Jewish communities in the West Bank are of strategic importance – opinion

Claims to the contrary were incorrect 40 years ago and today are a gross strategic error.

WILL THE settlement of Ma’aleh Adumin officially become an Israeli city? (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
WILL THE settlement of Ma’aleh Adumin officially become an Israeli city?
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Recently, left-wing experts have been expressing their contention that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley have no security importance for the State of Israel. Some senior officers and security officials concur with this claim.
The arguments they advance were incorrect forty years ago and today, are a gross strategic error. There are others who put forward the bizarre claim that the area is of importance in terms of Zionism but not in terms of security.
One of the cornerstones of Zionism is strengthening the ability of the Jewish people and of the State of Israel to guarantee their own security. I contend that albeit our ancestral right to the territories of the Land of Israel in Judea and Samaria is important, but equally important is the right to maintain a strategy that will guarantee Israel’s security from the east.
To do this, three capabilities are required: One is the ability to eradicate terrorist infrastructures in Judea and Samaria at their very inception. A second is the ability to fight terrorism when it does succeed in operating from Judea and Samaria, and to strike at it in its home base. The third ability is to stop the incursion of expeditionary and other forces from east of the Jordan. In the present discussion, I will not relate to long-range missile combat.
In the past – based on the conventional notions of warfare then – it was claimed that mounting observation points on mountain peaks in Judea and Samaria would allow early warning about enemy forces threatening to cross the Jordan and attack the coastal plain through the Palestinian territories. A later perception declared that this is insufficient and that control over the Jordan Valley is necessary to prevent that kind of threat from the east. This is because the observation posts were to identify an enemy moving toward the Jordan River from the east, the IDF forces would have to fight through Palestinian territories, towards their own defensive positions along the Jordan border and might arrive at the defense posts there too late.
Today we are in a new situation. We have learned that the whole world has begun to adopt the characteristics of guerrilla warfare. This is all the more true when dealing with entities that do lack the capacity to establish real armies.
We have learned that the establishment of a terrorist infrastructure can be done “low-profile” without the defending force recognizing that it has been established and  without assessing how effective it may be, before it is too late. (Consider the ongoing saga on the Gaza Strip border).
We also learned that once a terroristic infrastructure  is discovered, we hesitate attacking it for both diplomatic and internal political reasons. We have further learned that terrorism can paralyze the country.
In order to prevent the state from being potentially paralyzed by short range rocket fire from the east; terrorist attacks into the coastal plain; the sabotaging of Israeli forces moving toward the Jordanian border; or the transfer of military forces from the south to the north of Israel and vice versa: We must control the relevant territories.
In light of what has changed in combat perceptions and given what we have learned from our security experience, as stated, I arrive at the simple conclusion that when we plan our defense along the Jordan River against forces from the east, we cannot neglect the main enemy, which will be located west of our forces, that is, behind us, in Judea and Samaria.
This enemy is the terror that will operate in Judea and Samaria, with independent and decisive offensive capabilities against the coastal plain of the State of Israel.
I do not wish to discuss the Trump plan right now, but rather to put forward a strategic proposal in principle: In order to prevent the establishment of a terrorist infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, the IDF must have freedom of movement and be present, at any moment, at any point, throughout the entire area of Judea and Samaria.
This is possible if the IDF is permanently deployed throughout the territory. The way to help the IDF implement this is to base its presence on a Jewish civilian communities as widespread as possible in Judea and Samaria.
Therefore, I support, also in terms of strategy, the leaders of the state in extending Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
The writer is an IDF brigadier-general in the reserves and is a member of Mivtachei Yisrael.