Showing posts with label Israel and Gaza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israel and Gaza. Show all posts

20 January 2019

Israel’s Nuclear Weapons: The Worst-Kept Military Secret on the Planet

by Robert Farley

If a hostile power (let’s say Iran, for sake of discussion) appeared to be on the verge of mating nuclear devices with the systems needed to deliver them, Israel might well consider a preventive nuclear attack

Key point: There is no question that Israel could consider using its most powerful weapons if the conventional balance tipped decisively out of its favor.

Israel’s nuclear arsenal is the worst-kept secret in international relations. Since the 1970s, Israel has maintained a nuclear deterrent in order to maintain a favorable balance of power with its neighbors. Apart from some worrying moments during the Yom Kippur War, the Israeli government has never seriously considered using those weapons.

The most obvious scenario for Israel to use nuclear weapons would be in response to a foreign nuclear attack. Israel’s missile defenses, air defenses, and delivery systems are far too sophisticated to imagine a scenario in which any country other than one of the major nuclear powers could manage a disarming first strike. Consequently, any attacker is certain to endure massive retaliation, in short order. Israel’s goals would be to destroy the military capacity of the enemy (let’s say Iran, for sake of discussion) and also send a message that any nuclear attack against Israel would be met with catastrophic, unimaginable retaliation.

15 December 2018

Computer vision: how Israel’s secret soldiers drive its tech success


When Ofir Schlam, the co-founder of Taranis, an Israeli agriculture tech start-up, was growing up on a farm in Israel, he would regularly wake at 5am to search through the crop for the tiniest caterpillars, pests and rot. Years later, when he joined the military and was attached to the prime minister’s office, he adapted that skillset to analyse thousands of surveillance images, looking for the smallest anomaly. 

One of his key senior executives at Taranis, Amihay Gornik, developed his expertise working at large aerospace companies, designing imaging parts for military drones. He figured out a way to make a fast-moving camera think it was standing still by nestling it inside a proprietary pod he had fitted with a gyroscope, which helped cancel out vibrations and resulted in less blur. 

27 November 2018

Six Days, Fifty Years: The June 1967 War and its Aftermath

Editors: Anat Kurz, Kobi Michael, Gabi Siboni

The Institute for National Security Studies, November 2018

The Six Day War, which broke out on the morning of June 5, 1967, was a formative event that changed the face of the State of Israel and, to a large extent, the entire Middle East. Prior to the war, Israel had been under existential threat and in six days, the Israel Defense Forces succeeded in removing the threat by achieving a decisive military victory and positioning Israel as a significant force in the region. This victory was accompanied by new complexities, and fifty years after the war, some of its implications still remain as heavy dilemmas, which the Israeli public and the state institutions must address. Five decades later, the events directly related to the war and its loni-term implications can be examined more broadly and more rationally than was possible in the period immediately after the war. The study of the past and the drawing of insights from the war and its results enable us to analyze the complex security, political, and social challenges currently facini the State of Israel, as well as assess those inherent in future scenarios. On the fiftieth anniversary of the war, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) chose to publish this book devoted to the war and its lessons, which was written by researchers from the institute and outside of it. Together these articles present a comprehensive and in-depth picture of the Six Day War, its results, and its implications.

Fifty Years since the Six Day War: A Retrospective

25 November 2018

Hezbollah Took a Gamble in Syria, Raising the Stakes for Israel

Hezbollah has taken risks in fighting for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, but those risks are paying off. Israel, however, is on the losing end of this gamble. F 

With the Syrian civil war entering its final phase, the conditions are in place for a conflict between Hezbollah and Israel that neither side wants. As Hezbollah fighters begin making their way home after a costly but apparently successful effort to help save the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, there are growing signs that the status quo is about to change. 

The Israelis, whose attention is sharply focused on Hezbollah and Iranian installations along Israel’s border with Syria, are becoming increasingly concerned with Lebanon. The most recent war between Hezbollah and Israel ended in a stalemate in 2006. Israel officials believe that since then Hezbollah has stockpiled about 150,000 rockets, enough to hit every house in Israel. There is little doubt on either side of the border that another war will erupt.

War between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon may not be imminent, but it is extremely likely sometime down the line. Now that Assad’s survival is essentially assured, with Hezbollah and Iran regrouping, the outlines are emerging for a new conflict between Hezbollah, battle-hardened by its experience in Syria, and Iran, bolstered by the survival of its crucial Syrian ally, against Israel, determined to prevent them from further fortifying their positions along its border. 

24 November 2018

What Drives Israel’s Startup Success?


In October the business press reported that Israeli cybertech startup Sygnia was acquired by Singapore’s billion-dollar Temasek Holdings for an estimated $250 million. The return for the owners is over 50 times the initial investment, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. And last year, the Israeli company Mobileye, a pioneer in autonomous car technology, was purchased by Intel for a whopping $15.3 billion.

Tech startups may not be the first thing that comes to mind when many people think of Israel — the country’s political strife is what makes headlines. But Israel’s achievements in innovation and entrepreneurship are remarkable by any measure for a tiny, embattled nation of 8.8 million people that has only existed for 70 years.

