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

Tag: IDF

NEW IDF CHIEF INHERITS ONGOING IRAN, HAMAS, AND HEZBOLLAH CONFLICTS

TRUDEAU SAYS HE WILL ‘CONTINUE TO CONDEMN THE BDS MOVEMENT’ AT ST. CATHARINES TOWN HALL: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given a full-throated defence of his condemnation of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement…”We need to understand, as well, that anti-Semitism has also manifested itself not just as in targeting of individuals but it is also targeting a new condemnation or an anti-Semitism against the very state of Israel,” he said. The prime minister added that Canada must be very careful “not to sanction this new frame around anti-Semitism and undue criticism of Israel.” To support his case, Trudeau pointed to the so-called “Three Ds” test for separating criticism of the Jewish state and anti-Semitism: demonization, double standards, and delegitimization of Israel. “When you have movements like BDS that single out Israel, that seek to delegitimize and in some cases demonize, when you have students on campus dealing with things like Israel apartheid weeks that make them fearful of actually attending campus events because of their religion in Canada, we have to recognize that there are things that aren’t acceptable, not because of foreign policy concerns but because of Canadian values,” Trudeau said. (Huffington Post, Jan. 16, 2019)

 

A Full Plate Awaits Israel’s New IDF Chief: Yoav Limor, Algemeiner, Jan. 14, 2019— It’s not surprising that Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot spent his last night as army chief in the command bunker underneath IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv…

Is the IDF Ready for All-Out War?: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, Jan. 10, 2019— The question of just how ready the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is for war has dominated Israel’s headlines in recent weeks.

A One-Time Opportunity for Israel in the Golan?: Michael Oren, JNS, Dec. 25, 2018— Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw ‎American troops from Syria shocked many in the ‎United States and the Middle East.

Is Europe Ready to Defend Itself?: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 4, 2019— The new Republican administration in Washington issued a blunt warning…

On Topic Links 

Prime Minister Denounces BDS at Town Hall Meeting (Video): Anthony Housefather, CBC, Jan. 16, 2018

The Challenges Ahead for Incoming IDF Chief of Staff Kochavi (Video): Breaking Israel News, Jan. 16, 2019

Israel Air Force Invited to First-Ever Joint Exercise With Britain’s RAF: JNS, Jan. 17, 2019

How Changing U.S. Policy Can Improve the Indo-Pacific Relationship: Brahma Chellaney, Globe & Mail, Nov. 21, 2018

 

A FULL PLATE AWAITS ISRAEL’S NEW IDF CHIEF

Yoav Limor

Algemeiner, Jan. 14, 2019

It’s not surprising that Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot spent his last night as army chief in the command bunker underneath IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, closely following the type of operation that has been synonymous with his tenure. It was full throttle up to the very last moment, one final mission before he handed in his dog tags.

As usual in the Middle East, nothing will change when Eizenkot is replaced. There’s enough Syria for everyone (and Iran, Hezbollah, Gaza, and a few other headaches). Incoming IDF chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi wasn’t in the command bunker Friday night — he was enjoying his last worry-free Shabbat evening — but his deputy, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, was there as part of the process of passing the baton to the next IDF leaders.

An airstrike in Damascus on Friday, which has already been attributed to Israel, apparently targeted the logistics center Iran operates at Damascus International Airport — a separate and secured loading dock, where Iran does as it pleases. Several hours before the attack, an Iranian military plane landed in Damascus and unloaded its cargo. This was quite possibly the impetus for the strike, which according to satellite images, caused immense damage. Syria, per its custom, claimed that it shot down most of the missiles fired by Israeli warplanes. These claims don’t always need to be taken at face value. Assad also has to cater to public opinion — at home and abroad — and he has to explain (domestically) why Israel is still attacking his country unhindered. As for the international community, he has to explain why Iran is operating its own secure terminal at the airport in Damascus, as if it were in Tehran.

It was hard not to notice the Russian silence on Saturday in the wake of the rather obvious attack. Ever since the downing of the Russian spy plane last September, Israeli-Russian relations have chilled. Israel was strongly rebuked, including by accusations that it was endangering Russian forces in Syria and regional security. Relations have warmed a bit in recent weeks, and Russia turning a blind eye to the attack Friday night (which didn’t jeopardize its personnel) is a possible indication of this. Past experience teaches us that Israel, too, most likely informed the Russians prior to the operation. Israel would be wise to continue its recent policy of treading carefully as it pertains to operating in Syria. This is now Kochavi’s job.

The good tidings on the northern front were somewhat tempered on Saturday by Hamas’ video revelations regarding the IDF’s botched operation in Gaza in November. Although Hamas invested a great deal in the video, it revealed nothing new of significance. But it did provide another glimpse into the drama that unfolded that night — from the moment the undercover soldiers were detected at a Hamas roadblock, to their narrow escape under heavy air cover and the subsequent round of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

It’s safe to assume that this story isn’t over. Hamas apparently has more information, some of which can potentially cause considerable damage. The Israeli mission inquiry is proceeding apace. Initial findings have already been presented twice to Eizenkot and the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate. The investigators were asked to fill in certain blanks and, on Monday, just before Eizenkot steps out the door, these additional findings will also be presented.

The final conclusions will be up to Kochavi. In television interviews on Saturday, Eizenkot said the operation wasn’t inherently flawed, and that a chain of unfortunate events resulted in the outcome. But the information that has been accumulated thus far paints a different picture, one that raises serious questions about the operation, its approval, the conduct of the soldiers, and the makeup of their team — not to mention questions about structural changes within the unit that carried out the operation and the chain of command.

The operational inquiry (headed by Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon) will surely lead to many professional conclusions and perhaps personal ones as well. Within the unit, there’s been bad blood for the past two months, which must also be drained quickly. The operation in Gaza has already failed. Along with mitigating the fallout, it’s now time to internalize the proper lessons and turn this failure into future operational success. Kochavi will have to lead the way.

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IS THE IDF READY FOR ALL-OUT WAR?

Yaakov Lappin

BESA, Jan. 10, 2019

The question of just how ready the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is for war has dominated Israel’s headlines in recent weeks. The issue came to the fore following the stormy end to the 10-year tenure of IDF Ombudsman Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Brick. Brick released a scathing report and multiple statements claiming that the military’s ground forces are grossly underprepared for conflict. He went so far as to say, during an address to the Knesset’s State Control Committee, that “the IDF is undergoing a process of deterioration that has reached its peak in recent years.”

Brick’s alarming assessments have been outright rejected by military chiefs, including outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and the Commanding Officer of the ground forces, Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak. While Eizenkot has ordered the military to examine Brick’s claims, he has consistently affirmed that the IDF’s war readiness has improved dramatically in recent years. Eizenkot focused his four years as Chief of Staff on improving readiness, meaning that Brick’s criticisms are being leveled directly at the heart of his efforts and legacy.

Dr. Eado Hecht, a researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is a defense analyst specializing in military theory and military history and a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan. Hecht also lectures at the IDF Command and General Staff College. In conversation with the author, Hecht agreed with Brick and other critical voices who think the IDF is unprepared – but added that this is not a zero-sum argument. “There are areas in which the IDF has done excellent work, and there is a reason why foreign militaries come here to learn from it,” said Hecht. “On the other hand, there are areas in which the IDF is not good enough.”

Hecht explained that the way in which Brick and military command measure war readiness is different. To understand this difference, it’s necessary to dive into the IDF’s history. The Second Lebanon War of 2006, Hecht said, was the second-lowest point in the history of Israel’s military. The lowest was in the years 1950-53. “The difference between these two points is that while in 1950 to 1953, the IDF did not know how to conduct routine security missions and did not know how to conduct major wars, in 2006, the IDF knew how to do continuous security in an excellent manner,” Hecht said. “Hence, it defeated the Palestinians in the ‘Ebb and Flow’ War [the so-called ‘Al-Aqsa Intifada’ of 2000 to 2006].”

However, it was during those years of the Al-Aqsa Intifada that new concepts were taking hold regarding the future of warfare. The concepts were that there will be no “big, high-intensity wars” anymore, and in the unlikely event that such wars do occur, they should be fought with high-quality intelligence and through the use of long-range firepower, mostly delivered by fighter jet, to destroy enemy targets. As a result, “the IDF deliberately neglected the necessary requirements for ground combat,” said Hecht. By the time Lt. Gen. (ret.) Dan Halutz became Chief of Staff in 2005, the ground forces had suffered major neglect, leading to significant failures in the war that erupted with Hezbollah the following summer.

The strategic gains Israel received from that war came “despite tactical failures,” noted Hecht. Those failures led the next Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Gabi Ashkenazi, to demand a “return to basics” for the ground forces. They underwent a major upgrade during Ashkenazi’s tenure. But then, under the leadership of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (ret.) Benny Gantz, this trend was stopped. The older trend of focusing on airpower and intelligence, which dominated before the Second Lebanon War, made a comeback, according to Hecht. The current outgoing Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, “brought back Ashkenazi’s trend,” Hecht said. “However, the reference point for Eizenkot and the General Staff compares today’s IDF to the military of 2006. Brick’s reference points compare today’s IDF to the military when it was at its peak, 40 to 50 years ago.”

The bottom line, said Hecht, is that compared to its performance in 2006, the IDF of 2019 has “undergone a terrific improvement.” At the same time, he warned, there is a need to take stock of the growing threat posed by Hezbollah, which today is equivalent to some five infantry divisions, in terms of relative power. “Hezbollah is like the PLO and the Syrian army in Lebanon in 1982 combined. True, they [Hezbollah] do not have tanks, but they have many things that the Syrians and the PLO did not have then,” said Hecht, pointing to powerful guided anti-tank missiles as one example. “They are moving ahead with the fortification of southern Lebanon at a scale that did not exist before, and they are much more professional and skilled than the PLO was back then,” he said.

According to public sources, in 2006, Hezbollah’s forces in southern Lebanon were equal to perhaps two infantry brigades, and the organization was armed with far fewer anti-tank missiles, mortars, and other powerful weapons. Hezbollah today is some six times more powerful than what it was in 2006, said Hecht…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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A ONE-TIME OPPORTUNITY FOR ISRAEL IN THE GOLAN?

Michael Oren

JNS, Dec. 25, 2018

Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw ‎American troops from Syria shocked many in the ‎United States and the Middle East. In Israel, ‎most of the public discourse about this decision revolves around the ‎challenges of this process, but we seem to be ‎largely ignoring the question of what opportunities ‎it may present: For one, could Israel, as ‎compensation, secure a pledge from Washington to ‎help it in times of war and on other vital ‎diplomatic issues?‎

Given the recent discovery of Hezbollah’s grid of ‎terror tunnels and Iran’s attempts to upgrade its ‎offensive capabilities, it is reasonable to assume ‎that Israel is closer than it has ever been in the ‎last decade to a war in the northern sector. This could prove highly complex from a ‎military standpoint and even a legal-diplomatic one: Most of Hezbollah’s arsenal of 130,000 projectiles is hidden under civilian homes. ‎Neutralizing them would require investing ‎considerable military resources and likely ‎entail large civilian losses.‎

It is important to remember that in the last four ‎military campaigns since 2006, Israel has had to ask ‎the United States for additional ammunition, and we ‎would probably have to do the same in a future war. ‎Israel would also likely need diplomatic and legal ‎backing to defend it against condemnations in ‎the UN Security Council and the International ‎Criminal Court.‎

The same opportunity exists regarding the situation ‎opposite Hamas in the Gaza Strip: Israel can win ‎a US commitment for the post-Hamas era ‎there. Naturally, the IDF is capable of removing ‎Hamas from the Gaza Strip on its own, but the ‎question is who would take its place. ‎Understandings could be reached with the ‎United States — and through it, the Sunni world — on Gaza’s rehabilitation and the ‎establishment of an economic infrastructure for the civilian population there.‎

As Israel prepares for military campaigns in its ‎north and south, as part of my position as ‎deputy minister for public diplomacy at the Prime ‎Minister’s Office I am promoting a first-of-its-kind initiative to develop the Golan Heights. ‎The goal is to have more than 100,000 Israelis move ‎to the area over the next decade, thereby increasing ‎the Israeli population there by five times, and to ‎establish the necessary industrial and ‎transportation infrastructure for such a move.‎ My efforts have already gained widespread ‎support domestically and internationally.

Now, ‎given the fragile situation in Syria, Israel must ‎reach a comprehensive understanding with the US on ‎recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan ‎Heights. This would send a message to our ‎enemies about the decisive American position on the eternal Israeli ownership of the Golan ‎Heights.‎ It would be a good idea to make a large portion of ‎these commitments public in multiple languages. Such ‎a move would bolster America’s somewhat bruised ‎image in the Middle East, and even reinforce its ‎ability to promote diplomatic processes and its ‎position as a very effective mediator in possible ‎peace negotiations. ‎

It is no secret that during the Obama ‎administration, the United States lost some of its status ‎in the region. The Trump administration has taken ‎several steps — from striking Syrian assets in ‎response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use ‎of chemical weapons to pulling out of the 2015 ‎nuclear deal with Iran — to improve this situation. ‎A commitment to aid Israel would be a continuation ‎of this policy of improvement, presenting multiple ‎possibilities not only for Israel but also for the ‎Trump administration. The recent changes in the region present a one-time ‎opportunity for Israel, and we should take advantage ‎of it.

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IS EUROPE READY TO DEFEND ITSELF?

Yaroslav Trofimov

Wall Street Journal, Jan. 4, 2019

The new Republican administration in Washington issued a blunt warning: Unless Europe quickly set up its own unified army, the U.S. would be compelled to undertake an “agonizing reappraisal” of its commitment to defend its European allies.

The year was 1953, and the main target of American ire was France, whose delay in ratifying the European Defense Community treaty, signed the previous year, meant that preparations for a federal European army had to be paused. But the pressure applied by the Eisenhower administration backfired spectacularly: A joyous choir of French lawmakers broke into the “Marseillaise” when France’s parliament finally rejected the treaty in August 1954. The idea of a joint European defense policy was shelved for decades.

Today, the push for European autonomy in defense—and even for a common European Union army—is gathering momentum again, in part because of doubts in many European capitals about President Donald Trump’s willingness to defend the continent against a renewed threat from Russia. Mr. Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, which prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign, has added new urgency to the drive.

This time around, the revival of European defense integration is championed by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while the American president keeps lobbing angry tweets at the very idea. And inside Europe, the skeptics today aren’t in Paris but in the former Soviet vassal-states in the east that, despite all their misgivings, still view the U.S. as the only credible guarantor of their survival as independent nations. A historic swing in Europe’s public opinion, particularly in Germany—the EU’s most powerful state and one where trans-Atlantic cooperation was the bedrock of the political consensus since the end of World War II—has fueled this change.

Mr. Trump has described the EU as a “foe” and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as “obsolete,” and he has publicly questioned why American soldiers should die for a NATO ally like Montenegro. One recent opinion poll showed that Germans now rank Mr. Trump as the greatest threat to their country. In another, 73% of Germans described their relationship with the U.S. as “bad,” and 72% wanted a foreign policy more independent from Washington’s. “The shift in public opinion is due to a mix of disappointment and fear,” said Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, a think tank that advises the German government and parliament. “There is a fear that the U.S. will be less interested in Europe, and that the security commitments of the U.S. will no longer be reliable.” It was in this political environment that Ms. Merkel told the European Parliament in a landmark speech in November: “The times when we could fully rely on others have ended.…If we Europeans want to survive as a community, we must make a greater effort to take our destiny into our own hands.”

Achieving such “strategic autonomy” became the EU’s official policy in 2016. Though calls by Mr. Macron and Ms. Merkel for a European army are largely rhetorical so far, several concrete initiatives to achieve that goal have been launched since then. Probably most significant is the $15 billion European Defense Fund, which aims to spur Europe’s military industry and could limit the influence of American weapons manufacturers. Another new initiative is the so-called Permanent Structured Cooperation system, under which European armies seek to remove the barriers to joint action that stem from fielding so many different—and often incompatible—types of weapons. Addressing a frequently voiced demand of Mr. Trump, European governments have also raised their defense spending to get closer to the NATO target of 2% of each country’s GDP.

On the face of it, there is no reason why an economic giant like the EU shouldn’t be able to protect itself against Russia even without American help. Setting aside Britain (which seeks to continue to cooperate with the EU on security and defense even after leaving the bloc), the remaining EU’s population and defense budgets are roughly three times Russia’s size. France, the EU’s military powerhouse, spends almost as much as Russia on defense just by itself and operates an independent nuclear arsenal. All those sums, of course, are dwarfed by the U.S., whose military budget is nearly double the defense spending of the EU (minus the departing U.K.) and Russia combined. “Europe is addicted to the American security umbrella,” said Bruno Tertrais, deputy director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, a think tank that advises the French government. “But if the U.S. weren’t there, Europe would have found a way to defend itself.”

Yet there is a Catch-22 that makes these aspirations risky. Building up European defenses after seven decades of American protection would take time. Meanwhile, every move that Europe attempts in this direction spurs an American backlash, further undermining NATO’s cohesion—and its deterrent capacity against a rapidly militarizing Russia. “We have to hedge. But it is a very tricky situation: When does the hedge become a wedge?” said François Heisbourg, a veteran French expert who advised Mr. Macron’s presidential campaign on security and defense…

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

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On Topic Links

Prime Minister Denounces BDS at Town Hall Meeting (Video): Anthony Housefather, CBC, Jan. 16, 2018—At last night’s town hall meeting at Brock University, PM Justin Trudeau was asked to apologize for opposing BDS. Instead, he gave yet another forceful denunciation of a movement which makes pro-Israel students and, in particular, many Jewish students feel uncomfortable on college campuses and holds Israel to a different standard.

The Challenges Ahead for Incoming IDF Chief of Staff Kochavi (Video): Breaking Israel News, Jan. 16, 2019—Aviv Kochavi became the 22nd Chief of Staff of the IDF. As he assumes one of the most demanding jobs in the world, here’s a look at some challenges ahead of him.

Israel Air Force Invited to First-Ever Joint Exercise With Britain’s RAF: JNS, Jan. 17, 2019—Israel’s air force is to take part in its first-ever joint drill with the Royal Air Force in Britain in the most open level of cooperation between the two forces yet, The Jewish Chronicle reported on Tuesday.

How Changing U.S. Policy Can Improve the Indo-Pacific Relationship: Brahma Chellaney, Globe & Mail, Nov. 21, 2018—The Indo-Pacific is emerging as the centre of global power and wealth, with security dynamics changing rapidly in the region.

 

PRAYING FOR ISRAEL: INTERVIEW WITH FORMER IDF CHIEF OF STAFF MOSHE YA’ALON

Machla Abramovitz

Community, Dec., 2018              

…To assess the current state of Israel’s security, we sat down with former IDF Chief of Staff General Moshe (“Boogie”) Ya’alon, following  his keynote address at the 30th anniversary gala of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) in Montreal. General Ya’alon, 68, was born in Haifa, joined the Nahal Paratroop Regiment at age 18, and shortly afterward enlisted in Israel’s most elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal. Ya’alon then served as Head of Military Intelligence, was later appointed IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff, and eventually was named IDF Chief-of-Staff.

Following his military career, Ya’alon became a politician, joining the Likud in 2008, and serving as Minister for Strategic Affairs and Vice Prime Minister. In 2013, General Ya’alon served as Minister of Defense, and a year later, he presided over Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s major military operation in Gaza aimed at destroying Hamas underground tunnels and ending rocket launches. In May 2016, he resigned from his position, and he recently founded a party named Manhigut Acheret (New Leadership.)

When asked about his position on the viability of a two-state solution to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, General Ya’alon explains that he supports the idea “in principle,” adding that he supported the 1993 Oslo Accords. “However,” he says, “today, nobody takes them seriously. Israelis are overwhelmingly unified on there being no Palestinian State under the present circumstances, and under any foreseeable leadership. The best we can do is give the Palestinians autonomy, help them develop economically, and hope for better leadership to arise.”

Ya’alon is critical of the Obama administration’s Middle East policies. “Yasser Arafat’s duplicitousness didn’t matter to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, as they were trying to curry support among the Arabs by propping up Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians. The JCPOA [the deal reached by the Obama administration with the Republic of Iran] is a disaster. President Donald Trump, on the other hand, is doing wonderful things for Israel. Over 80 percent of Israelis support him.” The following is an edited transcript of the rest of our conversation with the General:

CM: Are wars between Israel and Iran, as well as Hamas, inevitable?

Ya’alon: Let’s distinguish between Iran and Hamas. The Iranians are trying to open another front against us in Syria. In 2015, they started launching missiles at Israel. In less than a year, this attempt ended after Israel hit back hard. This February, their units began launching drones and rockets. Subsequently, the IAF destroyed 15 Iranian units. Iran understands that they cannot successfully challenge Israel. Israeli power is superior to theirs militarily and intelligence-wise.

We don’t want Iran to either violate our sovereignty or arm our enemies; any violations on their part contravenes what we call our Red Line Strategy. [Israel prevents the Iranians from shipping arms to Hezbollah by bombing their ammunition depots and highways traveled by convoys.] I don’t see a war with Iran coming soon. Hezbollah’s 15,000 long-range, guided missiles are a problem, which Israel will eventually deal with. I foresee the possibility of a massive Israeli assault in Lebanon. Because Hezbollah installs these missiles in villages and towns and next to hospitals – as they do in Gaza – this will result in a large-scale PR problem because specific civilian structures must be destroyed to root these missiles out.

The challenge with Hamas is different. Since 2014, Hamas didn’t shoot a single bullet; and they arrested any proxy group that did. They don’t want to escalate the situation to a full-scale war. During Operation Protective Edge, we destroyed over 10,000 buildings in Gaza. They’ve been reconstructing Gaza for 20 years. So, Gazans are now releasing dangerous, incendiary balloons and kites, and are demonstrating along the border to express their frustration. The IDF is responding in a limited way. I don’t like this. We should not have accepted this behavior from the onset. It’s impossible to intercept every balloon and every kite. We must confront these terrorists vigorously. It’s the only way to handle things in the Middle East. Still, it’s not deterministic that we are going to war, even though the Middle East can erupt at any time even when it’s not intentional. I hope the government and the IDF will be able to change the rules of the game. The rules as they exist now are not in our favor.

CM: Despite Israel’s ability to manage Iranian aggression in Syria, doesn’t Iran remain a severe threat to its security?

Ya’alon: Iran remains a crucial issue. Still, with enough pressure placed on it, I believe the current regime can be persuaded to act in Iran’s best interests. Iran suspended its nuclear project in 2003 when the US invaded Afghanistan. They were afraid of President George W. Bush. The project was renewed two years later when Ayatollah Khamenei saw that the US lost its stomach for war. In 2012, he decided to re-engage with America because of political isolation, crippling economic sanctions, a credible military option, and a fear of a general uprising among Iranians. His economists told him his regime could not survive another year if he continued with his expansionist policies. Unfortunately, President Barak Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry headed the negotiations. President Trump’s determination to renew the sanctions is an excellent idea. This “irrational” regime becomes very rational when presented with a dilemma, whether to continue with their hegemonic drive or choose to survive [due to the implosion of the economy and fear of a popular uprising.] I believe they will choose to survive. Still, at some point, we’ll have to deal with the Iranians. If the US cancels the JCPOA next month, as President Trump said they would, Iran will crank up its nuclear research again. At that point, Israel must act. It cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. If the US doesn’t act on this; Israel will.

CM: The accidental downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane by the Syrian Air Force resulted in the deaths of 15 Russian troops for which Israel was blamed. It also resulted in Russia’s decision to supply Syria with S-300, an advanced anti-aircraft missile system with a range of 400 miles capable of shooting down planes flying in and out of Ben-Gurion Airport. How do you explain this escalation in tensions?

Ya’alon: Russia and Israel are not on the same page regarding Syria. Despite that, Israel succeeded in establishing an understanding with Russia that they don’t interrupt Israel and Israel doesn’t interrupt them in their military activities there. If the Iranians approach Israel’s border where there are Russians present, Israel warns them before taking any military action.

Still, President Vladimir Putin is very frustrated. That’s why he sparked this latest crisis between Israel and Russia. Since moving into Syria in 2010, he declared victories many times, but Syrian President Bashar al Assad controls less than 50 percent of Syrian soil. Turkey controls less than 50 percent of the north, and the Kurds and Americans are in control of 7 percent of the land [a strip along the northeast border, which contains Syria’s abundant oil reserves.] Russia wants the oil. Subsequently, it launched an unsuccessful offensive using Russian mercenaries against Syrian anti-Assad forces that are supported by the Kurds and the US, which resulted in the deaths of 150 Russians. In this regard, Putin doesn’t benefit from Syria. [The Russians benefit from naval and air bases, which gives them an outlet to the Mediterranean.] The cost of intervention for Russia is very high in terms of money and human casualties. It is, subsequently, seeking an exit strategy. The Russians used the threat of giving the S-300 to Syria, which Israelis didn’t want them to do, as a means of pressuring the Americans to accept Syrian President Bashar al Assad and bring a quick end to the conflict.

CM: The Americans are arguing for Russian non-intervention in Idlib Province, which is the last remaining autonomous Syrian province, and the gathering place of all the anti-Assad forces. Moreover, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, both hawks, want the US to remain in Syria until Iran and Russia are out of the country. As for the S-300, even if the Syrians already have the missile system, which is not clear, they must be trained to use it. Time still exists for Russia and the US to make a deal. What will Israel do regarding the S-300 should the US and Russia not make a deal?

Ya’alon: Israel has known about these missiles for some time and is working on the electronic jamming of the system. Hopefully, by the time the Syrians are trained to use it, the system will be deemed useless.

CM: Would Russia abandon President Assad and Iran if the Americans made that a condition for a settlement?

Ya’alon: Putin is committed to Putin and no one else. From the very beginning, he was committed to a stable regime, even without Assad. Otherwise, he argued, we would see more and more Islamist factions. Russian intelligence knew of about 2000 jihadists from Chechnya and other places deployed with ISIS in Syria. He told us that he prefers to keep these jihadists in Syria rather than on Russian soil. He also wanted to benefit by demonstrating his partisan allegiance – “I’m loyal to my allies, unlike Obama who abandoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak” – as well as demonstrate his military capabilities, to be a player in the game. Considering Russia’s poor economic situation, he played his cards better than Obama did. Regarding Iran, Russia’s interest is not to have Iranian dominance in Damascus. However, he needs them for boots on the ground.

CM: Why is Israel concerned about China?

Ya’alon: China is inserting itself into the Middle East in many ways, least of which is through its control of ports. Over the past few years, they bought majority holdings in ports – in Somalia, Piraeus, Greece – and they administer them. This insertion is significant because the ports are military, and they are building up

their navy there. It’s the first time in their history that the Chinese are moving outwards, which is of some concern. On the other hand, Israel has excellent relations with China – military and technical. The Chinese are investing in Israeli corporations. Still, the relationship remains complicated because they also play up to the Arab States. That can be dangerous for Israel.

Machla Abramovitz is a CIJR Academic Fellow

 

IDF RESPONDS TO ATTACK TUNNELS IN NORTH AS WAR WITH IRAN-BACKED HEZBOLLAH MAY BE IMMINENT

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

 

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. 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.

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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. 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.

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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. 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.

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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. 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!

 

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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 INVESTIGATES GAZA OPERATION WHILE JEWISH STATE PREPARES FOR NEXT CONFRONTATION

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

                             

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 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.

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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. 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.

 

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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.

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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.

Contents

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.

AFTER LATEST GAZA ROCKET ONSLAUGHT: ISRAEL OPTS FOR CEASEFIRE, LIBERMAN RESIGNS, AND ELECTION TALK BEGINS

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

                            

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. 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]

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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? 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.               

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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. 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.

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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!

Contents 

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.

IDF CONFRONTS “UNSTABLE AND EXPLOSIVE” SITUATIONS IN GAZA AND SYRIA

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.”

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          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.]

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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. 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.

 

Contents 

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.”

 

ISRAELI LEADERS WEIGH OPTIONS AS NEXT WAR WITH HAMAS “MAY BE IMMINENT”

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.

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                                    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.

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                             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

   

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. 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.]

 

Contents

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?

 

 

YOM HAZIKARON 5778: ISRAEL HONOURS FALLEN SOLDIERS

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

 

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, 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.

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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. “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.”

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                 IMAGINE THAT YOU ARE THAT ISRAELI SOLDIER

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.

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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. 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.]

 

Contents

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.”

IDF PREPARES FOR MULTI-FRONT WAR AMID GROWING TENSION IN THE REGION

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

 

 

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. 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.]

                                                           

                                                                       

 

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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. 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.]

 

                                                                       

 

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ISRAELI BOMBING SYRIA ENHANCED US NATIONAL SECURITY

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.

 

 

Contents

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, 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.”

 

Contents

 

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.

                                                              

 

 

INNOVATIVE & BATTLE-TESTED ISRAEL IS THE REGIONAL MILITARY “SUPERPOWER”

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

 

 

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. 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.]               

 

 

Contents

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. 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.

 

 

Contents

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. 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.]                

 

 

Contents

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.” 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.

 

Contents

 

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.