Learning the Lessons of the Last Gaza War

Over the past eight years, Israel has fought three wars in Gaza, each aimed at stopping Hamas from firing rockets into Israel, eroding its military capabilities, and ultimately deterring further attacks. In the first two, in 2009 and 2012, the IDF quickly struck at the most important accessible targets but, when that failed to compel Hamas to desist, had to switch to lower-intensity warfare and ground combat. This ultimately gave the impression that Israel chose to give up rather than get bogged down in a protracted conflict. In 2014, by contrast, the IDF pursued a strategy of gradual escalation. Moni Chorev explains the merits of such an approach:

Although [in 2014] the IDF had [a list of clearly identified military targets] for attack, the operation began with a low level of firepower, with a clear message relayed to Hamas that “quiet will be answered with quiet” and that it had the option of returning to a state of calm quickly and with little cost.

Once Hamas refused this option, attacks on targets in Gaza were stepped up. The idea of delaying the offensive climax in order to maintain an effective threat capability throughout the entire campaign requires a balanced distribution of attacks on targets over the operational timeline . . . and a continuous effort throughout the operation to identify new targets and prepare attacks on them. Steadily increasing levels of firepower intensity . . . makes clear to the enemy the cost incurred and the likely cost to be incurred further on, and causes it to appreciate the decreasing returns it can expect relative to its goals. It allows Israel to manage the operation while making optimal use of its combat resources, in line with the limited worth and importance of a localized campaign with temporary results against the backdrop of a larger, continued struggle. . . .

It is necessary to re-examine . . . the traditional aspiration to “shorten the period of combat,” that is, to attain a victory in the shortest possible time. . . . Deterrence operations are to a large extent directed at affecting the enemy mindset, and such effects take time to come to fruition. Seeking shortcuts can lead to the use of too much force at too early a stage.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Protective Edge

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy