Ron Ben-Yishai
Ron Ben-Yishai
Rescue workers at the scene of a Gaza rocket strike in Holon on Tuesday night

Israel's diminished deterrence and political turmoil are recipe for disaster

Analysis: The riots in Jerusalem and the Arab sector, coupled with Israel's leaders being caught completely off guard by Hamas' missile capabilities, risk giving Iran and Hezbollah ideas far deadlier than what has been witnessed so far

Ron Ben-Yishai |
Published: 05.12.21, 14:06
Hamas has been "surprising" Israel again and again since Monday evening, which should worry everyone. The massive salvos of rocket at Tel Aviv on Tuesday night and early Wednesday are a direct continuation of the terror group's rocket strikes on the Jerusalem area on Monday.
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  • These attacks show that Israel's deterrence against Gaza has become virtually nonexistent, an issue that demands immediate attention and that could give Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah ideas.
    These ideas would be far more deadly than anything Israel has witnessed so far from Hamas.
    7 צפייה בגלריה
    An Israeli firefighter works at the site where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, hit the central Israeli town of Holon, near Tel Aviv
    An Israeli firefighter works at the site where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, hit the central Israeli town of Holon, near Tel Aviv
    Rescue workers at the scene of a Gaza rocket strike in Holon on Tuesday night
    (Photo: AP)
    The rocket fire on the center of the country made it clear that Israel had underestimated Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad's capabilities, which they have been building since the end of the 2014 Gaza War.
    The IDF, the politicians and even the media have a tendency to play down the terror groups' abilities to launch heavy ordnances at long range. And all three were caught off guard Tuesday.
    7 צפייה בגלריה
    Israelis take cover under a bridge at the entrance to Tel Aviv during a rocket attack from Gaza, May 11, 2021
    Israelis take cover under a bridge at the entrance to Tel Aviv during a rocket attack from Gaza, May 11, 2021
    Israelis take cover under a bridge at the entrance to Tel Aviv during a rocket attack from Gaza, May 11, 2021
    (Photo: AFP)
    Even more worrying was the precision of the rockets. When these types of missiles were launched in the past, sometimes reaching as far as Hadera, they were vastly inaccurate - with most either landing in the sea or exploding mid-air.
    The rockets fired Tuesday were not only heavily armed, but accurate to a degree Israel had never imagined.
    7 צפייה בגלריה
    Iron Dome intercepts rockets launched from Gaza over Ashkelon, May 12, 2021
    Iron Dome intercepts rockets launched from Gaza over Ashkelon, May 12, 2021
    Iron Dome intercepts rockets launched from Gaza over Ashkelon, May 12, 2021
    (Photo: Reuters)
    There may be some within the military and intelligence community who will claim that the IDF was fully aware of these capabilities. Even if they are right, it is far from the image presented to Israeli citizens in recent years.
    The decision-makers assessed that Gaza militants were still at a rather primitive stage of rocket development, opting instead to focus on other armaments such as drones.
    Those assessments were shown to be entirely erroneous on Tuesday night, and the public should have been prepared, at least mentally, for the reality. Even though casualties from the attacks have been "relatively" low, Hamas and Islamic Jihad scored a serious victory in the game of psychological warfare against Israel.

    Useless Hamas bribes

    Another concept held tightly by the IDF and the politicians that has been shattered in recent days was that as the economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza improved, Hamas would be more willing to reach a long-term settlement with Israel.
    The logic behind this was the notion that Hamas was worried it might lose control over Gaza if the wellbeing of its citizens continued to deteriorate.
    Using this logic, Israel allowed Qatari money to flow into the enclave, ignoring any provocation on part of Hamas and even starting to believe fantastical stories of lightning setting off rockets fired at the south.
    7 צפייה בגלריה
    שיגור ירי רקטות טילים מ עזה לישראל
    שיגור ירי רקטות טילים מ עזה לישראל
    Rocket fire from Gaza at Israel on Tuesday night
    (Photo: AFP )
    As clashes between Palestinians and police in Jerusalem during Ramadan began to be more and more ferocious, Israel did all it could to get the Qatari money and the benefits flowing into Gaza.
    But Hamas had already set its sights on the fighting in Jerusalem.
    Israel's leaders refused to accept that their concept was falling apart until rockets flew at Tel Aviv, making it abundantly clear that the wellbeing of Gaza does not deter the political and jihadist ambitions of Hamas and their allies.
    One can only hope that Israel will now adopt a more practical and strategic plan for the Palestinian issue in general and Gaza in particular.

    Everyone is guilty but themselves

    Another surprise that caught Israel unawares was the rioting in the Arab sector.
    These protests were not manned by a few dozen hotheads, but by a violent and criminal mass, while those in power – the same ones that did nothing to put out the fires at al-Aqsa – again did not so much as wave a finger.
    7 צפייה בגלריה
    Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, May 10, 2021
    Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, May 10, 2021
    Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, May 10, 2021
    (Photo: AP)
    Another lesson our leaders learned is that the violence in Israel's Arab communities does not stay in the Arab communities, but spreads to other areas as well.
    Arab troublemakers as usual blame police, the settlers and the far right, but never themselves.
    The police are also guilty of a series of missteps in the recent violence and their forces are spread thin because of it, leaving them unable to deploy in full force at the scene of the riots.
    Far-right Jews did not hesitate to provoke in Jerusalem, but they are not the main culprits in the events in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and throughout the Arab sector.
    There was a direct initiative by Israeli Arabs to light the flames and then later feel no shame in declaring themselves the victims.
    The events of late Tuesday in Lod and Ramle, where Israeli Arabs fired at police, as well as the security forces' decision to break into the Temple Mount, show that the violence and hot tempers could drag this country into an all-out race war.
    The state might need to take drastic actions like getting the military involved to calm the flames. Clashes between rioters and police will never end well and only cause further anger.
    Finally, we must ask ourselves: what is the common thread for all these uncomfortable surprises we have witnessed over the past few days?
    7 צפייה בגלריה
    Israeli forces run during clashes with Israeli Arabs in the Israeli mixed city of Lod, Israel
    Israeli forces run during clashes with Israeli Arabs in the Israeli mixed city of Lod, Israel
    Israeli forces during clashes with Israeli Arabs in the mixed city of Lod
    (Photo: AP)
    The answer is twofold: Continually growing religious animosity between Muslims and Jews and Israel's lack of proper governance.
    The country's leaders for over more than two years solely focused on themselves and their power, neglecting the Palestinian issue and the growing rise of violence in the Arab sector.
    7 צפייה בגלריה
    Police Chief Kobi Shabtai, rioters in Lod
    Police Chief Kobi Shabtai, rioters in Lod
    Police Chief Kobi Shabtai, rioters in Lod
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky, AFP)
    For two years, our government was unwilling to tackle these problems and now everything is blowing up in their faces.
    Israel needs proper leadership, with police and the army doing everything in their power to reestablish their deterrence in the face of multiple threats.
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