New Challenges in the New Year 5768
Israel faces challenges about when to act and how to act against terror
By Sarah Ann Haves
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Jerusalem, Israel
Tensions are high as Israelis celebrate the fall feasts and festivals in a cloud of uncertainty about where and when the next conflict will take place with hostile neighbors. A barrage of Palestinian rockets recently hit an Israeli kindergarten full of children in the border town of Sderot. That was followed by 69 Israeli soldiers wounded when Kassam missiles launched from Gaza struck an army base in the western Negev. A public outcry for retaliation has increased pressure on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to take substantive action.
Yet, while Olmert recognizes it is Israel's right to defend the Jewish nation, he does not want to upset the delicate balance between diplomacy and defense. In addition, analysts say that he has hesitated to launch a full scale incursion into Gaza -- which means the committing of ground troops and tanks to an offensive in the south of the country -- because Olmert believes this will contribute to problems for his government: (1) the subsequent cancellation of the U.S. led peace conference between Olmert, Palestinian Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, and "moderate" Arab leaders; (2) the possibility that Syria may launch a strike against Israel in the north while the IDF is occupied with operations in the south.
Shabtai Shavit, former director of the Mossad, and current Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism, believes Israel's only choice in this current hostile environment is pre-emption. Rather than fighting terrorists by reacting to them in a posture of defending the Jewish nation, he feels Israel should be relying, instead, on offensive action. "My humble opinion is that since it is an on-going war, since the threat is permanent, since the intention of your enemy is to annihilate you, the right doctrine is the pre-emption one, and not a methodology of reaction. To use reaction as the main strategy or doctrine is to sit quiet and wait until he comes to attack you. And, you can only retaliate defensively."
Shavit, speaking to diplomats and journalists at the Institute For Contemporary Affairs (ICA) in Jerusalem, recently said the greatest hindrance to assessing the global jihad war today is the limitations in gathering human intelligence. This is also true when trying to assess the actions of Moslem terrorist organizations. "We're talking about small groups where basically everyone knows everyone; family blood connections; and a religious culture that for a foreigner to penetrate is a mission impossible," states Shavit.
This week, Israeli and international experts joined together at a conference in Tel Aviv to study the global war on terror, realizing that the world has entered a new era, and new tactics are needed that differ from the conventional ones used in the past. According to Shavit, the new enemy has a different face. "It's more a virtual entity, spread all over the globe, without any hierarchy, no uniforms, no reporting system, no recruiting centers, and no training camps."
Shavit says that present day Moslem fundamentalist terror organizations act as invisible armies, led by a supposed "divine" message, fighting in order to build a new eternal Moslem caliphate. These are the kinds of challenges that intelligence services, like the Mossad, face in trying to assess and evaluate terrorist threats.
Nations, like Israel, are re-evaluating their war doctrines because of the shift in how battles are now being fought. After Israel's inability to gain a decisive victory over Hezbollah's terrorist army in Lebanon during the summer of 2006, members of Israel's defense establishment sought to change the rules of engagement on a local and international level. Israel saw that these terrorists fought with no clear rules of engagement. Hospitals, once off limits, became fair game. Even though civilians were not caught in the crossfire, they were key targets for the terrorist army. Hezbollah fighters, believing in a radical Islamic religious doctrine, expected that in death they would receive a great reward. Therefore, they fought Israeli soldiers with a vengeance, welcoming their own fate as a gift from Allah, not fearing for their lives.
Israeli leaders are now analyzing the differences between fighting a conventional war, which is limited in time, to global terrorism which appears to go on indefinitely. "The Western world, Israel included, lives in a constant war," admits Shavit. He says it is not difficult to find out what the intentions are of present day terrorist organizations. It's a matter of public record. However, it is hard to understand the mindset of those involved in radical ideology, like Iran -- a state that sponsors terror.
"If Iran acquires nuclear capability is it going to activate it or not? This is a question that has no clear answer today. Once they have it, are they going to use it or not?" Shavit asks. He believes that Israel, along with western nations, should prepare for the worst case scenario -- a nuclear Iran with a fanatical leader that may push the button. "In Iran we have the religious component. Even as a sovereign state, with a known territory, Iran is being ruled and motivated by very extreme religious leadership," Shavit explains.
Intelligence organizations rely on "The Brief", an assessment analyzing the threat to a sovereign nation, based on the answers to two questions: (1) What are the intentions of the enemy? (2) What are his capabilities?
Because the Middle East is full of authoritarian regimes, the intentions of the enemy are usually found only with the head of the state. Currently, religion has become a dominant issue that affects all ways of evaluating threats. Shavit says it is hard to understand, translate, and integrate religion into an intelligence assessment. "When you are talking about Islam, you are talking about a huge variety of groups, sects, races, people, states, traditions, the written set of laws, and the unwritten, or the translation of the written word into a huge pile of books and other materials in order to understand it. It takes a very big expert. The variety is so big that it is hard to pick up the real meaning of things, or the real instruction of the religious leaders in order to integrate it into your assessment."
Intelligence organizations today have to cope with global jihad, and find themselves facing the challenge of covering the entire globe because of the continued spread of radical Islam. In the past, security experts could take their time gathering information in order to learn about their adversary. However, today, they prepare their assessments while their organization is fighting the adversary. Shavit acknowledges that this is an unending process that often does not have a final conclusion. "The threat is permanent, the threat changes faces, the threat changes locations, the threat changes strategies, methodologies, capabilities, and so forth. So, you have to assess while fighting them."
As organizations like Israel's Mossad and Shin Bet fight terrorism, they face another problem. Among intelligence officers, 95% of the information they collect is found in open sources, including media reports. Today, however, the media is being used by politicians, business people, and special interest groups, and Shavit is not happy about the way the media is communicating. "The word, spin, has become a very common word in the media today. It is becoming more and more difficult for the intelligence officer and the analysis expert to deal with these spins."
Whether the latest threats to Israel of a possible two-front war in the north and south of the country are real or caused by media spin is still difficult to determine at this time. But, one thing is certain, while Israeli politicians decide whether to take decisive military action against their enemies or not, intelligence organizations will still be behind the scenes evaluating Israel's adversaries on a daily basis. The security and the survival of the nation depend on it.
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting from Israel on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues affecting the nation.
Bible-believers should be changing their tactics in this new era of spiritual warfare on behalf of the people of Israel and of the nations. Scriptures from the Psalms follow:
Biblical Accounts of Terrorism - the intentions of the adversary:
Ps. 10:7-10; Ps. 17:11-12; Ps. 35:20; Ps. 37:12-14; Ps. 37:32; Ps. 94:5-6; Ps. 140:1-5
Active Intercession - a pre-emptive strike:
Ps. 18:37-42; Ps. 37:15; Ps. 69: 22; Ps. 75:10; Ps. 91:13; Ps. 140:9-11; Ps. 141:10; Ps.144:1
Entreating God for His protection against the enemy:
Ps. 7:6; Ps. 10:12-15; Ps. 17:8-9; Ps. 22:19-21; Ps. 27:11-13; Ps. 31:1-5; Ps. 35:1-8; Ps. 35:17; Ps. 64:1-10; Ps. 94:16-19
The Lord is the ultimate defense against terror:
Ps. 20:1; Ps. 18:47-48; Ps. 21:8-12; Ps. 31:2; Ps. 31:15; Ps. 60:12; Ps. 94:22-23; Ps. 97:3; Ps. 129:4
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