Israel’s New Strategy for Keeping Hamas on the Defensive

March 21 2018

For the past several years, the IDF’s approach to Gaza has primarily been reactive: it has responded to occasional rocket fire and other attacks with limited, precision strikes aimed at deterring Hamas from going any farther. But Israel’s response last weekend to the targeting of its border patrol by means of an explosive device speaks to a new strategy. Ron Ben-Yishai explains:

Now, the IDF [uses] every event and incident on the Gaza border to destroy Hamas’s most important military abilities, primarily the tunnels. These are no longer acts of retaliation, punishment, and deterrence, but real warfare against Hamas, which will make it easier for the IDF to manage the next round of fighting in the Strip and protect the Israeli communities in the Gaza vicinity.

This is a new type of “war between wars” [as the IDF terms this low-intensity conflict]. Whereas the war between wars in the north is aimed at preventing the delivery of high-quality, precision-guided weapons to Hizballah and the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, the new southern war between wars is aimed at thwarting the ability of Hamas and Islamic Jihad both to infiltrate Israel through underground tunnels and to fight IDF forces within the Strip by transferring fighters, weapons, and rockets through tunnels excavated in Gaza. . . .

This has all been made possible thanks to the quick development and use of new technologies [for the] discovery, detection, and location of tunnels both in the area close to the Israel-Gaza border and deep within the Strip, [along with the] modern technologies for close and remote neutralization of tunnels, both from the air and from the ground. . . . Furthermore, these technological abilities, whose nature has been kept strictly confidential, make it possible to destroy tunnels and target Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s most important military assets without killing Islamic Jihad or Hamas members, based on the calculation that these organizations won’t embark on a major escalation if none of their members have been killed.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Islamic Jihad, Israel & Zionism

 

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey