Israel doesn't need another operation, it needs better intelligence

Analysis: Israel's current situation in which it faces an increase in the scale and number of terror attacks requires the government and military to be better prepared for the future rather than lash out with an extensive operation

Yossi Yehoshua|
The horrible terror attack which took place on Tuesday in the Eli settlement shouldn’t surprise Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
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Some time has passed since the IDF presented its assessment that two areas are particularly volatile in Israel in 2023: the northern front due to Iran and Hezbollah, and the West Bank due to Palestinian terrorism.
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תיעוד מהפיגוע בתחנת הדלק בעלי
תיעוד מהפיגוע בתחנת הדלק בעלי
Footage of the terror attack in the Eli settlement
While the Iranian issue was extensively discussed, Tuesday's attack requires a focus on the West Bank to shed light on the complexities in the area. The attack in Eli was the most severe one since the beginning of the year in the areas around the West Bank.
From January 2023, the number of casualties in terrorist attacks stands at 28 Israelis, compared to 20 in the same period last year. The number of terror alerts is also higher compared to last year, though not as high as they were during the second Intifada.
However, it’s clear that terrorists in the region operate with increased confidence and noticeable audacity.
This was evident in the operation against IDF forces in Jenin (where six Palestinian militants were killed) and in Hamas' response to the attack on Eli, which was preplanned and organized, spontaneously carried out by a few individuals a la Palestinian terrorist group Lion’s Den.
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זירת הפיגוע בתחנת הדלק בעלי
זירת הפיגוע בתחנת הדלק בעלי
Scene of the terror attack in Eli
(Photo: TPS)
These developments require Israel to reassess its policy specifically towards Hamas in Gaza. Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif fuel the terror in the West Bank while enjoying calm in Gaza and a series of unprecedented Israeli concessions.
While it’s in Israel's interest to improve the economic situation in the Gaza Strip, employ more workers, and create an internal pressure mechanism to deter Hamas from initiating another round of fighting.
Meanwhile, however, the terror organization is preoccupied with encouraging attacks in Palestinian territories while enjoying the peace, and expecting an Israeli action that will weaken the Palestinian Authority.
This assessment was presented to senior Israeli officials, but the military, Shin Bet, and security forces are also responsible to carry out operations in Gaza.
The second issue that arises, mainly in the media and among some right-wing ministers, is an extensive operation in the northern West Bank. It must be said that even the IDF’s Central Command, believes such an operation should be limited and short-term one in a specific and defined area.
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הרכב הגנוב שהמחבלים השתמשו בו נמצא בשטחים לאחר שברחו מהזירה
הרכב הגנוב שהמחבלים השתמשו בו נמצא בשטחים לאחר שברחו מהזירה
Stolen vehicle used by terrorists to escape the scene
If people are counting on another Defensive Shield operation, they should forget about it. Likewise, the IDF and Shin Bet are convinced that the terrorists are located in the refugee camps in Nablus and Jenin, while three million other Palestinians aren’t interested in war but in improving their social and economic situation.
Due to these reasons, at this stage, security officials are in agreement with Netanyahu and Gallant, who aren’t interested in an operation. In addition, there’s also American pressure to avoid a similar escalation, as the struggle against Iran’s nuclear agreement is also gaining speed.
Therefore, the main effort is currently focused on trying to find an intermediate solution that’ll allow the government to cool down the volatile situation. Such a solution may not be enough, however, seeing the volatility and aggression of the political-right activists.
After the targeted killing on Wednesday, of a terror squad that launched a shooting attack on the Jalame border crossing and was responsible for other attacks, what can we expect from now on? There won't be an operation. Forces will be bolstered and more arrests will take place. For that to happen, better intelligence is needed, starting today, which could have prevented the attack and the explosion which entangled IDF forces in Jenin.
Finally, everything comes back to what the military keeps saying over and over again: the political leadership can’t a blind eye to the disintegration of the Palestinian Authority, which is weaker than ever before. The bad news is that the end of Mansour Abbas’ reign is approaching, and Israel must prepare for it.
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