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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Will there be a war this summer?

Haaretz's Zev Schiff - probably the most-respected military analyst in the country - thinks there won't be a war this summer. And yet, one of his arguments for there not being a war makes it sound like it would be in Israel's best interests to have a war now rather than later:
Hezbollah will not embark on an all-out war if Iran is against it. If it could, Hezbollah would renew its war of attrition, but the organization's freedom of action in Lebanon is limited. Unusual circumstances would be needed for Hezbollah to go to war again today. Another problem is Hamas; Hamas could ignite a war in the Gaza Strip. This organization's military arm is frustrated by the Palestinians' successes. The more serious leaders of Hamas know that a war this summer would be too early to serve their purposes.

In a year from now, the Gaza Strip will pose a greater threat to Israel, especially if the government doesn't come up with better solutions to the conflict. What is happening today to Sderot could happen someday to Ashkelon. It is a mistake to think the IDF has any desire to reoccupy the Gaza Strip today. There is no need to "save" the government from extremist generals. There are greater extremists among the politicians.
With all due respect to Schiff, I see Hamas continuing Kassam attacks on Israel and Israel having no choice but to retaliate. And I see Hezbullah and Iran not being able to withstand the temptation of opening a second front against an IDF taking commands from a weak government. Whether Syria gets involved is another issue. As Schiff himself admits:
A cautious conclusion is that none of the parties today are interested in an all-out war. But war could erupt by mistake. For example, if the other side's intentions are incorrectly assessed, or if a local military campaign veers out of control and sparks a major showdown. For safety's sake, Israel needs to step up its vigilance in the sphere of intelligence, as well as to reinforce IDF troops on the Golan Heights and hone the army's quick-response capabilities.


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