Israel’s Challenges in 2011
Israel’s Challenges in 2011
by Sarah Ann Haves
Israel goes into the New Year facing a decrease in military
deterrence capability against its enemies; continued failures in reaching a
peace agreement with the Palestinians; and challenges to its legitimacy as a
nation state for the Jewish people.
Tourism is another sign that Israel is a favored nation despite the political, diplomatic, and military challenges it faces in the future.
Israel experienced the worst fire disaster in its modern
history in early December 2010, when 44 people lost their lives in the Mount
Carmel forest fire. About 1/3 of the forest burned, including four million trees
and 35,000 dunams of land. More than 75 homes were destroyed. The Israeli government
admitted to being under-staffed, under-financed, and ill-equipped to handle the
inferno that spread quickly over four days. Israel needed the help of foreign
fire and rescue teams and 18 countries played a major role in putting out the
fire. It gave hope to Israelis who were feeling increasingly isolated within
the global community.
A record number of tourists arrived in Israel in 2010, which
was a milestone year for the tourism industry. At least 4 million visitors are
expected in 2011. Tourism is
another sign that Israel is a favored nation despite the political, diplomatic,
and military challenges it faces in the future.
ISRAEL’S SOUTHERN EXPOSURE
Despite the fact that Israel now has the Iron Dome short-range
anti-missile defense system, which will soon be operational and deployable on its southern border,
Israel faces hostile terrorist armies resident in Gaza. The Hamas government is
capable of striking Israel with thousands of rockets, including the long-range
Iranian Fajr-5 which can reach Tel Aviv.
During the past two weeks, over 30 rockets and mortars have
hit Israeli southern border towns, launched by terrorists associated with the
military wing of Hamas. The
escalation has eroded Israel’s deterrence, and heightened tensions along the Gaza
periphery. Israeli military commanders have warned that the current tensions
could lead to war. Hamas continues
to reiterate its goal of destroying the Jewish State, claiming that it will
never agree to Israel’s legitimacy.
THE THREAT FROM THE NORTH
In the autumn of 2010, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
visited Lebanon looking to shore up Shiite control over the state through Iran’s
proxy, Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s military wing has been a force to contend with in
Beirut and in southern Lebanon where the Shiite terrorist group enjoys public
support. Hezbollah has been
trained by Iranian Revolutionary Guards both in Lebanon and in Iran, and
continues to receive funding from leaders in Tehran. Cooperation has,
reportedly, increased between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Hezbollah,
including intelligence gathering.
Syria has transferred caches of M600 long-range rockets to
Hezbollah, as well as surface-to-surface missiles. The M600’s have a range of
250 km., which can hit major population centers in Israel, and are capable of
carrying a half-ton warhead. Syria’s close military cooperation with Iran and
Hezbollah is of great concern to Israel in the event of a future war on its
northern border. Syria’s advanced
weapons systems threaten Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) in the
An international tribunal appointed to gather evidence in
the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri plans to hand
out indictments in 2011. These indictments are expected to implicate Hezbollah
operatives in Hariri’s murder. If Hezbollah is threatened with indictments, Arab
governments and Israel are concerned that the Shiite group will act to take
over the Lebanese government where they already have dominance. In addition,
they could stir up civil war in Lebanon, and/or attack Israel in an effort to
clearly demonstrate their power and influence in the Middle East.
OTHER HOT SPOTS
The greatest threat to Israel remains the development of Iran’s nuclear arsenal.
In the New Year, Israel will also be looking at signs of
instability in Egypt. With a decline in the health of Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak, there may be a transfer of political power to his son, Gamel, in 2011. This could result in a political
challenge by the Islamic extremist group, Moslem Brotherhood, which has strong
ties to Hamas in Gaza.
Egyptian Bedouin in the Sinai, working with terrorist
operatives in the south, will continue to attempt to smuggle weapons into Gaza through
tunnels under the Egyptian border. The Bedouins may aid terrorists in trying to
attack internationals vacationing in the Sinai and in Israel’s southern resort
town of Eilat.
Israeli government officials have expressed concern that, as
U.S. troops pull out of Iraq, the Shiites in Iran will take over the country,
thereby increasing their dominance in the region. This not only threatens
Jordan, but the eastern border between Jordan and Israel.
It’s also been reported that there are terrorist cells
beginning to operate on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, causing Israel’s
police and army to concentrate efforts at guarding hotels on the Israeli side
of the border.
Jordan’s King Abdullah has been disappointed in the lack of
progress between Israel and the Palestinians in peace negotiations, as well as the
limited action of the United States against Iran. Abdullah is, therefore,
showing more of an interest in closer ties with Iran in order to maintain
stability in his country.
The greatest threat to Israel remains the development of
Iran’s nuclear arsenal. A recent statement by one of Israel’s reserve generals
indicates that the Jewish State is preparing to take action against Iran with
or without the help of the United States and its allies; 2011 could become a
pivotal year in Israel’s fight against Iran.
Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Forces (the IDF) have been
developing a strategy for a future war in the Middle East by coordinating
operations between infantry, air force, and naval units. The strategy is for inter-operability,
with additional integration of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s). Israel will have to move fast in any
future war with its enemies to suppress missile fire that can already reach
most of the Jewish State. Israel is particularly worried about enemy missiles targeting
Israeli Air Force bases throughout the country.
THE FUTURE OF THE PEACE PROCESS
Without direct or indirect talks between Israel and the
Palestinians, the current stalemate could lead to another Palestinian uprising
in 2011. The U.S. continues to try and mediate, with a new plan to gather
information over a period of time and then introduce bridging proposals to
Israel and the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Israel is concerned that U.S. President
Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are already developing a
new American peace initiative which they might introduce in 2011. This could be based on former President
Bill Clinton’s parameters outlined in 2000, when peace attempts failed between
former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and former PLO Chief Yasser Arafat.
Israel is expected to lose international diplomatic support in 2011, while Palestinians gain legitimacy in the global arena.
The Palestinians are continuing to rally the international
community into formally recognizing a Palestinian State, and it’s expected that
in 2011 most of Latin America will officially join the ranks of those countries
that have already declared such recognition. The Palestinians are pushing the
EU to also fall in line with more than 100 countries that have reportedly supported
their declaration of statehood.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may attempt to seek
official recognition in the UN General Assembly meeting in September 2011,
ignoring Israel’s desire for direct final-status negotiations. This could
result in a future Palestinian conflict with the Jewish State, especially if
there is no agreement on borders, security, refugees, and Jerusalem.
Israeli diplomats are encouraging Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu to publicly outline Israel’s “red lines”, so that the Palestinians,
the Arab League, and the international community will clearly understand
Israel’s position in the peace process. But, Netanyahu’s government partners
are not in agreement on these issues, and therefore, he has not been able to
clearly define Israel’s parameters without threatening a coalition shake-up.
Meanwhile, a new poll indicates that only 8% of Israelis
believe that Israel will achieve peace with the Palestinians over the next five
years. A large majority of Israeli
Jews and Arabs believe that more time is needed to achieve peace; or, that it
will never be achieved.
Israel is expected to lose international diplomatic support
in 2011, while the Palestinians gain legitimacy in the global arena. This has caused an increasing number of pro-Israel groups to
coordinate their strategies in order to combat anti-Israel bias in the media
and within human rights organizations. If Israel is forced into a war by its
hostile neighbors, resulting in a great number of civilian casualties, an
increase in global anti-Semitism can be expected in 2011.
As the New Year approaches, Israel will do its best to fight
for its legitimacy on a diplomatic level while preparing for conflict on a
military level. What continues to keep the nation united is a desire to
survive, with hope towards the future for peace and tranquility in the region.
“You are my King, O God; Command victories
for Jacob. Through You we will push down our enemies; Through Your name we will
trample those who rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall
my sword save me. But, You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to
shame those who hated us. In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name
forever.” Psalm 44:4-8
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting from Israel on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues affecting the nation.
(c) 2010 Messianic Vision all rights reserved. This article is not reproducible except with permisson from Messianic Vision.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.