For 72 years, the State of Israel, attacked regularly and at war frequently, has never codified a national security concept or strategy.
Much like Israel’s unwritten constitution, it has allowed for a certain amount of flexibility, but was formulated in a time when it was necessary, but arguably that necessity has long since passed.
Historically, even without a codified national security concept, Israeli leaders have still been able to broadcast to its enemies its red lines and expectations.
For example, in 1967, when Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, it was considered a casus belli. The closing of the straits was considered an act of war because it was a lifeline for Israel and its closure would directly harm Israelis. Perhaps not all Israelis, but enough that the decision-makers felt required a robust response.
Fast forward to today, and it is extremely difficult to discern an Israeli casus belli with the enemies that surround us. After every attack, small and big, we are told by Israeli leaders from across the spectrum, that our enemies should not test our patience, we will not tolerate any aggression against our citizens and we will respond forcefully to any attack against us.
Then when our enemies do exactly that, our reaction is extremely limited.
Take the recent spate of incendiary devices attached to balloons that have been launched into Israel. These attacks, sometimes dozens a day, launched by Hamas and other terrorist organizations are met with limited and predictable responses.
The terrorist organizations in the south, and Hezbollah in the north, know well the rules of this game. Threats by Israel are rarely, if ever, actualized.
Israel has a certain tolerance or threshold for violence and aggression, and as long as they remain below that the Jewish State will not retaliate in a serious or protracted manner.
However, away from doctrines and theories, this “game” ensures that hundreds of thousands of Israelis are constantly terrorized and under threat. Threat from rockets, from border incursions and from floating incendiary devices.
For these tax-paying Israeli citizens the threat threshold is excruciatingly too high. They deserve and have the right to expect that they will be defended fully by the government.
They should expect that in addition to the safe rooms, the ‘Color Red’ alarms and the Iron Dome intercept system, that Israel will also go on the offensive, punish and deter those that try to kill them on an almost daily basis.
Instead, it seems, Israel is trying to come to terms with Hamas by allowing Qatari officials to distribute suitcases of funds, by allowing for greater concessions and signing a ceasefire agreement or understanding.
According to almost any military doctrine in the history of warfare, the party that sues for peace and has terms dictated to it is the defeated one.
This is why Israel needs to create a national security doctrine which sends a clear national security concept that is broadcast to its own citizens and enemies alike.
Israeli citizens need to know that there are clear guidelines extrapolating Israel’s response in the face of attacks, any type of attacks. They need to know that attacks on them are considered attacks on the nation as a whole. Israel can not afford to privilege certain populations over others, or we expose to our enemies a soft underbelly.
Just as importantly, we need to explain to our enemies that these trickle attacks will not be tolerated and those who use this tactic will be considered at war with Israel, and the IDF should respond accordingly.
This is how wars are won.
Israel needs to impose itself on its enemies and not let it dictate the terms of war or of peace. It needs to bring its enemies to its knees, so they sue for peace and accept Israel’s terms.
This is the only way that the attacks end. This is the only way to bring peace and security to all Israeli citizens from Sderot in the south to Kiryat Shemona in the north.
This needs enunciating in a new national security concept, whose first line should read: “When Israel is attacked, it will impose itself on its enemy until it accepts defeat. Israeli victory should be our new strategy.”
The rest, as they say, is mere commentary.
Nave Dromi is an Israeli commentator and director of the Middle East Forum’s Israel Office.