2014 Gaza War Facts

By Neo139 (Cropped version of en:IDF image.) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The 2014 Gaza war last seven weeks from July 8 to August 26, 2014. It was a war that Israel did not want and a war that started before Hamas was ready. Although no war is fortuitous, Israel was indeed fortunate that it started when it did. What the IDF found would have had a grave impact on Israeli citizens and soldiers if Hamas would have had a little bit more time to complete its preparations.

What Precipitated the War

On June 12, 2014, two Hamas members kidnapped three Israeli teenagers from a bus stop in Gush Etzion and then murdered them. In response to the kidnap and murder, Israel launched Operation Brother’s Keeper that was designed to capture militant leaders in the West Bank. The boys’ bodies were found on June 30 and Hamas chose that same day to launch numerous rockets of varying ranges into Israel. On July 2nd, Jewish religious extremists burned to death a Palestinian teenager in apparent retribution for the death of the three Israelis. They were arrested – demonstrating a clear distinction between a Jewish nation making clear that terror inflicted by Jews is not acceptable vs. Hamas’s support for terrorist actions.

Meanwhile Hamas escalated. [Read more…]

The IDF Defends the Sinai Border Against ISIS

Sinai-Israel border. Photo: Idobi via Wikimedia Commons.

Israeli officials estimate that there are 1,000 to 2,000 active ISIS members in the Sinai region. For years, Egypt has struggled to control the largely lawless Sinai region. But, despite increasing efforts by the Egyptian army, there is a new terror attack in the region almost every day.

According to one IDF officer tasked with defense responsibilities along the border, “ISIS is the most quickly advancing threat we’ve ever had,” and he further stated that the rate their capabilities are increasing is “far outweighs and outpaces” other terrorist organizations in the region. As a result, the IDF has been actively conducting operations to prevent ISIS terrorists from entering Israel.

One officer stated that the Egyptians are now essentially fighting a war in the Sinai. [Read more…]

Hezbollah Grows Stronger at the Border with Israel and Engages in a Propaganda War

Hezbollah Tower on the Border with Israel – Courtesy IDF spokesman

Despite suffering extensive casualties in Syria, Hezbollah is growing stronger. Soldiers that return from Syria’s frontlines now are combat veterans experienced with overrunning villages and maneuvering on the battlefield. Unchecked by a weaker Lebanese army, whose motivation to interpose itself between Hezbollah and Israel is questionable at best, Hezbollah is now reported to have set-up a commando unit called “Radwan” that is charged with launching attacks on Israeli communities and IDF positions near the border with Israel. In fact, Lebanese President, Michael Aoun said that Hezbollah “serves in practice as a force complementary to the Lebanese army.”

Meanwhile, while Hezbollah is quietly increasing its ground capabilities across the border with Israel, [Read more…]

Israel is Building a Wall, of Sorts, Along the Lebanese Border

The IDF’s Northern Command recognized two years ago that Israel’s border with Lebanon needed strengthening because Hezbollah’s capabilities are increasing and many Israeli villages and kibbutzim are close to the border are endangered as a result. Part of the IDF’s solution is to build a stronger wall, of sorts, to replace and augment the fence that was already there. The new barrier is being created by:

  • Cutting away sides of hills to create steep cliffs
  • Digging deep trenches and piling dirt along-side them to create earth berms
  • Using concrete barriers where there are no other alternatives
  • Building a nineteen-foot steel “smart” fence in critical areas with information collection centers and early warning sensors

Once completed, it will slow Hezbollah infiltrators and make their presence more visible because, as part of the construction, underbrush and other means of camouflage are being removed. While these measures will not hermetically seal Israeli population centers, they will increase the likelihood that terrorist attacks can be stopped before creating mayhem. In 1974, a few Palestinian terrorists crossed the border and killed thirty-one Israelis, including 22 school children, in Ma’alot, a few miles from the border. Now, Hezbollah has created units filled with experienced soldiers that have experience fighting in residential areas in Syria. Twenty or thirty Hezbollah fighters suddenly appearing in a village would cause a disaster. The new wall is designed to give the IDF sufficient time and notice to prevent that.

Sources

  1. http://www.timesofisrael.com/with-berms-cliffs-and-concrete-a-sun-tzu-quoting-major-works-to-keep-hezbollah-out/
  2. http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/The-next-war-will-be-bloody-A-trip-along-Israels-tense-northern-border-498169

Review of ALMA – Israel’s Security Challenges for the Northern Border

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Sarit Zehavi

IDF Lt. Col. (Ret.) Sarit Zehavi, lecturing at an abandoned Syrian HQ on the Golan

The founder and CEO of ALMA is IDF Lt. Col. (ret.) Sarit Zehavi. I first met Lt. Col. Zehavi in November of 2016, when she led a small group that I brought to Israel to learn more about the threats Israel faces along her borders. Over the course of a full day, and a wonderful dinner at her home (graciously provided when my car broke down), I learned much about the present military-political situation along the Syrian and Lebanese borders. But, perhaps more important, I learned much about Sarit’s passion, and her business initiative – ALMA.

Put simply, Lt. Col. Zehavi’s vision is to “make geopolitical knowledge about the Middle East accessible to English speakers.” To do so, she offers:

  • Personalized tours that will bring you at times within a stone’s throw of volatile borders adjacent to Lebanon and Syria, to strategic overlooks, and various locations of strategic or historical interest – all with an in-depth presentation that relays who occupies what ground with what motivations.
  • Lectures on a variety of relevant topics at a variety of locations, including the United States.
  • Workshops, directed primarily at students, that are designed to make them think through the problems in the region.
  • Many articles written as a guest editorialist that have appeared in publications such as the Jerusalem Post
  • An active twitter account which provides links to many items of interest.

Not only have I benefited from spending a day with Lt. Col. Zehavi on tour, I was also privileged to listen to a fascinating talk she gave regarding Lebanon to AIPAC’s 2017 policy conference. Judging from the attentive and appreciative re-action of the audience, my sentiments were shared by all of them as well.

In short, I highly recommend that any person that is visiting Israel or that needs a speaker or workshop leader, engage with her if you want to learn more about security concerns along the Lebanese and Syrian borders, or on any of the other topics that she is knowledgeable in. Short of that, I strongly suggest that you sign up for her twitter feed and visit the ALMA website. And, I plan on following my own recommendations. This October, I will be returning to Israel to learn more about Israeli border security issues as part of the research I am doing for my forthcoming book on the subject. This time, I will be spending two full days with Lt. Col. Zehavi.

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