Once every few months, in an exhibition or a military parade, Iran scares the world with an advanced homemade tank; however, those who monitor the photos notice that it’s always the same tank being transported by a tank carrier. Nobody has ever seen this tank drive or fire.
Not too long ago, Iran’s president announced that Tehran developed super-sophisticated centrifuges that will double and triple its ability to produce enriched uranium. The world sought the nearest bomb shelter, yet a report by the IAEA’s experts determined that assuming these centrifuges will ever work, it will happen only a few years from now.
This week it was the turn of an Iranian anti-aircraft radar deployed in Syria. From this moment on, the headlines told us, our Air Force cannot operate in the skies of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, etc.
Heaven forbid that we should belittle our enemies, yet we must take into account the fact that along with their military buildup they utilize a strategy of psychological terror. Meanwhile, we enjoy feeding our existential fears with new threats. And so, again we see the emergence of the unavoidable question: Will there be war this summer?
Given the state of the Middle East, this is not a foolish question. The defense establishment’s assessments spoke of three axes of military buildup vis-à-vis Israel that were supposed to reach maturation point this year. Under such conditions, they said, there is greater likelihood of a war being initiated by the enemy – Syria, Hezbollah, or Hamas – as early as summer. However, these three axes have not reached maturation point.
Hezbollah in Lebanon was supposed to acquire a critical mass of M-600 missiles, which could continuously threaten Central Israel over an extended period of time. However, the group did not acquire this critical mass, and this was no coincidence: Israel threatened, and the world pressed the Syrians.
‘Other war’ will continue
Meanwhile, Hamas did not complete the fortification and procurement process it planned. The same is true for Islamic Jihad. This too is no coincidence. The blockade on Gaza, especially from Egypt’s direction, got the job done. Those who belittled the blockade’s effectiveness can now start the countdown, upon the lifting of the siege. Without it, the speed of fortification and technological/military procurement in Gaza will revert to what we saw prior to Operation Cast Lead.
The third axis, the Syrian army, did not complete the leap it was planning to undertake as part of its deterrent posture vis-à-vis Israel. The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies issued a report arguing that Syria’s conventional capabilities are on the decline. We’ve been hearing reports on major weapons deals between Syria and Russia for 20 years now, the Center’s researchers say, yet Israel’s advantage had remained intact since the mid 1980s.
Indeed, in terms of intentions we have seen Iranian pressure to heat up the various fronts against Israel ahead of the imposition of sanctions on Iran, yet Center researchers doubt whether Syria and Hezbollah would automatically go to war against Israel as result of Iranian caprices.
Overall, the report says, Israel continues to maintain major advantages vis-à-vis its enemies in areas such as long-range missiles, strategic, long-range aerial capabilities, nuclear weapons, and various types of anti-missile systems.
The bottom line is as follows: Israel talks of a future existential threat from Iran’s direction, yet it is in fact Israel which has been posing an existential threat for a long time now to its enemies, and these capabilities keep rising.
None of the “security-related” headlines of recent weeks – the crisis with Turkey, the flotilla incident, the lifting of the blockade, Gilad Shalit – foretell a war in the summer. While being big and loud, they do not truly pertain to the existential threats faced by Israel. All of them have to do with the “other war,” the one eroding Israel’s global legitimacy and Israeli society’s strength. This war, which we are losing for now, will continue in full force in summer.