The IDF estimates that it is headed toward another violent round of clashes with the Palestinians following a period of relative calm, senior security officials said.
The dreary prognosis is based on the army's five-year plan for 2006-2011, which will be made public in July.
According to the assessment, army intelligence officials believe Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's ambitious plan to withdraw from large parts of the West Bank will not do anything to decrease the scope of daily violence in the region. Instead, the army is moving forward based on a working plan that it is nearing another round of bloody violence with the Palestinians.
"The Palestinian society has chosen a path in which there is no compromise," a senior officer said, referring to the recent victory by Hamas in legislative elections.
The officials said the assessment is based on intelligence but gave no further details. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the document has not been released.
The army traditionally has pessimistic outlooks, with working plans based on "worst case scenarios." However, in the 1990s it also spoke about "a window of opportunity" to make peace with Palestinians.
The No. 1 danger to Israel, as outlined in the five-year plan, is the Iranian nuclear program, which is defined as an "existential threat to Israel." It is followed by the threat of a renewed low-intensity conflict with the Palestinians. The third level of threat is all-out war.
In order to prepare for a conflict with the Palestinians, the army will shift its resources toward counter-terrorism units and away from traditional forms of warfare, such as the armor, artillery and engineering corps.
The army's general staff is expected to formally authorize the five-year plan in early July.