How must Israel prepare for what appear to be inevitable wars on one or both of its northern and southern fronts? The Institute for National Security Studies, based in Tel Aviv, has laid out a plan.
Former IDF Intelligence Director Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, who heads the Institute, writes that on both fronts, "Hezbollah and Hamas [have] institutionalized and taken on characteristics of states… [They] have not given up on the intent to destroy Israel, and both organizations regard military conflict as a central path to achieve this goal. Stopping them requires strong deterrence and damage to their respective military buildups."
Yadlin mentions the "buildup issue" of Hezbollah's arms and rocket arsenals in passing, noting that Israel is addressing it "carefully," including by "focusing on preventing quality arms supplies to Hezbollah."
He notes that the northern front is more stable than the south, because "despite limitations, Israel and Hezbollah can anticipate the other side’s moves and halt deterioration toward fighting with relative ease." On the Hamas front, however, "there is constant friction, including restrictions on entering and exiting, a naval blockade, tunnel digging into Israel, and tension surrounding the humanitarian need to rebuild civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. In addition, the southern front is extremely complex due to its many players," some of which occasionally fire at Israel, "more to defy Hamas than to harm Israel."
Before full-scale military hostilities resume on either of the fronts, Israel’s political leadership and the IDF must study and clarify critical strategic and tactical issues, Yadlin recommends, including the following:
* What strategic purpose does Israel seek to achieve? Does achieving this goal include attacks on the enemy’s national infrastructure? How can the operation be shortened, and how?
* How will the political campaign be conducted at the international and regional level? Will international and regional actors intervene with threats, sanctions, or even military involvement?
* What is the correct timing for the operation? What is the quality and level of Israel's intelligence about the capabilities and intentions of the enemy? Should Israel prepare for occupation or a temporary presence?
* How should the Israeli civilian arena be prepared for the campaign? What are the risks that a second front could be opened simultaneously, and how can Israel prepare for this?
"If Israel is fated to be dragged into another confrontation in the north or the south," Maj,-Gen. Yadlin concludes, "it must prepare wisely and diligently - in contrast to the last rounds of fighting in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip."