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

26 November 2019

Israel's New Way of War

Seth Frantzman

Commuters on Route 4, driving toward the Israeli coastal city of Ashdod on November 12, were shocked by an explosion, a rocket impact next to a major intersection. Had it fallen on a car or one of the many trucks plying the route, there would have been deaths, and the road would have been closed. Instead, police and Israeli Home Front Command units came and cordoned off the sidewalk, and drivers went about their day.

Twenty-five miles south of where the rocket landed, other rocket teams from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an Iranian-backed terrorist group, were preparing to fire more than 400 rockets at Israel during a brief flare-up in fighting. Most of them would be intercepted by Israel's high-tech air defense.

More than 2,000 rockets have been fired into Israel since March 2018.

The ability of millions of Israelis to mostly go about their day while Israel's air force carries out precision air strikes nearby is due to Israel's latest achievements in fighting war. It also comes with questions about whether Israel is being effective and what this latest revolution in military affairs means in the long term.

Israel Demolished Iranian Republican Guard Corps HQs in Syria in Retaliation for Rocket Attack

by Sebastien Roblin

What happens next? Is a Middle East War possible? 

What prompted this ineffectual attack from Iranian forces?

Like the Ouroboros, the snake that is forever preoccupied devouring its own tail, the side-show war between Israel and Iranian forces in Syria seemingly stretches out into an infinite series of violent affronts repaid in kind.

Since 2013, Iran has built up a military presence in Syria not only to combat rebels opposing the Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad, but to build up a military infrastructure that could pressure Israel, including by transferring arms to proxies like Hezbollah. Over that same period of time, Israel has retaliated with hundreds of airstrikes blasting the Iranian bases.

For example, in August, Israel warplanes killed two people in an attack described as pre-empting a scheme to deploy a swarm of drones to attack targets in Israel.

Several commentators have connected the November 19 rocket attack is being a response to Israel’s assassinated Bahaa Abu al-Ata, the commander of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, with a surprise air strike in Gaza on November 12. The same day, Syria reported a reported missile attack on the home of another PIL leader living in Damascus named Akram al-Ajouri, killing his son and one bystander.

As Gaza Falls Apart, The Next Israel-Hamas War Is Becoming More Likely

by Ram Yavne, Ari Cicurel

A casual observer could be forgiven for presuming Israel and Hamas again stand on the precipice of war as rockets fly over Tel Aviv and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strike key Hamas leadership targets in response. Despite the volatile situation in Gaza this past year, including ongoing attacks incited by Hamas along the border, both sides are exploring a ceasefire rather than escalating to a fourth major conflict in a decade. A form of mutual deterrence has evolved that enables, and indeed encourages, both sides to limit the violence and avoid full-scale war.

While offering a sliver of hope for stability, this tenuous equilibrium between a liberal democracy and a terrorist group could collapse in the near future, due to Gaza’s humanitarian situation and the ubiquitous potential for miscalculation between adversaries.

The current incentive for both sides to limit the violence results from various military and political factors in recent years. On the operational level, Israel’s ability to intercept rockets and detect cross-border tunnels from Gaza limits the amount of damage Hamas can inflict, mitigating Israel’s imperative to respond as forcefully or rapidly as it did before these defenses came online.

Israel’s Netanyahu is indicted amid political gridlock

Natan Sachs and Kevin Huggard

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ended months of speculation today in announcing his decision to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. The move caps a dramatic and tumultuous year in Israeli politics. If convicted, Netanyahu could face prison time, potentially making him the second consecutive Israeli prime minister — after Ehud Olmert — to go to prison.

Mandelblit’s decision was not in and of itself a surprise, but that this indictment will include a charge of bribery, the most serious charge Netanyahu faced, represents the worst possible legal and political outcome for the prime minister. Netanyahu reacted to the announcement by sticking to his message: that he is the victim of a political witch hunt, accusing the state authorities of an attempted coup, no less. It is worth remembering that this attorney general, a civil servant (Israel has a separate political post of minister of justice) was a former Netanyahu aide and was appointed by him to this post. Netanyahu will not go quietly.

That this indictment will include a charge of bribery…represents the worst possible legal and political outcome for the prime minister.

21 November 2019

The Importance of the Tactical Level: The Arab-Israeli War of 1973

Lorris Beverelli

It is widely agreed that there are three levels of war.[1] From the general to the local, they are the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Strategy is the alignment of means and ways to accomplish a political end. Strategy is about winning the war. Tactics consist of locally achieving victory through a series of actions that, taken globally, participate directly or indirectly in the accomplishment of strategy. Tactics are typically about winning battles. Finally, operations consist of connecting the tactics to the strategy. To do so, the operational level aims to create campaigns—a series of tactical actions which pursue specific operational aims—to ultimately accomplish specific strategic goals. The operational level is typically about winning a series of campaigns to accomplish the stated strategy.

Each level of war is essential to achieve success, and are all equally important. The Arab-Israeli War of 1973 provides an illustration of why the tactical level is essential. This article will first provide elements to understand the broader aspect of the conflict, before demonstrating how the lack of tactical skill doomed the attackers.

The war between Israel and Hamas has its roots in Britain's shameful betrayal of the Palestinians

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Israeli soldiers stand in front of a banner with a copy of a letter from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (a leader of the British Jewish community) known as the Balfour Declaration of 1917, as Palestinians, Israeli and foreign protesters demonstrate in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on November 06, 2010. 

You’ve seen the pictures, read about the bloodshed, heard the accusations. The military head of Hamas was assassinated by Israel in Gaza. Rockets fired in retaliation killed three Israelis and Israel then went into overkill. The November anniversary of the Balfour declaration is marked not with wimpy fireworks but real bombs, big bangs.

It is exactly 95 years since Lord Balfour, the then Foreign Secretary, informed Baron Rothschild that Britain would back a new Jewish state on Palestinian territory as demanded by Zionists, some of them terrorists who had attacked British targets. Lord Edwin Montagu, the only Jewish member of the UK cabinet, objected vehemently to the decision: “All my life I have been trying to get out of the ghetto and you want to force me back there again”. He was overruled by his colleagues, some of them avowed anti-Semites.

19 November 2019

Israel Tests New Air-Ground Tactics Vs. Islamic Jihad

By ARIE EGOZI

The Israeli Air Force just wrapped up a “Blue Flag” wargame with the US & European allies and a real war with Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

An Israeli F-35I takes off from Uvda airbase during Blue Flag 2019.

TEL AVIV: Today, the Israeli Air Force concluded its latest Blue Flag wargames at its Uvda airbase in the Negev Desert, less than 100 miles away from an active war zone in the Gaza Strip — under 10 minutes’ flight time for a loaded fighter jet at cruising speed. For days, Israeli, US, German, Italian, and Greek fighters, including stealthy F-35s, had practiced dogfights and airstrikes against simulated air defenses, even as other IAF units conducted real airstrikes and real anti-rocket defense against Islamic Jihad.

An Italian Air Force pilot poses in front of his F-2000 Eurofighter Typhoon during the 2019 Blue Flag exercises at Uvda airbase in Israel.

The ability to wage real war and simulated war at the same time, using new and sophisticated tactics in both cases, is a testament to the growing capabilities of the Israeli Air Force. “The fact that the Israeli Air Force had to perform strikes against targets in Gaza, parallel to its participation in the exercise, was the best demonstration of how an advanced aerial force is operating,” an Israeli source told Breaking Defense.

17 September 2019

Trump Must Not Give Israel a Blank Check in the Middle East

by Dalia Dassa Kaye

Israel has a right to defend itself, but not at the expense of regional stability and American interests.

Israel’s military campaign against Iranian-aligned forces in Syria, Lebanon, and reportedly Iraq might seem like an appealing way to subcontract parts of the Trump administration’s pressure campaign against Iran, but it may be time to ask whether these attacks are serving the interests of the United States—especially in Iraq.

There is little debate among external powers about Israeli attacks in Syria, where Israel is one of many actors vying to protect or promote their interests in the war-torn country. For Israel, Iran’s growing presence in Syria—which, like Russia’s presence, bolsters the Assad regime—has been the primary focus of its concern. Israel is less worried about Assad’s fate than about the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force and Hezbollah moving weaponry and producing missiles that could threaten its borders, potentially creating a second front beyond Hezbollah’s well-established position in Lebanon. 

11 September 2019

Double Trouble


On Sunday, Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles against the Israeli military, the first incident of its kind since the 2006 war between the two sides. This followed an Israeli drone attack a week earlier on a building housing Hezbollah’s media center in Beirut’s southern suburbs. It was later suggested that Israel had targeted an industrial mixer necessary for the production of propellant for missiles.

In the aftermath of the attacks, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah would retaliate from Lebanese territory for the drone attack. After the party did so on Sunday, both sides could claim success. The Israelis for having purportedly destroyed equipment critical for Hezbollah’s missile manufacturing capacity, Hezbollah for having reaffirmed its deterrence capabilities. Even as both sides scored points with their constituencies, neither seems to want a war. There are several reasons contributing to this.

The escalation needs to be seen in light of the broader regional standoff between Iran and the United States. It is becoming increasingly clear that while the United States has used sanctions to tighten the economic and financial noose around Iran, Israel has been tasked with upping the ante on the military front. In light of this, Hezbollah viewed retaliation for the drone attack as necessary to deter Israel’s efforts to change the rules of engagement with the party, whom the Israelis have accused of manufacturing precision missiles. Therefore, even as they fired on each other, both sides were focused mainly on defining the parameters of their future confrontation, not on mobilizing for a major conflict—at least for now.

27 August 2019

Israel eases rules on cyber weapons exports despite criticism

Tova Cohen, Ari Rabinovitch

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israel is easing export rules on offensive cyber weapons, despite accusations by human rights and privacy groups that its technologies are used by some governments to spy on political foes and crush dissent.

A rule change by the defense ministry means companies can now obtain exemptions on marketing license for the sale of some products to specific countries, a source close to the cyber sector told Reuters.

Israel, like other big defense exporters, closely guards details of its weapons sales and its export rules are not widely known, but the defense ministry confirmed the change had gone into force about a year ago in response to Reuters’ questions.

Industry specialists say the change makes a speedier approval process possible for the sale of cyber weapons, or spyware, which are used to break into electronic devices and monitor online communications.

1 July 2019

From Iran to Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Trump’s Economic Focus Misses the Point

Ellen Laipson

President Donald Trump views foreign policy through the narrow lens of economic self-interest. He has reduced the notion of American power and influence to a question of whether the United States is getting a “good deal,” measured only in terms of who is paying for what—say, the cost of basing U.S. troops. Gone are any references to the intangible benefits of international cooperation, let alone the common good. It’s how he has approached relations with NATO and with America’s allies in Asia. In recent days, this economic-centric view of U.S. foreign policy has been on display in Trump’s clumsy and erratic Iran policy, and in the underwhelming rollout of his so-called plan for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. 

Economic incentives and economic pressures are, of course, legitimate tools of international relations and fall along a continuum from positive inducements and peaceful transactions to coercion and pressure that, if insufficient in achieving their aims, can be precursors to open hostilities and war. Think U.S. oil sanctions against Japan in the run-up to World War II, or, at the other end of the spectrum, the Marshall Plan as an American investment in Europe’s postwar economic recovery that created huge political and security benefits to the U.S. that lasted for decades. 

26 June 2019

The Jerusalem Talks

George Friedman

On Monday, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton will meet with his Israeli and Russian counterparts in Jerusalem. A trilateral meeting such as this is odd to begin with, and one taking place amid the situation currently unfolding in the Middle East even more so. Also interesting is that this meeting is taking place in Jerusalem. While Russia maintains decent relations with Israel, a meeting of this sort in Jerusalem would seem to indicate a Russian indifference to Muslim sensibilities – something Israel and the U.S. display regularly. Still, they’ve agreed to meet in Jerusalem this time, optics aside. Topping the meeting agenda, purportedly, is Syria. But there’s plenty else going on in the Middle East for the three to discuss.

The officials will meet in the midst of intensifying tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Last week, the U.S. blamed Iran for attacks on two tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, and this week Iran shot down an American drone. On Friday, news broke that the U.S. had been ready to launch airstrikes in response to the downed drone, but that U.S. President Donald Trump had called off the attacks at the last minute, feeling they would have caused disproportional casualties. That may be true, or the White House may have been bluffing an attack to unnerve the Iranians; Trump has been intimating a desire for talks with Iran and may have been trying to force Tehran to the table. Whatever the intent, tensions in the Persian Gulf remain high.

16 May 2019

Why Gaza hasn’t erupted into all-out war

Daniel L. Byman

A ceasefire on Monday ended one of the worst rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas since 2014. Four Israelis and more than 20 Palestinians died in two days of conflict, which followed a violent demonstration along the border fence that separates Israel and the Gaza Strip and the shooting of two Israeli soldiers. Palestinian militant groups fired almost 700 missiles into Israel, most of which landed harmlessly—but several struck homes or other targets in Israel.

Israel bombed hundreds of targets in Gaza, striking Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad facilities and killing a military commander it claimed had links to Iran, resuming a practice of targeted killings it had put on pause. As always, responsibility for civilian dead is hotly disputed, but the Palestinians count two pregnant women and two infants among the dead.

The latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas illustrates not only the constant potential for conflict in Gaza but also—perhaps more counterintuitively—why the combustible situation there has not exploded into outright war. Some Israeli citizens this week called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to escalate the fight, and some militants welcome a broader clash. But both sides have reasons for restraint. Hamas leaders recognize their own military, political and diplomatic weakness; a longer war would achieve little and leave Gaza in even worse shape. And Israel, for its part, recognizes that a weak extremist regime in Gaza is better than the collapse of order in the strip or the rise of an even more radical group there. As Israeli security analyst Gabi Siboni pointed out, “If Israel collapses the Hamas regime, what comes after? Every alternative is awful.”

15 May 2019

Israel and Hamas come close to war


It should have been a celebratory weekend. Israelis were getting ready to mark their 71st independence day. In Gaza 2m Palestinians were making final preparations for the month-long Ramadan holiday, which began on May 6th. And then the rockets and bombs started falling. Residents on both sides spent the weekend cowering under rocket fire and air strikes. Four Israelis were killed, the first civilians to die in fighting with Gaza since a brief but brutal war in 2014. On the Palestinian side 27 people, a mix of militants and civilians, died. As in previous bouts of conflict, the fighting ended with a truce brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the un. And, as before, no one expects it to last.

Such has been the pattern since March 2018, when residents of Gaza began holding regular protests at the barrier separating their enclave from Israel. The protests are meant to call attention to the dire economic situation in the territory, which is blockaded by Israel and Egypt, with only essential supplies allowed in. These restrictions have been in place since 2007 when Hamas, a militant Islamist group, took power. Tensions have risen over the past year, with exchanges of fire between Israel and Hamas every few months.

What Netanyahu and Hamas Are Really Fighting for in Gaza

By Bernard Avishai

This past weekend in Gaza saw the heaviest Palestinian rocket attacks and reciprocal Israeli bombing since the 2014 war. A ceasefire was announced on Monday, though it may prove short-lived. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said in a statement that “the campaign is not over.” He is deep in negotiations to form a governing coalition, including with the hawkish leader Avigdor Lieberman, who is likely to return to the Defense Ministry, and who, in the past, has advocated for a full-scale invasion of Gaza to topple the Hamas regime. A spokesperson for Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, said that “the conflict will not end until we regain our rights.” In typical fashion, Zuhri left ambiguous whether by “rights” he meant the easing of the blockade or “return,” the banner under which youthful, and often fatal, border demonstrations for Palestinians’ “right of return” to their homelands have been mounted for the past year. Netanyahu wants Hamas to think that an invasion is possible; Zuhri wants Israelis to think that the price for such an action would be unacceptably high. Both men defaulted to vendetta banalities; the numbers presumably tell you who should be more afraid of whom.

