The Israeli Security Concept: Wandering Through a Maze

Posted November 16, 2018 by Peter Hofman
Categories: Uncategorized


November 15, 2018

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,007, November 15, 2018

Palestinians drag section of ripped-down border fence in Gaza, May 2018, photo by Heather Murdock, VOA public domain via Wikimedia Commons

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The recent round of fighting between Israel and Hamas was seemingly sparked by the exposure of an Israeli special forces team during a covert operation in Khan Yunis. The Hamas leadership, which apparently is not interested in war, nevertheless chose to respond by escalating to the very brink. Why has the Israeli government refrained (yet again) from instructing the IDF to settle the Hamas threat?

The discourse that tends to swirl in the wake of events like this week’s sharp Gaza escalation generally revolves around a clichéd discussion about “the loss of deterrence.” But the gauge of deterrence, like a thermometer in a patient’s mouth, only measures a symptom; it does not explain the situation. Something deeper than “loss of deterrence” drove the event.

The Hamas leadership certainly knows the strength of the IDF relative to the strength of its own forces. But it bases its decisions not on that calculation but on its assessment of the constraints that prevent the Israeli government from making the decision to go to war. During the regular riots Hamas has led along the border since the spring, the group has learned its way through the Israeli strategic labyrinth. It understands how it can exploit the possibility of Israeli distress to advance its own interests.

The two-state solution as a conceptual fixation

Israel’s commitment to the “two-state solution” as a single and necessary solution is largely responsible for its refusal to update the strategic map. In explaining Israel’s duty to separate from the Palestinians, former Justice Minister Haim Ramon said: ” Our control over the territories is a cancer, and I will not let my enemy decide whether to undergo cancer removal surgery or not.” The Palestinians are well aware of their power of blackmail: the more Israel rushes to part ways, the more the Jewish state will have to pay for it. In accordance with this thinking, Hamas will naturally reject any agreement to implement separation in the direction of peace and stability. The need to preserve the separation achieved in Gaza has trapped Israel and made an attack on Gaza futile. What is there to recapture if Israel wants out of Gaza anyway? A re-conquest would put paid once and for all to the (supposed) panacea that “they are there and we are here.”

Hence the trap of both sides of the Israeli political map. The opposition attacked PM Netanyahu for abandoning security by restraining the use of military force against Hamas. Yet even as Israel is mired in the devastating consequences of the disengagement from Gaza, the Left continues to strive for another withdrawal in the West Bank – a withdrawal that could worsen Israel’s security situation to the point of rockets flying from Qalqiliya into the metropolitan Dan region.

On the other hand, Netanyahu, who seemingly seeks refuge from the two-state solution to which he has repeatedly committed himself, has an interest in the creation of an independent Hamas state in Gaza, as PA President Mahmoud Abbas remains entrenched in his lifelong rejection of Jewish statehood. It would therefore be desirable for Netanyahu to maintain the Hamas regime. This is where the Israeli system finds itself lost in a maze. The Hamas leadership has grasped the potential of this situation and is exploiting it to the full.

Who benefits from separation?            

It is time to challenge the assumption that spatial separation benefits Israel.

Supporters of withdrawal from the West Bank, including most senior members of the former security establishment, base their thinking on the belief that the attendant risks of withdrawal and territorial separation can be mitigated by the fact that the IDF’s continuous superiority can remove, within days, any security threat emanating from the territories vacated by Israel.

But since the beginning of the Oslo process, something significant has changed in relations between Israel and the Palestinians, and in recent decades there has been a global change in the phenomenon of war. Supporters of withdrawal have not internalized the significance of these changes. Their assessment of the IDF’s relative strength is thus consistently overestimated.

Here lie the seeds of Israel’s ideological fixation: the unwillingness to examine the extent to which separation as a strategic direction mainly helps the enemy.

Looking at the Gaza Strip prior to the IDF withdrawal, we see that although there was a fence that delineated the Strip, most of the IDF forces operated within the area based on the deployment of the Israeli villages in the south of the Strip. This created flexible operational potential for the IDF forces, which could reach enemy areas from a variety of directions. For example, refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip could be reached from the north via the Netzarim enclave, from the east via the border of the Strip, and from the south via Kfar Darom and Gush Katif. The capacity for surprise, flexibility, mobility, control of the area, and freedom of action were fundamentally different from those along the current borderline of the perimeter of the Strip.

The deployment of the IDF prior to the shortening of the lines in the summer of 2005 required Hamas to focus on fragmented defense efforts. The redeployment of forces and their reliance on a security fence in linear arrays made the fence a focal point for friction, and created the conditions for Hamas to organize its forces according to battalions, brigades, firing lines, and command and control systems. In this respect, territorial separation helped Israel’s enemies and harmed the IDF’s freedom of action.

The standard argument among “security technicians” is that shortening the lines of engagement is beneficial for security. But this claim is not only fundamentally wrong but the inverse of the truth. Friction in a multi-dimensional inner space, as exists today in the West Bank through the deployment of Israeli neighborhoods, enables more efficient utilization and wider strategic freedom of action for all components of Israeli power. The strategic maze in which the State of Israel finds itself in the Gaza Strip offers a valuable lesson on how security interests should help formulate the IDF’s future deployment in the West Bank.

In the meantime, the extent of the recent Hamas firefight requires the defense establishment to reexamine the IDF’s readiness to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously. A serious change in the conditions of the Palestinian threat from the West Bank, which would in turn intensify the threat from Gaza, is liable to disrupt the inter-ministerial agenda to the point of undermining the necessary conditions for concentrating the effort on the northern front.

In these circumstances, the recently voiced aspiration of former senior defense establishment officials, including Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, to lead a further separation in the West Bank is worrisome.

Israel’s strategic navigation right now resembles wandering through a maze without a map. As the pace of change accelerates, it needs a fully updated map.

View PDF

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen is a senior research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He served in the IDF for forty-two years. He commanded troops in battles with Egypt and Syria. He was formerly a corps commander and commander of the IDF Military Colleges.

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Israel-Hamas ceasefire decision ‘undisclosed rationale’ – TV7 Israel News 15.11.18 

Posted November 16, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized



Iran Was Closer to a Nuclear Bomb Than Intelligence Agencies Thought

Posted November 15, 2018 by Louisiana Steve
Categories: Iran nuclear deal, Iran nuke inspections


If Tehran pulls out of the 2015 deal, it could have a weapon in a matter of months.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a press conference in New York on Sept. 26. (Jim Watson/ AFP}

By Michael Hirsh | November 13, 2018, 6:02 PM Foreign Policy News

Source Link: Iran Was Closer to a Nuclear Bomb Than Intelligence Agencies Thought

{First, ‘breakout’ was 10 years away, then 2 years, then 6 months. Now it begins again. Honestly, if you still think Iran has no nukes then I have this great bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. – LS}

A secret Iranian archive seized by Israeli agents earlier this year indicates that Tehran’s nuclear program was more advanced than Western intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency had thought, according to a prominent nuclear expert who examined the documents.

That conclusion in turn suggests that if Iran pulls out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal that U.S. President Donald Trump has already abandoned, it has the know-how to build a bomb fairly swiftly, perhaps in a matter of months, said David Albright, a physicist who runs the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C.

Iran would still need to produce weapons-grade uranium. If it restarts its centrifuges, it could have enough in about seven to 12 months, added Albright, who is preparing reports on the archive.

Before the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal mainly negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, that would have taken only two months, but under the accord Iran was required to ship about 97 percent of its nuclear fuel out of the country and dismantle most its centrifuges.

Experts say the revelation that Iran had more advanced capabilities to make nuclear weapons themselves—as opposed to its ability to produce weapons-grade fuel, the main focus of the nuclear pact—is a surprising and troubling finding in the new intelligence.

“The archive is littered with new stuff about the Iranian nuclear weapons program,” Albright told Foreign Policy. “It’s unbelievable how much is in there.” One of his key conclusions from studying the documents was that the Iranians “were further along than Western intelligence agencies realized.”

The archive, which is well over 100,000 pages long, covers the period from 1999 to 2003, a decade before negotiations on a nuclear deal began. But the trove of documents demonstrates that Washington and the IAEA were constantly underestimating how close Tehran was to a bomb.

“The U.S. was issuing statements that it would take a year at least, perhaps two years, to build a deliverable weapon. The information in the archive makes it clear they could have done it a lot quicker,” said Albright. He added that the French government, which was then saying Iran could achieve a weapon in three months, was much closer in its estimates.

Analysts were still sifting through the archive, said Albright, who is also known for tracking North Korea’s nuclear program and for investigating Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs going back to the 1990s. “I don’t think even the Israelis have gone through it all,” he said. “Every day when they go through it they see something new.”

Mossad agents seized the archive in a daring nighttime raid on a warehouse in Tehran at the end of January. In late April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed some of the content in a speech that was panned as a melodramatic attempt to prod Trump into leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal. “These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said.


Italian deputy FM: European attitudes toward Israel are improving dramatically 

Posted November 15, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Italian deputy FM: European attitudes toward Israel are improving dramatically – Israel Hayom


‘I wish I could reveal’ actions to combat Gaza terror, PM says amid criticism 

Posted November 15, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: ‘I wish I could reveal’ actions to combat Gaza terror, PM says amid criticism – Israel Hayom


Pentagon Wants More Money for Lasers To Defend Against Missiles, Drone Swarms – Defense One

Posted November 14, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Pentagon Wants More Money for Lasers To Defend Against Missiles, Drone Swarms – Defense One

( I’m assuming that Israel is also working on this tech.  Has the potential to replace Iron Dome. – JW )

Directed-energy weapons are with a factor of two or three to being militarily useful, the Pentagon’s top scientist said.

The U.S. military will request more money to develop lasers, microwave beams, and other directed-energy defenses to fight off missiles and drone swarms, the Pentagon’s top weapons engineer said Tuesday. “You’re going to see, in upcoming budgets for missile defense, a renewed emphasis on laser scaling [meaning scaling up the power of lasers] across several technologies,” Michael Griffin, defense undersecretary for research and engineering, said at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic International Studies.

Griffin, a former NASA administrator, has previously floated the idea of firing neutral particle beams from satellites to disable enemy missiles shortly after launch.

On Tuesday, he went into more detail about how quickly laser technology was advancing.

“In units of ones or twos, we can roll out tens of kilowatts. That is within a factor of two or three of being useful on a battlefield, airplane or ship” — for example, to take out enemy drone swarms, he said. “In my opinion, we are no more than a few years away from having laser weapons of military utility.”

A space-based weapon that could take out boost-phase missiles would have to be much more powerful, in the megawatt class, he said.

Breakthroughs in solid-state, so-called combined fiber lasersmean such lasers are “not right around the corner, but that’s not utterly out of reach, either,” he said. He also offered that he was a poor prognosticator, unless he was predicting something “bad.”

One big question remains: whether anti-missile satellites will make it into the Missile Defense Review, the Trump administration’s plan for next-generation missiles and missile defense.

“It will be shared when the administration is ready to share it,” said Griffin in response to a question about it.

UPI:  Iran’s mullahs turn to cyberwar, misinformation to avert looming overthrow

Posted November 14, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Iran’s mullahs turn to cyberwar, misinformation to avert looming overthrow


Struan Stevenson

Iranian women protest during the 39th anniversary of the 1979 United States Embassy takeover in front of former American embassy in Tehran, Iran on November 4. Photo by Maryam Rahmanian/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 13 (UPI) — With the introduction of the final phase of tough, new U.S. sanctions on Iran, targeting oil exports, shipping and financial transactions, the clerical regime is in blind panic. Iran Human Rights Monitor has reported an increase in executions, repression and human rights abuse during the past month, as the mullahs try desperately to contain the growing unrest that has seen nationwide protests continue for almost a year.

According to I-HRM, there were at least 22 executions in October, including a woman who was only 17 at the time of her alleged crime. They also report arbitrary murders, deaths in custody, inhuman treatment, cruel punishments, appalling prison conditions and the continued persecution of religious minorities.

Last month, the U.S. State Department published a 48-page report titled “Outlaw Regime: A Chronicle of Iran’s Destructive Activities.” In a foreword, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained why President Donald Trump had decided to withdraw from the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions that had been lifted by former President Barack Obama, calling it: “a failed strategic bet that fell short of protecting the American people or our allies from the potential of an Iranian nuclear weapon.”

