The war between wars

Israel’s necessary strategic posture is ferocious. Get used to it.

Terrorists fire rockets at Israel from Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, Aug. 7, 2022. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Terrorists fire rockets at Israel from Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, Aug. 7, 2022. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
David M. Weinberg (Twitter)
David M. Weinberg
David M. Weinberg is senior fellow at the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy, in Jerusalem. His personal website is davidmweinberg.com.

What should be Israel’s strategic takeaway from “Operation Breaking Dawn,” the latest round of warfare with enemies in Gaza?

The answer is this: Israel must be willing to continually degrade enemy military capabilities, operation after operation, day after day, in a campaign of unremitting attrition meant to crush the radical Islamic armies seeking to set up shop permanently on Israel’s borders.

This means much more than “mowing the grass”; that is, the intermittent military operations that Israel has engaged in until now. It means much more than occasional bombings meant to temporarily deter the enemy and bring periods of quiet to residents of Israel’s periphery.

It means a regular “war between wars” against Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other enemy armies. It means nightly raids on jihadist weapons storehouses, factories and training camps. It means no respite between “Operation Breaking Dawn” and the next operation. After all, this is the way Israel operates against jihadists and other terrorist enemies in Judea and Samaria, Syria and Iraq. There is no respite between one operation and the next.

It is only courtesy of nightly IDF raids on jihadist cells in Jenin, Nablus and Hebron that Israelis and Palestinians alike live a daily life of relative calm. Otherwise, Judea and Samaria would become Gaza.

It is only thanks to weekly IDF aerial bombings and ground operations against Iranian-backed militias, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps emplacements and Iranian arms shipments running through Syria and Iraq—en route to Hezbollah in Lebanon—that Israelis in Tel Aviv live a life of relative calm and prosperity. Otherwise, all of Israel would become living hell.

Israel must ensure that Judea/Samaria is not militarized over the long term—as mandated by the Oslo Accords—through the use of its own forces. It must act to bring about the demilitarization of problem areas like Gaza and Sinai. None of this is possible without a strong and permanent Israeli military imprint on all fronts. Israel must act with unrelenting ruthlessness and project endless grit in this continuous war against terrorist armies while maintaining a healthy and resilient Israeli home front despite ongoing military offensives and enemy missile attacks.

Let’s face it: Israel is facing multiple threats from implacable, non-state enemies who encroach on Israel’s borders and are ideologically opposed to peace with Israel—like Hamas, Hezbollah, PIJ, Al-Qaeda and ISIS. The Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria is feeble and feckless. And on a regional level, Arab and Islamic states from Marrakesh to Bangladesh are beset by instability. As a result, Israel’s strategic posture must remain resolute.

In a changed international environment, with the Biden administration courting Iran and providing Israel with only subdued backing, and a changed domestic environment with persistent internal political deadlock, Israel must demonstrate that it is not defenseless. Its leadership—however temporary—must remain clear-eyed, and Israel must retain freedom of action against any and all enemies.

If this sounds militaristic, get used to it. This is the necessary Israeli strategic posture. This is the Israeli reality. It is the only true path to Israeli security, and ultimately to regional peace.

Simultaneously, Israel’s hand is always outstretched in peace to moderate Arabs who (correctly) view Israel as the legitimate home of the indigenous Jewish people of Zion, understand Israel as a leading force for regional stability and prosperity, and embrace the Abrahamic partnership for peace.

In fact, Israel’s new Abraham Accords peace partners are closely watching these conflicts and judging Israel. They ask themselves whether Israel is going to appropriately crush Hamas and PIJ—Iranian-backed enemies of the Gulf states—the way it normally would, or if Israel is hamstrung by the conditions described above. A weak Israel is far less attractive to the governments in Abu Dhabi, Manama, Rabat and Riyadh.

In short, Israel’s necessary strategic posture is ferocious, in addition to peace-seeking. As Golda Meir once said, “I prefer condemnations to condolences.”

David M. Weinberg is a senior fellow at the Kohelet Forum and Habithonistim: Israel’s Defense and Security Forum. His diplomatic, defense, political and Jewish world columns over the past 25 years are archived at www.davidmweinberg.com.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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