9 February 2019

Israel Boosts Protection Of Gas Fields, Shipping

By ARIE EGOZI

TEL AVIV: With over 80 percent of Israeli’s commerce carried by sea and its offshore gas fields crucial to the economy, the country is boosting spending on protecting its shipping lanes, littorals and ports with an array of weapons including underwater capabilities, heavily armed patrol boats and new submarines.

Hezbollah sees the large natural gas reservoirs and the rigs that probe them in the Mediterranean as potential targets and this puts heavy pressure on the Israeli navy to safeguard them.

David Ben–Bassat, former commander of the Israeli navy, told Breaking Defense that after Israel declared its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the maritime arena became very important and very complicated. “The navy’s task is to protect the Israeli interests in the EEZ. The protection is being performed now by the Israeli navy’s Sa’ar 5 missile boats, by autonomous boats carrying weapon stations and by UAS [drones] patrolling the EEZ to try and detect any developing hostility.”

5 February 2019

Iran's multi-front approach in the war against Israel

Yochanan Visser,

The threat Iran poses to Israel is well known and is taken seriously by everyone in the Jewish state, first and foremost by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

This threat is not limited to the so-called Iranian proxies, the terrorist organizations in Lebanon, Gaza and the territories under the control of the Palestinian Authority, or the Iranian activities in Syria, but also appears in other areas.

First, there is the Iranian nuclear threat which allegedly has decreased since the so-called JCPOA, the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers, was negotiated.

Officially, Iran fulfills its obligations under the agreement which was implemented in the first months of 2016. The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicates the Islamic Republic adheres to the terms of the agreement.

27 January 2019

Israeli Strikes in Syria Reveal New Battlefield for Post-Civil War Era

Seth Frantzman

Airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria on Sunday and Monday revealed a new Syrian battlefield that is emerging as the Syrian civil war ends and the US prepares to withdraw.

For eight years, since the Syrian rebellion began in 2011, Syria has been the center of great power politics, and an attempt by various forces to control the region through proxies in the conflict. It also became a battlefield between different ideologies, and quests for autonomy amid the chaos and the rise of Islamic State. Now that era is drawing to a close and a new battlefield shift is taking place.

The Syrian conflict went through several phases over the greater part of the last decade. What began as a conflict between revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the regime, and reactionaries who sought to keep the Assad family in power, degenerated into a series of different conflicts and contests for who would control the country. Great and regional powers, such as the US, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey all sought a role in Syria. They did so often through backing local forces or proxies.

23 January 2019

Israel’s New Global Strategy – Analysis

By Modern Diplomacy

If we want to study Israel’s political and military positions, we must at first analyse Syria.

For Israel the problem in Syria is Russia, although it is apparently Iran.

In fact, one of the de-escalation areas is in the Golan Heights and certainly the Jewish State does not like that Iran and Hezbollah can easily and quietly operate in the Golan area, even without warlike acts but under the protection of Russia, which is also the guarantor of the whole area.

In particular, the Israeli government wants the Russian Federation to never intervene in favour of Iran.

However, if Iran and the Shiite forces leave Syria, Russia’s control to ensure Syrian stability will weaken and probably even crumble.

21 January 2019

Why Israel’s Upcoming Election Is a Show About Nothing

Avner Inbar

JERUSALEM—In three months, Israelis will head to the polls in what may become one of the most sensational yet least significant elections in their country’s recent memory. The race is already generating ample drama, with political parties forming and breaking up on what seems like an almost daily basis. But the always entertaining horse-race coverage belies a hopelessly stagnant political system, and a public discourse disinterested in policy and ideas. 

The contest will not be between different ideological approaches or policy solutions to Israel’s mounting problems, but between a few prominent figures who run political parties like private businesses and conduct themselves like media celebrities rather than public leaders. At the end of a heated and nasty campaign, one of them will carry the day. And it will almost assuredly be Benjamin Netanyahu.