Israel’s Enemies Today Aren’t Conventional Armies or Terrorist Groups, but Something New Entirely

April 1 2022

For the first quarter-century of its existence, the IDF faced conventional military threats from enemies that vastly outnumbered, and often outgunned, it. But from the 1980s onward, it had to refocus its attentions on fighting asymmetric wars against Palestinian and Lebanese guerrillas and terrorists. It has recently realized that it must recalibrate once more to combat what it calls “diffuse, rocket-based terror armies”—most of which are backed by Iran. (Notably, IDF planners have chosen not to call these “terrorist groups” or “militias.”) To this end, it has developed its “Momentum” plan and a concomitant new strategic approach, which Eran Ortal describes:

All the IDF’s campaigns during the 1990s in Lebanon and Gaza featured extended periods of fighting, with rising costs and increasing strikes on the Israeli home front, a threat that remained relevant even after the introduction of the Iron Dome system in the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense against Hamas.

The disappointing results of these campaigns were usually attributed to the familiar challenges of counterinsurgency and counterguerrilla warfare. . . . The apparent paradox between the total supremacy of the IDF and the ambiguous results of the campaigns against Hamas and Hizballah caused frustration among both decision makers and the Israeli public.

The IDF no longer speaks of “asymmetric warfare” against “inferior forces,” in which Israel’s main limits on the use of force are self-imposed. . . . Rather, the new IDF operational concept describes the enemy as an advanced networked adversary that has cracked the secret of Israel’s military power and presents Israel with an operational challenge that serves enemy strategy. These are organized, well-trained armies, well-equipped for their missions, with straightforward operational ideas and tactics, all of which support a clear and dangerous strategy and ideology.

The operational concept at the heart of the Momentum plan effectively accepts [that] the main test of Israel’s military power is that of decisive victory. This includes the ability not only to defeat a terror army like Hizballah but also to do it relatively quickly, at an acceptable cost to our forces and our home front, and in a way that is irrefutable.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Hizballah, IDF, Iran, Israeli Security


Why President Biden Needs Prime Minister Netanyahu as Much as Netanyahu Needs Biden

Sept. 28 2023

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since the former’s inauguration. Since then, Haim Katz, Israel’s tourism minister, became the first Israeli cabinet member to visit Saudi Arabia publicly, and Washington announced that it will include the Jewish state in its visa-waiver program. Richard Kemp, writing shortly after last week’s meeting, comments:

Finally, a full nine months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government, President Joe Biden deigned to allow him into his presence. Historically, American presidents have invited newly installed Israeli prime ministers to the White House shortly after taking office. Even this meeting on Wednesday, however, was not in Washington but in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such pointed lack of respect is not the way to treat one of America’s most valuable allies, and perhaps the staunchest of them all. It is all about petty political point-scoring and interfering in Israel’s internal democratic processes. But despite his short-sighted rebuke to the state of Israel and its prime minister, Biden actually needs at least as much from Netanyahu as Netanyahu needs from him. With the 2024 election looming, Biden is desperate for a foreign-policy success among a sea of abject failures.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden no doubt played the Palestinian issue up as some kind of Saudi red line and the White House has probably been pushing [Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman] in that direction. But while the Saudis would no doubt want some kind of pro-forma undertaking by Israel for the sake of appearances, [a nuclear program and military support] are what they really want. The Saudis’ under-the-table backing for the original Abraham Accords in the face of stiff Palestinian rejection shows us where its priorities lie.

Israel remains alone in countering Iran’s nuclear threat, albeit with Saudi and other Arab countries cheering behind the scenes. This meeting won’t have changed that. We must hope, however, that Netanyahu has been able to persuade Biden of the electoral benefit to him of settling for a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia rather than holding out for the unobtainable jackpot of a two-state solution.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship