Preparing for the Next Gaza War

Jan. 10 2022

As much as Israeli politicians and Western diplomats hope that Israel and Hamas can find a political solution to their ongoing conflict, Mark Regev argues that such an outcome is unlikely, if not impossible, for several reasons. Among them:

First, it is unclear to what degree Hamas is willing to prioritize the well-being of ordinary Gazans over its ideological commitment to “resistance.” . . . Second, even if Hamas agrees to keep the Israel-Gaza frontier quiet, it is unlikely to abstain from encouraging and orchestrating deadly violence on the West Bank. A “ceasefire” in which Hamas continues terror attacks from Hebron, Jenin, and Tulkarm would be unsustainable.

Third, Hamas can be expected to exploit any ceasefire to strengthen its military capabilities both quantitatively and qualitatively. Hence the danger that short-term quiet is purchased by the creation of a more formidable long-term threat.

Fourth, two live Israeli civilians and the bodies of two IDF soldiers are being held in Gaza. Lapid stated that “bringing back our boys must be part of any plan.” Yet it is doubtful that Hamas will agree to their return outside a deal which includes the release of Palestinian security prisoners. An exchange of this sort is always a highly complex exercise.

But does this mean the situation is hopeless, and Israelis must accept sporadic rocket fire as a constant reality, and Gazans intermittent IDF airstrikes? Not quite, writes Regev:

[A] pessimistic belief in the inevitability of an imminent Gaza war is unwarranted. On Benjamin Netanyahu’s watch, seven years of relative quiet separated Operation Protective Edge from Operation Guardian of the Walls. Through an astute strategy of deterrence and incentives it is not impossible to postpone a future round of fighting, maybe even for another seven years. Ultimately, in the absence of complete solutions, if the next serious escalation occurs on or close to 2028, most Israelis could view that as not so bad an outcome.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy