Israel's Security Doctrine and the Trap of "Limited Conflict"

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Col. (Res.) Yehuda Wegman - The many classic examples of low-intensity conflict - in Indo-China, Malaya, Algeria, Cuba, and Northern Ireland - are irrelevant to the case of Israel. Not a single citizen in Britain, France, or the United States had his daily routine in his native country disrupted as a result of the low-intensity combat conducted by his country's army on a foreign battlefield. The guerilla and terror actions in Vietnam, Algeria, Ireland, Rhodesia, and other places were not directed against the very existence of the rival nation and its army. Something about the Western response to a strike on its population centers can be learned from the American reaction to 9/11, with its military operation directed at the heart of Afghanistan as the sender of terror. In this case, the doctrine of limited conflict was cast aside, as the "strong" side under attack undertook to summarily obliterate the "weak" attacker in accordance with the laws of war. In the mid-1950s, Israel was also subjected to a terrorist onslaught. The IDF's reaction was dictated by a security doctrine that led to the 1956 Sinai Campaign, a war intended to defeat the terrorist entity that had emerged in the Gaza Strip under Egyptian auspices. When it became clear to Israel's leadership that acts of retaliation were unable to halt the terror, they reached the inevitable conclusion that the only solution was a rapid military victory by conquering the territory and eliminating the instigators of the terror and their hosts. Suicide terrorists, though presented as ultimately insurmountable weapons, are really products of a system whose leaders value their lives, property, and reputation. Accordingly, it is the heads of the terrorist organizations who should be the main targets of attack, and not only the end products, the suicide terrorists. The halt in attacks by Hamas from September 2003 to January 2004 was the direct result of the threat to the lives of the group's leadership after an unceasing series of air attacks. This proved once again the validity of Israel's traditional security doctrine, that requires those in charge to apply force - the IDF - to provide defense together with achieving a decision as rapidly as possible against any type of war that may be waged against the State of Israel. Col. (Res.) Yehuda Wegmen served for over a decade as a senior instructor of fighting doctrine at the IDF Command and General Staff College.

2004-02-26 00:00:00

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