Adnan Abu Amer
Middle East Monitor / April 21, 2022
While the occupying state is concerned about the escalating security tensions, its security and military experts say that it has a big problem, being completely devoid of strategic depth as a small country with many apparent weaknesses. This makes it vulnerable to military harassment, especially on ideological backgrounds. Such harassment can include launching rockets or missiles and stationing on hills near the borders, and we are here talking about Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran itself, and perhaps the Houthis in Yemen.
At the same time, Israel has a big problem, where it suffers from both strategic and tactical dangers and, therefore, it is the only one that does not have a strategic backbone. This has actually been proven on the border with the Gaza Strip, which lacks any airbases, but has posed a great challenge and threat to Israel.
Israelis worry about the dangers and shortcomings that their country is suffering from, despite their alleged achievements in the 1967 war, and in targeting the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear reactors by the Israeli Air Force. The Israeli Air Force has been described as one of the best in the world, if not the best. However, it suffers from a state of stammering in some military confrontations and causes disappointment to many who believe that it should be able to provide the state with the strategic depth it is lacking.
Israeli occupation forces do not hesitate to express their inability to face the various security threats, especially at the Palestinian home front, with the increase in guerrilla attacks and the continuous protests at Al-Aqsa Mosque. This has prompted Israeli security to demand the elimination of the resistance in terms of their military and operational means. However, they ignore the real and core problems threatening Israeli national security, and preparation for the inevitably coming confrontation.
Israeli calls to deal with the Palestinian resistance using the iron fist are mainly an attempt to respond to the state of panic by the Israelis. This is expressed by the hysterical discourse on television channels, which does not focus on the roots of the resistance, or learning lessons from the extended confrontations with the Palestinians throughout a century.
Strategies followed by the right-wing and left-wing governments since the Oslo Accords have contributed to the deterioration of the Israeli security situation. As a result, the northern West Bank, specifically its capital, Jenin, has become a centre for coordinating armed operations and, thus, Jewish settlements adjacent to Jenin have become a preferred target for armed Palestinian organizations.
The Israeli army, in turn, abandoned protecting Jewish settlers in the various areas of the West Bank, which turned their lives into an unbearable hell. Israel is now living with constant threats in a multi-field war, and can no longer anticipate what might happen the next day.
Israeli military and security officials say that the recent failure in the face of Palestinian resistance attacks may encourage other forces, such as Iran, to launch missiles, or Hezbollah to attack the northern settlements, which would constitute a breach of the Israeli borders. This has been revealed by a number of army generals in recent interviews and talks. They continue to warn of the possibilities of a multi-front war that the Israeli army may face, which may call for evacuating the border lines, and leaving them to the enemy.
Internally, the Israeli occupation expresses its fear of an increase in the security threat from Palestinians of 1948 land, especially in mixed cities and Bedouin communities in the Negev/Naqab, in anticipation of an Arab and Islamic uprising. In addition, Israel invested in iron fences and manpower in land forces, tens of thousands of whom have been expelled. Perhaps scenes from the Ukrainian war show the Israeli fear of the upcoming confrontation, amid lack of appropriate preparation for it.
The security risks that the occupying power suffers from do not stop at the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Rather, there are four connected security fronts, that are all anti-occupation, which may require the occupation’s security services to start gathering intelligence information and using it to predict all possible operational activities that may require deterrence. It is a difficult challenge that is facing the occupation.
At the same time, Israeli security and intelligence forces do not discriminate between Palestinians in the various locations where they are, especially when talking about any political-security discussion, because Palestinians are spread all over the four hostile fronts Israel has been facing in recent weeks.
The first front is Palestinians of 1948 land, especially those with anti-state opinions, and the fact that they have moved from considering integration to separation, and from coexistence to radicalism. Perhaps the Beersheba/Bi’r al-Sab and Hadera/Khdeira operations, which were carried out by Palestinians from the Negev and Umm al-Fahm, mean that we are facing a failure of the idea of Israelization, and an escalation of idea of nationalism which is different from Israeli citizenship, not to mention a religious identity that differs from Judaism.
The second front is East Jerusalem, with a population of 350 thousand, who reside in a geographical area that does not have a clear sovereign identity, because Israel opposes to the Palestinian Authority’s managing the lives of Jerusalemites and, on the other hand, Israel does not treat these Palestinians, through its municipality, as citizens on an equal footing with Jews. As a result, there is a government vacuum, and a growing young generation that is angry, disaffected and unemployed and who are susceptible to Palestinian national incitement. All of this leads, from time to time, to a security escalation in Jerusalem, as we have seen in recent days near Bab al-Amud, with a growing phenomenon of mimicry and imitation of operations, especially during Ramadan.
The third front is the Palestinians in the West Bank, and this seems to be the most problematic one for Israel, at the moment, for a number of reasons which include breaches of the wall and the success of illegal workers from Jenin in carrying out operations, in parallel with the traditional incitement in the Palestinian media against Israel. Meanwhile, Israel is hoping that it is not too late and is escalating its security forces’ preventive operations within the framework of security coordination with the Palestinian Authority.
The fourth front is the southern one. At the moment, the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip seems uninterested in the security escalation but, at the same time, it is preoccupied with the reconstruction of the Strip, building its military strength, increasing its operational capabilities and creating deterrence against Israel. Nevertheless, the month of Ramadan and a series of national commemorations ongoing until mid-May, may require Israel and its security services to be more vigilant in order to restore calm to its streets and to the personal security of settlers.
Adnan Abu Amer is the head of the Political Science Department at the University of the Ummah in Gaza