The IDF Seeks a Way Out of the Cycle of War with Gaza

In January 2013, two senior Israeli officers published an article analyzing a then-recent seven-day military operation in Gaza, arguing that such short, limited wars—conducted primarily from the air—could never achieve decisive results, and only delayed the next conflict. The IDF has conducted numerous such campaigns in the years since—including one earlier this month—with some variation in tactics and outcome, but not much has changed. Lazar Berman examines the problem, and its possible solutions:

A number of vectors have converged to create the confounding reality Israel finds itself in today, not least of which is the military conception of ground maneuver as a liability rather than the key to victory. During Israel’s early decades, the IDF’s operational concept rested on aggressive maneuver by its ground forces into enemy territory, quickly moving the fight away from population centers to deliver decisive defeats to adversary forces.

Ground maneuver refers to the use of large ground forces to slice through slower enemy formations where opportunities arise, breaking the enemy’s cohesion, complicating its war plans, and shattering morale. The air force played a number of vital supporting roles in those battles, especially in destroying enemy airpower to open the way for IDF tanks to shatter Arab armor.

Yet since the 1980s, the IDF has shifted to greater use of air power and artillery, preferring to conduct only limited ground offensives or avoiding them altogether. At the same time, the Iron Dome has kept civilians safe while the fighting goes on. This approach, Berman notes, has its drawbacks, as seen from the repeated war in Gaza. And Israeli generals are seeking new ideas.

Paradoxically, as Israel’s tactical capabilities from the air continue to improve, the strategic effectiveness of its air campaigns steadily declines. While IDF spokespeople send out videos of missiles homing in on a specific window in an office building, and boast of the Iron Dome’s interception rates, the battles are coming more frequently and enemy capabilities are growing.

There is hope for a way out; . . . recognition that the IDF’s approach must change has spread among the senior military leadership. . . . The new concept recognizes the need for decisive victory through ground maneuver. But it proposes a new type of maneuver, one that emerges from the understanding that territory is no longer the asset Israel’s enemies are trying to protect. Instead, it is their ability to maintain their rocket fire on Israel’s home front that must be suppressed.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, IDF, Israeli grand strategy

In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan