No break for security

Even if there is a coalition in the end, the rest of the region is not going to go into freeze-frame mode to make things easier for the problematic Israeli election process.

By
May 29, 2019 22:06
3 minute read.
The IDF prepares for expected escalations throughout the weekend along the Gaza border, 2019.

The IDF prepares for expected escalations throughout the weekend along the Gaza border, 2019.. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

The country will likely have a much better idea Thursday morning whether the newly elected Knesset will be dissolved and if we’re headed for another round of elections, likely in September.

If that’s indeed the case, it means that we’re in for another round of campaigning, this time in the heat of the summer, as the parties and their members scurry around the country in search of votes.

What this means practically is another long recess in the business of running the country. Among other things, the timing could mean the premature death of US President Donald Trump’s touted ‘Deal of the Century.’ Well beyond that, however, there are so many other vital issues that require the attention of our government and legislators that are going to be – once again – put on hold.

But even if there is a coalition in the end, the rest of the region is not going to go into freeze-frame mode to make things easier for the problematic Israeli election process. As evidenced by events and disclosures this week, our northern and southern borders remain volatile hot spots that require constant attention and full-time government involvement.

The southern front has been deceptively quiet since “understandings” were reached between Israel and Hamas, after the two-day mini-war that took place earlier this month before Independence Day and the Eurovision Song Contest. But don’t expect it to hold – and don’t expect the next round of conflict to be a picnic.

According to the IDF’s Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Hertzi Halevy, Hamas fired more than one anti-tank missile toward Israeli civilians during the last round of fighting.

“Any place is okay to launch rockets from Gaza’s civilian homes and school yards – wherever they have human shields. Meanwhile, Israelis need to run for shelter,” Halevy told foreign military and academic experts on the laws of war from around the world at the third international law conference in Herzliya on Tuesday.

As the Post’s Anna Ahronheim reported, Halevy said that Israel has “an enemy rich in military capabilities.”
Aside from the likelihood of a return of rocket fire this summer, Israel needs to be concerned and deal with the weekly “March of Return” protests on the border and the incendiary balloons that have caused hundreds of fires across the border close to southern communities.

Halevy said that the army’s mandate is to prevent breaches into Israel at any cost. “We know the intentions of Hamas. They say that they would like to breach the fence with thousands of people, then infiltrate with hundreds and then have small teams of five to six people – each with guns and grenades – in order to kill civilians,” he said. “We must stop these crowds from breaching the fence, because if we fail, the challenge will be much bigger five minutes later.”

As dire as the situation in the South is, the northern border cannot be ignored. On Monday night, the IDF targeted a Syrian anti-aircraft system fired at one of its fighter jets that the army said was on a routine flight in northern Israel.

The episode underscored the tenuous reality that Israel faces from the unrest in both Syria and Lebanon. Iran is intent on solidifying its presence in the region – and as a result, Israel has said that it struck more than a hundred Iranian targets in Syria over the last few years. The extra dimension of Russian observers in the area only adds to the sensitive position Israel finds itself in, where one erroneous strike could cause an international incident.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah can never be counted out. And according to various intelligence assessments, poses just as big or an even greater threat to Israel than Hamas. Many experts predict that the next IDF action will be in the North rather than the South.

Thankfully, Israel’s security is in good hands with the IDF and the country’s security apparatus, which acts 24/7 – regardless of the situation in the government or Knesset.

But direction from the top is desperately needed. No matter how the election debacle plays out, the next government – whether it’s formed next week or in the fall – needs to protect Israel’s strategic interests. We can’t afford to take our eyes off of our border: not during an election season, and not ever.


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