Precision Rockets Pose a Strategic Threat to Israel—by Targeting Civilians

Oct. 23 2018

In 1991, during the Persian Gulf War, Saddam Hussein began bombarding Israel with Scud missiles. The U.S., having prevailed upon Jerusalem not to retaliate or to destroy Iraqi missile launchers, provided its ally with Patriot anti-missile missiles—which proved entirely ineffective. Then the Israeli Ministry of Defense, overcoming longstanding objections from the IDF brass, decided to develop its own missile-defense system, and put Uzi Rubin in charge of it; his efforts led to the multilayered system that now protects the Jewish state from rockets of all kinds. In an interview with Yonah Jeremy Bob, Rubin assesses the current strategic threats to Israel from the precision rockets now used by Hizballah and Iran:

A simple rocket is a terror weapon. [Shooting one] is like blowing up a bus. Yes, it is a problem and it needs to be dealt with it, but precision-guided rockets cross over into being military weapons. [The threat from such weapons] changes the whole system of prioritizing what actions to take. You need first to guard your ability to keep fighting, which includes [defending] the home front—and not just for the sake of national morale. Food, gas, and other things come to the military from the civilian sector. . . .

[Currently Israel] doesn’t have enough Arrow missiles or Iron Dome batteries. Ask the IDF officers and they will say we have too many. To be objective, it’s necessary to address this question by first determining where the emphasis is in war today. The strategy [of Israel’s enemies] is not to overwhelm the IDF, it’s to overwhelm the civilian population. Until the 1973 [Yom Kippur] war, our adversaries’ wars were about trying to beat the IDF. Now our adversaries are not preparing themselves for war against the IDF. Fighting the IDF is at best a secondary goal; mainly they are going after civilians. . . .

Yet Rubin was optimistic about his country’s ability to rise to new challenges, crediting the “creative chaos” that characterizes the Israeli way of doing things:

We have a special atmosphere. We do not think about rules and decorum. You do what needs to be done. There is a unique social network and cross-fertilization between the military and the defense industry.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Hizballah, IDF, Iran, Iron Dome, Israel & Zionism, Israeli technology, Persian Gulf War

What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy