It seems that when Israel is not sending troops to war, it’s sending its citizens to the ballot box.
For the fifth time in three-and-a-half years, Israelis will once again be choosing who they would like to lead the country.
It’s a movie that we’ve seen before, yet another round of mudslinging and dirty political fights. But as the movie runs ahead, life goes on and Israel’s enemies, be they in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria or the West Bank, are wide awake looking for an opportunity to strike.
The decision to head to the ballot box comes at a time when the IDF and other security bodies are carrying out nightly raids against potential Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank as part of Operation Break the Wave.
Read more on the dissolution of the Knesset and the upcoming elections:
- The announcement that Knesset will be dissolved, Lapid will become prime minister
- Israeli politicians react to the news
- Biden will visit Israel despite the political turmoil
- What are Naftali Bennett’s political options after he leaves PMO?
The operation, which began in April following a spate of deadly terror attacks that claimed the lives of 20 people inside Israel, has seemingly regained control over the situation with no attacks since two Palestinians killed three Israelis in the town of Elad on the night of Independence Day.
The operation has led to confiscation of firearms as well and hundreds of Palestinians arrested, with dozens killed.
But, as the IDF cracks down in the West Bank, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the Gaza Strip have warned that any Palestinian blood spilled would lead to a response from the coastal enclave.
The residents of southern Israel were reminded just how real a threat that was on Saturday morning when incoming rocket sirens blared throughout the city of Ashkelon after a rocket was fired in the early morning hours.
It’s believed the rocket was fired by PIJ after three operatives belonging to the group were killed in a firefight with IDF troops in Jenin the day before. The IDF struck Gaza in return, but as it does not want a deterioration of the situation, the strikes were not heavy-handed. Israel announced it would suspend the increase of an extra 2,000 Gazan workers into the country in response.
Quiet year under Bennett-Lapid gov't
It’s been a relatively quiet year in the South since Operation Guardian of the Walls last May. But the warning rocket on Friday is a stark reminder of the heavy arsenal in the hands of the terror groups in the Strip that the IDF failed to destroy during the 11-day conflict.
Terror groups have fired rockets into Israel during previous elections, including when then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Ashkelon for campaign speeches in September and December of 2019.
Lone rockets rarely set off rounds of conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip, and neither side is itching for war at the moment.
Though the situation with Gaza is tense, the IDF continues to carry out its war-between-the-wars campaign against Iran and Hezbollah in the North.
In the past two months alone, Israel has carried out double-digit strikes, not only on Israel’s northern front, but according to foreign reports, also against targets in Iran and Iraq.
THE ISRAELI MILITARY knows that any strike that leads to the death of a Hezbollah operative can cause a significant deterioration on the northern front. Should the North explode, so will the South and so will the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Neither will the Arab-Israeli communities and the Bedouin in the South remain quiet, as the country witnessed last May.
The likelihood of an outbreak of war in the North, especially in the months before the election, is slim but worrisome.
Fate of next IDF chief
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi will be completing his four-year post and the war of succession has already begun with Defense Minister Benny Gantz meeting the top three contenders.
The collapse of the Bennett government “is a damn shame” Gantz said on Monday, because for one thing, the validity of the next chief of staff appointment will likely be challenged by the current opposition.
Gantz wanted to ensure that the IDF does not repeat the scenario in which Israel’s police were headed by an interim commissioner for two years while the country went through three general elections.
The IDF cannot afford an interim chief of staff given the threats surrounding the country at all times. Israel cannot have instability in both the security and political realms.