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.

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Read more at BESA Center

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

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy