IMRA Weekly Commentary..
21 January '16..
Israel faces challenges on many fronts.
And there's a stark difference between Israel's performance in the north as compared to the handling of the Gaza Strip and general Palestinian challenge.
First a word of praise about the north:
Israel is thinking.
The topography of the border with Lebanon has been dramatically altered to make cross border operations considerably more difficult.
Resources have been devoted to both develop and practice massive coordinated responses if we find ourselves in a slugfest with Hizbullah.
And most important, for the time being we have succeeded in reaching an understanding with Russia about Israeli operations despite the presence of Russia's top S-400 defense system.
Yes, the Russians have every interest in the world - both commercial and military - not to have Israel demonstrate that there are ways to operate in the theatre despite the S-400's. But by the same token, Israel has every interest in the world to save this vital "bag of tricks" for a more critical operation rather than reveal to Russia now what holes there are in the S-400 so that Russia can upgrade it.
The Gaza Strip, unfortunately, appears to be a completely different story.
Let's be clear: Hamas isn't deterred. It's patient.
Under "quiet for quiet" they can prepare for the next round against Israel without any interference. And with the end of economic sanctions, Iran is expected to significantly increase its support.
A the end of last summer I asked Minister of Defense Yaalon if Israel has set any red lines regarding the Hamas arms build up. Red lines that if crossed would bring an Israeli response despite "quiet for quiet". I was frankly stunned when the answer was a flat "no".
And I have no reason to believe that the situation has changed since then.
It is with a heavy heart that I write that I suspect that the only decisive operations playbooks that are now prepared by the IDF for the Gaza Strip are studies designed to come up with such huge cost estimates, both in casualties and expenses, that the price tag was certain to insure that no Cabinet would dare approve implementation.
As for the West Bank, it would appear that we continue in what has become a perpetual "kick the can down the road" mode.
I appreciate that there's always a good reason to kick the can down the road.
The vote on the Iran deal. The defense package, U.S. elections. Etc..
But for all the pressure we face today if we actually do something to change the situation in the West Bank, there is every reason to believe that the situation will be considerably more difficult to address in the future.
A reminder: anyone who tells you he is certain who will be in power in Egypt, Jordan or for that matter the PA, in 24 months is either reckless or in possession of a time machine.
This isn't the window to kick the can - it's the window to act.
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
Since 1992 providing news and analysis on the Middle East with a focus on Arab-Israeli relations
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