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Inside Israel: Trouble on All Fronts

Eliezer Shulman

Touring Israel’s northern border reveals an IDF watchful and wary

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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Last Friday a friend from Europe called to ask me whether Israel would soon start a war against Hezbollah in Lebanon or Shiite militias in Syria. Or perhaps Israel will attack Hamas in Gaza?

“Why are you asking?” I asked, answering his question with a question.

“Because it’s clear that Israel is going to start a war, one way or another,” he explained. “Netanyahu is knee-deep in corruption probes, and a war would be the best thing to do. The police and prosecution will have no choice but to stop the investigations if a war is raging.”

Once I fully understood the thrust of my friend’s questions, I replied that, to the best of my knowledge, no war was in the offing. Further, I said, Prime Minister Netanyahu knows very well that wars are unpredictable, and he wouldn’t initiate a conflict to distract attention from investigations. “In any case, it’s doubtful whether a war would give him more than a very brief reprieve,” I added, explaining that Netanyahu has never been a fan of military campaigns, certainly not wars.

Indeed, cabinet ministers, among them Bibi’s rivals, have praised the prime minister for his level of concentration during recent security briefings — despite the investigations swirling around him. Still, defense apparatus personnel are increasingly concerned that Bibi might crack under pressure and make a critical error. Moreover, these sources worry, Netanyahu will have precious little time to deal with the most pressing issues on the national agenda if he has to spend all his time building a defense for the various cases against him.

War in the Air

Still, my friend had a point.

According to sources in the defense establishment, the risk of war breaking out in the north and south is growing greater by the day. Since the February 10 incident, in which an Iranian drone and an Israeli F-16 were downed, quiet has returned to the north. Nevertheless, there’s no downplaying the danger that hovered on that Shabbos morning.

For years, Israel has thwarted Iranian plans to arm Hezbollah with smart weapons systems. At the recent Munich Security Conference, however, Prime Minister Netanyahu revealed that the terrorist organization’s aim is to upgrade to precision rockets that can hit within ten meters of a target.

Israeli successes in Syria have angered the enemy, including Moscow. Security sources last week speculated that the firing of 25 anti-aircraft rockets that led to the downing of the F-16 was carried out in tandem with Russian military advisors working with Damascus.

Israel is openly threatening to strike Shiite militias, and, if necessary, Syrian and Iranian targets, if Iranian militias embed themselves in Syria. Last week, the New York Times published a report with a detailed map showing a number of Syrian bases where Iranians have stationed personnel and equipment. The Assad regime downplayed the claim of an Iranian presence, stating instead that the number of local militias in the country has decreased, and that those remaining are concentrated in the center and north, where they are fighting anti-government forces. “The Israeli Golan is only a secondary front,” Assad was quoted as saying. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 700)

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