At the recent Wharton Israel Conference, speakers and participants highlighted Israel’s contributions to technology, science, medicine and agriculture, as well as its entrepreneurial spirit which they said helps transform discoveries into real-world solutions.

22 November 2018

Why Israel Doesn’t Want A War With Gaza

By Mudar Zahran

The Israeli people are rarely as angry with their political leadership as they are today – and the reason for their anger is clear: they believe that their leadership has failed to take decisive military action against the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

As witnessed by the world a few days ago, Hamas began shooting rockets at southern Israeli towns and villages. In total, more than 500 rockets were launched, and in response, Israel undertook very precise, decisive and surgical military air strikes, hitting some of Hamas’s most significant facilities and military installations.

This brought about a very quick cease-fire, a cease-fire that has come as a disappointment for many Israelis – especially those who bore the brunt of the attacks. Apparently, the Israeli public wanted military actions that would either annihilate Hamas, or, at least, serve as a deterrent that would force it to stop shooting rockets into Israel.

20 November 2018

How Hamas Brought Israel to the Brink of Election Chaos

by Seth J. Frantzman

Israel’s defense minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned on November 14 in the wake of a ceasefire agreement with Hamas in Gaza. His resignation has now plunged Israeli politics into chaos as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must juggle what’s left of his fragile coalition government and is being pressured to appoint Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, as the new defense minister. Hamas, which has been challenging Israel with six months of protests and rocket fire from Gaza, has now achieved what it sees as a victory. Despite its inability to penetrate Israel’s defenses around Gaza, it may bring down the government.

13 November 2018

Israel and the Trillion-Dollar 2005-2018 US Intelligence Budget

by Grant Smith 

The American public and think tank analysts are not supposed to know precisely how billions in taxpayer dollars flowing into the intelligence community are spent. Even the best plead ignorance. Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy commenting on huge budget increases told the Washington Examiner, "What exactly that signifies, it’s hard to say. Are there new program leads? Are there new acquisitions? It could be new operations or collection programs. We don’t know and we’re not supposed to know."

Israel is one undeniably large factor behind spending surges since 2005. Israel successfully demanded enormous increases in joint U.S.-Israeli cyber warfare expenditures and benefited from related U.S. contingency planning. Due to onerous secrecy, Americans remain unable to engage in informed public debate about whether what amounts to US subjugation to the Israeli prerogatives driving these massive expenditures should continue.

8 November 2018

Israel’s Next Northern War: Operational and Legal Challenges

By Michael Hostage & Geoffrey Corn

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

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

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

6 November 2018

Israel Silent As Iran Hit

The Times Of Israel (ToI) is reporting late today (Oct. 31, 2018) that the Government of Israel is remaining silent, as a computer virus more lethal and damaging than the Stuxnet virus/malware is hitting Iran’s critical infrastructure and strategic networks. The ToI report adds that the cyber attack began within the past few days, noting that the malware is similar to Stuxnet, but “more violent, more advanced, and more sophisticated.”

“The report comes hours after Israel said its Mossad intelligence agency had thwarted an Iranian assassination plot in Denmark, and two days after Iran acknowledged Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s mobile phone had been bugged. As the ToI notes, this report “follows a string of Israeli intelligence coups against Iran, including the extraction from Tehran in January by the Mossad of the contents of a [highly secretive] vast archive documenting Iran’s [clandestine] nuclear weapons program; and, the detailing by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the U.N. in September of other alleged Iranian nuclear and missile assets in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon.”

18 October 2018

What Is a Rogue State?

by Paul R. Pillar

The concept of a rogue state (or outlaw state, or any equivalent term) cannot just refer to a state pursuing interests that we do not happen to like or do not identify with. States must be expected to pursue their interests, and every state on the globe has at least some interests that differ from those of the United States. Rather, rogue or outlaw behavior has to do with how a state pursues its interests. To be a “rogue” means pursuit through methods contrary to accepted standards of international behavior and contrary to international law. It means cheating or reneging. It often means the use of violent methods when peaceful ones are available.

17 October 2018

US-Israel Relations: A Return of Agency

U.S. and Israeli interests have diverged since the Cold War ended, but they are now bending back toward a similar path. 

From March to November 2017, Gallup conducted an annual worldwide opinion poll on the leadership of the United States. Some like the direction the U.S. is heading, some don’t, but in four of the 134 countries surveyed the U.S. approval rating rose by a whopping 10 percent compared to the previous year – Liberia, Macedonia, Belarus and Israel. That Israel was included attests to how starkly U.S.-Israel relations have changed under the administration of Donald Trump. Before he became president, bilateral ties seemed on the verge of collapse. In 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Washington to lambast President Barack Obama in front of the U.S. Congress, practically begging the government not to move forward with the Iran nuclear deal – a plea that ultimately fell on deaf ears.

12 October 2018

Will Israel and Iran Go To War in Syria?

By Daniel Byman

Israel was dealt a bad hand when it comes to regional security, and Syria is the latest—and trickiest—card in the deck. On the one hand, the weakness of the Bashar al-Assad regime diminishes a leader whose country has never reconciled its past conflicts and territorial disputes with Israel and often proved a remorseless foe. On the other hand, Iran and Hezbollah are exploiting Syria’s instability, and Israelis fear the country will become a new launching pad for Iranian influence and attacks—essentially, another Lebanon. Ehud Yaari, a respected Israeli analyst, describes the risk of war between Iran and Israel in Syria as “almost inevitable.”

Geopolitics Keeps Pushing Turkey and Israel Back Together



Turkey and Israel's strategic alliance in the Middle East, fostered by their shared aim to limit Iran and prevent Arab states from aligning against them, will preserve their relationship through most external shocks. Intensifying U.S. efforts to find regional allies it can rely on to contain Iran helps keep the two countries together. Turkey's defense of Palestinian statehood will always be a caustic wedge between the two: While it provides Turkey with important credibility in the Muslim world, it conflicts with Israel’s defense strategy. 

11 October 2018

Israel’s War with Iran Is Inevitable

by Efraim Inbar

Iran is a formidable enemy. A large country of more than 80 million people, endowed with energy riches, it has always been a regional power. Having an imperial past and revolutionary zeal (since the 1979 Iranian Revolution), Iran nourishes ambitions to rule over the Middle East and beyond. Furthermore, theologically there is no place in Iranian thinking for a Jewish state. Iran believes that Israel will either wither away following military pressure on its population or be annihilated when it is militarily weak and vulnerable.

6 October 2018

Israel Plans Anti-Missile Nano Satellite Constellation

By ARIE EGOZI

TEL AVIV: Israel is planning constellations of nano satellites, built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), that will allow almost continuous coverage of “areas of interest,” which are likely to include Iran, Syria, Lebanon and other countries, according to experts that are not connected in any way to the program. IAI refused to comment.

The first nano satellite was developed by IAI and was launched into space in 2017 as part of a scientific experiment. The 5-kilogram satellite — approximately the size of a milk carton — is equipped with special cameras able to identify various climatic phenomena, and a monitoring system that allows the choice of areas to be imaged and researched.

30 September 2018

Israel’s Approach to Counterterrorism

By Isaac Kfir

The Israeli approach to counterterrorism (CT) is unique because terrorism there is ever-present and takes many forms; it may occur from within Israel, it may take place from Palestinian territories, it may come from across the border or from further afield. The attack may be a one-off suicide bombing or a knife or car rampage or the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. The terrorists themselves are different too in that they may be Arab, Palestinian, Arab-Israeli or even Japanese.

The evolving nature of the threat led Israeli policymakers to eschew the idea of having an official counterterrorism doctrine. Instead Israel has taken a more organic, holistic approach to CT that relies on innovation and creativity and is aimed at deterring and creating divisions within terror groups, and between the groups and their constituencies through coercion and/or persuasion.

Israel Avoids Trade Wars, but Keeps Chinese and Russia Tech Companies at Arm’s Length

Source Link 
Amitai Ziv

Israel has sought to stay neutral in the trade war U.S. President Donald Trump is waging against China, in particular its technology ambitions, and hasn’t formally joined in Western boycotts against Russian companies.

But behind the scenes, conversations with industry figures make clear that Israel has an undeclared policy not to use equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, two major Chinese companies, in telecoms networks – although they can and do sell end-user equipment like smartphones. Likewise, the Russian cybersecurity and anti-virus provider Kaspersky Lab has been kept at arm’s length.

“It’s well known, something very basic, that even though you will never see it written in any document, critical equipment used in operating telecoms networks and no key supplier will ever get approval to buy from a Chinese company,” said the CEO of an Israeli cellular company, who asked not to be identified.

29 September 2018

Gaza Is Bringing Egypt and Qatar Closer, but It Can't Keep Them Together


A comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains extremely far off.

Concerned powers such as Israel, the United States, Egypt and the Gulf states are all carrying out policies intended to prevent a major war in Gaza.

Qatar and Egypt, two ideological foes, are seeking the same objective of a stable Gaza, but neither of them controls enough of the situation to prevent a full-on return to war.

The two states will only tolerate one another so long as an Israeli-Palestinian truce holds — and if it falls apart, each will try to pin blame on the other.

16 September 2018

Do Palestinians Still Support the Two-State Solution?

By Khalil Shikaki

It has been 25 years since the Oslo Accords envisioned a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, but the fundamental challenges for Palestinians remain the same. Oslo required not only that Palestinians reconcile themselves to enormous sacrifice but that they trust Israelis to do the same. Moreover, the demands for sacrifice were far from equal. Palestinians were to permanently abandon claims to 78 percent of their homeland, while much less was asked of Israeli Jews, who would need to abandon the demand for just 22 percent of theirs.

Where the Oslo Accords were successful, it was mostly due to the bold leadership of Yasir Arafat, chair of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister of Israel. These leaders were willing to sign letters of mutual recognition in the final moments before signing the accords, which opened a large majority of Palestinians to the idea of relinquishing land claims in pursuit of peace.