In the weeks preceding the Six-Day War, Israel was faced with ever increasing existential challenges which warranted resolute action. Israel’s generals correctly argued to the political echelon that with each passing day, Israel’s strategic position became more compromised. The situation was particularly acute on Israel’s southern border with Egypt where the Egyptian army deployed seven divisions including three armored divisions. Official Arab government pronouncements, with ever increasing shrill and belligerence, made clear that the intention was to wipe Israel off the map.
On June 5th 1967, Israel launched a preemptive strike aimed at destroying the Arab armies before they could launch their own attack (some historians have argued that the Arabs fired the first salvo by closing the Tiran Straits). Codenamed Operation Focus, the Israeli Air Force implemented its well-rehearsed plan of action and struck first, catching most of the Arab air forces on the ground and destroying the bulk of them. Contemporaneous with the air assault, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sprang into action, quickly routing the Arab armies in a matter of days.
It was a complete and decisive Israeli victory with few parallels in military history. Israel’s success in the Six Day War was attributed to many factors but chief among them was the fact that Israel had robbed the enemy of the initiative. Had the Arab’s attacked first, Israel would have still emerged triumphant but at a much higher cost in terms of men and material.
The doctrine of preemption is one that is ingrained in Israel’s military thinking. Israel is a small country with little strategic depth and a vulnerable civilian population. Preemption, the concept of striking the enemy first when there is a clear, present and imminent danger coupled with intent to injure, is a strategically sound doctrine and this is especially true in Israel’s case given its unique vulnerabilities, regional challenges and genocidal enemies.
In addition to exercising its right of military preemption, Israel has also acted preventative manner. Conceptually, this doctrine differs slightly from preemption as the threat while real, is not necessarily imminent. In 1981 and 2007, Israel destroyed the nuclear facilities of Iraq and Syria – both implacable foes – after intelligence confirmed that those facilities were capable of manufacturing atomic bombs. Israel has also struck Sudan and Syria dozens of times in efforts to thwart weapons transfers to Hamas and Hezbollah.
Hezbollah is currently mired in Syria’s civil war with 1/3 of its forces actively engaged in Syria to prop up Assad. In light of this, most Israeli experts agree that the probability of war breaking out in the near future is low. The last thing Hezbollah needs now is a two-front war. Nevertheless, Hezbollah’s raison d’être is to serve the Islamic Republic’s interests and do battle with Israel. A showdown with the terror group is therefore inevitable. The only question is “when,” not “if.”
Confluences of several factors make the probability of war more likely in the intermediate term. First, thanks to Iranian, Russian and Hezbollah assistance, Assad’s grip on power is the strongest it’s been since the beginning of the civil war while rebel groups opposing Assad are divided and often battle each other. This development will enable Hezbollah to shift its emphasis and resources toward Israel.
Second, though Hezbollah has suffered substantial casualties since it began its military entanglement in Syria – at least 2,000 of its members have been killed – the group has emerged militarily stronger. It has been lavishlyequipped by Iran with modern weapons, including T-72 tanks, weaponized drones, Kornet anti-tank missiles and Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles, and thanks to the Russians, improved its electronic warfare and special operations capabilities.
Third, in 2006, Hezbollah was believed to have possessed 11,000 rockets and missile of various calibers and guidance systems. Today, Hezbollah is believed to possess between 100,000 and 150,000 missiles and rockets. To place things in proper perspective, that figure is more than the combined arsenal of all NATO countries, with the exception of the United States. Moreover, with Iran’s assistance, the terror group has managed to build subterranean factories buried 50 meters below ground. These factories are capable of producing everything from small arms to Fateh-110/M-600 surface-to-surface missiles, making Hezbollah partially self-sufficient in arms, a capability that it lacked in 2006. If Iranian claims are to be believed, the Fateh-110 has a range of 300km and carries a payload of 500kg. The missile is believed to possess an accuracy level of 100 m CEP, which means that there’s a 50/50 chance that the missile will fall within 100 meters of its intended target. Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has made clear on numerous occasions that his missiles would target a vulnerable ammoniaplant in Haifa, Israel’s nuclear research facility in Dimona and other critical civilian infrastructure in any war with Israel.
Fourth, in any future conflict with Israel, Hezbollah will be able to mobilize assistance from other Iranian proxies. Thanks to the Iran deal and concomitant cash infusion resulting therefrom, including $1.7b in ransom payments from the Obama administration, the Islamic Republic has successfully raised additional proxy Shia armies whose members include Pakistani, Afghani, Yemini, and Iraqi recruits. The largest of these militias is the Iraqi Hashd al-Shaabi, an 80,000 strong force that can easily be transported to Lebanon should Iran call upon them to fight.
Fifth, while Hezbollah never felt constrained by UNSC resolution 1701 – which prohibited the group from operating south of the Litani River and called for its disarmament – it exercised some measure of discretion when operating near the Israeli border, alternatively known as the Blue Line. Today, that is no longer the case. Hezbollah terrorists brazenly operate right up to Blue Line, taking pictures and videotaping Israeli patrols, an ominous development mimicking the situation that existed before the 2006 Second Lebanon War. The IDF has videotaped Hezbollah terrorists erecting observation posts under the guise of a fake NGO called “Green Without Borders.” Repeated Israeli complaints to the United Nations regarding Hezbollah violations of UNSC resolution 1701 and its nefarious activities along the Blue Line have predictably fallen on deaf ears. What’s more, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), a military force created by the UN tasked with enforcing UNSC resolution 1701, has become virtually useless and many Israelis actually view it as a hindrance.
Sixth, Hezbollah can no longer be viewed as merely a separate entity operating alongside the government of Lebanon. Hezbollah and by extension Iran, exercises near full control over Lebanese affairs and has fully absorbed Lebanese state institutions. The Lebanese army (LAF) has openly cooperated with Hezbollah in the latter’s efforts to suppress anti-regime forces in Syria and Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, who is almost certainly on Iran’s or Hezbollah’s payroll, has expressed open support for the terror group. As such, the LAF has been reduced to a mere auxiliary unit for Hezbollah.
Lastly, Hezbollah has transformed south Lebanon into one large armament storage facility without regard to civilian infrastructure and population centers. Hezbollah is utilizing civilian housing to store its wares often providing homeowners with pecuniary inducements in exchange for storage space. This practice of shielding is a clear violation of the laws of war.
Armed conflict between Israel and Hezbollah is inevitable and can unfold in one of two ways. Hezbollah receives its marching orders from the mullahs of the Islamic Republic. If Iran orders its proxy to attack, it will dutifully obey. Iran would almost certainly employ the Hezbollah card if it is attacked by the United States or Israel.
A war could also begin if Hezbollah miscalculates by provoking Israel with a localized attack along the border. This was the case on July 12, 2006 when a Hezbollah border provocation resulted in full scale conflagration.
In either case, Israel must not allow the initiative to rest with the enemy. As such, it must act preemptively or preventively to rob the enemy of this vital strategic asset. Hezbollah and Iran must not be allowed to dictate the war’s timing and location.
During the Second Lebanon War, Israel responded in reflexive fashion but did so in a haphazard and staggered manner. It first employed its air force but after a few days, the air force began running out of targets. Only in the final days of the 34-day battle did Israel commit itself to a more robust ground assault but by that time, the framework for a ceasefire initiative had already been agreed upon.
Many Israelis bitterly viewed the Second Lebanon War as a wasted opportunity. Though Israel inflicted severe devastation on the enemy, established deterrence and obtained real strategic benefits, it failed to inflict a knockout blow against Hezbollah despite being given one month’s time to do so.
In the next war, Israel will likely broaden the theater of operations to include Syria where Hezbollah maintains a significant presence. It will also likely commit itself to boots on the ground in a more expeditious fashion so as to deny the enemy a platform from which it can fire its rockets. More importantly, Israel will commit itself to total war from the outset in shock & awe-like fashion with the aim of breaking Hezbollah’s back. This is a realistic goal that would have wide regional backing, particularly from Sunni states like Saudi Arabia, which views Hezbollah as a malign influence. Israel would also receive considerable political support from the Trump administration, which is far more sympathetic to Israel than the previous administration.
The next Lebanon War will be brutal and devastating but will be fought with the achievable aim of breaking Hezbollah’s back and degrading its military capabilities to the point where Lebanon can once again reassert its sovereignty. Hezbollah may have dodged a bullet in 2006 but in the next war, it will not be so lucky.
A common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The “return of the Arab state” is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced.
According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism for the foreseeable future. Assad is set to restore his repressive but stable rule in Syria. In Iraq, the firm reaction by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to the Kurdish bid for independence has ended prospects of the imminent fragmentation of the country. In Lebanon, attempts by Sunni jihadis to export the Syrian war have failed, and all is quiet.
In July 2016, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (pictured in front at center)—the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—hosts Ignatius Aphrem II (left), patriarch of Antioch and All East of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Aram I, head of Lebanon’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
While Christianity traces its birthplace to the Middle East, that region has been arguably the most hostile area for the religion in recent years. A new report by the Christian charity group Open Doors has found that most of Israel’s neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, are among the world’s most dangerous places for Christians.
Kingdom says Jerusalem agreed to pay compensation over deaths of three people, in order to end diplomatic standoff
Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Israel is paying $5 million in compensation to the families of two people shot dead by an Israeli embassy guard last year, as well as a Jordanian judge killed in a 2014 incident, diplomats in Jordan told the al-Rai newspaper Saturday.
Ultra-Orthodox women and children attend a ceremony to welcome new Torah scrolls in a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Oct. 1 2014.
Reuven K., who is about 30 years old, is an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic man who lives in Betar Illit, one of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox localities. Reuven studies in a yeshiva, a Jewish school for Talmudic learning, but works half of each day as a wholesale merchant selling religious ritual supplies. His wife, Bracha, works as a bookkeeper in a governmental institution.
Palestinian boss Mahmoud Abbas recently declared that Israel is “a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness.” Moses, King David and thousands of years of Jewish history would disagree. Israel and the Jews are part of the story of human civilization. Over 50% of the human race has a holy book that tells of the Jewish journey to Israel. That includes Mohammed’s own copy of the Koran.
Israel isn’t a “colonial enterprise.” Palestine is.
Anyone who wants to find out where the name Israel comes from can open the Book of Genesis 32:29. The story even appears in Islamic hadiths. But where does “Palestine” really come from?
It may not be a shooting war. For the most part. (Though don’t tell that to some Republicans at a charity game practice who were targeted by a Bernie Sanders supporter.) But it’s a war all the same.
The war is still being fought with paper and protests. But it’s based on irreconcilable differences between parts of the country. Much like the ones that brought on the war between brothers.
This is a topic that I’ve written about quite often over this past year. Rush Limbaugh saw fit to read and promote some of those pieces. And now I’ll be giving a talk on the subject at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’ll take place from Jan 20-22. I’m scheduled to speak on the 21st, but there are plenty of other great speakers there.
The speech was loud and clear. It wasn’t just the “may your house be demolished” curse that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired at the leader of the strongest world power. It was the utterly delusional ideology, with false claims that only make the Palestinians sink deeper into a path of delusions and collapse.
The reactions were predictable: We have to understand him. He’s under a lot of pressure. He has no political horizon. The Palestinians are desperate. He didn’t really mean it.
A document drafted by members of the global Christian community convening at the 3rd International Christian Forum held in Moscow, detailed how over the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80 percent and warned that unless current trends are reversed Christianity “will vanish” from its ancient homelands in a few years’ time. Around the year 2000, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, whereas today there are only 100,000, roughly a 93 percent drop, the document notes. In Syria, the largest cities “have lost almost all of their Christian population.”
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS: “May your house be destroyed.”
This imprecation does not merely relate to someone’s present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation, and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.
The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end, I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.