A debate is raging within the IDF regarding the so-called inflection point when
it will need to begin establishing new formations and procuring new platforms to
counter a future threat from Egypt.
The current assessment within the IDF
is that Egypt will, for the coming years, retain the peace treaty with Israel
due to its need for continued financial and military assistance from the United
IDF forms new brigade on southern border
IDF fears border attacks after Egypt elections
Nevertheless, there is concern within the military over two
different scenarios involving the deployment of Egyptian military forces into
the Sinai Peninsula, which is supposed to be demilitarized under the 1979 peace
The first scenario involves an Egyptian decision to deploy troops
there for training. The second scenario sees the movement of an Egyptian
division into the peninsula, on the sidelines of a future Israeli war with
Hezbollah or Syria, as a demonstration of unity with the Arab
“In both cases, Israel will be in a quandary regarding what to
do,” a senior defense official explained recently. “On the one hand, no
Israeli prime minister will go to war with Egypt over such violations but on the
other hand, if we don’t respond then we are turning a blind eye to the
As a result, the IDF Planning Directorate has recommended
that a Muslim Brotherhood victory in the ongoing Egyptian elections serve as the
cutoff line for when the military should begin establishing long-lead items –
such as new divisions and combat squadrons.
“These are formations that
take a number of years to create, and that is why we will need to begin working
on them sooner rather than later,” a senior IDF officer
Shortly after taking up his post in February, Chief of Staff
Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz decided to take a cautious approach visa- vis Egypt and not recommend the implementation of
an immediate procurement plan aimed at establishing new units.
done with the understanding that even if the Muslim Brotherhood takes over in
upcoming elections, it will still take some time before Egypt threatens Israel
again as it did in the days leading up to the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
that reason, the past year has been devoted mostly to learning about Egypt,
dusting off old maps and preparing conceptually for the future.
however, with a Muslim Brotherhood victory appearing to be quite clear, one
possibility under growing consideration is to reestablish units that the IDF
dismantled seven years ago.
The main obstacle to all of these plans is
the shortage of funds.
While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has
apparently decided not to cut the defense budget for the coming year, the
decision to establish new formations would require a major financial investment,
which the country does not appear to be prepared to make.
The IDF’s NIS
42 billion budget – under which the IDF formulated its new multi-year plan
called Halamish – does not include preparations for a confrontation with Egypt,
which would require the country to invest billions of additional shekels.