A New Entente in the Eastern Mediterranean Offers a Counterweight to an Aggressive Turkey and an Officious Europe

When fires raged across central Israel last month, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Egypt, and Cyprus all sent firefighting aircraft to help put out the flames; even the Palestinian Authority (PA) sent its firefighters to pitch in. In January, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Egypt, and the PA formed an official consortium to cooperate in the extracting and exporting natural gas. These economic and civilian relationships also have diplomatic and military parallels, in the form of regular meetings and even joint military exercises. Taking stock of these developments, Eran Lerman highlights the shared goals of the emerging eastern Mediterranean alliance:

The [recent] IDF deployments to Cyprus, albeit scheduled long in advance, took place in the wake of the latest provocative acts by Turkey—prospecting in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone. This is but part of a pattern [of Ankara’s aggression against its local enemies]. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly lashed out at Israel. His agents are trying to stir trouble in Jerusalem. He speaks of re-opening discussion of the demarcation of the Greek border in the Aegean. Turkey has meddled in Libya, supporting the Sarraj government in Tripoli, associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Turkish military now has bases in Qatar and Sudan. . . .

For Israel as well as for Sisi’s Egypt, their [respective] tripartite dialogues [with Athens and Nicosia] are also a useful check against problematic winds blowing from Brussels. Since high-level policy decisions in the European system require a general consensus, a close alliance with two members of the EU (or more, if Italy is to be counted) is an important guarantee for both countries against those who seek to impose their own perceptions on the complexities of the Egyptian domestic situation, or on the Israel-Palestinian struggle.

To all of this one might add aspects of cultural affinity, which is being brought into focus this week at the Méditerranée festival in Israel’s port city of Ashdod, bringing performers from Morocco, Greece, and places in-between. The renewed interest in Israel in the legacy of [the Egyptian-born Israeli novelist and journalist] Jaqueline Kahanoff, who sought to elevate the “Levantine” identity into a possible template for Israel’s future, bridging east and west, is another indicator.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel diplomacy, Natural Gas, Turkey

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