How the Israeli Navy Is Fighting Hamas

In 2014 and 2015, the Egyptian military, in close coordination with Israel, destroyed or blocked hundreds of tunnels used to smuggle arms, as well as consumer goods, into the Gaza Strip from the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, Hamas’s only reliable way to get weapons has been by sea. Emanuel Fabian explains Israeli sailors’ efforts to stymie the flow:

The Israeli Navy’s Ashdod Base—which is tasked with the Gaza area—is overloaded with missions at sea while facing myriad threats from Hamas and other terror groups. The Ashdod Base has a massive area of operations, from Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border to an area much further north. Its 916th Patrol Squadron is mainly tasked with the region around Gaza, up to 40 nautical miles out to sea.

Attempts at smuggling via the maritime route from northern Egypt are believed to be frequent and are expected to only increase. . . . Over the past year, the Navy has been successful in foiling every smuggling attempt from Egypt to Gaza that it identified, though it believes there are some it did not catch and that Hamas is getting better at carrying them out.

Israel has maintained a naval and ground blockade on Gaza since 2007, when Hamas took control of the Strip from the Palestinian Authority through a bloody conflict that followed contested elections. Egypt also blockades the territory. . . . The blockade has had a particularly negative effect on fishermen, who cannot stray too far from the shore without facing the threat of Israeli fire. As a result, the shallow waters adjacent to the coast have been overfished, diminishing hauls, and thus profits, over time. Nonetheless, figures from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics indicate that Gaza fishermen have more than doubled their catch since the blockade was introduced—from over 1.5 million fish in 2009 to almost 4 million in 2019.

The fishing business is relatively profitable in the impoverished Strip, but helping Hamas smuggle in equipment is thought to be far more lucrative.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Naval strategy

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy