Tag: Israel Security


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

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

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

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


On Topic Links


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

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

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

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




Yaakov Lappin

BESA, Feb. 19, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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






Charles Bybelezer

The Media Line, Feb. 17, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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

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







Yoram Ettinger

Jewish Press, Feb. 15, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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






Barbara Opall-Rome

Defense News, Feb. 14, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




On Topic Links


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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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


On Topic Links


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

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

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

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





Robert Farley

National Interest, Jan. 9, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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





Yaakov Lappin

BESA, Dec. 20, 2017


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


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


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


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


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


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






Jerusalem Post, Jan. 21, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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

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





James Stavridis

Bloomberg, Jan. 22, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




On Topic Links


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

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

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

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






Threatened South to North, IDF Seeks Calm While Steeling for Worst: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Nov. 14, 2017— With tensions rising in the south amid fears that the Islamic Jihad terror group will attempt to avenge a tunnel demolition two weeks ago…

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft: What It Brings to the IAF: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, Oct. 29, 2017— The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet is poised to become a key tool to help Israel stop Iran and its proxies from creating a threatening military outpost in Syria.

How Technology Is Revolutionizing War: Jeremy Rabkin & John Yoo, National Review, Nov. 14, 2017— In his 2017 inaugural address, President Trump protested that for decades the American people “subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military…

Canadian Forces Pull off a Rare Feat: a Procurement Triumph: Editorial, National Post, Nov. 3, 2017— The Canadian Forces may have recently pulled off a rare feat: a military procurement triumph.


On Topic Links


‘Israel Not Prepared for Drone Threat’: Yona Schnitzer, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 16, 2017

Don't Return Bodies For Nothing: Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom, Nov. 6, 2017

Canada’s Peacekeeping Incoherence: Richard Shimooka & Don Macnamara, Globe & Mail, Nov. 14, 2017

North Korea and the Threat of Chemical Warfare: Theo Emery, New York Times, Oct. 27, 2017






                                                       Judah Ari Gross

Times of Israel, Nov. 14, 2017


With tensions rising in the south amid fears that the Islamic Jihad terror group will attempt to avenge a tunnel demolition two weeks ago, the Israeli military is finding that striking a delicate balance between keeping terror groups from preparing for a future war and keeping the region relatively calm is easier said than done. While neither side may be gunning for a fight, a miscalculation by the IDF runs the risk of triggering a bloody tit-for-tat fight that can lead to all-out war.


For the past two weeks, the military has been trying to prevent such an escalation as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group has vowed revenge for the army’s demolition of its attack tunnel that crossed into Israeli territory from Gaza. Israel Defense Forces troops in southern Israel have been on alert following last month’s tunnel razing. In the army’s most recent measure, on Monday it deployed its Iron Dome missile defense system in central Israel — including at least one battery in the greater Tel Aviv region — out of concerns the group may retaliate with a barrage of rockets.


In addition to preparing for attack, the Israeli military has also been trying to prevent one, repeatedly warning against a retaliation in direct addresses to both the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Strip’s rulers, Hamas. The army blew up the tunnel, which originated in the Gazan city of Khan Younis and crossed into Israeli territory, near Kibbutz Kissufim, on October 30. In total, 14 terrorists were killed, two of them from Hamas and the rest from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, including two senior commanders. The bodies of five of the Islamic Jihad terrorists, who were working on the tunnel inside Israeli territory, were recovered by the IDF a few days later.


But according to the army, this high body count was not intentional. The goal for the operation, per the IDF, was the destruction of the tunnel, not assassination. In comments after the blast, IDF officials also noted that many of the terrorists died not in the explosion, but in botched rescue attempts. But the military stressed it does not regret the deaths of terrorists, after facing backlash from politicians who interpreted the officers’ comments as apologetic. In light of the body count, the military determined that the group “will have a hard time holding back.”


Incidentally, Tuesday also marks five years since the IDF killed then-Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari in an airstrike, which sparked the week-long Operation Pillar of Defense campaign in Gaza. Palestinian terror groups have been known to carry out attacks to coincide with significant anniversaries. Former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin praised the military on Monday for preparing to counter the threats from Gaza, but warned it not to forget that “the northern front is Israel’s main focus — Assad, Hezbollah, and Iran will seek to challenge the IDF.”


On Saturday, Israel shot down a drone from Syria with a Patriot missile in the third such incident this year, which military officials say is an indication of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s increasing brazenness in light of his successes in the country’s civil war. The army’s top brass and Israeli government officials are also currently locked in intense discussion with their American and Russian counterparts concerning a ceasefire agreement for southern Syria, especially the distance from Israel’s borders that Iran-backed militias will be allowed to operate.  While Iranian entrenchment along the Golan border presents a far greater strategic threat to Israel’s security in the long term, the more pressing concern seems to be the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which could attack at any time.


When the IDF uncovered two Hamas attack tunnels that also crossed into Israeli territory last year, there was also concern of a potential retaliation, but this faded fairly rapidly. In those cases, however, there were no terrorist casualties, as in last month’s demolition. Late Saturday night, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians, published a video message in Arabic directed to the Islamic Jihad leaders in Damascus, telling them that the IDF is aware of the group’s terror plots and that they are “playing with fire.” “We are aware of the plot that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is planning against Israel,” Mordechai said. “Let it be clear: Any attack by the Islamic Jihad will be met with a powerful and determined Israeli response, not only against the Jihad, but also against Hamas,” warned the general.


The group responded a day later, saying the Israeli threats against its leaders constituted “an act of war,” and vowing to continue to try to carry out a revenge attack against Israel. “We reaffirm our right to respond to any aggression, including our right to respond to the crime of aggression on the resistance tunnel,” Islamic Jihad said.


In the eyes of the military, its strike on the tunnel was entirely justified, legally and morally, as it entered Israeli territory and threatened Israeli civilians. As such, the army feels, while it may smart, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad needs to just count its losses and move on. “They violated Israeli sovereignty. They were conducting an act of hostility against Israel. We were able to thwart that, and that is the end of the sentence,” said army spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus in an extended interview with the Israel Project’s podcast on Monday. “And if they will try to aggress again, that will be met with significant resolve and power,” Conricus added.


On Monday, Israeli forces arrested a top commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, in what seems to be a non-verbal deterrent message to the terrorist group. The Shin Bet security service confirmed that Tariq Qa’adan, a senior officer in the Gaza-based terror group’s West Bank wing, was picked up by the IDF in Arrabeh, southwest of Jenin, in the northern West Bank. A Shin Bet official said Qa’adan was arrested “for being a member of a terrorist group.”


According to Yadlin, who now runs the esteemed Institute for National Security Studies think tank, the messages put out by Mordechai and the army’s spokesperson’s office are important tools to prevent escalation and also show a significant change in tack by the military since the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge. “The messages and warnings that Israel has been sending to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) over the last couple of days are not incidental, but actually indicate concrete intel according to which PIJ plans to respond to the destruction of his terror tunnel into Israel,” Yadlin wrote on Twitter. “It seems Israel learned the lessons of Operation Protective Edge, and this time it will focus on hitting the heads of the organizations (with a particular focus on the chiefs of their military/terror branches) and their operational infrastructure,” he said.            




Yaakov Lappin

BESA, Oct. 29, 2017


The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet is poised to become a key tool to help Israel stop Iran and its proxies from creating a threatening military outpost in Syria. It will also play a leading role vis-à-vis Hezbollah’s heavily armed fortress in Lebanon. The Lockheed Martin-produced aircraft, which is due to become fully operational in December of this year, brings with it a number of new capabilities that ideally suit Israel’s requirements in terms of monitoring and, when necessary, striking Iranian-Hezbollah-Syrian military targets in Syria and Lebanon. The aircraft is well suited for the mission of selectively targeting the ongoing Iranian-Hezbollah weapons trafficking program.


The F-35 is an intelligence-gathering machine in a league of its own. It is able to deploy a range of sensors to gather detailed information on events on the ground. It can fuse unprecedented quantities of intelligence automatically, then share it with other aircraft and with the Israel Air Force’s (IAF) ground control stations.


This intelligence can then be sent to Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate for further analysis and for the creation of a large databank of targets. This will provide Israel with a significantly enhanced picture of the activities of Iran, Hezbollah, and the Assad regime throughout the northern arena. It will also give Israel a strong starting position in the event of an escalation of the security situation, since these targets can be struck in the future.


In mid-October, an Assad regime SA-5 surface-to-air missile battery detected and fired upon Israeli jets, which were reportedly on an intelligence-gathering mission over Lebanon. That incident is an indication of a growing Iranian-Assad-Hezbollah determination to harass Israel’s intelligence operations. But the F-35, with its stealth capabilities, should be able to evade enemy radar detection, making such crucial missions smoother. Israeli F-35s could be sent to gather intelligence in contested air space filled with hostile radar systems and avoid detection.


IAF officials say they are also working on getting the F-35 to communicate effectively with the older, fourth-generation F-16s and F-15s. In combat situations, the F-35s would be able to spearhead operations, moving first into contested battle zones, striking enemy targets before being detected, and sending back valuable data to the fourth-generation aircraft. Such capabilities will be critical going forward, as both Syria and Lebanon have become filled with a variety of surface-to-air missile systems. Several different types of missile batteries are in the possession of Hezbollah and the Assad regime. In recent years, Russia has also stationed its advanced S-300 and S-400 batteries in Syria.


The F-35’s value in this increasingly complex and challenging environment is clear. It becomes even more pronounced when examining Israel’s need to improve its long-range strike capabilities in the event of a conflict with Iran. The F-35 has unique long-range capabilities. By 2024, Israel will have two full squadrons of F-35 A jets – a total of 50 aircraft. The last 17 of these jets were purchased by Israel in August of this year. The Planning and Organization Department within the IAF is in the midst of intensive preparations aimed at integrating the F-35 into daily operations.


The IAF expects the new aircraft to affect the way the rest of the air force operates and to boost Israeli capabilities across the board. The IDF’s ground forces, too, could experience its benefits. The F-35’s data could be relayed quickly to units on the ground, improving their lethality and battle space awareness. For now, the IAF is continuing to gather vast quantities of intelligence and engage in low-profile action against the radical Shi’ite axis to the north – but it is also planning for the possibility of open conflict. If such conflict unfolds, the IAF will unleash waves of heavy firepower never before seen in the region’s military history. The F-35’s unique awareness of its combat environment will let it take a leading role in such operations.                                                         




          Jeremy Rabkin & John Yoo

National Review, Nov. 14, 2017


In his 2017 inaugural address, President Trump protested that for decades the American people “subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military . . . spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.” No longer would the United States waste its blood and treasure fighting abroad for the interests of others. “From this moment on,” Trump declared, “it’s going to be America first.” During the campaign, Trump had launched even sharper critiques of U.S. foreign policy. Paying attention to the interests of foreigners had led the United States into disastrous wars, most lamentably in Iraq. “We shouldn’t have been there, we shouldn’t have destroyed the country, and Saddam Hussein was a bad guy but he was good at one thing: killing terrorists,” Trump said during the campaign.


Despite such rhetoric, the administration did not pursue a foreign policy of isolationism or even non-interventionism. In the Middle East, the United States has not only continued fighting foes from its recent wars but gone beyond them. In April 2017, the Trump administration set aside the passivity of its predecessor and launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against a Syrian air base in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons. It expanded the American deployment of ground troops in the Syrian civil war, provided arms to Kurdish militias, and lent air and tactical support for Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State terrorist group. U.S. troops continued to fight in Afghanistan against a resurgent Taliban, even going so far as to use a massive ordnance bomb against insurgent tunnels. Promising to “bomb the hell out of ISIS” during the campaign, Trump has authorized a significant increase in drone strikes and special operations by both the CIA and the U.S. armed forces.


In Asia, the Trump administration did not send U.S. forces into direct combat, but it resorted to the threat of force to support its foreign policy. To pressure the North Korean regime to halt its nuclear-weapons program, Trump dispatched the USS Vinson aircraft-carrier strike group and a nuclear submarine to the area. “There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea,” he said. “Absolutely.” His administration proposed a more aggressive response to China’s building of artificial islands in the South China Sea. “Building islands and then putting military assets on those islands is akin to Russia’s taking of Crimea. It’s taking of territory that others lay claim to,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in his confirmation hearing. “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.” To enforce such demands would require more frequent freedom-of-navigation patrols and could even call for naval blockades.


For all that, President Trump shows little sign of reversing the Obama administration’s caution on risking American lives. He continues to criticize the U.S. interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan as “costly” — by which he seems to mean costly in American lives but also in budget allocations. The Trump administration faces a quandary. Restoring a muscular American foreign policy will demand a higher rate of operations and deployments, increasing costs and risking greater casualties. Though the administration has proposed increases in military spending, it remains cautious about costly foreign commitments.


Technology can help resolve this looming impasse. Robotics, the Internet, and space-based communications have increased productivity across the economy. These same advances may have a comparably transformative impact on military affairs. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) allow pilots to strike targets more precisely at reduced cost, with less harm to bystanders and less threat to themselves. Cyber weapons permit nations to impose disruptions on an adversary in more precisely targeted attacks and without physical destruction. Space-based networks enable militaries to locate their forces exactly, lead their troops more effectively, and target their enemies more precisely.


These new advances are turning military development away from the 20th century’s reliance on draft armies equipped with simple, yet lethal, mass-produced weapons. As nations use force that becomes more precise and discrete, they can consider changing rules developed in the era of mass armies and attrition warfare. The laws of war need not fuss over the line between targetable military and immune civilian assets when nations can rely on UAVs to deliver precision-guided munitions on particular targets.


As it is, reluctance to use force has led western nations to rely on economic sanctions, which punish entire populations. Drones and cyber attacks might achieve comparable results to economic sanctions by inflicting harm on the target state’s economy, but in a more precise manner. Such an approach may avoid unintended effects of sanctions and operate much more quickly and reliably, leaving adversaries less time to adapt to (or circumvent) sanctions. To make the most of those new capacities, we should rethink current legal formulas purporting to regulate when “military force” is lawful, and against what targets.


New weapons technologies could help the United States and its allies protect international stability. WMD proliferation, international terrorism, human-rights catastrophes, and rising regional powers are threatening the liberal international order constructed by the U.S. and its allies after World War II. Nations will be discouraged from confronting these problems with conventional force. But if new technology reduces the costs of war while improving its effectiveness, nations may turn to force more often to promote desirable ends. Promoting international stability remains a global public good, in that peace benefits all nations regardless of who pays for it. This gives nations a strong incentive to free-ride off the efforts of others to maintain international peace and security. If using force becomes less expensive and more effective, nations may turn to force more readily when the times require it. New weapons may be particularly helpful in situations where a large-scale military response would seem excessive but mere words seem insufficient.


In fact, new weapons technologies may produce the welcome benefit of reducing the harms of individual disputes. While the United States, among others, is rapidly developing new means of fighting, these innovations may limit war. Robotics can reduce harm to combatants and civilians by making attacks more precise and deadly. Cyber can more effectively target enemy military and civilian resources without risking direct injury to human beings or the destruction of physical structures. Space satellites will provide the sensors and communications that make possible the rapid, real-time marriage of intelligence and force, and future orbital weapons may create a viable defense to nuclear missiles.






National Post, Nov. 3, 2017


The Canadian Forces may have recently pulled off a rare feat: a military procurement triumph. We are reluctant to even write these words, lest the cosmos note this aberration from the natural order of things and immediately smite the project. Barring otherworldly intervention, though, the recent conversion of MV Asterix is the kind of smart, efficient military procurement we see so rarely. Asterix is a large ship, originally intended to serve as a commercial vessel, which was rapidly refitted by Quebec’s Davie Shipyard to serve as a logistical support ship for the Royal Canadian Navy. She is completing sea trials now and will be ready for active service imminently, perhaps as early as this month.


A modern navy is only as effective as its logistics ships, floating warehouses that sail with the warships and provide stores of food, fuel, ammunition, spare parts and advanced medical care facilities for fleets on the move. In recent years, Canada had lost both of its support ships to a combination of old age, bad luck and political mismanagement.  Old age: the ships were well into their fifth decade when retired, and well behind the technological curve. Bad luck: both ships were suddenly retired after unforeseen crises — an onboard fire and a collision at sea, respectively. Political mismanagement: even though the fire and collision were unforeseeable, the need to replace the ships wasn’t, but both Liberal and Conservative governments had failed to invest the funds necessary to replace the vessels.


Without them, the Navy is essentially limited to being a coastal patrol force. New ships have been ordered, at an estimated cost of billions, but aren’t due until the early 2020s. Enter the Asterix. She will return a vital capability to the Navy, and the total cost of the project is less than $700 million — a comparative bargain. So much so that we question the need to wait for the new ships at all. The government should at least explore the possibility of repeating the process with another vessel, so that we can put one on both the east and west coasts. But at least the Navy can begin functioning as a proper fighting force again. We hope the success of this project, and its real economic and military advantages, are not overlooked by a government (and Navy) that needs all the good news it can get.




On Topic Links


‘Israel Not Prepared for Drone Threat’: Yona Schnitzer, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 16, 2017—he IDF has  yet to develop a suitable response to the threat of cross border drone attacks, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira said in a special report issued Wednesday that also looked at regulation of domestic drone use.

Don't Return Bodies For Nothing: Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom, Nov. 6, 2017—The Israel Defense Forces has racked up three recent achievements on the southern front: locating an attack tunnel leading into Israel and blowing it up; striking over a dozen terrorists, including senior Islamic Jihad operatives; and according to an IDF report on Sunday, holding on to bodies of the terrorists who were in the tunnel at the time of the strike.

Canada’s Peacekeeping Incoherence: Richard Shimooka & Don Macnamara, Globe & Mail, Nov. 14, 2017—Over the past few weeks there has been a renewed impetus toward Canada undertaking a new peacekeeping mission. While some of the motivations behind such an intervention are laudable, they present a number of challenges and considerations that should be fully understood before a commitment is made.

North Korea and the Threat of Chemical Warfare: Theo Emery, New York Times, Oct. 27, 2017—The war of words between President Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over Pyongyang’s nuclear program has rattled nerves around the world. But the trial of two women in Malaysia for using the nerve agent VX to kill Mr. Kim’s half brother is a reminder that North Korea’s lethal arsenal isn’t limited to nuclear weapons. The North’s chemical weapons pose a grave risk to South Korea and to regional stability.







IDF: Israel Prepared to ‘Neutralise’ Hezbollah with ‘Overwhelming’ Force in Next War: Adam Abrams, JNS, Sept. 19, 2017— Despite the raging civil war to Israel’s north and east in Syria, the Jewish state’s northern border has remained precariously quiet over the last decade.

Victory, Not Deterrence, Will be the Goal if There is Another Gaza War: Yaakov Lappin, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 29, 2017— In past models of conflict, Israel responded to Hamas aggression through the use of force in a way that was designed to punish Hamas and convince it to return to a state of calm.

Israel Unveils New Defense Technology That Can Predict Future Battlefields: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 5, 2017— As the nation’s enemies continue to develop their military capabilities, Israel works to stay at least one step ahead, predicting what types of technology will be needed in future wars.

Israel Has a Playbook for Dealing With North Korea: Zev Chafets, Bloomberg, Sept. 7, 2017 — Israel and North Korea are on opposite sides of the Asian landmass, separated by 5,000 miles as the ICBM flies.


On Topic Links


As Syrian War Winds Down, Israel Sets Sights on Hezbollah: National Post, Sept. 20, 2017

Israel vs. Iran and Hezbollah: Towards a Military Clash?: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, Sept. 14, 2017

Cyber Warfare — Reasons Why Israel Leads The Charge: Christopher P. Skroupa , Forbes, Sept. 7, 2017

‘Killer Robots’ Can Make War Less Awful: Jeremy Rabkin and John Yoo, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 2, 2017






Adam Abrams

JNS, Sept. 19, 2017


Despite the raging civil war to Israel’s north and east in Syria, the Jewish state’s northern border has remained precariously quiet over the last decade. No stranger to looming threats, Israeli officials are planning and ready for several worst-case scenarios in the north as Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah continue to forge their stranglehold on the region…


In a possible war scenario with Hezbollah, the Israeli military can launch a “massive and overwhelming” operation that would effectively “neutralize” a significant part of the Lebanese terror organization’s military capability, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, the head of the International Media Branch for the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, told JNS.org. The IDF’s operation would be based on “very accurate intelligence” collected “relentlessly” and “would minimize to the greatest extent possible, harm to non-combatants…. by using the most precise guided munitions that strike only at the legitimate military targets,” Conricus said.


Striking only Hezbollah targets without collateral damage will be a challenging military feat because Hezbollah is deliberately “deployed in order to maximize collateral damage” to civilians, he added. One-third of the homes in southern Lebanon’s 130 villages are known to house military components belonging to Hezbollah. “Hezbollah’s strategic choice of the battlefield, embedding its military assets in Shiite villages and towns, has put the majority of the Shiite population in Lebanon in harm’s way, using it as human shields….” Brigadier general (Res.) Assaf Orion, a senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), told JNS.org.


Defeating the terror group would likely involve “significant IDF ground incursions into Lebanon as well as taking out Hezbollah rocket positions located in high-density population areas,” in hospitals, schools and apartment buildings, Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told JNS.org. In a future conflict, one could expect “significant damage to Israel,” Orion said, but simultaneously “a devastating and unprecedented destruction in Lebanon, including a significant victory against Hezbollah’s military forces and destruction of most infrastructure enabling its war fighting capacity.”


Due to Hezbollah’s deep entrenchment within civilian infrastructure, the IDF has narrow windows of opportunity to engage “legitimate military targets,” Conricus said. However, the IDF is prepared for this scenario and recently completed its largest drill in two decades in Israel’s northern region, simulating cross-border Hezbollah attacks on Israeli towns in which the terror group aims to commit massacres and take hostages.


The exercise was planned over a year and half in advance and tens of thousands of soldiers from all branches of the IDF participated. During the initial stage of the drill, soldiers simulated rooting out Hezbollah terrorists from Israeli towns and defending the Jewish state’s sovereignty. The drill’s second stage simulated “decisive maneuver warfare” into the depths of Hezbollah’s territory, Conricus said. The exercise sought to enhance “coordination and synchronization” between the IDF’s ground forces, air force, navy, intelligence and cyber units, and shorten “the intelligence cycle” from when a “target is identified to any type of munition meeting that target,” he added.


The IDF has acknowledged that since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has matured from a guerilla organization to a fighting force equipped with heavy artillery, high-precision missiles and drones. The terror group also receives about $800 million a year in funding from Iran. A third of Hezbollah’s forces are currently entrenched in Syria’s ongoing civil war — becoming battle-hardened, but simultaneously overstretched, losing some 2,000 fighters in the conflict.


Hezbollah and Iran have established weapons factories in Lebanon that can produce powerful missiles and, according to the IDF official, “more than 120,000 rocket launchers and rockets” are positioned in southern Lebanon, “in clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.” Iran and Hezbollah are also constructing permanent military facilities in southern Syria to establish a land bridge stretching from Tehran to Beirut along Israel’s northern border.


According to Schanzer, this indicates the next war with Hezbollah “would likely be a two-front battle in Lebanon and Syria,” which could also include other Iranian terror proxies in the region. The IDF official confirmed, “it is definitely possible and plausible” that the Israeli military will be required to fight on more than one front, which the military is prepared for.


Using its “networked intelligence,” the IDF is prepared to implement “a massive precision strike…. on a scale which far exceeds the assessed growth in Hezbollah’s military [capability],” Orion said. Since 2006, Hezbollah has occasionally been given a glimpse of the “quality, scope and intimacy” of Israeli intelligence collected against it, the IDF official said, which has created a deterrence and quiet for the past 11 years. A recent purported Israeli airstrike against a Syrian chemical weapons facility Sept. 7, which occurred during the massive IDF exercise, may have served as one such glimpse into Israel’s intelligence capability directed against the terror group and its allies.


Israel is “far better prepared for the next war with Hezbollah” than it was in the 2006, Schanzer said. “We see now the appearance of stealth tank technology, the preparation for ground warfare and the possibility of tunnels into Israel… as well as the preparation for mass volleys of rockets launched by Hezbollah into Israel.” The Israeli Air Force has also acquired several new state-of-the-art F-35 “Adir” stealth fighter jets, and in recent weeks the military unveiled multiple revolutionary defense technologies that will soon be added to its arsenal.                                                                     





Yaakov Lappin

Arutz Sheva, Aug. 29, 2017


In past models of conflict, Israel responded to Hamas aggression through the use of force in a way that was designed to punish Hamas and convince it to return to a state of calm. Systematically destroying Hamas’s military capabilities was not an Israeli objective. Today, while Israel hopes to avoid war, it is preparing for the possibility of a new conflict. War could erupt again in Gaza for a wide range of reasons.


Should hostilities resume, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) plans to make sure the end stage of that clash will be an unmistakable Israeli victory, and that no one will be able to mistake it for a tie or stalemate. This change in approach has been brewing over the past three years, ever since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014. That operation was launched by Israel to defend itself against large-scale projectile attacks and cross-border tunnel threats from Gaza. At two months’ duration, it was one of Israel’s most protracted conflicts. It was also the third large-scale clash fought with Hamas since 2009. At the end of each round of fighting, the military wing of Hamas remained intact, and was able to quickly begin rearming and preparing new capabilities for the next outbreak of hostilities.


Should Hamas initiate another conflict with Israel, Jerusalem should not be expected to return to the deterrence model. It will not make do with the goal of returning calm to the area, as it did in 2014, 2012, and 2009. Instead, Israel would likely seek to destroy Hamas’s military wing, including its underground labyrinth of tunnels under Gaza City, built to enable operations out of Israel’s sight. Hamas’s decision to embed many of its offensive capabilities in Gaza’s civilian areas will not immunize it to Israeli strikes. The IDF would, however, make every effort to minimize harm to noncombatants.


After 2014, the IDF’s Southern Command began moving away from the “frequent rounds” model, concluding that Israel should not be dragged into major armed conflicts with Hamas every two to three years. The Southern Command identified three alternatives for Israel and Gaza. Under the first, Israel would continue to experience short, temporary truces – an option deemed unacceptable. In the second scenario, Israel would conquer Gaza and topple the Hamas regime completely. In such a scenario, Israel would either rule the Strip and its two million Palestinian inhabitants or find someone who would. It is unlikely that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would take over Gaza after an Israeli “handoff.” Not only would the PA lose domestic legitimacy, but its ability to retain Gaza without IDF assistance would be in serious doubt.


As a result of these calculations, the defense establishment identified a long-term truce, fueled by Israeli deterrence, as the best option. That is the current situation between the combatants: a long-term truce. During the time the truce has lasted, the idea of facing two bad choices – occupying Gaza or accepting the “frequent rounds” model – has evolved. One possibility, in the event of a new conflict, is that the IDF takes out Hamas’s military wing but leaves in place its political wing and police force, thereby creating a feasible Israeli exit from Gaza that does not depend on Jerusalem’s finding new rulers for the Strip.


Today, three years after Operation Protective Edge, Hamas continues to rebuild itself. Its domestic arms industry is producing rockets, mortar shells, and tunnels. Tunnels under Gaza City are designed to enable Hamas battalions to launch hit-and-run attacks on the IDF and to move weapons and logistics out of Israel’s sight. The other kind of tunnel threat, the network of cross-border tunnels, is on borrowed time. Israel is building an underground wall along the 65-kilometer Gazan border, and it progresses with each passing day. Israel has invested billions of shekels in that project, and an anti-tunnel detection system is also operational.


Hamas is not sitting idle during the truce. It is looking for new assault tactics. It seeks to be able to flood southern Israel with short-range projectiles that can carry a warhead as big as a half-ton, which would pose a major threat to any built-up area near the Strip. Hamas can also try to paralyze central Israel with medium-range projectiles, even if these are intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system. Air raid sirens and interceptions are severely disruptive for Israel even without significant projectile damage.


Hamas continues to work on its naval commando cells, which are designed to infiltrate Israel via the coast. It is also continuing to pursue its drone program, with which it hopes to send explosives at targets in a guided manner. Israel is well aware of these capabilities. Hamas remains a serious combat challenge, and has proven its ability to adapt to Israel’s progress. But Hamas is also under intense, unremitting Israeli intelligence surveillance. Hamas is likely aware that any new clash would involve upgraded Israeli combat capabilities that are better suited for the Gazan arena.


Israel has been using the truce to build up its force and study the Gazan battlefield. It is building a growing fleet of armored personnel carriers and tanks that can defend themselves with active protection systems. In Gaza, where practically every Hamas fighter is armed with an armor-piercing RPG, that kind of protection is a game changer.


Israel’s ability to strike Hamas’s underground city has also been enhanced significantly in recent years. Hamas will have nowhere to hide if war resumes. Hamas is likely aware that although it can pose serious challenges to the IDF and to the Israeli home front, Israel has changed its end game. For the time being, Hamas’s cost benefit analysis has led it to conclude that a lengthy truce is in its own best interest.





THAT CAN PREDICT FUTURE BATTLEFIELDS                                                                    

Anna Ahronheim

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 5, 2017


As the nation’s enemies continue to develop their military capabilities, Israel works to stay at least one step ahead, predicting what types of technology will be needed in future wars. “MAFAT is trying to predict the future battlefield, both in terms of threat and technologically,” Brig.-Gen. (res.) Dr. Danny Gold, head of the Defense Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (MAFAT), said on Monday during a briefing for military correspondents at the Kirya army headquarters in Tel Aviv.


MAFAT, which works with the IDF and civilian companies and engages in extensive cooperation with many countries around the world, is critical in providing the technology that make it possible for the IDF to outflank its enemies in all areas. Gold outlined several systems expected to be used by the IDF, including advanced facial-recognition technology, an armed, lightweight quadcopter developed by an Israeli start-up company and a new armored fighting vehicle.


Drawing lessons from 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, where IDF soldiers fought in narrow streets and alleys in the Gaza Strip, the 35-ton, tracked AVF is designed to be simple to operate, relatively inexpensive, agile and lethal with firepower designed for close and urban combat. The AFV, called Carmel (a Hebrew acronym for Advanced Ground Combat Vehicle), is under development by MAFAT and the Defense Ministry’s Merkava Tank Administration and will “constitute a quantum leap” in the field of armored vehicles, Gold said.


As part of the multi-year project, breakthrough technologies are being developed for the Carmel, including modular transparent armor, next-generation cooperative active protection, an IED alert and neutralization system, and a hybrid engine. While MAFAT expects the development and demonstration testing of the Carmel to extend over the coming decade or more, the first stage of the development plan is proof of its feasibility, Gold said. Israel is staying one step ahead of her enemies such as Iran and other countries that have “dramatically improved” their military capabilities, he said.


Gold, who took up his post last year, added that even beyond the Islamic Republic, there has been an expansion of the threats facing Israel, including the continued transfer of advanced weapons to the Middle East, the increase in the intensity and accuracy of firepower by enemy states and sub-state groups, and threats in the cyber domain. “We want total protection and intelligence control in cyberspace,” Gold said, explaining that the use of advanced cameras and other technological advancements were of significant help in the early prevention of terrorist attacks during the recent wave of Palestinian violence in the West Bank.


MAFAT is investing significant effort and funds into safeguarding the borders from existing and future threats, be they from missiles or drones, cyberattacks, and threats from underwater and underground, he said. One project currently in the works to protect Israel from naval threats are two unmanned submarines. One, named Caesar, is a small submarine that would be used primarily for reconnaissance and mapping missions. Developed in cooperation with Ben-Gurion University, the Caesar is at the forefront of global technology, characterized by its ability to dive rapidly and almost vertically.


“What do we need to have in order to be ahead of our enemy? It’s very complicated to think ahead of time how each solution will fit everything,” Gold said, explaining that Israel need robustness and flexibility in all defense systems in order to locate and eliminate any and all possible targets. “For example, the threat posed by precision missiles, it was clear to me that 10 years ago this type of threat would eventuate,” Gold said. Another system developed with the help of MAFAT is the Barak-8 radar, which has since been sold for billions of dollars to international clients. “This was built on the technology that we invested in when no one else believed in it,” he said.                            




ISRAEL HAS A PLAYBOOK FOR DEALING WITH NORTH KOREA                                                               

Zev Chafets       

Bloomberg, Sept. 7, 2017


Israel and North Korea are on opposite sides of the Asian landmass, separated by 5,000 miles as the ICBM flies. But Israelis feels close to the nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang. They have faced this sort of crisis before, and may again.


Some history: In the mid-1970s, it became clear to Israel that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was working on acquiring nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them. Saddam had already demonstrated an uninhibited brutality in dealing with his internal enemies and his neighbors. He aspired to be the leader of the Arab world. Defeating Israel was at the top of his to-do list. After coming to office in 1977, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin tried to convince the U.S. and Europe that Saddam was a clear and present danger to the Jewish state, and that action had to be taken. Begin was not taken seriously.


But Begin was serious, and in 1981 he decided that Israel would have to stop the Iraqi dictator all by itself. His political opponents, led by the estimable Shimon Peres, considered this to be dangerous folly. Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, the legendary former military chief of staff, voted against unilateral action on the grounds that it would hurt Israel’s international standing. Defense Minister Ezer Weizmann, the former head of the air force (and Dayan’s brother-in-law) was also against a military option. He thought the mission would be unacceptably risky. Begin had no military expertise. But his family had been wiped out in the Holocaust. He looked at Saddam, who was openly threating Israel, and saw Hitler. To Begin, sitting around hoping for the best was not a strategy; it was an invitation to aggression. If there was going to be a cost — political, diplomatic, military — better to pay before, not after, the Iraqis had the bomb.


In the summer of 1981, Begin gave the order. The Israeli air force destroyed the Osirak reactor. The United Nations Security Council condemned the attack. The Europeans went bonkers. The New York Times called it “inexcusable.” But the Israeli prime minister wasn’t looking to be excused by the Times or the Europeans or even the usually friendly Ronald Reagan administration. He enunciated a simple rationale that would come to be known as the Begin Doctrine: Israel will not allow its avowed enemies to obtain the means of its destruction. The wisdom of this doctrine became clear a decade later, during the Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein made good on his threat to fire Russian-made SCUD missiles at Israeli cities. The SCUDs landed, and caused some damage and a fair amount of panic, but they were not armed with unconventional warheads. Israel had taken that option off the table.


Similarly, in 2007, Israel confirmed what it had suspected for five years: Syria, with North Korean help, was trying to build a nuclear reactor. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a Begin disciple, sent Mossad chief Meir Dagan to Washington, to ask for American intervention. The CIA chief, Michael Hayden, agreed with Israel’s contention that Damascus (with Iranian financing) was constructing the reactor. But Hayden convinced President George W. Bush that bombing the site would result in all-out war, and who wants that?


Acting on its own, Israel destroyed the Syrian site (reportedly killing a group of North Korean experts in the process). Hayden was wrong about how Syria would react, as he later admitted. If Israel had been reasonable and listened to the CIA, Bashar al-Assad would have nuclear weapons right now. A few years later, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak spent billions of dollars preparing and training to take out the Iranian nuclear program. Barak, not a member of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud Party, explained: “There are instances where it appears it is not necessary to attack now, but you know that you won’t be able to attack later.” In such cases, he said, the “consequences of inaction are grave, and you have to act.”…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links


As Syrian War Winds Down, Israel Sets Sights on Hezbollah: National Post, Sept. 20, 2017—With President Bashar Assad seemingly poised to survive the Syrian civil war, Israeli leaders are growing nervous about the intentions of his Iranian patrons and their emerging corridor of influence across the region.

Israel vs. Iran and Hezbollah: Towards a Military Clash?: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, Sept. 14, 2017—Since 1979, Israel and Iran have been in a state of cold war, a conflict which has intensified since the early 2000s with the development of Iran’s nuclear program.

Cyber Warfare — Reasons Why Israel Leads The Charge: Christopher P. Skroupa , Forbes, Sept. 7, 2017—Cyber warfare is a relatively new kind of war that transcends the typical “declaration” that previous wars have had in the past. The war never officially started, yet its investment began more than a decade ago.

‘Killer Robots’ Can Make War Less Awful: Jeremy Rabkin and John Yoo, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 2, 2017—On Aug. 20, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and dozens of other tech leaders wrote an open letter sounding the alarm about “lethal autonomous weapons,” the combination of robotics and artificial intelligence that is likely to define the battlefield of the future.









The IDF’s Priority: War Readiness: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, July 27, 2017— In Warsaw on Thursday, President Trump gave the most impressive speech by a US president on European soil since Ronald Reagan…

The Merkava 4: Why Hezbollah Should Be Afraid—Very Afraid: Ari Lieberman, Front Page, July 21, 2017— Following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, armchair pundits determined that the age of the tank as king of the battlefield had come to an ignominious end.

The F-35 Critics vs. the Facts: Chet Richards, American Thinker, July 4, 2017— The people working on various aspects of the F-35 fighter program must be very frustrated.

Why Israel Removed the Metal Detectors: Daniel Pipes, Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2017— Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party announced Saturday that the “campaign for Jerusalem has effectively begun, and will not stop until a Palestinian victory and the release of the holy sites from Israeli occupation.”


On Topic Links


Insulting Apology from Islamic Center of Davis (Video): Camera, July 27, 2017

Historic Change on the Temple Mount: Moshe Feiglin, Zehut, July 26, 2017

Operation Good Neighbor: Israel Reveals its Massive Humanitarian Aid to Syria: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, July 19, 2017

When Will the F-35 Stop Being Controversial?: Sandra Erwin, National Interest, July 11, 2017




                                                 Yaakov Lappin

                                                  BESA, July 27, 2017


Israel is enjoying a period of relative calm, but in five to ten years, its strategic environment will likely be significantly more complex and challenging than it is today. For that reason, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has, under the Gideon multi-year working plan, placed combat training and war readiness at the top of its agenda.


The IDF General Staff has identified the objective of attaining a good state of war readiness, and keeping this readiness high, as a crucial objective for Israel in the medium to long term. It is an objective that has been neglected in past years due to budget instability and the lack of a clear strategic directive to place war readiness front and center. This dangerous blind spot appears to have been corrected. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot is intensively promoting the objective of war readiness throughout the whole of the military. A multi-year working plan provides a stable funding environment in which this can be achieved.


The stable truces in place with Hamas and Hezbollah, and the freeze in Iran’s nuclear program, allow the IDF time and space to focus on combat training and force build-up, thereby giving Israel the ability to prepare for a more dangerous future. The truces are fueled by Israeli deterrence and an Israeli ability to skillfully leverage influences on enemy decision-making. Both of the hybrid terrorist-guerrilla armies, Hezbollah and Hamas, are bogged down by challenges of their own. Despite their ideologies, they are reluctant to initiate a full-scale clash with Israel at this stage, as that would expose them to devastating Israeli firepower.


Such deterrence, could, however, prove time-limited. The prospect of combat with these foes, even if unintended, seems likely to grow with time. The risk of clashes with Hezbollah and Hamas will also be joined over time by new threats, the seeds of which can already be discerned. As Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevi, head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, said in June, “Israel’s power deters all enemies in all arenas, state and non-state … but there is a basic instability, and an increase in non-state actors. Their force build-up is intensifying, increasing the chances of scenarios of [a security] deterioration, even if no one wants these scenarios.”


Several factors point to a likely increase of threats. An assessment of these confirms the wisdom of Eizenkot’s directive to focus on achieving and maintaining good war readiness now, while conditions allow. The Iranian regime has not given up its strategic objective of obtaining nuclear weapons. The sunset clauses on the nuclear deal will lift key restrictions over the next eight to thirteen years. Assuming the hard-line Shiite ideological-religious camp and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) continue to control Iran’s foreign and military policies, the Islamic Republic will be able restart its nuclear program at the end of the sunset clauses (if it does not cheat and breach the agreement beforehand).


Iran could begin enriching uranium again (using improved techniques it is currently researching) to bring it to nuclear breakout, and could try to reach that point at a time of its choosing. Its missile program is already developing. This means Israel could find itself in a state-to-state conflict in the not too distant future. Additionally, Arab Sunni states threatened by Iran have launched civil nuclear programs of their own. These could turn out to be the initial stages of military nuclear programs, designed to counter Iran’s nuclear shadow.


The prospect of a nuclear arms race in the region is therefore very real. It might develop as an added layer on top of the fast-paced conventional arms race that already exists throughout the Middle East. An arms race in a region marked by instability and multiple failed states calls for an IDF that is capable of dealing with both non-state actors and state militaries that might, in the future, fall under the command of revolutionary Islamists. The latter are seeking to topple the pragmatic, rational Arab Sunni governments who currently share many interests with Israel.


Meanwhile, powerful hybrid non-state actors, which are part army and part terrorist-guerrilla, are building up their forces near Israel’s borders. Hezbollah in particular, though also Hamas, continues to build up its offensive capabilities. The Iranian missile factories set up in Lebanon are the latest indication of Hezbollah’s ambitious force build-up program, which threatens the Israeli home front as well as strategic targets inside Israel. Where Syria once existed as a centralized state, an assortment of well-armed Iranian-backed forces is gaining strength. The Shiite axis in Syria combats Sunni rebel organizations (some of them fundamentalist and jihadist) and receives Russian air support.


A number of these non-state entities are arming themselves with destructive firepower, including precision-guided heavy rockets and missiles. These capabilities were once reserved for the great powers. Halevi described this situation as one in which “great military power is falling into irresponsible hands.” The IDF is busy building up its own capabilities, and it remains the most potent military force in the Middle East. But as time progresses, Israel’s strategic depth is shrinking due to the mass production of precision weaponry by Iran’s military industries and the trafficking of such weapons to Iranian proxies…

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





Ari Lieberman

Front Page, July 21, 2017


Following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, armchair pundits determined that the age of the tank as king of the battlefield had come to an ignominious end. They argued that the introduction of anti-tank guided missiles rendered the tank obsolete. How wrong they were. Several post-war studies of the conflict demonstrated that the tank was still indispensable to modern warfare and when employed in a combined arms manner with artillery and mechanized infantry, still reigned supreme.


Israel learned many lessons from the Yom Kippur War and incorporated those lessons into the development of its own indigenous tank, the Merkava (Chariot). The Merkava 1 entered service with the Israel Defense Forces in 1978 and first saw action in 1982 during Operation Peace for Galilee when it engaged and destroyed no fewer than nine Soviet-made, Syrian T-72 tanks without sustaining a single loss. It also reportedly succeeded in downing a Syrian anti-tank helicopter with its main gun.


Since that time, the Merkava has undergone several modifications and improvements, the latest iteration of which is the Merkava 4. The Merkava 4 is considered by armored warfare experts to be among the finest tanks in the world, and in terms of crew survivability, the safest. In the summer of 2006, Israel was forced to go to war again, this time with the notorious terrorist organization Hezbollah. On July 12, two Israeli reservists were killed and their bodies snatched during a Hezbollah cross-border attack. Israel could not allow the outrage to go unanswered and decided to launch an offensive against Hezbollah. Nearly 400 Merkava tanks, mostly of the older II and III variants, were haphazardly deployed in the latter stages of the 34-day conflict.


During the course of the war, Hezbollah guerrillas fired thousands of anti-tank missiles – from the first generation Sagger to the highly advanced Kornet – at static Israeli infantry and tanks but only succeeding in damaging some 40 tanks and of these, there were only 20 penetrations. Despite these encouraging numbers, so-called experts began to once again challenge the utility of the tank and its place in modern warfare. IDF planners saw things differently. They went back to the drawing board in an effort to draw conclusions from the performance of the Merkava and tactics employed by its crew members.


With at least 1/3 of its fighting force permanently stationed in Syria, the probability of Hezbollah initiating war against Israel in the near future is low. Even in the absence of the Syrian conflict, Hezbollah will soon not forget the thrashing it took at the hands of the IDF during the 2006 campaign. Nevertheless, most experts agree that the next Lebanon war is not a question of if, but when, and when it does begin, Israel’s latest Merkava variant, the vaunted Merkava 4 will be in the thick of it.


The Merkava 4 incorporates many sophisticated design features including advanced electro optics that ensure a 100% first-hit kill capability from its formidable 120mm smooth-bore gun. The Merkava also features an internally operated 60mm mortar to deal with missile-armed infantry. The Merkava is also capable of firing the long-rang, third generation LAHAT laser homing, guided missile from its main gun, an advantage lacking in the Merkava’s contemporaries. Another feature possessed by the Merkava but lacking in its competitors is the ability to accommodate up to eight infantry soldiers or three litter patients.


But among its most outstanding features is its emphasis on crew safety and ability to negate anti-tank missile threats. The tank, whose well-sloped armor is composed of advanced spaced and composite materials, is arguably the best protected in the world. Unlike other tank designs, the Merkava’s 1,500hp diesel engine is located in the front, providing the crew with an additional layer of protection from frontal hits. Learning from past experience, the Merkava’s vulnerable underbelly was up-armored to provide additional protection against anti-tank mines and Iranian supplied explosively formed projectiles (EFP), which have been used to devastating effect by Iraqi and Afghan insurgents against American forces, claiming no fewer than 500 American lives. In addition, the Merkava 4’s armor is modular, allowing for quick battlefield repair and tailoring the armor for the tank’s mission-specific purposes.


But perhaps the Merkava’s most outstanding feature is its use of the Trophy active self-protection missile defense system, which acts like the tank’s personal Iron Dome missile defense shield. The system is designed to shoot down incoming missiles before the projectile reaches the tank’s armor. The IDF is the first military to deploy such a platform and all Merkava 4s and Namer (leopard) and Eytan armored personnel carriers (APC) are equipped with it. The United States Army is currently testing the Trophy system for use and adoption in its M1A2 Abrams tanks and other armored fighting vehicles such as the Stryker wheeled APC and the Bradley tracked APC.


The Trophy’s first baptism under fire occurred on March 1, 2011 when it successfully intercepted an RPG-29 anti-tank rocket fired by a Hamas terrorist from Gaza. Three years later, during Operation Protective Edge, the system proved itself again, shooting down no less than five anti-tank missiles fired by Hamas terrorists. Not a single Merkava tank was damaged thus depriving the enemy of any psychological or propaganda victory…

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





THE F-35 CRITICS VS. THE FACTS                                                        

Chet Richards                                                                        

American Thinker, July 4, 2017


The people working on various aspects of the F-35 fighter program must be very frustrated. The program is still highly classified, so that much that is taking place within the program is simply not available for discussion. And yet, the F-35’s critics are baying and howling and often deliberately misrepresenting the program and its products.


The F-35 program is not one program. It is several. Its products are three different aircraft and several brand-new, and highly innovative, technologies. It provides quantum leaps in aviation technology in many different areas. Simultaneously achieving all these technical breakthroughs has obviously proved difficult. But that is not surprising — it is the norm in innovative engineering.


The program is producing three very different aircraft: the F-35A is a conventional takeoff aircraft for the Air Force. The F-35B is a vertical takeoff and landing capable aircraft for the Marine Corps. The F-35C is a catapult takeoff and carrier landing aircraft for the Navy. From a distance, the aircraft look alike and inside they share much avionics and the core of the engine. But don’t be fooled. These are very different aircraft.


The F/A-18 Hornet and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet also look like they are the same aircraft. But they are really two completely different aircraft. The Hornet was developed in the 1970s and was manufactured in the 1980s. The Super Hornet was developed in the 1990s and was in production after 2000. The Super Hornet is 20% larger, up to 15,000 pounds heavier, has 40% greater range and 50% greater endurance. They look alike simply because the Super Hornet borrowed excellent aerodynamic design from the Hornet. Time and money saved. Then why are they both called "F-18"? Try selling a brand new aircraft to Congress! For that matter, try selling three different aircraft to Congress: just call them all F-35s and make sure they look alike.


The real intent of unifying the various F-35 programs under one management umbrella was to make sure that each of the three different aircraft, and innovative technologies, would be fully compatible for Joint Service Operations. Moreover, there is substantial fabrication and logistics commonality and this reduces overall unit cost and subsequent support cost. It should be noted that the F-35 development effort is not quite complete. There are still bugs to be fixed. This is normal, and normally provided for in the Integrated Master Plan and Schedule.


At a similar point in the development of the M1 Abrams tank, its critics were howling for program cancellation because of the tank’s many developmental bugs. The bugs were fixed and the M1 proved itself, in battle, to be by far the deadliest tank in history. Even though Initial Operating Capability (IOC) has been declared for the F-35A and the F-35B, this does not mean that these aircraft have their full combat capability — although some units have been forward deployed. IOC really means that these aircraft are training the crews that will eventually operationally fly improved production models. And, in a pinch, they could fight.


My old boss, mentor, and dear friend, the late Bill O’Neil, used to say that a fighter plane is a truck. Its job is to deliver a munition to the right place at the right time. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. Try telling that to a fighter jock. What he wants is something looking sleek and deadly! But Bill was right, and his contribution to the F-35 is major. I mentioned that several innovative programs existed under the F-35 umbrella. One of the most important of these is Bill’s Distributed Aperture System — the DAS. The DAS on the F-35 consists of six infrared sensors (cameras) placed at various parts of the aircraft. A complex computing system seamlessly fuses the imagery and presents it to the helmet visor of the pilot in such a way that wherever he looks he sees the world outside the aircraft as if the walls of the aircraft are simply not there. No need to roll the aircraft to see the ground below, just look down. No need to turn the aircraft to look straight behind, just turn your head. The wings are no longer there to obscure your vision.


Imagine a pilot about to land his nose-up aircraft on the deck of an aircraft carrier. It is night. It is storming. The carrier’s lights are doused because an enemy is nearby. To the naked eye the carrier simply does not exist. Only the lights of the Optical Landing System are visible. If you have any doubts about the seriousness of this scenario just talk to a carrier qualified pilot, as I have. It scares even the most experienced pilots! Because the DAS sensors see in the infrared, night looks like day. With DAS, the pilot looks down just below his instrument panel. The now brightly lit carrier’s deck is fully visible to him at all times. Landing is so very much easier. Carrier pilots are going to love the DAS. But the F-35 DAS is in its infancy. It is easy to envision where this technology is going to go, with greatly increased spatial resolution and hyperspectral imaging. DAS is definitely the future — the future for all aircraft — thanks to the F-35 program…

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






Daniel Pipes                                              

BESA, July 2, 2017


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party announced Saturday that the “campaign for Jerusalem has effectively begun, and will not stop until a Palestinian victory and the release of the holy sites from Israeli occupation.” Fatah demanded the removal of metal detectors and other security devices from the entrance to the Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. A week earlier two Israeli policemen were killed by terrorists who had stashed their weapons inside the mosque.


The Fatah statement was illogical and hypocritical. Many mosques in Muslim-majority countries use the same security technology to protect worshipers, tourists and police. Yet Mr. Abbas managed to force the Israeli government to remove them. He did it by deflecting attention from the policemen’s murders and stoking fear of a religious conflagration with vast repercussions.


The Temple Mount crisis highlights with exceptional clarity three factors that explain why a steady 80% of Palestinians believe they can eliminate the Jewish state: Islamic doctrine, international succor and Israeli timidity. Islam carries with it the expectation that any land once under Muslim control is an endowment that must inevitably revert to Muslim rule. The idea has abiding power: think of Osama bin Laden’s dream of resurrecting Andalusia and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hopes of regaining influence over the Balkans. Palestinians consistently report their belief that the state of Israel will collapse within a few decades.


A confrontation over the Temple Mount uniquely excites this expectation because it reaches far beyond the local population to arouse the passions of many of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. The most prominent Muslim leaders and institutions overwhelmingly supported Fatah’s position on the Temple Mount security provisions. Islamic voices outside the pro-Palestinian consensus are rare. Palestinians rejoice in their role as the tip of an enormous spear.


Palestinians’ illusions of might enjoy considerable international support. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization routinely passes critical resolutions aimed at Israel. Columbia University houses something called the Center for Palestine Studies. Major corporations such as Google and news organizations like the British Broadcasting Corp. pretend there’s a country called Palestine. Foreign aid has created a Palestinian pseudo-economy that in 2016 enjoyed a phenomenal 4.1% growth rate.


In the Temple Mount crisis, the U.S. government, the Europeans and practically everyone else lined up to support the demand for the elimination of metal detectors, along with high-tech cameras or any other devices to prevent jihadi attacks. The Quartet on the Middle East welcomed “the assurances by the Prime Minister of Israel that the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem will be upheld and respected.” With this sort of near-unanimous support, Palestinians easily imagine themselves stronger than the Jewish state.


Israel’s security services timidly avoid taking steps that might upset the Palestinians. This soft approach results not from starry-eyed idealism but from an exceedingly negative view of Palestinians as unreformable troublemakers. Accordingly, the police, intelligence agencies and military agree to just about anything that ensures calm while rejecting any initiative to deprive the Palestinians of funds, punish them more severely or infringe on their many prerogatives.


The Israeli security establishment knows that the Palestinian Authority will continue to incite and sanction murder even as it seeks to delegitimize and isolate the state of Israel. But those security services emphatically prefer to live with such challenges than to punish Mr. Abbas, reduce his standing and risk another intifada. The collapse of the Palestinian Authority and a return to direct Israeli rule is the security services’ nightmare. Mr. Abbas knows this, and this week’s fiasco demonstrates that he’s not afraid to exploit Israeli fears to advance his dream of debasing and eventually eliminating the Jewish state.


Daniel Pipes is a CIJR Academic Fellow

CIJR Wishes All Our Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!


On Topic Links


Insulting Apology from Islamic Center of Davis (Video): Camera, July 27, 2017 —That’s the dishonest, cowardly, meaningless, and insulting apology offered by the Islamic Center of Davis in California after Imam Ammar Shahin called for the annihilation of Jews during a sermon he gave on Friday, July 21, 2017. After Shahin’s sermon was recorded and posted on the mosque’s website, it came to the attention of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) who translated it from Arabic into English for a shocked public.

Historic Change on the Temple Mount: Moshe Feiglin, Zehut, July 26, 2017—Although I anticipated that Netanyahu would remove the metal detectors from the Temple Mount, and although I very much hoped that I would be proven wrong, things are developing in such an amazing and fascinating manner, that you cannot but think that perhaps we are on the threshold of an historic change of direction.

Operation Good Neighbor: Israel Reveals its Massive Humanitarian Aid to Syria: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, July 19, 2017—The Israeli military on Wednesday unveiled the scope of its humanitarian assistance in Syria that has dramatically mushroomed over the last year to include treating chronically ill children who have no access to hospitals, building clinics in Syria, and supplying hundreds of tons of food, medicines and clothes to war-ravaged villages across the border.

When Will the F-35 Stop Being Controversial?: Sandra Erwin, National Interest, July 11, 2017 —It is a question that has nagged the Pentagon for years: At what point will the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter be out of the woods?











Big Data Is Preparing the IDF for 21st Century Combat: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, June 18, 2017— In the not too distant future, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) battalion commander may stare out at the urban sprawl of a Gazan neighborhood.

Is This a Sneak Peek at the Israeli Army's New Tank?: Michael Peck, National Interest, June 16, 2017 — A small armored wedge with a remote-controlled turret: is this what the Israel Defense Force’s future armored vehicles will look like?

Crossing into ‘ISIS land’ with Givati Fighters: Yoav Zitun, Ynet, June 15, 2017— A group of children dangle their feet in a hidden pool, in the steep slopes descending from Kibbutz Meitzar in the southeastern Golan Heights.

Israel Is Still at War: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, May 4, 2017— After several military defeats, the largest and strongest Arab state, Egypt, signed a historic peace treaty with Israel in 1979.


On Topic Links


Yossi’s Private Tank War – 6×6 (Video): Jewish Press, June 18, 2017

Israel Aerospace Industries Launch Simulated Air Battle Training: Jewish Press, June 12, 2017

The Six-Day War Was a One-Time Event: Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, June 5, 2017

How Israel Spots Lone-Wolf Attackers: Economist, June 8, 2017




Yaakov Lappin

JNS, June 18, 2017


In the not too distant future, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) battalion commander may stare out at the urban sprawl of a Gazan neighborhood. As the commander surveys the residential buildings, the locations of enemy gunmen hiding in apartments will be visible, marked in red by the augmented reality (AR) military glasses that he or she is wearing.


On the third floor of a building, the commander will see a hostile combatant crouching and pointing a shoulder-fired missile. On the fifth floor, he or she will know that two snipers are lying in wait, and that behind the building there are enemy mortar launchers. The battalion commander will pass on the coordinates of these threats to Israeli Air Force aircraft hovering overhead, and they will promptly destroy the targets.


The commander may receive an incoming alert message on a piece of eye wear; a terrorist cell is spotted moving in his or her direction from the Gazan coastline. With the push of a button on the screen of a tablet-like device, the commander could order an Israeli Navy missile ship — waiting in the sea, tens of miles away — to launch a precision strike on the target. And then the commander will lead his or her soldiers forward.


This is a fictional scenario today, but it could become reality soon, thanks to the high-tech revolution of the IDF’s network-centered warfare (NCW). The technology used in the above scenario will allow the IDF to adapt to 21st century Mideast warfare, where enemies appear and vanish in very little time, often in urban settings. This new environment is a far cry from the organized state militaries that the IDF faced in the 20th century.


Maj. Assaf Ovadia, head of the IDF’s Combined Operations Department, confirmed to … that several technological breakthroughs have recently occurred, paving the path for the formation of a digital military network that will significantly enhance the IDF’s capabilities. “The world is changing very quickly, both in the civilian and military spheres. So are the threats we are dealing with,” Ovadia said. “Our ability to handle big data means we can bring information very rapidly to the end user in the field. We are adding new abilities all of the time.” For now, this means that all three IDF branches — the army, navy and air force — are linked in a unified command and control network. A fourth member of the network is the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, which provides critical information in real time to field units conducting operations.


Following important combat lessons learned from the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the IDF’s C4I Branch (which stands for Computers, Communications, Command and Control) set up the revolutionary Network IDF, which allows all the military branches to share the same data infrastructure. In the past, each IDF branch had its own system for managing operations, which was ineffective and delayed the transit of critical, real-time information. “Now, nothing is transferred because everyone is sitting on the same infrastructure. Each one is contributing to the common picture, in line with their missions,” Ovadia explained.


Network IDF was launched as a concept in 2014, and quickly began changing the way that Israeli forces fight in battle. During the 2014 conflict with Hamas, a terrorist naval commando cell from Gaza swam north in the Mediterranean Sea and landed on Zikim beach on Israel’s southern coastline. What happened next represented “the first sparks” of the network, Ovadia said. “An observations soldier saw suspicious activity on the beach. She transmitted data in real time to ground and air units. Then a dialogue began between a tank commander and the air force. The units coordinated their firepower against the targets,” he recalled.


The biggest challenge with the new system is securing the network against breach attempts, which could become a source of vulnerability for the IDF. Since the system’s inception, the IDF has worked to secure the network so that data can be shared safely with end users in the field. In 2015, Network IDF was declared fully operational, and today it continues to evolve. For the network to be truly effective, Ovadia said, it’s necessary to analyze the raw data, and turn it into useful knowledge. And the intelligence must be sent only to those who would directly benefit from it. “We don’t want a company commander to receive all [the information] Military Intelligence has. Similarly, a tank commander is only interested in the ten kilometers in front of him.” Higher ranking officers have access to far more data.


In today’s IDF, every end user, whether a tank commander or a senior officer in the general staff, has access to a command and control system, which includes a screen. Future plans include making these capabilities more automatic. And augmented reality is already being used in training. “We are dealing with augmented reality a lot. We are on the way to it,” Ovadia said. “In the future, we won’t want an observations soldier to merely say what she sees. We want the commander in the field to see what she sees.”       





Michael Peck                                                                                                        

National Interest, June 16, 2017


A small armored wedge with a remote-controlled turret: is this what the Israel Defense Force’s future armored vehicles will look like? The answer is . . . maybe. At a conference in Israel last month, the former chief of the IDF’s Armored Corps showed a simulation of what Project Carmel—the IDF’s effort to develop technology for the its generation of tanks—might produce. The virtual vehicle is wedge-shaped, with the hull sloping towards the front. The cannon-armed turret is set at the rear of the hull, with a machine gun mounted on top…


Israel is developing two next-generation armored vehicles. One is the Eitan, the IDF’s first wheeled armored personnel carrier and the chosen replacement for Israel’s fleet of old and poorly armored M113 APCs. Already in the prototype stage, the eight-wheeled Eitan somewhat resembles the U.S. Stryker. The thirty-ton Eitan will be paired with the much heavier Namer, an APC based on the chassis of the Merkava tank.


However, the simulated vehicle displayed at the conference by retired Brigadier General Didi Ben-Yoash, who is heading Project Carmel, is much more of a tank. It would be tracked rather than wheeled like the Eitan, and would weigh thirty-five to forty tons (compared to a sixty-eight-ton M-1 Abrams). With just two crewmen, the vehicle would mostly function autonomously, including “autonomous navigation and driving, target spotting, aiming, independent firing whenever possible plus other features,” according to Israel Defense magazine.


The “cockpit” of the Israeli vehicle will have space for a third crewman to operate drones and standoff weapons. The tank would also have an active protection system, such as Israel’s Trophy, to deflect antitank missiles and rockets. “The future armored platform will be light, agile, small, relatively inexpensive and simple to operate and designed primarily for operation in urban areas with the hatches closed,” Israel Defense said. The new tank will not replace the current Merkava 4, which is expected to remain in production until 2020. “Rather, it is a research-and-development program aimed at a state-of-the-art, medium-weight combat vehicle,” according to Defense News. “It won’t be Merkava 5,” an Israeli official told Defense News. “The operational requirement will be something entirely different.”


Much like the United States and its Ground-X Vehicle Technology project, Israel is aiming to develop smaller, lightweight tanks that can operate in urban terrain. In Israel’s case, the IDF is mindful of the lessons of Operation Cast Lead, the 2014 incursion in Gaza that saw Israeli soldiers challenged by a city with narrow streets and crisscrossed by tunnels. Also in line with U.S. thinking, the Israeli vehicle will be heavily networked into battlefield command and control systems.


The Below the Turret Ring blog offers a thoughtful analysis of what’s known about Project Carmel vehicle so far. The Israeli vehicle is considerably lighter than the forty-eight-ton Armata, which is Russia’s next-generation tank. Its active protection system might stop antitank missiles, but its armor won’t stop heavy cannon rounds from tanks such as the T-72. “The closest Russian counterpart to the Carmel might be the BMPT/BMPT-72 Terminator fire support vehicle designed by the Russian company UVZ,” the blog notes.


In that sense, Project Carmel sounds less like a main battle tank that can replace the Merkava or Abrams in a turret-to-turret armored slugfest. A small tank protected by medium armor and armed with an autocannon and missiles, it would seem to have its own niche as an infantry support vehicle.          






Yoav Zitun

Ynet, June 15, 2017


A group of children dangle their feet in a hidden pool, in the steep slopes descending from Kibbutz Meitzar in the southeastern Golan Heights. The ravishing image is completed by the nearby meadow, with cows and horses and the trickling water from the Yarmouk and Ruqqad rivers. An IDF tank shields the children from above, as the new fence on the Israel-Syria border, just a few dozen meters way, winds southward to the border triangle with Jordan. The view from the armored forces soldiers’ post is breathtaking. The calm sounds nothing like the artillery fire which is heard here on an almost weekly basis.


On the other side of the border, as the Israeli children bathe undisturbed in a hidden jewel of nature, a Syrian boy from the nearby village of al-Sharaf learns how to fire an assault rifle, guided by an Islamic State member, in an improvised shooting range between an abandoned United Nations post and the slopes of the Ruqqad River. “Everything here is green, people hike here and enjoy the nature and the amazing landscape, and only several kilometers away there is total chaos,” says Lieutenant Colonel Nir Ben Hamo, commander of the Givati patrol unit, who has been responsible for this area in the past few months. The same view—from two different worlds.


While the heart of Ben Hamo’s regiment belongs in the south, keeping one eye on Gaza at all times, and his forces are constantly preparing for war in Givati’s home zone, for several months in the past year Lt. Col. Ben Hamo and his soldiers were in charge of the most dangerous and explosive region, where they had complete lack of control and limited intelligence on the enemies. This time, it was neither the familiar Hamas nor Hezbollah, which remains the army’s primary scenario, or even 1,000 ISIS fighters scattered across a huge area in Sinai, who the Egyptian army is working to crush.


Only last week, Arab media reported on an attack—likely the first of its kind—of ISIS posts on the Syria-Israel-Jordan border, which was most probably carried out by the international coalition’s aerial forces. According to foreign sources, Israel has been helping the forces that are fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq for years, providing intelligence on targets, and it’s quite possible that it did the same this time too. Nevertheless, the explosive tensions and the incomprehensible discrepancy between the pastoral view and the moment that everything could blow up continue as the forces move northward along the border fence.


Israel is not taking in Syrian refugees yet, but they are already knocking on its door. In the past year, refugee encampments have been slowly piling up near and north of Har Chozek, close to the orchards of the Druze town of Buq'ata, a few tens of meters from the fence. The IDF has also institutionalized the handling of wounded Syrians: The field hospital in the northern Golan Heights has been shut down, and military teams have been trained to provide quick care on the ground and examine every wounded person in an armed and secured booth on the fence, before evacuating them into Israel.


The fighters along the border not only hear the sounds of explosions and bursts of gunfire, but they also read press reports sometimes about alleged Israeli attacks and targeted killings of Hezbollah and regime supporters who are active in the Syrian Golan Heights. “These incidents definitely prompt us to raise the alertness and tension level among the fighters, out of a common sense that the Syrian regime may react against us,” explains Lt. Col. Gidi Kfir-El, commander of the 9th Battalion of the 401st Armored Brigade, who is responsible for the central and northern Golan Heights area.


 “The perception of our activity in the defense mission,” he adds, “has become just like our activity vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip: Regimental combat teams of the engineering, armored, infantry and canine forces, with combat intelligence gathering and aerial guidance if necessary. We are capable of getting a tank ready for action within minutes, and like in Gaza, it has possible targets beforehand for a counter-attack over a spillover from Syrian fighting.”


The problem with ISIS in the Golan Heights is that it is largely based on locals—a few thousand ISIS-supporting residents in villages in the southern Golan, who are trying to increasingly wear out the Al-Nusra Front organization, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, which is considered more moderate and which still controls a considerable part of the border strip with Israel. In between, there are a number of small outposts which still belong to the army of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who recently fought back and succeeded in regaining control of a few parts of the northern Golan Heights. The southern part remains black, painted in ISIS colors.


“It is for a reason that the IDF constantly stations the regular reconnaissance units here, the finest units with specific patrol, antitank and destruction abilities,” says Lt. Col. Ben Hamo, who during Operation Protective Edge replaced his commander, Major Benaya Sarel, who was killed near Rafah while chasing the kidnappers of Lt. Hadar Goldin. Ben Hamo asks his fighters to exercise quite a lot of restraint and intelligence against the enemy. “In a regimental or even company region,” he says, “there could be a few rules of engagement, sometimes for the same fighters, in accordance with the type of gunmen they see. In this region, we get to exercise our specific abilities excellently. We see members of Shuhada al-Yarmouk (the ISIS organization’s name in the Syrian Golan Heights) attacking more areas controlled by the other rebels. They have diverse weapons, Western arms, antitank missiles, explosive devices and even some armored vehicles, including a few tanks.”


Lt. Col. Ben Hamo prefers to hold his peace when he is asked if wounded Syrians are offered humanitarian aid in his region as well. Up until recently, Israel took a lot of pride in this activity, but then it apparently decided to keep a low profile for some reason. The field hospital that was built on the border in the northern Golan Heights halted its activity, the official reason being an optimization of the way the wounded are evacuated to Israel. In the southern part of the Golan Heights, which is controlled by ISIS, the IDF prefers to keep mum on the humanitarian issue.


The IDF refers to the Syrians who live in the Golan Heights as “locals,” and has detected that they prefer to keep the war as far away from their villages as possible. Nevertheless, the army does not approve of the southern villagers’ support for ISIS, which was implemented about nine months ago when mortars and gunshots were fired at a Golani force that was in the middle of conducting an ambush operation as it crossed the fence while remaining in an Israeli enclave in the southern Golan Heights. There were no casualties among the soldiers, but the IDF launched a quick response: Tanks and aircraft killed the cell members and destroyed a United Nations Disengagement Observer Force post, which was used by the Shuhada fighters…

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






Prof. Efraim Inbar

BESA, May 4, 2017


After several military defeats, the largest and strongest Arab state, Egypt, signed a historic peace treaty with Israel in 1979. The defection of Egypt from the anti-Israel Arab alliance largely neutralized the option of a large-scale conventional attack on Israel, improving Israel’s overall strategic position. Yet Cairo refrained from developing normal relations with the Jewish state.  A “cold peace” evolved, underscoring the countries’ common strategic interests but also the reluctance of Egypt to participate in reconciling the two peoples.


Jordan followed suit in 1994, largely emulating the Egyptian precedent. Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel also reflected common strategic interests – but was commonly referred to by Jordanians as the “King’s peace,” indicating a disinclination for people-to-people interactions with the Jews west of the Jordan River. The inhibitions in the Arab world against accepting Israel should not be a surprise. Muslims seem to have good theological reasons for rejecting the existence of a Jewish state. Moreover, the education system in the Arab countries has inculcated anti-Semitic messages and hatred toward Israel for decades. Unfortunately, the dissemination of negative images of Jews and Israel has hardly changed in Arab schools and media.


This is also why the euphoria of the 1990s elicited by the “peace process” with the Palestinians, and propagated by the “peace camp”, was unwarranted. Indeed, the peace negotiations failed miserably. The process did, however, allow the Palestinian national movement a foothold in the West Bank and Gaza. As a large part of the Arab world is in deep socio-political crisis and another fears the Iranian threat, it is the Palestinian national movement and the Islamists that carry on the struggle against the Zionists.


The Palestinians are at the forefront of the war on Israel, despite their lack of tanks and airplanes. They use terror, and pay the terrorists captured by Israel as well as their families. The use of force against Jews is applauded, and killed perpetrators are awarded the status of martyrs. They use missiles against Israel’s civilian population. The limits on their firepower are the result of Israeli efforts to cut off their supply of armaments.   The Palestinian national movement denies the historic links of the Jews to the Land of Israel, and particularly Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority (PA) demanded of the UK that it apologize for the 1917 Balfour declaration, which recognized Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel. There are endless examples in Palestinian schools and media to sustain the conclusion that the Palestinians are not ready to make peace.


Moreover, the PA cannot conclude a “cold peace” like Egypt or Jordan. Those two countries take their commitment seriously to prevent terrorism from their territory. In the West Bank, the PA – established by Yitzhak Rabin on the premise that it will fight terror in exchange for the transfer of territory – refuses to honor its part of the bargain. It encourages terror by subsidies to jailed terrorists and by innumerable steps to eulogize the “martyrs” and honor their “heritage.” The ruling Palestinian elite in Gaza, Hamas, formally refuses to give up armed struggle against Israel. The “Oslo process” was an attempt by Israel to push the Palestinian national movement into a statist posture and to eventually adopt a statist rationale along the lines of that of Egypt and Jordan, which led them to a “cold peace” with Israel. But the religious and ethnic dimensions of the conflict with Israel have overcome any underdeveloped statist Palestinian instincts. The ethno-religious impulses of the Palestinians nurture their continuation of violent conflict.


So far, no Palestinian leader who has adopted a statist agenda, prioritizing state-building over other Palestinian aspirations, has garnered popular support. Salam Fayyad, who was admired in the West for his attempts to reform the PA’s bloated bureaucracy, seemed to tend in this direction. But his level of support among the Palestinian public never rose above 10%. Palestinian society is becoming more religious and radical, similarly to other Arab societies. This trend benefits Hamas, which is becoming more popular. The ascendance of Hamas further feeds hostility towards Israel. A drive to satisfy the quest for revenge, and, ultimately, to destroy Israel – which would be an historic justice in the eyes of the Palestinians – overrides any other consideration.


A renewal of negotiations leading to Israeli withdrawals is extremely unlikely to result in a durable and satisfactory agreement any time soon. Israel will need to maintain a strong army for many more decades to deal with the Palestinian challenge. Moreover, changes within neighboring states can be rapid. Unexpected scenarios, such as a return of the Muslim Brotherhood to the helm in Egypt or the fall of the Hashemite dynasty, might take place, and a large-scale conventional threat might reemerge. Finally, the Iranian nuclear specter is still hovering over the Middle East. Israel must remain vigilant and continue to prepare for a variety of warlike scenarios. The understandable desire for peace should not blur the discomforting likelihood that Israel will live by its sword for many years to come.




On Topic Links


Yossi’s Private Tank War – 6×6 (Video): Jewish Press, June 18, 2017—The IDF released a series of 6 videos, stories of personal heroism during the Six Day War. This video is the story of Yossi Lepper, a tankist who found himself alone with his tank in Gaza during the war.

Israel Aerospace Industries Launch Simulated Air Battle Training: Jewish Press, June 12, 2017—Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will provide the EHUD®, ACMI system to the Israeli Air Force to be used by the corps’ training between combat aircraft and the Lavi training airplanes.

The Six-Day War Was a One-Time Event: Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, June 5, 2017—In many ways, the 1967 war was a “secondary tremor” from the tectonic earthquake of WWII. It used many of the same doctrines and tactics, and the same, or similar, military platforms (the main exception being fighter jets that replaced propeller air force planes).

How Israel Spots Lone-Wolf Attackers: Economist, June 8, 2017—His last Facebook post was perhaps the only clue of Raed Jaradat’s yearning for vengeance: it showed a Palestinian teenager lying dead with her headscarf soaked in blood and the message “Imagine if this were your sister.” Dania Irsheid, 17, had been shot by Israeli security forces in October 2015 at the entrance to the Ibrahimi mosque (Jews call it the Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hebron. Police said she had tried to stab Israelis; Palestinian witnesses say she was unarmed.













PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Memorial Ceremony at Yad Labanim: Prime Minister’s Office, Apr. 30, 2017 — A cloud of grief hangs over the State of Israel today.

Where is World Outrage Over Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul?: Richard Kemp, Jim Molan & Arsen Ostrovsky, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017— On May 1, Israelis will observe Remembrance Day, honoring soldiers who fell in defense of the Jewish state, and victims of terrorism.

Israel's Covert War Against Hezbollah's Artillery: Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet, Apr. 28, 2017 — Reports of attacks in Syria attributed to Israel may indicate—one could certainly assume—a new stage in Israel's defense against Hezbollah and Iran.

No Nuclear Weapons in Syria? Go Thank Israel: Louis René Beres, Israel Defense, Apr. 27, 2017 — Plausibly, it is only because of Israel's earlier preemptions against Iraqi and Syrian nuclear facilities that the Middle East is not presently awash in Arab nuclear weapons.


On Topic Links


Tell the UN: Jerusalem is Israel’s Eternal Capital (Petition): The Israel Project, May 1, 2017

Such a Moving Video Commemorating the Fallen Heroes of the Israel Defense Forces: Israel Video Network, May 1, 2017

In Our Forgetfulness, We Turned Our Children Into Heroes: Haviv Rettig Gur, Times Of Israel, Apr. 30, 2017

Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers: Tami Shelach, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017


AS WE GO TO PRESS: UNESCO TO FIRE ANOTHER VOLLEY AT ISRAEL – ON INDEPENDENCE DAY — The UN cultural agency is set to pass a resolution on Tuesday — Israel’s 69th Independence Day — that indicates rejection of the Jewish state’s sovereignty in any part of Jerusalem. The resolution also harshly criticizes the government for various construction projects in Jerusalem’s Old City and at holy sites in Hebron, and calls for an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza without mentioning attacks from the Hamas-run Strip. Submitted to UNESCO’s Executive Board by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, the resolution on “Occupied Palestine” will most likely pass, given the automatic anti-Israel majority in the 58-member body. According to Israeli officials, Germany was a driving force behind a deal that would see all EU states abstain in exchange for the removal of the most incendiary anti-Israel passages. But on Monday, Italy announced that it would vote against the resolution, apparently ending the effort to forge a European consensus. (Times of Israel, May 1, 2017)




MEMORIAL CEREMONY AT YAD LABANIM                                                     

Prime Minister’s Office, Apr. 30, 2017


A cloud of grief hangs over the State of Israel today. It always hangs over the families, the parents, the widows and partners, the brothers and sisters. Our loved ones fell in Israel’s battles in the line of duty, in battles and in brutal terror attacks. Ever since the dagger of bereavement pierced our hearts, the course of our lives has been forever changed, but today we commemorate our mutual guarantee and shared fate, which connect all parts of the nation to the family of bereavement. This is the true source of our strength, and to a high degree unique to the State of Israel. It is our unique source of resilience and strength.


Together we bow our heads in memory of the 23,544 who fell in our nation’s battles and the thousands more who were killed by murderous terrorists. We are one people, and it is clear to all of us that were it not for the sacrifice of these men and women – we would not be free in our own land. In fact, we would not be here at all. It is thanks to them that we exist, thanks to them that we live.


This morning at Mount Herzl we inaugurated the new National Hall of Remembrance. It is a splendid building that commemorates all the fallen. I see it as an important symbol emphasizing the foundations of our existence in our land. I see it as an important symbol expressing the unity of bereavement. This small country is all we have – home and homeland, future and hope. Our roots were planted deep into this land thousands of years ago, and for generations we were loyal to it. We renewed our national sovereignty in this land seven decades ago.


The State of Israel is a miracle of history – in its rebirth and in its tremendous achievements. This miracle and these achievements are also especially notable given our ongoing resilience in the test of fire and blood. We stand as a fortified wall against our enemies. We do not show weakness. We do not loosen our grip from the weapons in our hands because we know that this is the only way to push back the thickets of evil that refuse to accept our existence. This is the only way we will achieve peace with those of our neighbors who want peace. At the same time, during this long campaign, we maintain our humanity. We just heard the tremendously moving stories of the fallen. One feels not only the loss, but also their humanity. Simultaneously, we maintain our democratic, free, vibrant and moral society. However, there is a heavy price for this – a personal price for you, the families, and a national price for all of us. We have experienced it personally, and you know: each family and its pain.


It is actually our loved ones who went to battle from whom we draw comfort. The wick of their lives was cut off in a moment, but the spark of the sense of mission that burned in them still glows. During the War of Independence, before he died, Zvi Guber wrote, “Can a lead bullet kill courage and purity of spirit?”


Sixty-nine years have passed and that purity of spirit has remained unchanged: Each generation and the magnificence of its spirit, each generation and the discovery of its strength. Brothers and sisters in the family of bereavement, you are the foundation of Israeli society. You raised exemplary sons and daughters, you instilled in them the values of man and nation, and you serve as a bridge between all sectors of Israeli society: Jews, Druze, Christians, Muslims, Bedouins, Circassians – citizens of Israel are profoundly grateful to you.


Together, we will continue to defend our land, protect it, build it. This is the true legacy of the fallen. The people of Israel hold its fallen soldiers in their hearts, and every day we pay them honor and wish them eternal glory. May the memory of our children be forever blessed. We will remember them all forever.






Richard Kemp, Jim Molan & Arsen Ostrovsky            

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017


On May 1, Israelis will observe Remembrance Day, honoring soldiers who fell in defense of the Jewish state, and victims of terrorism. At an age when most teenagers are getting ready to go off to university or travel abroad, Israelis devote at least two to three years of their lives to defending and protecting their country, the only Jewish state, and by extension the West’s front line of defense in the global war against Islamic terrorism.


Two such soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the State of Israel were Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were killed in action by Hamas during Israel’s defensive 2014 war with the terrorist group, Operation Protective Edge. On August 1, 2014, hours after a United Nations- and US-brokered humanitarian cease-fire between Israel and Hamas went into effect, Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel in Gaza, ambushed an IDF unit and killed Hadar, who was only 23 years old. Hamas then took his body and have been holding it hostage in Gaza since, treating it contemptuously as both a bargaining chip and an instrument to torment his family.


Shaul, who was only 20 years old at the time, was also killed by Hamas, when he left his armored personnel carrier to repair the vehicle and Hamas fired on his unit, killing him, and likewise taking his body and malignly holding it in Gaza. Holding the bodies of soldiers killed in action and refusing their return to their next of kin for burial is a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law. As is using the soldiers’ bodies as bargaining chips, which Hamas continues to do. Only last week, the terrorist group released a morbid video including a song in Hebrew, taunting the families of Goldin and Shaul, again in breach of international law. To this day, almost three years since their abduction, Hamas refuses even to grant the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access.


That Hamas, a fanatical Iran-funded Islamist terrorist organization, does not abide by even a modicum of international law and basic human decency is beyond dispute. But where is the international outcry? Only last week, the international community was up in arms over a large group of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israel. These were however violent murderers convicted of terrorism-related offenses. Moreover, Israel affords these prisoners full rights under international law, including access to ICRC, and returns bodies of terrorists killed attacking Israelis.


Yet the same international community, overflowing with concern over the welfare of Palestinian terrorists, can’t even feign interest in the Israeli soldiers held hostage by Hamas. Where is the Red Cross? Virtual silence. Where is the UN, under whose auspices the cease-fire during which Hadar was killed and kidnapped was brokered? Silence. Awaking only occasionally to condemn Israel in New York or Geneva, but turning a blind eye to Palestinian terrorism. Where are self-professed human rights groups like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch? Silence again.


Perhaps to them the human rights of Jews and Israelis are not worthy? What about Mahmoud Abbas? The Palestinian Authority president claims he wants peace, yet instead seeks to embrace Hamas and glorify those who kill Israelis. You can be certain that if Goldin and Shaul were British, Australian, American, French or Russian soldiers, there would be an international outcry. But only silence and sheer neglect when it comes to the lives of Israelis.


We understand there are many pressing humanitarian concerns facing the world today, not least in the Middle East, but the world must not forget Hadar Goldin, who was killed and taken hostage during a UN cease-fire, as well as Oron Shaul. This is not only a matter for Israelis, but a basic humanitarian issue. These young soldiers, who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, could be any of our soldiers, defending the West from global jihad.


The international community, which is seeking to rebuild Gaza and promote peace in the region, should make any further efforts conditional upon the immediate and unconditional release of the Israeli soldiers’ bodies. The Red Cross also has a fundamental duty to speak up. Meantime, the UN, aided and abetted by the Obama administration, exerted great pressure on Israel to accept this cease-fire, and therefore bears primary responsibility for ensuring the return of the bodies of Goldin and Shaul. The families of these young men deserve, and by law are entitled to, a proper decent burial at home in Israel. It is time the world showed that Israeli lives matter too.                                   





Ron Ben-Yishai                                                            

Ynet, Apr. 28, 2017


Reports of attacks in Syria attributed to Israel may indicate—one could certainly assume—a new stage in Israel's defense against Hezbollah and Iran. This self-defense has lasted for more than a decade, but now it seems that it focuses on one particular thing: defense against artillery; mainly, the missiles and rockets that Iran provides the Hezbollah to strike a critical blow against Israel's home front. Hezbollah and Iran's goal is to be able to threaten vital infrastructures—water, electricity, healthcare services, transport, airfields and emergency supplies—in a way that Israel will have a difficulty to recover from should a strike occur.


The new stage in Israel's strategic defense may have not started today, but is now picking up pace as Israel has completed its multi-layer missile defense system David's Sling, which became operational several weeks ago—completing what may be the most important layer in Israel's defense system. This system, formerly known as Magic Wand, is designed to intercept enemy planes, drones, tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles, fired at ranges from 40 km to 300 km, which essentially covers most of Israel's territories.


The Iranians and Hezbollah understand that the IDF's missile defense system, which is the first and only of its kind, challenges them and their ability to threaten and deter Israel. Even if they are not interested in starting a war with Israel at the moment, they always seek to preserve their level of deterrence against it. For that reason, Iran has decided to change course and instead of arming Hezbollah with hundreds of thousands of imprecise missiles, they are now transitioning to an arsenal comprised mostly of precise missiles and rockets, some of which are even GPS-guided.


The explanation for that is simple: The Iranians and Hezbollah understand that David's Sling is capable of intercepting more than 80% of their rockets, and so they intend to battle it using sheer volume—making it so that the IDF's defense system has too many threats to defend against than it possibly could. The Iranians also want to make sure that at least some of the missiles that will manage to pierce through Israel's defense system will not just land in open fields, and so they are upgrading Hezbollah's massive artillery—which is estimated to have more than 130 thousand missiles and rockets.


The aim is for the arsenal to be comprised of a larger percentage of guided and precise missiles and rockets, which even if only a few of them manage to avoid being shot down they will still inflict massive amount of damage. This strategy is obvious to the IDF and worries Israel's security operators a great deal. In fact, due to Iran's increasing potential of nuclear capabilities it is now considered to be the main and most dangerous threat to the State of Israel due to its potential for large devastation in Israel's home front.


Israel is fully aware of these threats, and is therefore making efforts to gain intelligence on Iran's attempts to arm Hezbollah with precise artillery and prevent Israel from stopping those shipments, sent to Hezbollah forces through Syria. The attacks attributed to Israel on arms depots in Syria, if indeed carried out by it, show the increases efforts by both the Iranians to arm Hezbollah and by Israel to prevent it from taking place. Iran is sending these shipments by—among other methods—commercial flights of Iranian or Iranian-owned airlines out of the assumption that Israel won't know that a regular commercial flight from Tehran to Damascus will also carry missiles and rockets, most of which in pieces.


It is not unthinkable that Israel's intelligence is working to learn of these attempts. The battle between Iran and Israel's intelligence systems is held behind a thick cover of secrecy. The Iranians don't want to admit that they are arming Hezbollah through Syria since it breaches rules made by the United Nations Security Council. On its end, Israel is not admitting or denying that it is sabotaging these shipments. And so, both sides are exploiting plausible deniability for their own interests, even if these "military installations" are hard to hide or ignore once they catch fire do to some "unknown missile strike."                




NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN SYRIA? GO THANK ISRAEL                                                                    

Louis René Beres                                                                                                 

Israel Defense, Apr. 27, 2017


Plausibly, it is only because of Israel's earlier preemptions against Iraqi and Syrian nuclear facilities that the Middle East is not presently awash in Arab nuclear weapons. In this connection, US President Donald Trump might have had to make far more risky calculations in launching his recent retaliation for the Syrian chemical weapons attack if Bashar al-Assad had already acquired a recognizable nuclear counter-retaliatory capability. Also worth noting is that if the long-lasting Damascus regime had not been the object of very successful Israeli defensive strikes back in 2007, nuclear weapons could eventually have fallen into the fanatical hands of Shi'ite Hezbollah, or – if the al-Assad regime should fall – Sunni ISIS.


Israel's first use of anticipatory self-defense against a potentially nuclear Middle Eastern adversary was directed at Saddam Hussein's Osiraq reactor near Baghdad on June 7, 1981. Precisely because of Israel's courageous and correspondingly international law-enforcing operations in both Iraq and Syria, America and its allies do not currently have to face enemy nuclear regimes or their terrorist nuclear proxies. Significantly, as corollary, it was the world community's failure to act in a similarly timely fashion against North Korea that contributed mightily to our now expanding security woes regarding Kim Jong-un.


In essence, thanks to Israel's Operation Opera on June 7, 1981, and also its later Operation Orchard on September 6, 2007, neither Iraq nor Syria will be able to provide Islamist terrorists with game-changing kinds of destructive technology. To be sure, nuclear weapons in these countries could conceivably have made End Times theology a meaningfully palpable strategic reality. We may now be more operationally precise. On June 7, 1981, and without any prior forms of international approval, Israel destroyed Osiraq. Left intact, this Saddam Hussein-era reactor would have been able to produce enough fuel for an Iraqi nuclear weapon. Moreover, had Prime Minister Menachem Begin first pleadingly sought formal approvals from the "international community," that residually vital expression of self-defense would assuredly have failed.


Law also matters. Under international law, war and genocide need not be mutually exclusive. Although it had been conceived by Mr. Begin as an indispensable national security corrective for Israel, one desperately needed to prevent an entirely new form of Holocaust, Operation Opera ultimately saved the lives of thousands or perhaps even tens of thousands of Americans. These were and still remain US soldiers fighting in all the subsequent "Iraqi wars."


During the attack on Osiraq, Israeli fighter-bombers destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor before it was ready to go "on line." Ironically, immediately following the attack, the general global community reaction had been overwhelmingly hostile. The UN Security Council, in Resolution 487 of June 19, 1981, expressly indicated that it "strongly condemns" the attack, and even that "Iraq is entitled to appropriate redress for the destruction it has suffered."


Officially, the United States, perhaps not yet aware that it would become a distinctly primary beneficiary of this unilaterally defensive Israeli action, issued multiple statements of conspicuously stern rebuke. Today, of course, particularly as we worry about both al-Assad war crimes and prospective ISIS advances, matters look very different. Indeed, in June 1991, during a visit to Israel after the first Gulf War, then-Defense Secretary Richard Cheney presented Maj. Gen. David Ivry, commander of the Israel Air Force (IAF), a satellite photograph of the destroyed reactor. On the photograph, Cheney inscribed: "For General David Ivry, with thanks and appreciation for the outstanding job he did on the Iraqi nuclear program in 1981, which made our (American) job much easier in Desert Storm."


International law is not a suicide pact. Israel did not act illegally at Osiraq. Under the long-standing customary right known as anticipatory self-defense, every state is entitled to strike first whenever the danger posed is "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation." For such manifestly compelling action, it does not require any antecedent approvals by the United Nations.


It was the United States, not Israel, which issued a unilateral policy statement, in 2002, declaring that the traditional right of anticipatory self-defense should immediately be expanded. Here, Washington's strategic and jurisprudential argument hinged, correctly, on the starkly unique dangers of any nuclear-endowed enemy. The National Security Strategy of the United States was issued by the most powerful country on earth. In comparison, Israel, which had claimed a substantially more narrow and conservative view of anticipatory self-defense back in 1981, is small enough to fit into a single county in California, or twice into Lake Michigan.


Serious students of world affairs are more or less familiar with what happened at Osiraq back in 1981. But what about the attack that took place in Syria, during Operation Orchard, in 2007? In this second and later case of an Israeli preemption designed to prevent enemy nuclear weapons, the operational details are much more hazy. In brief, the then Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, consciously reasserted the 1981 "Begin Doctrine," this time within the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria. Several years later, in April 2011, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) authoritatively confirmed that the bombed Syrian site had indeed been the start of a nuclear reactor. Olmert's decision, like Begin's earlier on, turned out to be "right on the money."


It's not complicated. International law is not a suicide pact. All things considered, Israel's 1981 and 2007 defensive strikes against enemy rogue states were not only lawful, but distinctly law enforcing. After all, in the incontestable absence of any truly centralized enforcement capability, international law must continue to rely upon the willingness of certain individual and powerful states to act forcefully on behalf of the entire global community. This is exactly what took place on June 7, 1981, and, again, on September 6, 2007.


Going forward, Jerusalem and Washington now need to inquire further: What about Iran? Should Tehran sometime agree to provide its surrogate Hezbollah militias with some of its own evolving nuclear technologies, Iran could find itself marshaling considerable and potentially decisive influence in regional terror wars. Then, endlessly sectarian conflicts raging throughout Iraq, Syria, and other places could continue to grow until every remaining flower of human society were irremediably crushed. If that should actually happen – an even more plausible scenario if there should be a simultaneous or near-simultaneous coup d'état in already-nuclear Pakistan – we might then all still bear impotent witness to a world spinning further out of control… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





On Topic Links


Tell the UN: Jerusalem is Israel’s Eternal Capital (Petition): The Israel Project, May 1, 2017—Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital — but the UN is set to ERASE Israel’s right to any of the city. Demand the un stop its war of lies against Israel. Sign the petition here.

Such a Moving Video Commemorating the Fallen Heroes of the Israel Defense Forces: Israel Video Network, May 1, 2017—The 23,144 thousands of Israeli soldiers and citizens who have been killed in the Land of Israel were the best and the finest of Israel’s youth. It is due to their bravery that we live the lives we live today in the Land of Israel. Their sacrifices are a beacon of light for all to learn from. They serve as role models of self-sacrifice to all for what we as an old nation, in an ancient land who have built up a modern-day State – need to do in order to preserve our way of life. May their memories be blessed.

In Our Forgetfulness, We Turned Our Children Into Heroes: Haviv Rettig Gur, Times Of Israel, Apr. 30, 2017—On Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembrance, let the politicians and generals talk of “heroes” and “commemoration.” I can speak only of children. Heroes, after all, are just children who grew old enough that we forgot their childhoods. In this forgetfulness, we put rifles in their hands, ran their sore feet through mud and sand, and sent them out to fight.

Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers: Tami Shelach, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017—Israeli society is built in such a way that there is no one who is not connected to someone who fell during their IDF service, either during or between wars. Sometimes it’s a loved one from your immediate or extended family, a neighbor, a friend, a co-worker, or a fellow soldier. They may be secular or religious Jews, Druse, or members of other religions.























Why Israel Has the Most Technologically Advanced Military on Earth: Yaakov Katz, New York Post, Jan. 29, 2017— In 1950, just two years after the state of Israel was founded, the country’s first commercial delegation set off for South America.

Myth: Israel Is the Largest Beneficiary of US Military Aid: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Feb. 10, 2017— Countless articles discrediting Israel (as well as many other better-intentioned articles) ask how it is that a country as small as Israel receives the bulk of US military aid.

Global Arms Sales at Highest Level Since Cold War: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2017— Global arms sales have skyrocketed in the last five years, reaching their highest level since the Cold War in sales to the Middle East, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

After Gaza Flare-Up, Ministers Hear War Drums as Army Seeks Return to Calm: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Feb. 7, 2017— Two Israeli ministers said another war in Gaza is on Israel’s horizon on Tuesday…


On Topic Links


Can Israel Rely On Foreign Peacekeepers And Security Guarantees? (Video): Yoram Ettinger, Youtube, Feb. 8, 2017

IDF Trains For Doomsday Scenario Along Gaza Border: Jewish Press, Jan. 26, 2017

Facing New Challenges: Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom, Feb. 10, 2017

The Fast Track to Armageddon: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 13, 2017




ADVANCED MILITARY ON EARTH                                       

Yaakov Katz

                                       New York Post, Jan. 29, 2017


In 1950, just two years after the state of Israel was founded, the country’s first commercial delegation set off for South America. Israel desperately needed trading partners. Unlike its Arab adversaries, Israel did not have natural resources to fund its economy. There was no oil or minerals. Nothing. The delegation held a couple of meetings but was mostly met with laughs. The Israelis were trying to sell oranges, kerosene stove tops and fake teeth. For countries like Argentina, which grew its own oranges and was connected to the electrical grid, the products were pretty useless.


It’s hard to imagine this is what Israeli exports looked like a mere 67 years ago. Today, Israel is a high-tech superpower and one of the world’s top weapons exporters with approximately $6.5 billion in annual arms sales. Since 1985, for example, Israel is the world’s largest exporter of drones, responsible for about 60 percent of the global market, trailed by the US, whose market share is under 25 percent. Its customers are everywhere — Russia, South Korea, Australia, France, Germany and Brazil. In 2010, for example, five NATO countries were flying Israeli drones in Afghanistan. How did this happen? How did Israel, a country not yet even 70 years old, become a superpower with one of the most technologically advanced militaries in the world that is changing the way modern wars are fought?


The answer, I believe, is a combination of a number of national characteristics unique to Israel. First, despite Israel’s small size, about 4.5 percent of its GDP is spent on research and development, almost twice the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average. Of that amount, about 30 percent goes to products of a military nature. By comparison, only 2 percent of German R&D and 17 percent of the US R&D is for the military. Another major contribution is the culture of innovation and creativity in Israel. Israelis are more willing to take risks than other nations. They get this from their compulsory military service during which they are tasked, at a young age, to carry out missions often with deadly consequences. While Israeli 19-year-olds embark on operations behind enemy lines, their Western counterparts can be found in the safety of their college dormitories.


Lastly, Israel has been in a perpetual state of conflict since its inception, fighting a war almost every decade. This reality, of having your back up against the wall, sharpens the mind. It forces Israelis to be creative and come up with innovative ways and weapons to survive. This is the Israel story …


Robotic border patrols: The Guardium is a part of a new category of robotic weapons known as Unmanned Ground Vehicles or UGVs. Israel is the first country in the world using these robots to replace soldiers on missions like border patrols. Already, Guardium UGVs are deployed along Israel’s border with Syria in the north and the Gaza Strip in the south. The Guardium is based on a Tomcar dune-buggy-like vehicle and equipped with a range of sensors, cameras and weapons. It can be driven by a soldier sitting in a command center miles away or receive a pre-designated route for its patrol, making it completely autonomous.


The increasing use of robots by the Israel Defense Forces is part of a larger strategy to minimize risk to soldiers when possible. In addition, soldiers require breaks, food and water. All a Guardium needs is a full tank of gas. Other UGVs in use by the IDF include the Segev, which is based on a Ford F-350 pickup truck.


Facing terrorists who use tunnels to infiltrate into Israel from places like the Gaza Strip, Israel is also relying on UGVs like robotic snakes to slither their way into underground passageways and enemy headquarters. The robots will then map out the structures, giving soldiers an accurate picture of a battle area before the place is stormed. The same is happening at sea. Israeli defense contractor Rafael has developed an unmanned patrol ship called Protector which is being used by Israel to protect its strategic ports and patrol the country’s long Mediterranean coastline.


The Arrow anti-missile program: In 2000, the Israeli air force received its first operational Arrow missile battery, making Israel the first country in the world with an operational system that could shoot down incoming enemy missiles. The idea to create the Arrow was born in the mid-1980s after President Ronald Reagan floated his Star Wars plan and asked America’s allies to partner in developing systems that could protect the country from Soviet nuclear missiles.


The Arrow was a revolutionary idea. Due to Israel’s small size and lack of territory, all ballistic missiles deployed in the region — Syria, Iraq and Iran — can reach anywhere within the country and pose a strategic and possibly even existential threat. Israel, the developers argued, needed a system that could shoot down enemy missiles over neighboring countries and provide overall protection for the tiny Jewish state. The program had its ups and downs but got a huge boost in funding after the First Gulf War in 1991, when Saddam Hussein fired 39 Scuds into Israel, paralyzing the country and forcing millions of Israelis into bomb shelters with their gas masks.


The Arrow was just the beginning. Today, Israel has the Arrow, which is partially funded by the United States, to intercept long-range ballistic missiles, David’s Sling to intercept medium-range rockets and cruise missiles as well as the combat-proven Iron Dome, which has intercepted hundreds of Katyusha rockets fired from the Gaza Strip in recent years. Israel is the only country in the world that has used missile defense systems in times of war. These systems do more than just save lives. They also give the country’s leadership “diplomatic maneuverability,” the opportunity to think and strategize before retaliating against rocket attacks. While other countries have also invested in missile defense, none has created a multi-tier architecture like Israel….

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






Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA, Feb. 10, 2017


Countless articles discrediting Israel (as well as many other better-intentioned articles) ask how it is that a country as small as Israel receives the bulk of US military aid. Israel receives 55%, or $US3.1 billion per year, followed by Egypt, which receives 23%. This largesse comes at the expense, so it is claimed, of other equal or more important allies, such as Germany, Japan, and South Korea. The complaint conjures the specter of an all-powerful Israel lobby that has turned the US Congress into its pawn. The response to the charge is simple: Israel is not even a major beneficiary of American military aid. The numerical figure reflects official direct US military aid, but is almost meaningless compared to the real costs and benefits of US military aid – which include, above all, American boots on the ground in the host states.


There are 150,500 American troops stationed in seventy countries around the globe. This costs the American taxpayer an annual $US85-100 billion, according to David Vine, a professor at American University and author of a book on the subject. In other words, 800-1,000 American soldiers stationed abroad represent US$565-665 million of aid to the country in which they are located.


Once the real costs are calculated, the largest aid recipient is revealed to be Japan, where 48,828 US military personnel are stationed. This translates into a US military aid package of over US$27 billion (calculated according to Vine’s lower estimation). Germany, with 37,704 US troops on its soil, receives aid equivalent to around US$21 billion; South Korea, with 27,553 US troops, receives over US$15 billion; and Italy receives at least US$6 billion. If Vine’s estimate is correct, Japan’s US military aid package is nine times larger than that of Israel, Germany’s is seven times larger, and Italy’s is twice as large. The multipliers are even greater for Egypt. Even the Lilliputian Gulf states, Kuwait and Bahrain, whose American bases are home to over 5,000 US military personnel apiece, receive military aid almost equal to what Israel receives.


Yet even these figures grossly underestimate the total costs of US aid to its allies. The cost of maintaining troops abroad does not reflect the considerable expense, deeply buried in classified US military expenditure figures, of numerous US air and sea patrols. Nor does it reflect the high cost of joint ground, air, and maritime exercises with host countries (events only grudgingly acknowledged on NATO’s official site). US air and naval forces constantly patrol the Northern, Baltic, and China Seas to protect American allies in Europe and in the Pacific – at American expense. Glimpses of the scale of these operations are afforded by incidents like the shadowing of a Russian ship in the Baltics, near run-ins between Chinese Coast Guard ships and US Navy ships dispatched to challenge Chinese claims in the South China Sea, and near collisions between US Air Force planes and their Chinese counterparts in the same area.


In striking contrast, no US plane has ever flown to protect Israel’s airspace. No US Navy ship patrols to protect Israel’s coast. And most importantly, no US military personnel are put at risk to ensure Israel’s safety. In Japan, South Korea, Germany, Kuwait, Qatar, the Baltic states, Poland, and elsewhere, US troops are a vulnerable trip-wire. It is hoped that their presence will deter attack, but there is never any assurance that an attack will not take place. Should such an attack occur, it will no doubt cost American lives.


This cannot happen in Israel, which defends its own turf with its own troops. There is no danger that in Israel, the US might find itself embroiled in wars like those it waged in Iraq and Afghanistan at a cost of US$4 trillion, according to Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor and Harvard University researcher.


Japan’s presence at the top of the list of US military aid recipients is both understandable and debatable. It is understandable because Japan is critical to US national security in terms of maintaining freedom of the seas and containing a rising China. It is debatable because Japan is a rich country that ought to pay for the US troops stationed within it – or in lieu of that, to significantly strengthen its own army. At present, the Japanese army numbers close to 250,000, but it is facing the rapidly expanding military power of its main adversary, China. A similar case can be made with regard to Germany, both in terms of its wealth and its contribution towards meeting the Russian threat.


What is incomprehensible is not why Israel receives so much US military aid, but why Japan has received nine times more aid than Israel does. This is a curious proportion given the relative power Israel possesses in the Middle East and its potential to advance vital US security interests in times of crisis, compared to the force maintained by Japan relative to China. Ever since the Turkish parliament’s decision in March 2003 not to join the US-led coalition, and the Turkish government’s refusal to allow movement of American troops across its borders, Israel has been America’s sole ally between Cyprus and India with a strategic air force and (albeit small) rapid force deployment capabilities to counter major threats to vital US interests.


It takes little imagination to envision these potential threats. Iran might decide to occupy Bahrain, which has a Shiite majority seriously at odds with the ruling Sunni monarchy. It might take over the United Arab Emirates, which plays a major role in the air offensive against the Houthis, Iran’s proxies in the war in Yemen. There might be a combined Syrian and Iraqi bid to destabilize Sunni Jordan, in the event that both states subdue their Sunni rebels. Any of these moves would threaten vital energy supplies to the US and its allies. Only Israel can be depended upon completely to provide bases and utilities for a US response and to participate in the effort if needed.


The politicians, pundits, and IR scholars who attack Israel and the Israeli lobby for extracting the lion’s share of US military aid from a gullible Congress know full well that this is not true. Israel receives a small fraction of the real outlays of military aid the US indirectly gives its allies and other countries. These experts also know that 74% of military aid to Israel was spent on American arms, equipment, and services. Under the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding, that figure will be changed to 100%. The experts simply cite the wrong figures.


The US is now led by a businessman president who knows his dollars and cents. He has been adamant about the need to curb free-riding by the large recipients of real US aid. He will, one hopes, appreciate the security bargain the US has with Israel – a country that not only shares many common values with the US, but can make a meaningful contribution to American vital interests with no trip-wires attached.






Anna Ahronheim

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2017


Global arms sales have skyrocketed in the last five years, reaching their highest level since the Cold War in sales to the Middle East, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says the volume of international weapons transfers has “grown continuously since 2004 and increased by 8.4% between 2007-11 and 2012-2016,” with the flow of arms to the Middle East, Asia and Oceania spiking in part due to conflicts raging in the Middle East and tensions in the South China Sea.


The five biggest exporters – the US, Russia, China, France and Germany – accounted for 74 percent of the total volume of arms exports. France and Germany accounted for 6% and 5.6% respectively. But the report stated the low rate of French arms exports would likely end due to a series of major defense contracts signed in the past five years. Russia is reported to have accounted for 23% of global exports between 2012–16, with 70% of its arms exports going to four countries: India, Vietnam, China and Algeria. Of all the arms exported by the United States, almost half ended up in the Middle East, with the main buyers being Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey.


“The USA supplies major arms to at least 100 countries around the world – significantly more than any other supplier state”, said Dr. Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program. “Both advanced strike aircraft with cruise missiles and other precision-guided munitions and the latest generation air and missile defense systems account for a significant share of US arms exports,” he said. According to the report, arms imports jumped by 86% between 2012 and 2016 in the Middle East, accounting for 29% of global arms purchases, almost double the previous five-year period studied.


Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest arms importer after India, with an increase of 212% compared to the previous five-year period, while imports by Qatar rose by 245%. According to senior SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman, “over the past five years, most states in the Middle East have turned primarily to the USA and Europe in their accelerated pursuit of advanced military capabilities. Despite low oil prices, countries in the region continued to order more weapons in 2016, perceiving them as crucial tools for dealing with conflicts and regional tensions.”


Several countries in the Middle East are involved in armed conflicts, such as the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen and in Syria, and tensions remain among them and with Iran. Wezeman told The Jerusalem Post that, due to the continuing arms embargo prohibiting states from exporting arms to Iran, “there is major asymmetry when comparing Iran to other countries in the region, like the rich Gulf countries.” However, Tehran’s arms industry produces weapons that are ending up in the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthi rebels in Yemen, he said.


According to Wezeman, while Israel is “out of the league of major importers, it is one of the larger arms exporters,” ranking 10th of all countries. Israel belongs to a group of smaller countries that plays a large role in arms trade, such as Germany or France, Wezeman told the Post, adding that, while Israel has not been a major arms importer in the past five years, by next year “we will see a change, especially due to the F-35 program.” Israel is set to receive a total of 50 of the stealth fighters, two full squadrons, by 2022. Of the MOU signed between Washington and Jerusalem in September that provides Israel with $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade, at least $7 billion of the MOU has been earmarked for purchasing the F-35s…


India was reported by SIPRI to be the world’s largest importer of major arms in 2012-16, accounting for 13 percent of the global total – far greater than regional rivals China and Pakistan. “With no regional arms control instruments in place, states in Asia continue to expand their arsenals,” said Wezeman, adding that “while China is increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remains dependent on weapons technology from many willing suppliers, including Russia, the US, European states, Israel and South Korea.” Israel has been supplying India with various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years, making India one of Israel’s largest buyers of military hardware. Over the last five years defense trade between the two countries has averaged annual sales worth more than $1 billion…

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







 Judah Ari Gross

           Times of Israel, Feb. 7, 2017


Two Israeli ministers said another war in Gaza is on Israel’s horizon on Tuesday, following a tense day of IDF air and tank strikes in response to a rocket attack from the Strip on Monday morning, but the army stressed it had no interest in further conflict on the southern front. Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday that a war was “a matter of when, not if…In Gaza, they are continuing to threaten us and try to harm us,” Bennett said at a ceremony in southern Israel commemorating the death of an Israeli student killed by Hamas rocket fire in 2005. “Only with a total victory over our enemy will we put an end to this,” Bennett added.


In a Tuesday morning interview on Army Radio, Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a former general, also said there was a chance of escalation and conflict with the Hamas terrorist group later this year. “The [current] reality, in my assessment, might lead to a situation in which Hamas is drawn to escalation in the spring or the summer,” said Galant, a former head of the army’s Southern Command. Galant’s predictions have not always been accurate. In April 2016, in another Army Radio interview, the minister predicted a war in Gaza that summer as well, but no such conflict occurred.


The IDF, meanwhile, has sought to calm some of the tensions surrounding the Gaza Strip. “We have no interest in an escalation of violence, but are determined to fulfill our obligation and protect the people of Israel from attacks originating in Gaza,” army spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told The Times of Israel


In response to the IDF strikes, the Hamas terrorist group said Monday it holds Israel “fully” responsible for any fallout or escalation in hostilities between the two sides. Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem also called on regional and international authorities to curb Israel’s “aggression.” On Monday morning, a rocket was fired from northern Gaza at Israel, striking an open field south of the city of Ashkelon. Later in the day, an IDF patrol was also fired upon near the security fence surrounding the coastal enclave. No Israelis were injured in the attacks. In response, the army targeted at least eight Hamas positions in the Strip, with both airstrikes and tank shellings. Two Palestinians were reportedly injured by shrapnel to an unknown degree, according to the Gaza health ministry.


The army said its strikes were in response not only to Monday’s rocket attack and gunfire, but also to “other incidents from Gaza in the last month.” This was a reference to smaller-scale incidents that have occurred along the security fence surrounding the Strip. Following the 2014 Gaza war, which aimed to stem rocket fire from the Strip against Israeli towns, the rate of such attacks dwindled to, on average, one or two missiles per month. These rockets have been launched mainly by radical Salafist groups. But Israel sees Hamas, which has ruled the Strip for the past 10 years, as ultimately responsible for any any attacks coming from Gaza…

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




On Topic Links


Can Israel Rely On Foreign Peacekeepers And Security Guarantees? (Video): Yoram Ettinger, Youtube, Feb. 8, 2017

IDF Trains For Doomsday Scenario Along Gaza Border: Jewish Press, Jan. 26, 2017—The following is a report from the IDF blog, which described a massive civil defense and military drill that included an elementary school along the southern border with Gaza on Wednesday.

Facing New Challenges: Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom, Feb. 10, 2017—Ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington next week and his Feb. 15 meeting with President Donald Trump, the differences between the Israeli Right and Left's worldviews, especially with regard to the Palestinian issue, has become more poignant.

The Fast Track to Armageddon: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 13, 2017—When all pertinent factors are taken into account, U.S. President Donald Trump could sometime undertake more-or-less selective military action against Iran. In response, the Islamic Republic – then having absolutely no meaningful option to launching at least certain forms of armed reprisal – would target American military forces in the region and/or carefully chosen Israeli targets.





The F-35 is a Supercomputer in the Sky: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, 18 Dec. 2016— To the joy of many in Israel’s defense establishment, Israel’s most advanced piece of weaponry, a pair of F-35 stealth fighter jets, landed in Nevatim Air Base late Monday after a six-hour delay.

Bombs or Missiles – Which Way Should the IDF Go?: Yossi Melman, Jerusalem Report, Jan. 12, 2017— The defeat of the opposition rebels and the recapturing of Aleppo have boosted the morale of the regime of Bashar Assad and his Iranian, Hezbollah and Russian allies.

Israeli Defense in the Age of Cyber War: Gil Baram, Middle East Quarterly, Winter, 2017— From the early days of statehood, technology occupied a prominent place in Israel's national security concept as it sought to establish a qualitative edge over its vastly more populated and better endowed Arab adversaries.

Israel Divided Over Conviction of Hebron IDF Shooter: Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor, Jan. 4, 2017 — The fall of Aleppo just weeks before Barack Obama leaves office is a fitting stamp on his Middle East policy of retreat and withdrawal.


On Topic Links


In Israeli Military, Guarded Optimism for 2017: Barney Breen-Portnoy, Algemeiner, Dec. 30, 2016

Women, Faith and the IDF: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 3, 2017

The Keyboard Warriors of the IDF: Ami Rojkes Dombe, Israel Defense, Jan. 5, 2017

The IDF’s New Social Contract: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, Jan. 10, 2017





Anna Ahronheim

Jerusalem Post, 18 Dec. 2017


To the joy of many in Israel’s defense establishment, Israel’s most advanced piece of weaponry, a pair of F-35 stealth fighter jets, landed in Nevatim Air Base late Monday after a six-hour delay. But the jet fighters, which had been grounded in Italy due to fog, are only the beginning, with Israel expecting to receive a total of 50, two full squadrons, by 2022.


“Israel never had a stealth fighter before the F-35; it is a huge jump and will be a huge challenge,” Brig.-Gen. (res.) Abraham Assael told The Jerusalem Post before the planes landed, adding that “it is a very interesting time for our air force,” as the F-35 “is more like a system than a plane, and it will take time to fully understand the system.” The plane, he said, “is an enigma,” and after years of development of the most expensive plane in history, the advanced jet will, according to senior Israeli officials, give Israel complete air superiority in the region for the next 40 years. Lt.- Col. Yotam, the squadron commander of the Adir, as the Israeli version of the F-35 is called, added that the Adir was purchased “in order to attack places that we are not always able to attack.”


The fifth-generation jet “is a quantum leap in relation to the combat aircraft we have today,” according to Yotam, designed to fly longer and faster than most fighter jets. Its extremely low radar signature allows it to operate undetected deep inside enemy territory, evading advanced missile-defense systems like the Russian-made S-300s and S-400s deployed both in Syria and Iran. Those missile-defense systems pose an “obvious risk to Israel’s air force, and we cannot ignore their presence in the area,” Assael said.


But the need for the jet was also a subject of fierce debate in the government, where some wondered whether such an expensive jet was necessary, questioning whether Israel could have spent the $100 million plus per plane on hardware that could be more relevant to the current threats facing Israel. The next conflict that Israel will face against Hamas or Hezbollah is likely not going to be a full-fledged war, and the F-35 will likely not need to use its stealth technology to strike targets, unless Hezbollah gets its hands on Russian-provided S-300 or S-400 surface-to-air missiles in Syria, an unlikely scenario. But Hezbollah is Israel’s most dangerous enemy, known to have a massive arsenal of advanced weaponry, given to it by its Iranian patrons, and technological advances along with battlefield experience gained by the group in Syria.


Another terrorist group on Israel’s borders, Islamic State, continues to fight against Western air and ground forces relatively successfully, downing aircraft over Syria and Iraq. While Islamic State has been losing significant amounts of territory, its branch in the Sinai Peninsula is their strongest, having killed hundreds of Egyptian security forces, downed a Russian passenger plane, fired rockets toward Israel and released videos showing terrorists with man-portable air-defense systems.


But it’s not only terrorist groups that pose a threat to Israel. According to a senior IDF officer, the military buildup in the Middle East is a significant problem. “We see arms deals totaling $200 billion in weapons in the Middle East. We are a small country with a lot of strategic targets, and that is clear to everyone.” In addition to the S-300s and S-400s on Israel’s northern border, to the south, Egypt has signed a deal with France to buy 24 Rafale fighter jets. The Saudis and Qataris have also bought the latest, most sophisticated F-15s, and Iran has expressed interest in purchasing Russian- made Sukhoi Su-30SM multi-role fighter jets.


According to Yiftah Shapir of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, it was crucial for Israel to refurbish its fleet of aircraft, as the IAF currently relies on the F-15 Baz and F-16 Barak. Israel received the first F-15s in 1977 and the first F-16s in 1980, and the first squadron of F-15s are due to be pulled from service next year. “These planes have now flown for close to 40 years,” Shapir told the Post, and the IAF has chosen the F-35 to replace them. “If you think about our security, we are currently relying on an airplane that is 40 years old. And since we get foreign military aid from the United States, we cannot even think about buying planes from somewhere else.”


Because Israel buys its aircraft using the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Jerusalem and Washington, there was no option to consider buying cheaper jets from European countries, and the possibility of buying from Russia or China is out of the question. As Israel awaited the arrival of the jets, US President-elect Donald Trump said that he would completely reevaluate the costly aircraft program, once he takes office on January 20. Taking to Twitter, Trump said the cost of the Lockheed Martin program was too high and that billions would be saved once he takes office. “The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20,” Trump posted.


And if Trump cuts the F-35 program, the cost of the plane would skyrocket, and so would Israel’s bill.


The F-35 is a controversial plane with an expensive price tag of close to $100m. per plane, delays and at least 27 serious safety failures as of the end of October 2015, including one where flaws in the plane’s coolant system led to the United States Air Force grounding the jet a mere two months after they were declared combat ready in August. Eight of the planes grounded by the USAF belong to Israel…

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






Yossi Melman

Jerusalem Report, Jan. 12, 2017


The defeat of the opposition rebels and the recapturing of Aleppo have boosted the morale of the regime of Bashar Assad and his Iranian, Hezbollah and Russian allies. Now they are contemplating their next move in Syria’s bloody civil war, which in March will mark its sixth year, having already resulted in over 450,000 dead, nearly one million wounded, and 10 million who have been uprooted from their homes. Assad’s victory in what used to be Syria’s largest city increases the chance of reducing the war to a manageable crisis, though all experts tend to believe that the rebels, especially the Islamist groups, are not going to lay down their arms and thus the war is far from over.


Israel is already very concerned about the emerging reality on its northern border. The worries derive from two related aspects: one is the possibility that Assad’s army will try to regain control of the border region, which at the moment is predominantly under the control of various rebel groups. Of even greater concern to the IDF is that the new developments in Syria will allow Hezbollah to return its focus to the Lebanese arena.


The Shi’ite Lebanese movement has been diligently maintaining the cease-fire along the Lebanese-Israeli border for the past decade, since the war of 2006. It has done so for two reasons: first and foremost, the heavy blow it suffered at the hands of the IDF in that war. Despite the misplaced claims at the time that the war was an Israeli failure, its deterrence has continued to hold.


The second reason is Hezbollah’s preoccupation with the Syrian civil war, in which it has suffered heavy losses – some 1,700 combatants killed and a further 6,000 wounded. This is a heavy toll for an army of 40,000 (the Israeli military considers Hezbollah an army for all intents and purposes, and no longer just a militia or a terrorist organization). It means that nearly 20 percent of Hezbollah troops were disabled in the war. On the other hand, Hezbollah gained valuable military experience and practice, as well as improving its capabilities and preparedness for a future battle with Israel.


Not that another round between Israel and Hezbollah is expected soon. Israeli intelligence believes that Hezbollah is not ready yet, and as a matter of policy is not interested in renewing hostilities in the foreseeable future. Not to mention that a decision to start a new war with Israel will be made primarily in Tehran. Hezbollah, as perceived by Iran, is basically an extension of Iranian power, an advanced post on the Mediterranean shores and a constant threat against Israel.


Nevertheless, the IDF continues to prepare for a future conflict in Lebanon. The biggest threat facing Israel is Hezbollah’s huge arsenal of rockets and missiles of all sorts and ranges. This arsenal is estimated to number between 80,000 and 100,000 rockets, most of which is made up of shortrange rockets of up to 40 kilometers. But Hezbollah also has a substantial number (more than 1,000) of long-range missiles that can reach up to 300 kilometers with heavy loads – warheads of 200 to 300 kilograms. Even worse, from the Israeli perspective, is the tremendous effort by Iranian and Hezbollah experts to improve the accuracy of the missiles. Israeli intelligence already knows that most of Israel’s strategic sites – including the nuclear reactor in Dimona, power stations, airports, water plants, as well as IDF bases including IAF air fields and emergency depots – are covered by these missiles.


Against this background, an important and interesting debate is taking place among the top echelon of the IDF and the Defense Ministry. At its center is the question whether to increase the number of IDF rockets and missiles as a response to the expected future scenario of a war with Hezbollah. The debate is primarily a matter of operational considerations, but it also has a financial dimension. The debate emerges more than six months after new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman took office. Liberman is trying to make his imprint on Israel’s defense doctrine and the IDF’s operational plans. The new debate can be defined in short: “Bombs or rockets and ground missiles.”


Liberman knows that the next war with Hezbollah will be very tough, especially in the north. According to IDF war scenarios, the north – roughly defined as an area within the range of 40-60 kilometers from the border – will be heavily hit by thousands of rockets. The IDF estimates that in the first five days of the war a daily average of 1,000 rockets and missiles will be fired against Israel. They will kill dozens, if not hundreds, of people, cause heavy damage to property, and rural communities are expected to be evacuated.


Among the targets likely to be hit are IDF bases and, in particular, air force bases. Under such a heavy bombardment, the Israel Air Force may face operational limitations. In that event, less IAF sorties mean less bombs and less firepower to be directed at Hezbollah. Therefore, Liberman believes that the IDF has to diversify the range of measures at its disposal in order to punish the enemy and inflict on it the necessary firepower.


For such a purpose today, the main, if not only, meaningful arm for both strategic and tactical aims available to the IDF is the air force. But a senior Israeli security official has told The Jerusalem Report that under heavy rocket fire, the air force may not be sufficient to empower the IDF with the requisite operational freedom and maneuverability. The official adds that the IDF needs to increase its arsenal of mid-range rockets and missiles – up to 200 kilometers. The proposal advanced by the senior official is that in the coming years, the IDF will purchase hundreds of such rockets which are capable of carrying warheads of 200-250 kilograms of explosives.


Both Israel Military Industries (IMI) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have already produced families of rockets and missiles, which are mainly for export to foreign armies. Firing them against Hezbollah concentrations can be a proportional and suitable response to the expected launching of rockets and missiles against Israel, and can fill in the gap, which may be created if IAF will face its limitations.


Extended and impressive firepower doesn’t have only military implications but also psychologically on the civilian population, as Israel itself witnessed in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. Not only was the Israeli public taken by surprise but also the defense establishment, when at around 2 a.m. on January 18 Tel Aviv and Haifa were hit by a salvo of Iraqi Scud missiles. It was the first time the Israeli home front had become a war zone since the 1948 War of Independence…

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




ISRAELI DEFENSE IN THE AGE OF CYBER WAR                                                                           

Gil Baram                                                                                                              

Middle East Quarterly, Winter, 2017


From the early days of statehood, technology occupied a prominent place in Israel's national security concept as it sought to establish a qualitative edge over its vastly more populated and better endowed Arab adversaries. In the past few years, a new technological challenge, that of cyber warfare, has grown to the point of becoming among the most critical threats to Israel's vital infrastructures in both the civil and the military-security sectors. Energy, water, communications and traffic networks, and an economy that relies heavily on computers must be viewed as being at risk. To respond to the new, evolving threats, Jerusalem must revise certain aspects of its security concept so as to ensure cyber superiority as an inseparable part of its national defense capabilities.


Cyber warfare is commonly defined as "the actions by a nation-state or international organization to attack and attempt to damage another nation's computers or information networks through, for example, computer viruses or denial-of-service attacks." A virus or a worm is essentially a program, often self-replicating and usually destructive, loaded onto a computer without the user's knowledge or wishes. A denial-of-service attack is a disruption to a user's access to a computer network caused by malicious intent. Advanced cyber capabilities are an effective way to deter Israel's enemies. One such example was the "Stuxnet" virus, attributed to a U.S. and Israeli operation, in which the functioning of centrifuges belonging to Iran's nuclear program was disrupted. Computers in other countries were also affected.


Countries conduct cyber-attacks mainly for political reasons to achieve strategic, economic, diplomatic, or military advantages by attacking military, government, or civil computer infrastructures. Cyber-attacks, like kinetic attacks, have a range of options—including denial of service attacks, vandalizing websites, espionage and information gathering, as well as attacks that can cause physical damage as did the Stuxnet worm that hit the Iranian centrifuges and was exposed in 2010.


The vast progress made in computer and information networks has created a new reality in which military communications infrastructures are often connected to their civilian counterparts. Both infrastructures are increasingly dependent on computers, and their protection is critical for both civilian and national security purposes. Once it was recognized that computers were weak points, cyber warfare technologies began to emerge, designed to attack an adversary's data assets and even cause significant physical damage remotely to systems without employing conventional or non-conventional weapons or sending soldiers into the battlefield. At the same time, security agencies and armed forces worldwide have been developing cyber defense capabilities to protect these vital infrastructures.


This dependence on cyber technologies is a global phenomenon and has put at risk national and public infrastructures that were once regarded as inaccessible and well-protected. Israel, which has been under threat since its inception, has needed to adapt its national security posture accordingly.


In the traditional Israeli approach to security, much effort is invested in intelligence, early warning, and deterrence so as to minimize the expenditure involved in maintaining a continuous state of alert. In this context, three problems that underlie every cyber-attack should be mentioned. The first is the problem of attribution, i.e., who ordered the attack and who launched it? The second is the difficulty in establishing the results of the attack and determining the extent of its success. The third problem is that of evidence: It is often difficult to determine whether the event under investigation occurred due to a technical failure or as a result of a cyber-attack.


The formulation of Israel's national security concept dates back to the pre-state era and continued to evolve in the face of the many threats that the nascent state had to address after its war of independence. Having concluded that the threat posed by its Arab adversaries was a given and persistent reality with which Israel was destined to contend in the foreseeable future, in October 1953, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion presented a document to the cabinet regarded ever since as Israel's official national security doctrine.


Peace was the ultimate strategic goal of Ben-Gurion's security concept. However, since peace was likely to remain elusive, he argued that the proposed security concept would at least make the Arab states accept the existence of a Jewish state, if only begrudgingly. Essentially, the Israel that Ben-Gurion envisioned strove to have long periods of quiet and to hold off military confrontations as much as possible. However, if the need arose, it had to win a quick victory because of its small size and limited human resources…

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






Ben Caspit

Al-Monitor, Jan. 4, 2017


The morning of Jan. 4 saw the end — for now at least — of an egregious incident, which sent shockwaves through the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the political system and Israeli society in general over the past 10 months. A military tribunal convicted Sgt. Elor Azaria of manslaughter for the killing of a Palestinian terrorist, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, after Sharif and another terrorist attacked an IDF post in Hebron on March


The entire incident was captured on film by volunteers from B’Tselem human rights organization and others on the scene. Azaria arrived several moments after the conclusion of the incident, when Sharif was already immobile and lying in a puddle of blood on the ground; he had been shot by an IDF soldier in order to prevent the attack. Azaria can be seen taking two steps forward, aiming his gun and shooting Sharif in the head at close range. One of the video clips went viral, resulting in an almost unprecedented blast of responses. The IDF spokesman, chief of staff and minister of defense were all quick to condemn the soldier’s actions, and the military police launched an investigation. Azaria claimed that he felt threatened by the wounded terrorist, and that he was worried he might have an explosive device. So he shot him.


Masses of Israelis came out in support of the soldier. A popular movement emerged in support of him, with the backing of right-wing politicians. The most prominent of these was Avigdor Liberman, who was then just a member of the opposition. The public spat has continued until now. This is the first time the Israeli public has turned against the IDF’s top brass en masse, condemning even Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, who was, until then, a sacrosanct figure in Israeli society.


The social and moral extremes of Israeli society came out against each other in full force. On one side were the “values of the IDF” (a term much used in Israel to demonstrate the high morals of its army), orders for opening fire (only when the target presents a danger for human lives) and the moral superiority that the IDF and Israel have prided themselves on for generations. On the opposing side were the uncompromising support of the people for its soldiers, the popular belief that “any terrorist who attacks Jews deserves to die” and the way that a growing sector of the Israeli public has come to demonize human rights organizations, the far left and various iterations of political correctness.


This conflict is also reminiscent of what happened in the recent election campaign in the United States, in which Donald Trump, a man driven by his most primal instincts, defeated the intellectually oriented Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. In Israel, it was a conflict between gut and the head, and in the military court in Tel Aviv on Jan. 4 the head won — at least for now. The IDF can continue to take pride in its claim that it is “the most moral army in the world.” It is hard to imagine that many other armies would do the same as the IDF and try its soldiers for simply killing a terrorist who stabbed their friends a few minutes earlier. In many cases, incidents like this are whitewashed. In other cases, they end with some symbolic disciplinary hearing. This week, Azaria was convicted of manslaughter…

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




On Topic Links


In Israeli Military, Guarded Optimism for 2017: Barney Breen-Portnoy, Algemeiner, Dec. 30, 2016—While war will continue to rage in much of the region writ large, Israeli military forecasts for 2017 are cautiously optimistic that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) may get through the year that began Sunday without having to wage major combat operations.

Women, Faith and the IDF: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 3, 2017—The rise in the number of religious male soldiers being drafted into the IDF threatens to clash with another significant trend: the increasing integration of females in all areas of IDF service, including in many combat roles. As The Jerusalem Post’s Military Correspondent Anna Ahronheim reported this week, there has been a steady rise in the number of women being drafted into combat units and more are expected to be integrated in coming years.

The Keyboard Warriors of the IDF: Ami Rojkes Dombe, Israel Defense, Jan. 5, 2017—Over the last few years, IDF have experienced a substantial technological revolution. Warfare has become network-based, combat operations have evolved into combined-arms operations and the offensive layouts of IDF have come to rely on cutting-edge technology in order to close their strike loops and 'incriminate' targets within a matter of seconds. This is complemented by the trend within IDF in the last two years toward independent (in-house) development and maintenance of computer systems based on open-source code.

The IDF’s New Social Contract: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, Jan. 10, 2017—Sgt. Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter Wednesday for shooting a terrorist in Hebron last March, is a symptom of what may be the most dangerous threat to Israeli society today. Azaria, a combat medic from the Kfir Brigade, arrived at the scene of an attack where two terrorists had just stabbed his comrades. One of the terrorists was killed, the other was wounded and lying on the ground, his knife less than a meter away from him.








