Assad’s Victory and Hamas’s New Tactics Have Changed Israel’s Strategic Reality

Since the 1979 treaty with Egypt ended the threat of a major military invasion from the south, the IDF has seen the northern front as posing the greatest strategic threat to Israel’s security. Yet just as Syria has become more dangerous than ever on that front, the Gaza Strip has itself reemerged as a strategic problem. In considering these developments, Gershon Hacohen warns against exacerbating them by withdrawing from the West Bank:

The recovery of the Assad regime and the reassertion of its control over most of the country brought the Syrian army back to the Golan Heights, where it was joined by Iranian and Hizballah forces as well as by Tehran-backed Shiite militias. The situation was further complicated by the Russian military presence in Syria and the constraints it imposed on Israel’s operational freedom, especially after the September 2018 downing of the Russian plane by Syrian air-defense forces.

[Meanwhile], Hamas initiated a months-long confrontation along the Gaza-Israel border, in which the Islamist terror group reverted to calculated and well-executed brinksmanship tactics (including massive missile attacks on Israel’s population centers) that tested the continued relevance of Israel’s military superiority vis-à-vis the organization. . . . Hamas exploited Israel’s overwhelming preoccupation with the northern front to escalate the situation to the brink of war while keenly recognizing the constraints that would prevent an Israeli decision in favor of a large-scale operation. In doing so, Hamas successfully changed the strategic equation with Israel in its favor.

This (temporary?) strategic shift becomes all the more relevant given the dogged insistence of most former members of Israel’s military and security establishment on the need for complete IDF withdrawal from the West Bank as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. . . . This [position] couldn’t be farther from the truth. Since the onset of the Oslo process in 1993, the balance of power between Israel and the Palestinians has substantially changed in the latter’s favor, as starkly demonstrated by Hamas’s above-noted successes.

No less important, the nature of warfare has undergone substantial changes in recent decades, notably through the relocation of fighting to civilian urban areas with the active participation of the local population, which makes conventional military operations far more difficult and complex. . . . If it took the U.S.-led coalition forces nine months of fighting to clear Mosul of Islamic State forces, how realistic is it to expect the IDF to capture a heavily militarized Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza within days?

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli grand strategy, Syria, West Bank


A Catholic Reporter Attends Anti-Israel Protests and the Pro-Israel Rally

Mary Margaret Olohan has spent much of her career in journalism covering demonstrations of various kinds. Since October 7, she has attended numerous anti-Israel gatherings, an experience she discusses with Robert Nicholson and Dominique Hoffman. Olohan explains the ways protestors intimidate outsiders, the online instruction booklet for protests distributed by Students for Justice in Palestine, the systematic avoidance of any condemnation of Hamas, and much else. To this, she contrasts her experience at the joyous yet serious November 14 rally for Israel. Olohan also talks about how her own Christian faith has influenced her journalism. (Audio, 61 minutes.)

Read more at Deep Map

More about: American Jewry, Gaza War 2023, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict