How Israel and Bahrain Can Build on the Foundations of Peace

Less than a month after the United Arab Emirates announced its plans to normalize its relationship with Israel, the island kingdom of Bahrain declared its intention to follow suit. As the third anniversary of the Abraham Accords approaches, Ilan Zalayat and Yoel Guzansky take stock of relations between Jerusalem and Manama:

[When the Accords] were signed in 2020, about 40 percent of Bahrainis held a favorable view, but in subsequent polls this rate fell by 50 percent. The fluctuation shows that opposition to normalization is not inevitable, and is possibly the result of the gap between expectations and reality that arose in the three years that have passed.

The political-security aspect [of normalization] recorded immediate and impressive progress. Within eighteen months of establishing relations, Bahrain was visited by then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, who all met with senior members of the royal house and the Bahraini army to discuss security collaboration between the countries. Public visits by Israeli officials to the tiny kingdom, about 150 kilometers from the Iranian coast, and the sharing of intelligence and drone technology, sent a clear message that Israel and Bahrain were standing together against Iran.

However, the economic aspect of relations lagged behind. Figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics show that while trade between the UAE and Israel in 2021-2022 (excluding diamonds and services) amounted to about $2.5 billion, trade with Bahrain was worth only $20 million. . . . Economic ties are important to the Bahraini people and more palpable than security contacts with Israel. Forty percent of Bahrainis are ready for some business contacts with Israel that would be beneficial to the local economy, compared to only a tenth who are interested in cooperating with Israel against Iran.

The potential economic reward could reach sectors in Bahrain that are outside the ruling classes, for whom normalization not only means violating solidarity with the Palestinians, but also fails to bring the expected financial gain, and persuade them that there are advantages to relations.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Bahrain, Israeli economy

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security