its newest front-line fighter: the stealthy F-35I. In early December, the Air Force declared initial operational capability of the nine F-35s now in its possession. And from the aerial activity reported by residents near its home base at Nevatim, southern Israel, the aircraft are accruing significant flight time.


Yet none of the operational F-35s were part of the eight-aircraft force package tasked with destroying an Iranian command center in central Syria. The command center was reportedly operating the unmanned Shahed 171 drone that Israel says penetrated its airspace in the early morning of Feb. 10. Nor were they tasked to lead the follow-on wave of strikes on 12 separate Syrian and Iranian assets in the punitive operation launched later that day in response to the F-16I downing. But why not?


Perhaps these costly stealth fighters are too precious to use. Or perhaps the Israeli Air Force is not sufficiently confident in the aircraft or its pilots’ proficiency in operating the fifth-generation fighter.


Given pledges by Syria and its Hezbollah allies of “more surprises” should Israel venture additional attacks on Syrian soil, will the Israel Air Force opt to use these front-line assets next time around?


The official answer to all these questions, according to Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, is: “No comment.” Unofficially, former Israeli Air Force officers offer a spectrum of explanations and conjecture, including: Anemic operational experience by the service’s F-35 pilots; Failure thus far to integrate required Israeli weaponry in the aircraft’s internal weapons bay; The need to reserve these assets for only the most strategically significant missions against a much more sophisticated array of enemy air defenses.


However, all conceded — and on condition of anonymity due to the ongoing investigation — that the Air Force miscalculated. By failing to anticipate the threat from saturation attacks by Syrian-based air defenses — however antiquated those SA-5 and SA-17 missiles, which were deployed to support the Syrian government, might have been — Israel suffered not only the loss of its first fighter to enemy fire in 36 years, but a serious blow to its carefully crafted and well-earned aura of invincibility.


With the acknowledged benefit of 20/20 hindsight, some in Israel are wondering where the F-35 was. “They were sure the F-16I could easily survive the environment, as it has done so many times before,” a retired Air Force major general told Defense News. Another former officer surmised that the weaponry Israel used in that initial strike on the T-4 airfield in central Syria was not yet integrated into the weapons bay of the F-35 stealth fighter. “If it was determined to use our own special weapons for this particular scenario and this specific formation, what good would it do to hang it under the wings? You’d lose the stealth,” the officer said.


The Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, refused to specify which missiles were used in the initial attack on the Iranian command-and-control trailer, but multiple sources point to the Israeli SPICE, an autonomous, all-weather, precision-attack weapon that the Air Force is well-practiced in delivering at standoff range. In conjecture officially denied by Conricus, the IDF spokesman, one officer suggested Washington may have discouraged or even vetoed Israel’s use of the F-35 at this point in the multinational program out of concern that Russian and Iranian specialists in Syria could gather information on its radar-evading capability and other characteristics. “That would be highly unlikely and would set a dangerous precedent,” a former U.S. ambassador to Israel told Defense News. “Once delivered, these aircraft are wholly owned and operated by the Israelis.”


Retired Israeli Air Force Brig. Gen. Abraham Assael, IAF Reserve Brig. Gen. Abraham Assael, CEO of the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, was the only officer who agreed to be identified by name. According to the former fighter pilot, the Air Force had no reason to risk “strategic assets” against what was termed a “strategically insignificant” target. “In the past, everything went very well, so why jeopardize something so valuable and precious in an operation that used to entail no significant obstacles?” Assael said.


He cited the small number of F-35s in Israel’s possession and the relatively meager operational experience accrued on the aircraft as reasons for not including them in the Feb. 10 strike operations. “If they thought that the targets were so strategically important, I’m sure they’d consider using them. But they weren’t. So why risk use of the F-35s at such an early point in their operational maturity?” “Glitches and mishaps happen,” he added. “So now they’re investigating, and it could be one of the lessons will be that in this new strategic environment, we’ll see the F-35 called into action.”




On Topic Links


One Step Ahead: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2018—Israel is no slouch at cyberwarfare. The Jewish state has been under incessant attack from its inception and has had to grapple with myriad enemies.

IDF Acknowledges Serious Hezbollah Missile Threat to Israeli Natural Gas Rigs: Algemeiner, Feb. 7, 2018—A senior IDF naval officer confirmed this week that Hezbollah — Iran’s proxy Shi’ite terror organization based in Lebanon — now possesses missiles that could cause serious damage to the natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea that provide Israel with 60 percent of its electricity.

U.S. Air Force Weighs International Squadrons to Strike Terror Targets: Julian E. Barnes and Gordon Lubold, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19, 2018—The U.S. Air Force is considering forming international squadrons of low-cost fighter planes to strike terrorist targets in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, allowing deployment of higher-tech jets to areas requiring their advanced capabilities.

US May Boost Marine Corps Force in East Asia: Jeff Daniels, CNBC, Feb. 9, 2018—In a move seen as largely signaling to China, the Trump administration could soon boost its military presence in East Asia. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday the Pentagon is considering increasing its Marine Corps Expeditionary Units in East Asia as it draws down its deployments in the Middle East, citing unnamed military officials.





Israel's Military Dominates the Middle East For 1 Reason: An Air Force Like No Other: Robert Farley, National Interest, Jan. 9, 2018— Since the 1960s, the air arm of the Israel Defense Forces (colloquially the IAF) has played a central role in the country’s defense.

Iron Dome Goes Naval to Defend Gas Rigs: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, Dec. 20, 2017— The Israeli Navy has a new tool at its disposal to defend the country’s offshore gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea, which are under threat from the Hezbollah and Hamas terror groups.

Defend IDF’s Women: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 21, 2018— Given the chance, women have proven that they can contribute significantly to the success of our military forces.

How the U.S. and Israel Can Reshape the Middle East: James Stavridis, Bloomberg, Jan. 22, 2018— At a dinner the other evening in Tel Aviv, the former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon said, “There are more changes happening in the Middle East today than at any time since the 7th century.”


On Topic Links


IDF End-of-Year Video Summarizing 2017 Highlights: Breaking Israel News, Jan. 19, 2018

Need to Fight in a Tunnel or Find Hidden IEDs? Ask Lt. Col. Liron Aroch How: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Jan. 30, 2018

After Years of Alleged Israeli Strikes in Syria, Will Luck Run Out?: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 9, 2018

Israeli Air Force Leaning Toward Upgraded F-15 Over F-35 for Next Fighter Jet Acquisition: Amos Harel, Ha’aretz, Jan. 30, 2018





Robert Farley

National Interest, Jan. 9, 2018


Since the 1960s, the air arm of the Israel Defense Forces (colloquially the IAF) has played a central role in the country’s defense. The ability of the Israeli Air Force to secure the battlefield and the civilian population from enemy air attack has enabled the IDF to fight at a huge advantage. At the same time, the IAF has demonstrated strategic reach, attacking critical targets at considerable distance. The dominance of the IAF has come about through effective training, the weakness of its foes, and a flexible approach to design and procurement. Over the years, the Israelis have tried various strategies for filling their air force with fighters, including buying from France, buying from the United States and building the planes themselves. They seem to have settled on a combination of the last two, with great effect.


In its early years, Israel took what weapons it could from what buyers it could find. This meant that the IDF often operated with equipment of a variety of vintages, mostly secured from European producers. By the late 1950s, however, Israel had secured arms transfer relationships with several countries, most notably the United Kingdom and France. The relationship with France eventually blossomed, resulting in the transfer of high-technology military equipment, including Mirage fighters (and also significant technical assistance for Israel’s nuclear program). These Mirage fighters formed the core of the IAF in the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel largely destroyed its neighbors’ air forces in the first hours of the conflict.


In 1967, however, France imposed an arms embargo on Israel, which left Tel Aviv in a quandary. The IDF needed more fighters, and also sought capabilities that the Mirage could not provide, including medium-range ground strike. Under these conditions, the Israelis adopted the time-honored strategy of simply stealing what they needed. To complement their existing airframes, the Israelis acquired technical blueprints of the Mirage through espionage (possibly with the tolerance of some French authorities). The project resulted in two fighters, the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Nesher and the IAI Kfir. The second employed more powerful American designed engines, and for a time served as the primary fighter of the IDF’s air arm. Both aircraft enjoyed export success, with the Nesher serving in Argentina and the Kfir flying for Colombia, Ecuador and Sri Lanka.


This investment helped drive the development of Israel’s aerospace sector, with big implications for the rest of Israel’s economy. Heavy state investment in military technological development does not always drive broader innovations in civilian technology. In this case, however, state investment provided a key pillar for the early development of Israel’s civilian technology sector. To many, the success of the Kfir suggested that Israel could stand on its own in aerospace technology, eliminating the need to rely on a foreign sponsor.


Nevertheless, Israel continued to invest heavily in foreign aircraft. The IDF began acquiring F-4 Phantoms in the late 1960s, and F-15 Eagles in the mid-1970s. The arrival of the latter in Israel inadvertently sparked a political crisis, as the first four aircraft landed after the beginning of the Sabbath. The ensuing controversy eventually brought down the first premiership of Yitzhak Rabin. But many in Israel, still buoyed by the relative success of the Kfir and hopeful about further developing Israel’s high-tech sector, believed that the country could aspire to develop its own fighter aircraft.


Enter the Lavi. Like its counterparts in both the USSR and the United States, the IDF air arm believed that a high/low mix of fighters best served its needs. This led to the development of the Lavi, a light multirole fighter that could complement the F-15 Eagles that Israel continued to acquire from the United States. The Lavi filled the niche that the F-16 Viper would eventually come to dominate. It included some systems licensed by the United States, and visually resembled an F-16 with a different wing configuration.


But the military-technological environment had changed. Developing the Lavi from scratch (or virtually from scratch) required an enormous state investment for an aircraft that had marginal, if any, advantages over an off-the-shelf F-16. Moreover, the United States took export controls much more seriously than France, and had a much more dangerous toolkit for enforcing compliance. Despite initial optimism about the export prospects of the Lavi, it soon became apparent to Israelis that the United States would not allow the wide export of a fighter that included significant American components. That the Lavi would have competed directly against the F-16 only exacerbated the problem.


In August 1987, the Israeli cabinet killed the Lavi, which caused protests from IAI and the workers associated with the project. Nevertheless, a political effort to revive the plane failed, and Israel eventually acquired a large number of F-16s. In its afterlife, however, the Lavi helped kill the export prospects of the F-22 Raptor; out of concern that Israel had shared Lavi (and thus F-16) technology with the Chinese (leading to the J-10), the U.S. Congress prohibited any export of the F-22. This decision prevented Israel and several other interested buyers from acquiring the Raptor, and undoubtedly cut short its overall production life…

 [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]               





Yaakov Lappin

BESA, Dec. 20, 2017


The Israeli Navy has a new tool at its disposal to defend the country’s offshore gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea, which are under threat from the Hezbollah and Hamas terror groups. The system, called C-Dome by its manufacturer, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, is stationed on board the INS Lahav navy missile ship. This is a Sa’ar 5-class vessel – the largest of its kind in the Israeli Navy. In the coming years, the navy will install more C-Dome systems on board the Sa’ar 6 missile ships, which are currently being manufactured in Germany. These are designed specifically for the mission of defending the gas rigs, and when they enter service in 2019, they will be the largest ships in the fleet.


The reason Israel is investing so heavily in the protection of the gas drilling rigs is because they are a strategic energy supply and a major source of future national income, once Israel begins exporting natural gas to the world. The rigs are vulnerable to enemy firepower. Located in Israel’s Exclusive Economic Zone, they form an attractive target for hostile, well-armed entities that share Israel’s Mediterranean coastline. Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and pro-Iranian forces in Syria could all try to target the rigs with ballistic rockets or missiles.


That’s where C-Dome comes in. The arrival of a sea-based Iron Dome “enables a multi-layered defense, not only for ground assets but also the sea,” said Lt. Col. Yoni Grinboim, commander of the 137th Iron Dome Battalion, which was set up by the Israeli Air Force to command the Iron Dome batteries stationed in northern Israel. The battalion is also responsible for the first naval Iron Dome unit. C-Dome is linked to the INS Lahav’s powerful new ship’s radar, which can detect a greater number of threats – and at longer ranges – than ever before. Grinboim said that sending his air force Iron Dome operators to a navy vessel, to work closely with naval personnel, was no minor affair. The Iron Dome’s operators now have their own stations in the ship’s battle information center – the area where all data comes in and where decisions are made. They work side by side with navy personnel.


Grinboim said there has been a major process of creating “a dialogue with the navy to adapt our battle doctrines and systems. The process included training, and developing [new] doctrines for Iron Dome operators who need to function in a sea environment…we also adapted these weapons for sea conditions.” The Iron Dome batteries themselves have evolved over the years. Though details on how they have improved are generally classified, Grinboim was prepared to say that many upgrades have been installed to adapt the system “to the developing threats throughout the sectors.” “Our working assumption is that in the next war, terror organizations will try to harm Israeli national assets at sea. This strengthens the importance of the sea Iron Dome squadron and its capabilities,” Grinboim said. Before declaring the system operational last month, the navy fired rockets, simulating an enemy Grad attack from the shore towards the sea. The projectiles were detected by the INS Lahav’s radar and Iron Dome interceptors were fired from the ship’s deck, successfully striking the targets in mid-air.


The head of the Iron Dome program at Israel’s Defense Ministry, whose name is withheld for security reasons, said the trial “simulated several scenarios of rockets fired from shore to sea. The system detected the relevant threats and successfully intercepted them.” C-Dome does not mark the final word in the story of Iron Dome, according to the defense official, who pledged that Israel would “continue to develop and upgrade the system to deal with additional fronts and relevant threats.” Grinboim, speaking a day after the C-Dome test, said it “created a new breakthrough because we were able to improve issues that were raised in past trials. We also introduced new technological improvements for the maritime and aerial defense of the country.” The navy is increasing the range of coverage of the Iron Dome system at sea by linking it up to radars that are on shore…


The INS Lahav has other weapons on board designed to protect the gas drilling rigs. These include Barak 8 surface-to-air missile systems, produced by Israel Aerospace Systems, which are designed to shoot down threatening aircraft (including drones), fast cruise missiles, and other weapons that are believed to be in the hands of Hezbollah. In any conflict, the ship’s battle information center would be buzzing with incoming intelligence and orders. “We will choose to intercept threats with the correct weapons,” Grinboim said. As Iranian-made weaponry continues to pour into Lebanon and Syria, and Gaza’s domestic rocket factories churn out more projectiles, new defenses like C-Dome should prove crucial for Israel’s ability to stop its enemies from threatening the Jewish state’s new energy lifeblood.






Jerusalem Post, Jan. 21, 2018


Given the chance, women have proven that they can contribute significantly to the success of our military forces. Women might lack the brute force of men, but they often have leadership or technological skills that depend on high intelligence and unique personality traits that are essential for the continued success of the IDF.


In the Israel Air Force alone a number of female officers have been appointed to key command positions in recent months. Just last week it was announced that a female pilot with the rank of major, whose name cannot be publicized due to security concerns, will be promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and will command an aviation squadron responsible for ground-based operations. Another woman, a major, will be promoted to lieutenant- colonel and head the air force’s operational command and control unit. She will be the first female air traffic controller to reach this rank.


In November, the air force appointed its very first female deputy commander of a fighter jet squadron, which flies F-15 fighter jets out of the Tel Nof air base in central Israel. Two other women were appointed to deputy commander positions in the IDF’s military drone squadrons. It is only natural that the IDF, like any other institution that wants to maximize its chances for success, takes advantage of all available human resources and does not make the mistake of shunning 50% of the population due to anachronistic conceptions about “proper” gender roles.


But not everyone is happy about the IDF’s gender-blind meritocratic approach. On Wednesday, during an interview on Army Radio, Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu called to fire IDF Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eisenkot. “The army has adopted a crazy feminist agenda,” Eliyahu said. “I don’t know what’s gotten into Eisenkot. Cabinet ministers and the prime minister should tell Eisenkot, ‘You have to get packing and go home, you have done too much to lower the motivation to enlist, especially waging war on the religious soldiers.’ I call on the prime minister to tell Eisenkot to go home.”


Eliyahu’s comments followed a ruling by prominent National Religious spiritual leader Rabbi Shlomo Aviner that men should not enlist until they can guarantee they are not placed in a gender-mixed unit. Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef publicly backed Eliyahu, telling him that Eliyahu’s father, the late chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu “is happy with you in heaven.”  In response, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced that he would ban Yosef, Eliyahu and Aviner from taking part in IDF ceremonies. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he is proud of the IDF for integrating women at the highest ranks…


Two conflicting trends are competing for prominence within the IDF and both are a blessing to it. On one hand, religious soldiers are disproportionately represented in command positions, particularly in combat units. The IDF is also investing thought and energy in attracting Haredi men to the IDF. National Religious soldiers tend to be highly motivated and view their military service as an extension of their Jewish identity and religious obligations. On the other hand, women are demanding – and receiving – egalitarian treatment in the IDF. Women understand that as long as there is gender-based discrimination in the IDF, Israeli society will never be truly egalitarian. And under the leadership of Eisenkot, the gender revolution is underway. In 2017, the IDF reported a record-high 2,700 women joining combat units, a five-fold increase since 2012…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                





James Stavridis

Bloomberg, Jan. 22, 2018


At a dinner the other evening in Tel Aviv, the former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon said, “There are more changes happening in the Middle East today than at any time since the 7th century.” He was referring, of course, to the split in Islam that divided that religion into its two principal religious streams, Sunni and Shiite. Over the next several days, many senior Israeli defense figures — civilian and military, active and retired — echoed the same thought. Israeli’s world is changing, and that will bring both peril and promise.


Fortunately, our Israeli allies have a strong hand of cards at the moment: a rock-solid strategic alliance with the U.S.; an administration in Washington that tactically supports them across a range of key issues; a vibrant and innovative economy that deserves its reputation as the “start-up nation”; a battle-tested military capable of acting across the spectrum of violence from special forces to offensive cyber; newly available offshore natural gas reserves; and, reportedly, a significant nuclear strategic deterrent. In many ways, Israel is the “superpower” in the Middle East.


On the other hand, it is facing another rising regional superpower: The Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran has imperial ambitions dating back thousands of years to the various incarnations of the Persian Empire; a large, young and growing population; strong and experienced military cadres; and huge oil reserves. The Iranians are pushing for political control in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Syria — to build a “Shiite corridor” from Tehran to the Mediterranean. They are drawing closer to Turkey and Russia (whose looming influence in the region is growing in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s successful defense of his ally, the war criminal Bashar al-Assad). And Iran's leaders despise Israel and the U.S.


The Israeli world seems to change daily. In addition to this rising Iran, there is a newly aggressive and activist Saudi Arabia; a shattered Syria; an ugly war in Yemen; a still-dangerous Islamic State seeking to reinvent itself; Russian and Turkish troops within a few hundred miles of Israel; the lingering aftershocks of the so-called Arab Spring; and a reduced U.S. presence on the ground. What can Americans do to help our strongest partner in the region? I have a few suggestions:


Implement a joint strategy for dealing with Iran. It was reported last month that the U.S. and Israel were working together on a plan for the region that reflects both countries' national interests. This means first and foremost working together — alongside other regional actors as well as partners from outside the Middle East — overtly and covertly to confront and contain Iran. It should include new sanctions to respond to Iranian military and intelligence provocations. The U.S. should remain in the Iranian nuclear deal (despite its flaws and limitations), but lead the effort to sanction Tehran outside the deal for its ballistic missile and terrorist support actions. It should also keep a strong maritime component in the Arabian Gulf, enhance its intelligence collection, and coordinate support to indigenous forces opposing Iran in Syria and Iraq.


Encourage Israeli engagement with moderate Sunni states. Israel has for some time enjoyed good relations with Egypt and Jordan. But the rise of Iran has created a real opportunity for it to step up cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. This will be uncomfortable for obvious reasons and bitter history; but the overarching threat posed by Iran makes this a potentially new strategic alignment. With a dynamic young leader in Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the kingdom is assertively acting in Yemen and Syria, exerting influence in Lebanon, and generally confronting Iran from the Arabian Gulf to the Eastern Mediterranean. The U.S. could act as a coordinator for links between the Saudis and Israel on shared intelligence, regional ballistic missile defense, maritime interception operations against Iranian weapons shipments to Yemen, and other confidence-building measures.


Strengthen bilateral military cooperation. While the U.S. and Israel already have an extraordinary level of defense integration, there are still important zones of potential improvement. These include better intelligence sharing; joint work on cyber options, especially vis-à-vis Iran; increased partnering on defense procurement, particularly in missile defense; and maritime operations in both the Eastern Mediterranean (where Israel has significant challenges protecting its nascent offshore gas infrastructure) and the Bab-el-Mandeb strait at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. Another promising zone of defense cooperation is in space. Using their successful ballistic-missile cooperation as a model, the U.S. and Israel could bring together their defense-industrial sectors to explore joint programs. These could include exercises and training focused on the ways in which the two nations use space militarily. Finally, the U.S. should also consider home-porting two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers in Israel –their positioning in the Eastern Med would help counter the increased Russian presence there.


Increase Israeli engagement with NATO. Israel was a founding member of NATO’s “Mediterranean Dialogue” — a loose confederation of non-NATO countries bordering the Mediterranean. The Israelis are engaged operationally in some low-key ways with the alliance. The U.S. should try to increase that level of involvement, offering the Israelis opportunities for working with NATO in exercises, training and potentially in operations and intelligence sharing. This could easily be structured out of the NATO Special Operations Headquarters in Mons, Belgium. Above all, the U.S. should continue to stand strong alongside Israel from the halls of the United Nations to the ballistic-missile radar installations in the dusty Negev desert, where our troops are for the first time posted permanently. The two nations will always disagree on a variety of international and political issues, from settlements in the West Bank to the best approach on climate change. But the Israelis will continue to be the closest allies for the U.S. in the most turbulent and war-torn region of the world. That, at least, will not be changing.




On Topic Links


IDF End-of-Year Video Summarizing 2017 Highlights: Breaking Israel News, Jan. 19, 2018

Need to Fight in a Tunnel or Find Hidden IEDs? Ask Lt. Col. Liron Aroch How: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Jan. 30, 2018—There’s an active Hamas attack tunnel deep inside Israeli territory, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Gaza Strip, stretching tens of meters and full of hiding spots, offshoots and storage depots. There are others like it, too.

After Years of Alleged Israeli Strikes in Syria, Will Luck Run Out?: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 9, 2018—Israeli jets have struck hundreds of targets in Syria for the past five years, returning safely to base after facing no resistance. Since January 2013, Israel has acknowledged 100 air strikes targeting Hezbollah terrorists, weapon convoys and infrastructure, and it is believed to be behind dozens more, including on early Tuesday morning against a military installation in the al-Qutayfa area east of Damascus.

Israeli Air Force Leaning Toward Upgraded F-15 Over F-35 for Next Fighter Jet Acquisition: Amos Harel, Ha’aretz, Jan. 30, 2018—The Israel Air Force is to decide in a few months between purchasing a third squadron of F-35 fighter jets or the F-15I, which, while less advanced, has other advantages.






Netanyahu in India: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Jan. 12, 2018— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits India just half a year after the first historic trip of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel (July 2017)

Considering Netanyahu’s Transformational Leadership: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 7, 2018— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most underappreciated leader Israel has ever had.

Is the IDF Ready for Our Next War?: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 29, 2017 — I came away from a conference this week deeply concerned about the IDF’s battle preparedness; actually, about its fighting spirit and ethos.

War Prevention: A Top IDF Goal: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, Dec. 18, 2017— At the end of October, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed graduates of a military officer’s course at Training Base 1, deep in Israel’s Negev Desert.


On Topic Links


Meretz Reshuffles Israeli Left's Political Deck: Mazal Mualem, Al-Monitor, Jan. 10, 2018

WATCH: The IDF ‘Dreams Big and Achieves Big’: United With Israel, Dec. 13, 2017

2017 Was Tough But Successful Year for Israeli Army: Tsivya Fox, Breaking Israel News, Jan. 8, 2018

General Says ‘Jewish Brains’ Have Found Solution to Eliminate all Hamas Tunnels: Tamar Pileggi, Times of Israel, Jan. 14, 2018



Prof. Efraim Inbar

Israel Hayom, Jan. 12, 2018


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits India just half a year after the first historic trip of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel (July 2017). These visits reflect the significant expansion in relations between the two countries that has taken place since the establishment of full diplomatic relations in 1992.


Since Modi came to power in May 2014, his Bharatiya Janata Party government has shed its predecessors' reservations regarding India's ties with Israel. Noteworthy, Modi's trip to Israel was not "balanced" with a visit to the Palestinian Authority, indicating that India has decoupled its relations with Israel from its historical commitment to the Palestinian issue. India has even occasionally refrained from joining the automatic majority against Israel in international fora. The two states decided to focus on the bilateral relationship.


The strategic glue consists of high levels of threat perception and a common strategic agenda. Both have waged major conventional wars against their neighbors and have experienced low‐intensity conflict and terror, as they are both involved in protracted conflicts characterized by complex ethnic and religious components not always well understood by outsiders. Weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of their rivals. Both regard parts of the Arab world as hubs for Islamic extremism – a common threat. Moreover, India fears the Pakistani nuclear arsenal might ultimately fall into the hands of Islamic radicals, while Israel sees the mix of Islamic zeal in Iran with nuclear ambitions as an existential threat. The offshoots of ISIS threaten the stability of Egypt and Jordan – Israel's neighbors – and are increasingly sources of concern in South and Southeast Asia.


Indeed, the first paragraph of the India-Israel joint statement issued at the end of Modi's visit in Israel states that that the friendship between the two states has been raised to "a strategic partnership." Modi explained, "Israel and India live in complex geographies. … We are aware of strategic threats to regional peace and stability. … Prime Minister Netanyahu and I agreed to do much more together to protect our strategic interests." Washington is important for Jerusalem and New Delhi. India, a major player in the international system, has improved relations with the U.S. Nevertheless, New Delhi's links with Jerusalem have the potential to smooth over some of the difficulties in dealing with the U.S. Working with Israel fits into Modi's plan to deepen relations with the U.S. given the U.S.‐Israel friendship.


The American Jewish organizations valued the importance of India for the U.S. and for Israel, as well as the potential advantages of nurturing good relations with the Indian community in America, whose political power is on the rise. The Jewish and Indian lobbies worked together to gain the George W. Bush administration's approval for Israel's sale of the EL/W-2090 Phalcon airborne early warning and control system to India. In the fall of 2008, Jewish support was important in passing through the U.S. Congress the U.S.‐India nuclear deal, which allowed India access to nuclear technology for civilian use despite its not being a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


Two strategic developments of the 21st century are likely to strengthen the strategic glue between India and Israel: the perceived decline of the U.S. and the rise of China. In the Middle East, the American reluctance to get involved in the region helped Iran's quest for hegemony. U.S. weakness inevitably has ripple effects in other parts of the globe. Indeed, Asian states view the declining American role with concern…


Gradually, India has overcome its reservations about security cooperation with Israel. It is not only on counterterrorism, which preceded the establishment of diplomatic relations and has been conducted away from the public eye. The November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks underscored the need for better counterterrorism preparations in India and elicited greater cooperation with Israeli agencies.


Arms supply and technology transfer have also become important components in the bilateral relationship. Israel's export policy is flexible, meeting Indian demands for technological transfer and offsets. The India-Israel Joint Statement hailed the defense cooperation, noting that India and Israel agreed that "future developments in this sphere should focus on joint development of defense products, including transfer of technology from Israel, with a special emphasis on the ‘Make in India' initiative."


As result of the successful overtures of its military industries, Israel has become the third‐largest arms supplier to India. Over the years, New Delhi purchased Israeli advanced radar and communications equipment and turned also to Israel for portable battlefield radars, night warfare vision equipment, and electronic fences to improve border monitoring. A long list of Israeli military items, such as ammunition, UAV parts, and missiles (Spike anti‐armor, the Python‐4 air‐to‐air, naval Barak 8 surface‐to‐air) are being produced in India.


Recent examples of purchase include a contract for two additional Phalcon systems, valued at $1 billion, signed during the November 2016 visit of President Reuven Rivlin to India. Additional large contracts were concluded before Modi's visit to Israel last year. The occasional difficulties in implementing the Indian military procurement contracts do not obscure the general trend of close cooperation. These deals are part of India's $250 billion plan to modernize the armed forces by 2025 amid tensions with neighbors China and Pakistan.


For Israel, good relations with India reflect an awareness of structural changes in the international system as the center of gravity moves to Asia and the Pacific Rim. India is an extremely important protagonist that requires Israel's utmost attention. While national security issues, including defense contracts, are an important facet of the bilateral relations, it is only one component. The joint statement mentions a myriad of agreements in the civilian sphere:  space, water management, agriculture, science and technology. In addition, the two countries decided to create a $40 million innovation fund to allow Indian and Israeli enterprise to develop innovative technologies and products with commercial application.


Netanyahu values very much Israel's relations with Asia, particularly India. His visit will be an opportunity to gauge the progress made in the bilateral relationship, overcome the blocks hindering the implementation of the agreements signed during the Modi visit and further cement India's strategic ties with the Jewish state. Netanyahu will adopt once more the salesman role and try to expand economic relations between the two countries and promote Israel's image as a technological giant and an important member of the international community.                                                    





Caroline Glick

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 7, 2018


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most underappreciated leader Israel has ever had. In the near future, he will likely take Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s title of the longest-serving premier. Yet, Netanyahu is not only perceived as being a leader of less significance than Ben-Gurion. He is considered a less consequential leader than prime ministers like Levi Eshkol, Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, whose records in office are far thinner than Netanyahu’s.


Both Netanyahu’s detractors and supporters view his long stewardship of Israel as largely inconsequential because Netanyahu has not overseen any grand, headline-grabbing initiatives. He didn’t declare Israel’s independence, as Ben-Gurion did. He didn’t lead Israel through the 1967 Six Day War and so oversee Israel’s greatest military victory to date, as Eshkol did. He didn’t recognize the PLO, like Rabin. He didn’t withdraw from Gaza like Sharon did. He hasn’t withdrawn from Judea and Samaria, as Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert tried to do. He didn’t surrender south Lebanon to Hezbollah, as Barak did.


True, grand initiatives like all of these have left their marks on Israel – for better and for worse. And no, Netanyahu has no grand initiative in his record. But when you stop and think about what Netanyahu has accomplished during his more than a decade in office, it rapidly becomes clear that he has adroitly and successfully transformed Israel for the better in a way that no leader except Ben-Gurion has done.


Netanyahu has operated in a media environment more hostile than any his predecessors ever faced. Despite this, beginning with his first term in office in the late 1990s, Netanyahu authored and implemented the economic reforms that transformed Israel from a sclerotic socialist backwater into a prosperous first world economy. All of Israel’s citizens have benefited from the change. Consider, for instance, that when Netanyahu replaced Olmert in office in 2009, Israel’s per capita GDP stood at $27,000. By 2016, it had risen to $37,000.


Rather than seeking to transform Israel’s diplomatic weakness through a grand gesture of appeasement to the PLO, as so many of his predecessors tried to do, Netanyahu opted, instead to leverage the economic prosperity he engendered. He turned Israel’s economic strength into the foundation of a new, far more powerful diplomatic strategy. It served to return Israel to Africa after a forty year absence. More importantly, Netanyahu used Israel’s comparative economic advantages to develop strong diplomatic and economic relations with China, India and other major markets and great powers for the first time in Israel’s history.


As for Russia, far from the spotlights, Netanyahu has skillfully and quietly cultivated a strong personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin based on mutual respect. Military and intelligence officers credit the understandings Netanyahu has reached with Putin regarding the war in Syria as the reason Israel was able to avoid getting sucked into the conflict on its northern border while still protecting its strategic interests.


As for Israeli-US ties, for eight years, Netanyahu deftly ducked and parried and waited out Barack Obama’s presidency. He kept Israel strong and safe and able to defend itself despite Obama’s support for its enemies and hostility toward the Jewish state. No other Israeli leader could have withstood the Obama administration’s pressure to make strategically cataclysmic concessions to the Palestinians. So too, no Israel leader would have been capable of leading the opposition to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran as Netanyahu did.


Had Netanyahu remained silent as Obama gave the keys to the nuclear club to the ayatollahs, Obama and his echo chamber would have successfully demonized opposition to the deal. It was Netanyahu with his unswerving, reasoned opposition to the centerpiece of Obama’s foreign policy that empowered Republicans and even some Democrats to maintain their public opposition to the deal. Their opposition, in turn, paved the way for President Donald Trump’s decision last October to refuse to certify Iranian compliance with its terms. As for Trump, Netanyahu has deftly cultivated his relations with the new president. Trump’s respect for Netanyahu’s statesmanship empowers the president to break with the failed Middle East policies of his predecessors and base his policies on support for America’s allies and opposition to its enemies.


So yes, it is true that Netanyahu’s long tenure in office has been largely undramatic. But his record of accomplishments makes clear that drama is not what we should be seeking. Under his quiet, workaday leadership, Netanyahu has transformed Israel into an economic and military power. He has cultivated good relations with Israel’s regional neighbors and with the nations of the world.


He has developed constructive and mutually beneficial ties with all the major world powers while preserving and enhancing Israel’s strategic alliance with the US. All of these accomplishments render Netanyahu one of Israel’s most successful leaders. Indeed, they place him second only to Ben Gurion as the most significant leader Israel has ever had.





David M. Weinberg

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 29, 2017


I came away from a conference this week deeply concerned about the IDF’s battle preparedness; actually, about its fighting spirit and ethos. I hope that the weaknesses exposed by the experts I heard from can be corrected in time for our next military confrontation. On the one hand, it is apparent that the IDF is building an impressive capacity to crush Hezbollah and Hamas and Iranian assets in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza when the next inevitable round of fighting ensues.


Major General Yair Golan, the immediate past deputy chief of staff, and Major General (res.) Yaakov Amidror, former national security advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu, told a forum convened by Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies (JISS) that the IDF is intensively training its front-line combat troops for decisive ground offensives against Israel’s enemies. “No amount of airpower is going to win the next battles for us or be able to quash enemy missile fire on Israel. We will have to maneuver on the ground in large formations with power and agility,” Golan says.


The two generals also emphasize that the IDF and IAF are better equipped than ever with tactical communications systems, exact targeting systems, accurate field intelligence, outstanding cyber abilities and robotic weapons, alongside world-leading air force platforms (F-35 jets and killer drones) and naval platforms (submarines and more). Golan’s view is that the Russian military and political entrenchment in Syria can also play in Israel’s favor – if Israel plays its cards well. Only Russia can rein in Iran’s operatives and militias in Syria, not the US; and Russia may discover an interest in doing so as its economic investment in Syrian reconstruction grows.


Amidror, who is now the Anne and Greg Rosshandler Senior Fellow at JISS, is of the view that Israel has a very deep bench: a powerful economy and industry, a motivated citizenry and army, and a resilient home front. “Israel is a huge power, and can overwhelm any of the Islamist forces that surround us.” But here is where doubts seep in. Is this country’s leadership hardening the home front for the resilience needed going into our next confrontations? And is the fighting spirit of the IDF all that it needs to be? Not so much, according to other experts I heard from this week.


Uzi Rubin, a senior fellow at JISS who was founder of the Israel Missile Defense Organization in the Ministry of Defense (which developed the Arrow missile), warns that the Iranian strategy is a long war of attrition against Israel; a series of “nuisance” wars that will eat away at the Israeli economy and make life here intolerable. Without significant investments in the protection and survivability of national infrastructures – which Rubin says Israel isn’t sufficiently making – he fears a collapse of national resilience leading to emigration from Israel.


Lt. Col. (res.) Eytan Honig of the Kohelet Forum has a different concern – that IDF soldiers are being fed a diet of liberal-progressive messages that undermine their fighting spirit and determination. He says that over the past two decades the IDF outsourced its “values” education to civilian associations which wrenched the IDF’s “moreshet krav” (combat legacy) programs away their foundations in Maccabee and Zionist ethos, and towards curricula that emphasize humanitarian values and international law. (Honig believes that the IDF is beginning to fix this, by bringing its educational programs back in-house; but I’m not sure this is a real remedy)…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Yaakov Lappin

BESA, Dec. 18, 2017


At the end of October, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed graduates of a military officer’s course at Training Base 1, deep in Israel’s Negev Desert. During his speech, he warned of Iran’s attempt to place a chokehold around Israel, including an attempt to take over Syria. He warned that Israel would not back down from the need to act when necessary to lift this chokehold. “We do not search for adventures, and our role is to first of all ensure the security of the citizens of the State of Israel, and to prevent wars as much as possible,” Lieberman said. “And that occurs, first and foremost, through strengthening deterrence, and through an effort in the diplomatic arena.”


Those brief comments accurately reflect the priority list guiding the Israeli defense establishment. War prevention is at the top of the list, but if war cannot be prevented, then winning it as quickly and decisively as possible shares the top spot. War prevention receives little attention among the general public, yet it is a central planning component that guides the decision-making of the Israeli defense establishment on a daily basis.


The merits of war prevention are self-evident. The absence of high profile armed conflict, and the stability offered by prolonged periods of quiet, cultivate the Israeli economy. They offer Israeli citizens the chance to focus on their daily, routine affairs, free from the traumas and severe disruptions created by conflict, and free from enemy projectile fire on Israeli cities and towns. This boosts Israeli morale and national resiliency. A prolonged quiet also enables the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to focus on force build-up and restructuring programs. These are critical in allowing the military to adapt to the challenges posed by the 21st century hybrid terrorist armies that have formed across the Middle East, and to prepare for the multiple challenges posed by the Iranian regime.


Lieberman’s comments alluded to a central tactic used to promote war prevention: deterrence. This is a somewhat hazy concept and far from an exact science, but recent experience has shown that it can be developed and fortified through a range of actions. These include an effective force build-up program accompanied by the selective use of Israel’s enhanced strike powers.


In the War Between the Wars – Israel’s low-profile military and intelligence campaign to selectively disrupt the force build-up of the Iranian-led axis – force has reportedly been used for at least six years. In other words, low-profile, pinpoint military strikes, made possible by breakthrough intelligence capabilities and advanced weaponry, have served the goal of war prevention. They demonstrated to enemies both the extent of Israel’s intelligence penetration of their activities and the lethality of standoff, precise firepower that can strike targets near and far. These strikes also, according to international media reports, place limits on the force build-up program of Hezbollah and its Iranian sponsors by preventing them from becoming overconfident. They are now less willing to launch provocations against Israel that can deteriorate into war, as Hezbollah did in 2006 when it attempted to kidnap Israeli soldiers.


In this complex security environment, then, military strikes, if conducted correctly, can push back war and promote the goal of war prevention. “We will not hesitate, even for a single moment, to prevent the Iranians from setting up a chokehold [in Syria],” Lieberman vowed. Such a statement is designed to enhance Israeli deterrence, and thereby serves the objective of war prevention. This deterrence is magnified when it is backed up by action. This thinking can be found across the Israeli defense establishment, and has been alluded to in comments by the high command…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links


Meretz Reshuffles Israeli Left's Political Deck: Mazal Mualem, Al-Monitor, Jan. 10, 2018—Israel's Meretz Party decided to change its internal election system Jan. 7, transferring power from the 1,000 members of its Central Committee to a primary system open to all the party's members. In this way, Meretz hopes to restore the relevance it lost after a decade of crises and political indolence.

WATCH: The IDF ‘Dreams Big and Achieves Big’: United With Israel, Dec. 13, 2017 —The Israeli military constantly faces new challenges – and adapts, training in the air, on land and at sea and creating new technology in order to respond to a multitude of threats. In this monthly update, Lt. Col. Jonathan describes some of the major successes of the IDF, including, for example, the “Knights of the Jordan Valley” and the launch of the naval Iron Dome.

2017 Was Tough But Successful Year for Israeli Army: Tsivya Fox, Breaking Israel News, Jan. 8, 2018—The Israel Defense Force (IDF) recently published the latest statistics on terror attacks in Israel for 2017. The numbers show that Israel’s soldiers, in conjunction with  intelligence, did an impressive job protecting the country and her citizens.

General Says ‘Jewish Brains’ Have Found Solution to Eliminate all Hamas Tunnels: Tamar Pileggi, Times of Israel, Jan. 14, 2018— An IDF general on Sunday said the Israeli military, helped by the “Jewish brain,” had devised a solution that would see all of Hamas’s cross-border tunnels into Israel destroyed.




Innovation Nation

Innovation Nation: Benjamin Netanyahu, Economist, Dec. 1, 2017 — The future belongs to those who innovate.

Teva’s Collapse – Israel’s Biotech Recovery: Glenn Yago, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 27, 2017 — The Teva collapse resulted in a “lost year” for Israeli equities compared to other Developed Market indexes.

After Quiet 2017, Chinese Investors Seen Resuming Israeli Tech Shopping Spree: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Dec. 28, 2017— The sale of auto-technology firm Mobileye to Intel Corp. for a whopping $15.3 billion was by far the most significant Israeli tech moment of 2017…

The Emergency Medics Taking on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017 — In a country where terrorism and war are endured as a consistent, yet unpredictable, byproduct of a protracted and intractable geopolitical conflict, post-traumatic stress disorder is far from rare.


On Topic Links


Fly Me To The Moon: SpaceIL Launches Funding Plea To Complete Space Race Amid Financial Troubles: No Camels, Dec. 18, 2017

Technion Becomes First Israeli University to Open Campus in China: Shiri Moshe, Algemeiner, Dec. 19, 2017

On Upcoming India Visit, Netanyahu to Gift Modi Israeli Mobile Desalinization Vehicle: Algemeiner, Dec. 19, 2017

Israel Helps Colombia Upgrade its Air Force: Yoav Zitun, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017



Benjamin Netanyahu

Economist, Dec. 1, 2017


The future belongs to those who innovate. Israel is seizing the future. With 8.5m people, it has more companies on NASDAQ than almost any other country outside North America and ranks third in the World Economic Forum’s ranking of most innovative economies. Israeli startups receive nearly 20% of global private investment in cyber-security, punching 200 times above our relative weight. Israel recycles 87% of its waste water, five times more than the runner-up. Israeli cows produce more milk per animal than those of any other country.


People everywhere benefit from Israeli innovations in their mobile phones, car navigation systems, life-saving drugs, medical devices—even the cherry tomatoes in their salads. Equally, Israel’s intelligence services have helped stop dozens of terrorist attacks in dozens of countries. These successes are buttressed by world-class universities and research institutions like the Technion, the Weizmann Institute and the Volcani Agri­culture Institute.


Technology without free markets does not get you very far. All national economies are engaged in a race in which the public sector sits astride the shoulders of the private sector. In our case, the public sector got too bloated. Under a policy I called “Fat man/Thin man”, we put it on a strict diet and removed barriers to competition that hampered the private sector, enabling it to sprint forward.


We controlled public spending, lowered tax rates, reformed welfare and pensions, removed foreign-exchange controls, dismantled monopolies, privatised government companies and created new capital markets. The result has been 14 years of nearly continuous GDP growth of 4-5% annually, lowering the debt-to-GDP ratio from roughly 100% to 62%. We leverage government spending on military intelligence by encouraging veterans to form thousands of civilian IT and cyber-startups, which we regulate as little as possible. Government investments in roads and railways open up land for housing, which is developed by private contractors.


For 50 years government companies searched to no avail for offshore gas. Once we enabled private companies to search, they found gas deposits worth many billions of dollars. The government’s take of these gas revenues will help fund our future needs in education, welfare and infrastructure. Israel became an economic tiger because we chose to be a nimble mammal rather than a fossil. Benefiting from the nexus of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence, we are rapidly developing new industries.


Fifty years ago, Israel failed in its effort to develop a car industry. Yet in the past decade we have had 500 startups in automotive technology which receive billions of dollars of investments each year. In 2013 Google bought Waze, a crowd-sourcing navigation system, for $1bn. In 2017 Intel paid $15bn for Jerusalem-based MobileEye, entrusting it to oversee Intel’s worldwide autonomous-vehicle businesses. Our universal digital health database holds great promise for breakthroughs in preventive and personalised medicine. Since technology alone does not guarantee our future, we must keep promoting entrepreneurship and fight excessive regulation. In the past two years I have chaired a cabinet committee that takes a machete to the weeds of overregulation, and Israel has moved from 27th to 16th in the Global Competitiveness Index.


What are the lessons of Israel’s economic miracle for 2018 and beyond? The first is: innovate or perish. The second is: innovate to create alliances and advance peace. Our technological prowess has brought us many new friends, alongside our irreplaceable alliance with America. We negotiated economic pacts with Japan and China. Relations with India are booming. Twice within a year I visited Africa. I am the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia and Latin America.


But perhaps the most promising change is closer to home. Many Arab countries now see Israel not as an enemy but as an indispensable ally in our common battle against militant Islam. They also seek Israeli technology to help their economies. The potential normalisation with Arab states could help pave the way for peace with the Palestinians.


In 1968, in “The Lessons of History”, the great American writer Will Durant wrote: “The influence of geographic factors diminishes as technology grows. The character and contour of a terrain may offer opportunities for agriculture, mining or trade, but only the imagination and initiative of leaders, and the hardy industry of followers, can transform the possibilities into fact; and only a similar combination (as in Israel today) can make a culture take form over a thousand natural obstacles.” In the half-century since those prophetic words were written, Israel has indeed overcome a thousand obstacles. Its ingenuity offers hope for every nation under the sun.                                        



Glenn Yago

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 27, 2017


The Teva collapse resulted in a “lost year” for Israeli equities compared to other Developed Market indexes. More than any other company, Teva’s implosion accounts for the poor performance of all Israeli stock market indexes. Prior to its collapse, Teva comprised 29% of the Tel Aviv 125 Index, now down below 8%. The further planned voluntary de-listing of Mylan scheduled for February 2018 follows another life sciences de-listing, of Mellanox in 2013, creating another big hole in the local capital market and a loss for Israel’s role in this important industry.


Clearly, some new approach to financing medical solutions is overdue for Israel, instead of relying solely upon tax subsidies to large companies and the current limitations of our public and private equity markets. What can we learn and how can we prevent this from happening again? Already in 2014, Teva discussed separating its generic from its specialty drug business, but instead (despite unsuccessful pressure from activist investors) it doubled down on the generic side of the business through its catastrophic acquisition of Activis, Allergan’s generics business, for $40.5 billion.


Over the past two years, Teva lost $57b. of value, leaving it with a remaining market value of $19b. It owes about $35b. and faces a cliff of debt payments of $9.1b. by 2019 and $17.5b. by 2021. It faces these challenges with a cash flow that is projected to shrink to $3.2b. in 2018 due to heightened generic drug competition and the loss of patent protection for its sole proprietary drug, Copaxone.


In an important article last week, Prof. Eyal Winter argued that Teva’s failure “must not make the company that invented Copaxone into a company whose primary business is producing aspirin.” Well, it might be too late to solve that problem for Teva, but not for the Israeli scientific and technology ecosystem that can build life science solutions to global health problems. Under the Law to Encourage Capital Investments, Teva secured over $5.7b. in tax benefits, generating free cash flow and subsidies without any conditions or accountability to Israeli taxpayers. This enabled Teva to move much of its growth abroad and pay out dividends to shareholders and salaries to the executives who managed it into decline.


Teva just shut down its R&D facility operating from Israel and slashed its overall research and development budget. Without a creative strategy, this could threaten Israel’s future competitive strength in the biotechnology sector. Teva no longer has the firepower to fund its drug development pipeline and needs to radically restructure its debt. It cannot provide long-term, fixed rate financing to drug development. With guarantees, public and private investment and credit-enhanced, re-searchbased obligations, Israel can.


THERE ARE plenty of examples in the world of pursuing new directions focused on biotechnology and accelerating medical solutions. In 2015, London’s mayor proposed a $15.7b. bio-pharma development fund. In 2016, UBS launched a $470 million oncology fund. Bio-Bridge raised a $135m. fund to make smaller investments for early-stage therapies that haven’t made it to human trials. The State of California funded public bonds for $3b. to fund the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and accelerate therapies through public-private partnerships.


The government should use current negotiations it is holding with Teva over tax assessments as a lever to help restructure some of Teva’s huge debt and transform that into a public-private partnership with the government and scientific research institutes in Israel. This could enable Israel to regain some value of the tax subsidy it lost subsidizing Teva’s disastrous buying spree. In doing so, it could reboot a value- added translational medical ecosystem in Israel to solve global chronic and infectious diseases and enable new firms to emerge from the economic and business policy failures associated with Teva.


A debt swap of specialty drug patents could also reduce Teva’s current debt burden. Teva could swap out current debt for the value of the remaining specialty drug patents whose development it can no longer support enabling Teva to right-size its reduced generic drug footprint. Those drug patents would become part of a long term public-private drug development partnership focused on specialty drugs, via a new Research Based Obligation (RBO) Bond that would finance the translational medical industry and other intellectual property emerging from technology transfer organizations through Israel’s globally known medical centers, incubators, and the Israel Innovation Authority.


This would provide new players with sufficient runway to discover cures, vaccines, and treatment modalities including but beyond pills, where Israel’s knowledge capital can be competitive. Last year, Teva received approval for three innovative drugs (Fluticasone Salmeterol MDPI, Vantrella and Fluticason Propionate MDPI). Another drug is in Phase III clinical trails for migraine headaches. Other drugs in development at various stages include ones for movement disorders and Huntington’s disease.


Analyst reports from Citigroup, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley reported potential sales volumes of $3-5b. annually from these drugs. Combined with patents from other technology transfer organizations in Israel, the country could yet achieve great value for the intellectual property it is so heavily invested in by fueling long-term commercialization. In some of our institute’s financial innovations labs, colleagues from MIT, UC-Berkeley, NYU and elsewhere have shown how such financial engineering can increase success in fighting cancer, diabetes, neuropsychiatric disorders, blood disease and infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases as well…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Shoshanna Solomon

Times of Israel, Dec. 28, 2017


The sale of auto-technology firm Mobileye to Intel Corp. for a whopping $15.3 billion was by far the most significant Israeli tech moment of 2017, but US President Donald Trump’s tax reform, along with changes in the Chinese investment environment, will also be remembered as defining the year, as they injected uncertainty into past 12 months.


At the end of 2016, the Chinese government issued restrictions on outbound investments but then clarified its position in August 2017, setting out a policy that banned certain investments, for example, in the military, gambling and sex industries; restricted investments in other areas like real estate, films, sports and hotels; but encouraged investments in industries that promote China’s technological development, as well as the oil and mining industries.


“2017 was a transition year,” said Edouard Cukierman, managing partner of Catalyst Investments L.P., an Israel-based private equity fund that manages over $250 million in investments. “The uncertain regulatory environment in China regarding investments in the first half of the year led to a slowdown in Chinese investment activity. The clarification of the rules in August has now opened up the bottleneck and I believe that in 2018 we will see renewed activity in Israel by Chinese investors.” Catalyst’s third fund, the CEL fund, which raised $200 million in commitments from investors, was set up jointly with Hong Kong-based China Everbright Ltd. More than 50 percent of the funds raised by CEL was from Chinese investors, according to company data.


As the Asian giant seeks a stake in the global technology world, shifting its economy from a labor-intensive powerhouse to one driven by technology, Chinese firms have been on a shopping spree for technologies and startups. In the past five years Chinese companies have invested some $16 billion in Israeli firms, not only high-tech, including the $4.4 billion acquisition of Playtika by a Chinese consortium in 2016, the $510 million buyout of medical device firm Lumenis by China’s XIO Group in 2015, Alma Laser in 2013, and food company Tnuva in 2014.


The cooling of China’s relations with the US —  as Washington seems to have lost patience with China’s hesitation in making trade concessions and its stance on North Korea — along with the recently passed US tax reform, which will make it more attractive for US companies to invest in local firms and not as many international firms, will also have an impact on Chinese activity in Israel, he said. “Chinese investors will be less keen to do business in the US, where they feel the environment has turned more hostile,” he said. And US firms, which have been traditionally the most active in acquiring Israeli startups, may turn their attentions inward, to their home turf. “This will open up opportunities for Chinese firms to operate in Israel,” he said.


Trump’s corporate tax reforms may also lead to US investors requiring Israeli startups to register as US entities, or to move significant operations to the US, so as to make them eligible for the tax rebates. In addition, Cukierman expects 2018 to see increased interest from Latin America in Israeli technology, as seen in the acquisition of Netafim by Mexican group Mexichem. “Abundant available money in the global economy and interest rates close to zero (despite a few hikes) continued to drive the local tech market this year,” consultants PwC Israel said in their 2017 exits report. The mood, however, was overshadowed by the limits imposed by Chinese authorities on foreign investments and by the uncertainty injected into the market by the US tax reform.


The total value of exists in the Israeli tech market (M&As and public offerings) was $7.4 billion, up 110% year on year, compared with $3.5 billion in 2016, according to the report published on Wednesday. Seventy exits took place in 2017, up from 55 deals in 2016. This figure represents a return to the levels seen in 2014 and 2015, with 70 exits each. In addition, the Israeli market twice broke the $1 billion mark in 2017, thanks to Mobileye that was acquired by Intel for $15.3 billion and NeuroDerm that was acquired by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma for $1.1 billion. These two deals are not included in the exits report, as they would skew the data.


The average value per deal in 2017 was $106 million, or a 66% increase year on year, even when deducting the two mega deals, the report said. Israeli tech companies returned to raising money via initial public offerings of shares on global and local markets: some 11 companies raised a total of $414 million in IPOs this year, the report said. The largest equity issue in 2017 was that of ForeScout, which raised $116 million on NASDAQ, reflecting a market cap of $800 million…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    





Daniel K. Eisenbud

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017


In a country where terrorism and war are endured as a consistent, yet unpredictable, byproduct of a protracted and intractable geopolitical conflict, post-traumatic stress disorder is far from rare. While there is no recent data on the number of Israelis afflicted, Avi Steinherz, clinical director of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, said approximately 20% of those who experience or witness extreme violence will develop some form of PTSD.


“Statistics-wise, what we have found from 15 to 20 years of experience – including the intifadas, wars and incursions from Gaza – is that the majority of the general population has a resilience to traumatic events, and most people exposed to them do get better on their own,” he said on Tuesday. “However, there is 20% of the population that enters into what is called ‘acute stress reaction (ASR),’ in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, and once you talk about that particular population the statistics flip around completely because among them almost 80% will develop PTSD, which is a condition which they, their families and communities can suffer from for the rest of their lives.”


“Unfortunately,” he continued, “our population here in Israel has a huge amount of hyper-sensitive people walking around with PTSD from the numerous, unending amount of trauma we’re exposed to from all the wars, intifadas and the danger of living under the gun and the threat of death at all times.” Steinherz said the country’s first Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit was formed in 2016, at the height of the so-called “stabbing intifada,” following years of germination.


“During our experience from the stabbing intifada, we had statistics from Magen David Adom indicating that there were between three and four more times the amount of people who were emotionally and psychologically traumatized than those physically wounded,” he noted. “But, the amazing thing we found, which is the driving force behind our unit, is that if the 20% of the population who enters ASR receives immediate stabilization, 75% of those people will not develop PTSD. So, time is of the essence.”


Today, over 600 specialists, ranging from psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and EMTs, volunteer in the unit throughout the country as psychological first-responders following all terrorist attacks, missile incursions, deadly accidents, and violent criminal activity. According to Steinherz, the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, which has been dispatched over 400 times since its inception, is divided into two segments. “Our Advanced Life Support Unit is made up of 300 mental health professionals at the advanced level,” he explained. “The second team, which also has 300 volunteers, is called the Basic Support Unit, which includes medics and first-responders who have gone through an intensive course to provide immediate psychological first aid stabilization in the field.”


Based on the proven efficacy of these highly-trained volunteers, Steinherz said it has since become mandatory at United Hatzalah for all new EMTs to be trained in psychological first aid stabilization. “In the EMT courses, every single new incoming EMT must undergo five hours of psychological first aid training to help the medics themselves develop resilience to be able to deal with the traumatic experiences they are exposed to in the field,” he said. Moreover, Steinherz said that EMTs are trained to rapidly identify psychologically traumatized individuals, be they witnesses or family members of those physically wounded…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links


Fly Me To The Moon: SpaceIL Launches Funding Plea To Complete Space Race Amid Financial Troubles: No Camels, Dec. 18, 2017—Israel’s race to the Moon may soon have to come to a screeching halt as the Israeli startup SpaceIL, one of five finalists in the prestigious Google Lunar XPRIZE competition with a mission to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon, says it’s short of the funds necessary to complete the project and may have to forfeit.

Technion Becomes First Israeli University to Open Campus in China: Shiri Moshe, Algemeiner, Dec. 19, 2017—The Technion — Israel Institute of Technology became the first Israeli university to inaugurate a campus in China on Monday. The Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) is a result of a 2013 partnership between the leading Israeli school and Shantou University in China’s southern Guangdong province.

On Upcoming India Visit, Netanyahu to Gift Modi Israeli Mobile Desalinization Vehicle: Algemeiner, Dec. 19, 2017—When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travels to New Delhi next month, he will bring a special gift for his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi — a Gal-Mobile water desalinization and purification jeep.

Israel Helps Colombia Upgrade its Air Force: Yoav Zitun, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017—Colombian security officials, including the chief of staff and the commander of the Air Force, took part earlier this month in a ceremony marking the completion of an upgrading process of 22 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfir fighter planes belonging to the Colombian army and manufactured in Israel in the early 1970s.