Islamic State, and Russia, Arrive at Israel’s Borders

On Thursday morning, Israel destroyed an Islamic State (IS) cell on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. While IS is on the run in much of Syria, in the past year its presence has been expanding in the Golan and the adjacent area as fighters fleeing other parts of the country regroup there. The cell destroyed by Israel seemed to be preparing an attack. Yoav Limor comments on the volatile situation:

Tensions on the Golan border will likely persist for some time, until the situation on the ground is stabilized. During this time, there are enough elements active in the area who can exploit the situation to cause mayhem. It’s doubtful the Iranians or Hizballah will be the immediate agents of this mayhem, as they work according to an organized plan of action and longer-term goals. The danger could come from IS refugees looking to channel their jihad anywhere they can or to go out in a final blaze of glory; or other rebel groups who, after working with Israel in the past, will seek to exculpate themselves [in the eyes of their countrymen] by attacking it.

The IDF is aware of these dangers, and therefore won’t reduce its forces on the Golan for the foreseeable future, despite the end of the Syrian civil war. . . . The IDF will revisit this deployment down the line, but its operational plan for 2019 is to change nothing.

Russia will play a central role in molding this post-war reality. It could send a military-police force to the area and deploy it along the border. From Israel’s perspective, this would be both beneficial and detrimental. On the one it would provide an address for Israel to turn to [with complaints about violations of the 1974 armistice with Syria]; on the other hand, there is reason to be concerned that the Russians (much like the UN force in Lebanon) will not only fail to lift a finger against potential threats but will impede Israel’s ability to thwart them.

As for IS, its impending expulsion from Syria does not portend its ultimate demise. Beyond the Sinai Peninsula, which is flooded with fighters who continue hounding Egyptian security forces, other branches—from Africa to the Far East—ensure that the fundamental ideology serving as the bedrock for the organization that has tormented the world since 2014 is still alive and kicking.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Golan Heights, ISIS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7