Israel Update

 

ISRAEL’S QUEST FOR PEACE AND SECURITY IN A RAPIDLY CHANGING REGION 

by Sarah Ann Haves 

The recent barrage of rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli southern communities; the brutal murder of five members of a settler family in Itimar, and the first bus bombing in Jerusalem since 2004, has, once again, shattered the sense of calm and well-being in Israel. Citizens are reeling from these recent terror attacks, wondering whether this means that Israel must prepare for another Gaza war; or, the possibility of the Palestinians launching a third Intifada.

As the unrest in Arab nations continues, Israel faces some of its most serious challenges this year. 

Recently, Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, ordered the deployment of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, bringing hope to some Israelis that if the rocket war with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terror groups in Gaza escalates, at least southern Israeli communities will be offered a measure of protection. The IDF has stated, more than once, that the system has flaws, is limited in scope, and cannot protect against all incoming missiles. But, the Israeli government is not ready for a full scale war, and is looking for a way of stopping the current eroding of its deterrence in the south, while also trying to keep residents there from panicking.

Meanwhile, as the unrest in Arab nations continues, Israel faces some of its most serious challenges this year. Reports indicate that Syria may be using Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, along with operatives from Iran, to quell the recent uprising against President Bashar Assad’s government. In Assad’s attempt to divert attention away from the upheaval in his own country, he could lash out at Israel. The IDF remains on high alert in the north of the country, as well as, in the south.

The IDF is currently preparing and training for the possibility of 600 rockets a day being launched by Hezbollah, aimed at Israel’s northern communities. Hezbollah has known to be armed with up to 50,000 rockets in its stockpile, including Iranian-made long-range missiles and Syrian Scuds, all capable of penetrating deep into the heart of Israel. Reports indicate that Iran provides $1 billion in annual military aid to Hezbollah.

Israel has other problems that could affect the security of the Jewish state. Taking advantage of instability in the region, Iran has been trying to transport massive weapons to Israel’s enemies in Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria by land, sea and air. Israel’s recent interception of the Victoria ship; Turkey’s interception of two arms-laden planes; and convoys that have been intercepted originating from Sudan, are just some of the ways that intelligence-sharing capabilities between nations has helped to thwart Iran’s military ambitions. But, Israeli defense leaders admit that these interceptions have stopped only a fraction of the weapon transfers to Israel’s terrorist neighbors.

Israeli interceptions have stopped only a fraction of the weapons transfers to Israel's terrorist neighbors.

At the same time, Israel’s enemies are attempting to dig terror tunnels under the northern Gaza Strip which could be used to try and kill or kidnap Israeli soldiers, similar to events that triggered Israel’s 2006 conflict with Hamas. This, then, escalated into the Second Lebanon War with Hezbollah.

While the United States and other Western powers look at the current Middle East unrest as an opportunity for democratic reform, and greater freedoms for massive Arab populations, Israeli citizens wonder if new governments will be friendly or not towards the Jewish state.

For example, if Syria’s secular ruling elite were to fall, most analysts believe that Islamists would take over. In Egypt’s attempt to ratify its constitution, a call for early elections could result in the Moslem Brotherhood greatly increasing its political power within the new Egyptian government. Israelis see this as a slow eroding of good relations with Egypt, a threat to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, and an opportunity for radical Islamic groups to have much greater influence within the Egyptian population.

Unrest in Jordan, and the possibility of a weakened Jordanian monarchy, could threaten Israel’s peace treaty with that country. A negative trend in Middle East regime change is already having its affect in Tunisia where the Islamization of that government is resulting in a deterioration of relations with the Jewish community. Israel is planning to help 25 Tunisian families immigrate to Israel during the next few weeks, hoping that others will follow. There are 1,500 Jews still living in Tunisia.

Israel is also weary of attempts by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to try and bring reconciliation between his Fatah supporters and their arch rival, Hamas. Reconciliation, resulting in unity between these two groups, would give the Palestinian’s the support they need for international approval towards statehood. Their demand for a contiguous land mass, encompassing most of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza, would gain legitimacy if they could succeed in producing one unified government. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated that Fatah-Hamas unity will bury the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel faces a diplomatic war unprecedented in the history of the Jewish state.  

Israel faces a diplomatic war unprecedented in the history of the Jewish state as the Palestinians are preparing to bring a resolution before the UN General Assembly in September which could hinder Israel’s ability to defend itself. The Palestinians are looking for international recognition of the right to establish the state of “Palestine” without the need of a peace treaty with Israel. Israel is concerned that the European Union (EU) will join over 170 countries that have already approved a Palestinian unilateral declaration. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has indicated the EU might consider such recognition.

In the meantime, the Palestinians have, successfully, delayed all direct negotiations with Israel. They are ignoring the U.S. as a peace power broker, and are intent on internationalizing the conflict. They are now looking for new “peace” partners who they can easily influence.

In the meantime, the Palestinians have, successfully, delayed all direct negotiations with Israel. They are ignoring the U.S. as a peace power broker, and are intent on internationalizing the conflict. They are now looking for new “peace” partners who they can easily influence.

What’s clear, today, is that Israel is fighting an upward battle on several fronts. Despite unprecedented military assistance from the U.S. Administration, President Barack Obama’s diplomatic help to Israel remains uncertain. While American concern for maintaining Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) still remains a high priority for the Pentagon and the White House, Israel’s QME is currently being threatened by Russia’s decision to sell and soon deliver anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria. These missiles could end up in Hezbollah’s hands which would give the terrorist regime an advantage at sea over Israel’s sophisticated naval armaments.

Meanwhile, if the Palestinians do unite, and are diplomatically successful at the UN, this could result in collective measurements taken by UN states against Israel. A strong UN resolution could further erode Israel’s support among the nations.

The Israeli government’s formidable challenge is to guarantee safety for Israeli citizens despite the new terror war against the Jewish State. Netanyahu hopes that Israel can remain stable in a tumultuous neighborhood of regional chaos. The IDF will continue to strive for military superiority over Israel’s enemies despite massive arms sales and deliveries that threaten to tip the balance of power in the Middle East. And, Israelis of all ages and professions will fight for diplomatic recognition within the global community.

The nation’s quest for peace and security remains its greatest challenge and its greatest hope for the future.

The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting from Israel on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues affecting the nation.

(c) 2011 Messianic Vision all rights reserved. This article is not reproducible except with permisson from Messianic Vision. 

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

All active news articles