The Billion-Dollar Deal That is Stirring up Israeli Army: Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor, Oct. 31, 2016— On Oct. 26, the Israeli Cabinet secretly authorized a huge weapons transaction that developed under the radar over the recent year…

The New IDF: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2016— Two discernible and potentially conflicting trends arise from the manpower data published this week by the IDF on the percentage of eligible young men and women who are conscripted for mandatory military service.

UN Ranks IDF Emergency Medical Team as ‘No. 1 in the World’: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Nov. 13, 2016— The United Nation’s World Health Organization recognized the Israeli army’s field hospital,

Rationality, Irrationality and Israel's Changing Order of Battle: Louis René Beres, Israel Defense, Oct. 30, 2016 — In every traditional military lexicon, strategies of international deterrence automatically assume enemy rationality.


On Topic Links


Submarines and Advisers: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2016

Israel Puts the Spike Missile on its Apache Helicopters: Shoshana Bryen, Jewish Policy Center, Nov. 21, 2016

Behind the Scenes of the Israeli Army: Tsivya Fox, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 22, 2016

Women Increasingly Join the Fight in Israel's Army: Michael Blum, Yahoo News, Nov. 20, 2016





Ben Caspit

                                                 Al-Monitor, Oct. 31, 2016


On Oct. 26, the Israeli Cabinet secretly authorized a huge weapons transaction that developed under the radar over the recent year: Three additional Dolphin-class submarines will be purchased from a German shipyard in the port city of Kiel. A memorandum of understanding between Israel and Germany is expected to be signed this month in Berlin. The deal is assessed at about 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion), approximately 400 million euros ($439 million) per submarine, after a discount of about 30% financed by the German government.


The clandestine negotiations between Israel and Germany were relatively brief. Many Israelis are strongly criticizing the deal, from various aspects. One clear conclusion can be reached regarding the policies and strategic mindset of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: The Iranian threat, including concern regarding a nuclear Iran, continues to preoccupy Netanyahu and assume center stage in his very essence.


According to foreign reports, these submarines (Israel already possesses five of them; the sixth will arrive in 2019) are viewed as the Israeli answer to the Iranian threat, as they are capable of carrying and launching ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. According to foreign reports, the impressive submarine fleet Israel is building will give the country a significant “second strike” capability even in the event that it absorbs an Iranian nuclear attack. These submarines transform Israel from a “one-bomb country” (which would be so devastated from one nuclear attack that it could not respond in kind) to a state that could respond and cause great destruction to any country that would dare attack it.


In a conversation with Al-Monitor, an Israeli military source emphasized that Israel has no intention of enlarging its fleet of submarines from six to nine, but to gradually replace aging submarines with new ones. According to the source, the life span of a submarine is 20-30 years. Over the next decade, the three oldest submarines in the Dolphin fleet will become obsolete, and will be replaced gradually by the new submarines.


This argument does not convince the naysayers, many of which come from within the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). They believe the tremendous sum of money wasted on the submarines should have been earmarked for more urgent needs. “The first Dolphin submarine will begin to become obsolete only in 2030,” an Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity. “Until then, it’s not certain that we will need such a large quantity of submarines. The current commitment to pay billions of shekels in a huge deal for products that may not be absolutely necessary is rather strange, to say the least.”


Critics of the transaction feel that the monies should have been used to upgrade the IDF in more important spheres. “The submarines are not effective in the war against terror,” a high-level Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “Submarines are ineffective in fighting against the Islamic State and Hamas; even the third Lebanon war [if this happens] will not be decided in the ocean depths. It would have been better to spend all this money to provide armored shield protection for all of the army’s armored personnel carriers, or for unmanned aircraft [drones], for cyber strengthening, and other spheres that are critical to the war against terror. Unfortunately, Israel is making its traditional mistake: It is once again preparing for yesterday’s wars and not tomorrow’s conflicts.”


Another debate raging between the sides is connected to the price of the deal. Netanyahu’s main concern, when he pushed for a speedy agreement with the Germans, was that German Chancellor Angela Merkel might not survive the elections awaiting her in 2017. Those close to Netanyahu say that Merkel’s replacement might not be as generous as she is and might not approve a discount of 30% on the submarines to Israel. Better to close the deal now, before it’s too late, they say.


This argument does not satisfy the critics. The German discount is fictitious, they claim; instead, they say, the Germans upped the price and then gave a discount on the higher amount. Not long ago, that same German shipyard sold four similar submarines to Egypt at a much lower price. No one in Israel did the necessary preparatory work; no one conducted the kind of negotiations that are necessary for a transaction of such magnitude. There are other, more experienced shipyards in the world that produce the kind of submarines that Israel needs. To the final price, the Germans added their investment in research and development (R&D), but no one checked if this R&D hadn’t been carried out in any previous transaction it signed with other countries. The additional characteristics that are supposed to be added to the new submarines belong to the specialized fields of other shipyards, mainly in France, and common sense would dictate that additional price quotes be obtained from French shipyards as well (before deciding from whom to buy). Instead, someone was in a very big rush to complete this transaction and threw away Israeli taxpayer money with a very ready hand — so say the critics…                                                                 [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]           



THE NEW IDF                                                                                                                        


Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2016


Two discernible and potentially conflicting trends arise from the manpower data published this week by the IDF on the percentage of eligible young men and women who are conscripted for mandatory military service. On one hand, there has been a sharp rise in the number of religious women who are opting to enlist in the IDF instead of performing National Service or receiving an exemption. In all, 2,159 enlisted in 2015 compared to 1,853 in 2014. Women as a whole – both religious and non-religious – are enlisting at a rate of 58%, the same as in 2012. Also, more and more women are being integrated into combat units. There has been a 400% rise in the number of women serving in combat roles, with more mixed-gender battalions opening every year.


Brig.-Gen. Eran Shani, speaking before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, noted that the IDF is considering allowing women to serve in the Armored Corps and in the elite 669 air force rescue unit. In parallel with the increasing integration of women in the IDF, there is a potentially conflicting trend. The number of religious soldiers is growing. In 2015, 2,475 haredi young men were conscripted. And religious soldiers as a percentage of the total number of IDF soldiers is also growing due to demographic changes.


A weakening of rabbinic authority seems to be one of the causes of both trends – both the higher conscription rate of religious women and of haredi men. Though a majority of religious Zionist rabbis opposes IDF service for women, a number of institutions have been created to give support to religious females who choose to enlist. For instance, the NGO Alumah provides religious women with advice and intervenes on their behalf vis-a-vis the IDF command. Tzahali, a pre-military academy, prepares religious women for military service not unlike the many academies that exist for religious men. Few rabbis openly support these bodies.


Haredi men who enlist are also bucking rabbinic leadership’s authority. They often face stiff opposition from family members, friends and neighbors. And despite rabbinic opposition, large percentages of religious Zionist or modern Orthodox Israeli men enlist without first attending a yeshiva, a pre-military academy or joining a hesder yeshiva that combines military service and religious study.


These two distinct trends – the increasing integration of women and the rise in the number of religious men – could potentially result in a clash of interests. Integrating larger numbers of women in the IDF entails opening more avenues of service. The sharp rise in the number of women who serve in combat units is one example. But in order to make the IDF truly gender egalitarian, the length of service of IDF soldiers must be based on the role they serve and not their sex. Because they serve only two years, women are prevented from serving in many IDF positions unless they agree to volunteer. Also, exemption criteria should be identical for men and women. Women need to be part of the decision-making process on the highest levels within the IDF.


But religious men are the main force within in the IDF preventing the full integration of women – both religious and non-religious – into the IDF. As the number of religious men in the IDF grows as percentage of the total, opposition to the integration of women will grow as well. Accommodating these conflicting trends is one of the major manpower challenges facing the IDF. The IDF has long ago abandoned the “melting pot” model for conscription in parallel with a change in Israeli society as a whole toward a more multicultural mosaic of groups – haredi, Arab, religious Zionist, secular, Sephardi, Druse, and Beduin. This shift has created opportunities and challenges.


The IDF has become both more gender egalitarian and open to the special needs of haredi and religious men. As long as Israel maintains the ideal of universal conscription or “the people’s army,” the IDF will have to find ways of integrating diverse segments of the population. Succeeding in navigating conflicting interests will make the IDF stronger. Talents that previously went untapped can be enlisted in the concerted effort to defend Israel from its many enemies. This week’s data seem to prove that it possible to accommodate the needs of diverse groups, providing yet another reason to be optimistic about Israel’s future.                                                                     



UN RANKS IDF EMERGENCY MEDICAL TEAM AS ‘NO. 1 IN THE WORLD’                                                      

Judah Ari Gross                                                                                                            

Times of Israel, Nov. 13, 2016


The United Nation’s World Health Organization recognized the Israeli army’s field hospital, which is regularly sent abroad to provide aid at natural disaster sites, as “the number one in the world” in a ceremony last week, classifying it as its first and only “Type 3” field hospital, according to its commander, Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Ofer Merin. As reported in The Times of Israel last month, the WHO and the Israel Defense Forces had been in talks to determine if the army unit met the demands of a “Type 3” medical team, a status no medical team had ever reached before.


Last Wednesday, the IDF’s field hospital team received the “Type 3” designation, along with some additional “specialized care” recognitions, which technically made it a “Type 3 plus,” though the army kept the information quiet until Sunday. “We’re going to recommend the director-general verifies [Israel’s team] as a Type 1, Type 2, and also Type 3 and multiple different types of specialty cells,” Dr. Ian Norton, the lead author of the classification system and head of the WHO delegation, said Wednesday at the ceremony in the Medical Corps’ base in Ramat Gan, outside Tel Aviv. “We haven’t had that ever before,” Norton said, praising the months of work put in by the Israeli team to receive the designation.


Israel will receive official WHO patches noting the new designation, and members of the IDF’s Medical Corps, including Merin, will meet with the head of the international organization at a formal ceremony in Hong Kong at the end of the month, the army said. The United Nations is generally seen as having a negative attitude toward Israel, giving this recognition of the IDF’s abilities some additional weight, Merin said. The representatives from the World Health Organization were “not biased, not one bit,” he said.


In 2013, the United Nation’s WHO created a set of criteria to classify foreign medical teams in sudden onset disasters, on a scale from one to three. Israel is now the only country to receive the top mark. “Only a handful in the world could even think of” doing so in the future, Norton said in a conversation with The Times of Israel last month. In a phone conversation with reporters on Sunday, Merin, who has personally invested “hundreds of hours” in the recognition process, described the experience of having the work he and his team have done be classified as the best in the world as “emotional.”


“I wish I could sit here and say it’s a ‘Mazal tov’ for me, but it’s a ‘Mazal tov’ for the army, for Israel,” Merin said, using a Hebrew term that literally means “good luck,” but is used as “congratulations.” The recognition process took nearly a year, beginning in January 2016, most of that meticulously reviewing manuals and ensuring that Israel met the criteria, Merin said. In the past two months, WHO delegations also visited Israel and met with Merin and his team in order to assess the IDF Medical Corps’ field hospital, a sprawling structure that can comprise up to 30 tents, according to the IDF. However, the version seen by Norton’s team during an exercise in northern Israel in September contained just 26.


The military’s field hospital is “not just some medics and doctors spread out in the field”; rather it is a “national treasure” that has the capabilities of an advanced, permanent hospital but can be set up almost anywhere in under 12 hours, Merin told The Times of Israel last month. Israeli disaster relief delegations — some of them led by Merin — have been some of the first and largest to arrive at the scenes of natural disasters. Teams from the IDF Medical Corps and Home Front Command provided rescue and medical services after an earthquake in Turkey in 1999, an earthquake in Haiti in 2010, a typhoon in the Philippines in 2013 and, most recently, an earthquake in Nepal in 2015.


This Type 3 classification ensures that Israeli teams will continue to be the first allowed on the scene of future disasters and further cements Israel’s position as a world leader in emergency medicine, proving to friends and foes alike that the Jewish state knows how to handle catastrophes. “This recognition isn’t just international. It’s also recognition for ourselves, showing us what we can do,” the army spokesperson said Sunday.


While Israel’s emergency medical teams may be best known for their work abroad, Merin stressed that this takes a backseat to its primary directive. “Our role is, first of all, to deploy and assist in either — God forbid — a natural disaster, which can happen because Israel’s on an active [fault line] or in cases of war,” he said. Israel’s regular humanitarian relief efforts have drawn both international praise and accusations of “rubble-washing” — or using its disaster relief effort to boost its international standing. Helping other countries in need is “the most effective kind of diplomacy,” then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman said in 2015, after Israel sent a team to Nepal. “In crafting a country’s image, nothing is more effective than providing aid.”


However, diplomats insist the drive is mostly altruistic. “If we’re sending aid to Haiti, the Philippines and Nepal, we’re obviously not looking to reap great diplomatic benefits from these countries, which I might be allowed to describe as not superpowers,” said a former senior diplomat in 2015, responding to a question about Liberman’s comment…

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





CHANGING ORDER OF BATTLE                                                                           

Louis Rene Beres                                                                   

Israel Defense, Oct. 30, 2016


In every traditional military lexicon, strategies of international deterrence automatically assume enemy rationality. In the absence of rationality – that is, in those more-or-less residual circumstances where an enemy state might rank order certain preferences more highly than “staying alive” as a nation – deterrence is necessarily expected to fail. Regarding those inherently more serious and complex circumstances involving nuclear deterrence, the plausible consequences of failure could be catastrophic. They could even prove to be unprecedented.


Dealing with sub-state or terrorist adversaries presents a somewhat different and potentially even more hazardous set of nuclear deterrence risks. By definition, these increasingly hard-line adversaries (e.g., ISIS, Hezbollah) generally do not have sovereign national territories to protect (Palestinian Hamas has a sort of quasi-sovereign status in Gaza). Their core objectives are also apt to include “martyrdom,” a faith-driven preference that is plainly inauspicious for maintaining orthodox Israeli deterrence strategies. The basic problem is easy to recognize. Certain beleaguered states in the Middle East already have to deal with ISIS, Hezbollah, and related adversaries that may never habitually conform to the ordinary definitions of decisional rationality in world politics. This quality is far more portentous than a merely inconvenient truth. It represents a potentially existential peril.


For the most part, at least for now, nuclear deterrence should continue to be examined and assessed in Israel vis-à-vis national or state adversaries, not sub-state enemies. Moreover, irrationality, it must be understood, is not the same as “crazy,” or “mad," and must always be systematically differentiated from these imprecise and common-sense terms. Israeli strategic planners must expressly understand that even an irrational enemy leadership could still maintain a distinct and identifiable hierarchy of preferences, albeit one in which national survival does not predictably rank at the top.


Using correct strategic terminology, professional military analysts would likely report that such irrational state actors still exhibit an ordering of preferences that is “consistent,” "instrumental," and “transitive.” In principle, therefore, even certain "irrational" states could be rendered subject to alternative forms of deterrence. For any state that must rely more-or-less on threats of retaliatory destruction, correctly recognizing such "forms" could prove indispensable to its core national security.


By definition, a genuinely “crazy” or “mad” leadership would have no discernible order of preferences. Its strategic actions and interactions would expectedly be random and unpredictable. It follows that facing a crazy or mad adversary in world politics is substantially “worse” than confronting "just" an irrational adversary. Although it might still be possible and even reasonable to attempt deterrence of an irrational enemy, there would be little or no point to seeking such protections against a seemingly “mad” one. "Do you know what it means to find yourselves face to face with a madman," inquires playwright Luigi Pirandello's Henry IV. "Madmen, lucky folk, construct without logic, or rather with a logic that flies like a feather."


What is true for individuals is sometimes also true for states. In the bewildering theater of modern world politics, a drama that routinely bristles with absurdities, strategic decisions that rest upon logic can quickly crumble before madness. Corresponding dangers may reach the most singularly threatening or existential level. This is the case whenever madness and a nuclear weapons capability would overlap. Pertinent strategic questions of rationality and irrationality are not narrowly theoretical. On the contrary, they are profoundly real and current, especially in the still- adversarial dyad of Israel and Iran.  Because the “international community” could never agree to undertake an appropriately preemptive action (“anticipatory self-defense,” in the formal language of law), and had committed itself, instead, to the futile diplomacy of the July 2015 Vienna Pact, Jerusalem could still have to face an effectively genocidal Iranian nuclear adversary.


All along, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has understood that Iran’s senior leadership could, at least at some point, value Israel’s physical destruction more highly than its own national survival. Should this calculation actually happen, the “play” would end very badly for all the “actors," including the "victorious" Iranians.


For the foreseeable future, Israel’s ultimate source of national security will assuredly have to lie in some pattern or other of sustained nuclear deterrence. Whether still deliberately ambiguous or newly disclosed, this Israeli “bomb in the basement” could expectedly “crumble before madness.” This suggests that in certain easily-imaginable instances involving aberrant enemy behavior, the outcome of failed Israeli retaliatory threats could sometimes include irremediable harms. All things considered, while the logic of deterrence has traditionally required an assumption of rationality, history also reveals the persistent fragility of any such theoretical expectation. We already know all too well that nations can behave in ways that are consciously and conspicuously self-destructive…

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


On Topic Links


Submarines and Advisers: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2016—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s successful navigation of a turbulent Middle East is undoubtedly one of the reasons he may soon surpass David Ben-Gurion to become the nation’s longest-serving prime minister.

Israel Puts the Spike Missile on its Apache Helicopters: Shoshana Bryen, Jewish Policy Center, Nov. 21, 2016 —Sometimes when decisions do not work out exactly as intended, they work out just fine. In the midst of Operation Protective Edge — Israel’s response to 182 Hamas rockets and mortars fired at Israeli towns and villages in the first week of July 2014 — the Obama administration accused Israel of “heavy handed battlefield tactics,” including the use of artillery instead of precision-guided munitions. U.S. President Barack Obama halted the supply of Hellfire missiles and announced that all military equipment supplied to Israel would be vetted individually in the White House, instead of shipped, according to prior agreements, by the Pentagon to Israel.

Behind the Scenes of the Israeli Army: Tsivya Fox, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 22, 2016—The Israeli army (IDF) is known for its prowess and advanced technology. Lesser known is the wide range of projects which maintain soldier welfare and morale. These programs might just be the secret to the IDF’s outstanding success.

Women Increasingly Join the Fight in Israel's Army: Michael Blum, Yahoo News, Nov. 20, 2016—Her face covered in mud, 18-year-old Smadar crawls beneath thorny brush, her automatic rifle around her neck. She smiles despite the intensity of the training, and her commander, also a woman, shouts encouragement. "I don't regret choosing this unit," said Smadar, who was not allowed to provide her last name under Israeli army rules. "I wanted to do my military service in the most combative unit possible."