In explosive comments, Pompeo said: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is not a normal state. Normal states do not attack embassies and military installations in peacetime; fuel terrorist proxies and militias; serve as a sanctuary for terrorists; call for the destruction of Israel and threaten other countries; aid brutal dictators such as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad; proliferate missile technology to dangerous proxies; conduct covert assassinations in other countries; and hold hostage citizens of foreign nations. Normal states do not support terrorism within their armed forces, as Iran has done with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds Force. Normal states do not abuse the international financial system and use commercial industry to fund and support terrorism. Normal states do not squander their own natural resources. Normal states do not violently suppress legitimate protests, jail their own citizens or those of other countries on specious crimes, engage in torture, and impose severe restrictions on basic freedoms.”

With a collapsing economy, massive unemployment and a growing recognition among the young and well-educated Iranian population that Iran’s vast oil resources have been systematically misused to enrich the mullahs and to finance proxy wars across the Middle East, the nationwide protests are moving relentlessly toward a new revolution and the inevitable overthrow of the clerical fascist regime. Desperate to cling to power, the mullahs have ramped up repression and turned to the exploitation of cyberwarfare to spread propaganda, influence events, shape foreign perceptions and counter perceived threats. The U.S. State Department says: “The Islamic Republic has developed its cyber capabilities with the intent to surveil and sabotage its adversaries, undermining international norms and threatening international stability.”

A key target for the clerical regime’s cyber-spies is the main democratic opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI or MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran. In particular, the regime has instigated a determined campaign to strike out at an enclave of over 3,000 PMOI activists based in Tirana, Albania, deploying cyberattacks to spread misinformation, fake news and blatant fabrications, labeling the MEK as a terrorist organization and claiming that its presence is a danger to Albania, Europe and the Middle East. It also utilizes vast resources to procure the willing service of gullible Western journalists. While the Iranian regime’s attempts to smear the MEK have no credibility, what is worrying is that these allegations often become the basis for future terrorist and criminal acts against the opposition. The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence likes to use the Western media to denigrate the MEK in such a way that any subsequent terror attacks or assassinations targeting them receive little public sympathy.

In September, Twitter closed 770 accounts run by the Iranian regime, declaring them false accounts for government propaganda and for disseminating fake news and lies. At the same time, Facebook, Instagram and Google closed similar accounts related to the regime. On Oct. 17, Twitter published content associated with these 770 accounts, amounting to 1,122,936 tweets, along with embedded photos and videos. Among these tweets were hundreds that had been disseminated widely by Iran’s MOIS in the days before the NCRI/PMOI annual “Free Iran” rally in Paris in June, which always attracts a crowd of some 100,000 ex-patriot Iranians opposed to the mullahs’ regime. Some examples labeled MEK a “terrorist cult” and condemned the French government for hosting a “dangerous sect”.

The tactic of using social media to soften public opinion and sow seeds of doubt about the NCRI/PMOI as a prelude to a terrorist attack was highlighted when on June 1 German police arrested Assadollah Assadi, a diplomat from the Iranian Embassy in Vienna, and charged him with terrorist offenses. On the same day, Belgian police arrested an Iranian couple from Antwerp after 500 gm of high explosives and a detonator were found in their car. They admitted Assadi had given them the bomb and instructed them to detonate it at the Iranian democratic opposition rally being held in Villepinte, near Paris that weekend, attended by hundreds of political leaders, including Rudy Giulliani and Newt Gingrich.

Despite such outrages, there are still appeasers in Western political circles who are prepared to close their eyes to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s human rights abuse, aggressive military expansionism, sponsorship of terrorism and cyberwarfare. They believe that “constructive dialogue” with one of the world’s most evil regimes is preferable to taking a firm line and demanding that Iran behaves like, in the words of Pompeo, “a normal state.” The political appeasers have their willing media cohorts, who naively lap up every shred of misinformation about the Iranian opposition and every iota of propaganda about the regime. These “useful idiots” crop up repeatedly in newspapers, radio and television in the EU and America, echoing their predecessors who trod a similar dishonorable path during the rise of the Nazis and the oppression of the Soviet Union.

Struan Stevenson, coordinator of Campaign for Iran Change, was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association.