Unstable Neighborhood: Terrorist Groups Encircle Israel
Translations of this item:
Smaller Gazan terror groups have taken to "sub-contracting jobs" to terrorists in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula, to avoid exposing Hamas in Gaza to Israeli retaliation. Hamas and Islamic Jihad use the she same "trick". It also allows them to build up their own rocket arsenals to prepare for a future clash with Israel.
A breakdown in state sovereignty among Arab countries bordering Israel has created a vacuum eagerly filled by radical non-state actors.
In lawless areas around Israel, both Sunni and Shi'ite terrorist organizations are reaching out across borders and moving personnel and weapons. This means that an eruption of violence in one area carries the potential to ignite other arenas around Israel.
To Israel's south and west, Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist networks are growing. They operate in both the Gaza Strip and in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, and maintain a relationship with Gaza's rulers – Hamas – as well as with Islamic Jihad.
Smaller Gazan terror groups, such as the Popular Resistance Committees (which are heavily involved in firing rockets at Israel) have taken to "sub-contracting jobs" to terrorists in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula, to avoid exposing Hamas in Gaza to Israeli retaliation.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad use the same "trick" when they wish to attempt low signature terror attacks. It also allows them to build up their own rocket arsenals to prepare for a future clash with Israel.
The transnational terror networks in Gaza and Sinai will likely soon link up with extremist jihadi groups in Syria and Lebanon, meaning that pro-Al-Qaeda elements can be expected to pose a tactical threat to four of Israel's borders: Egypt, Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon.
To Israel's north, Shi'ite Hezbollah has sent large numbers of fighters to Syria: at the moment, in addition to its traditional bases in southern Lebanon, the Iranian-backed terror organization, armed with some 100,000 rockets and missiles, can use Syria as a staging ground for future attacks on Israel. In the same vein, terror networks link the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.
Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad are actively trying to construct terror cells in the West Bank and east Jerusalem; so far, these efforts have been successfully stopped by Israel's domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet .
Even if efforts by Gazan terrorists to orchestrate attacks in the West Bank fail, however, a future flare-up in Gaza will likely lead to a rise in spontaneous violent disturbances in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, as already occurred during a 2012 conflict in Gaza between Hamas and Israel.
Egypt's ongoing lack of stability has made it difficult for Cairo to exercise control over the Sinai Peninsula, despite the best efforts of the Egyptian military to combat the threat. Under the leadership of its military chief, Field Marshal Mohamed Fattah Al-Sisi, Egypt, like Israel, views the Gaza Strip as a national security threat, due to the movement of hundreds of Salafi jihadi terrorists and weapons between Gaza and Sinai through underground tunnels. It is these terrorists who are now frequently attacking Egyptian security forces there.
Meanwhile, to Israel's north, Syria has, to all intents and purposes, imploded, with the Assad regime controlling, according to some estimates, no more than 40% percent of the country. Syria has also become the world's top recruitment area for Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups; some 30,000 jihadi fighters are thought now to be active there.
The IDF's Rimon special-forces unit conducts a training exercise in the Golan, near the Syrian border, on Feb. 2. (Image source: IDF)
Lebanon, which has hinged its existence as a state on a delicate sectarian balance, is reeling from the war exploding in next door Syria -- a conflict that has seen over a million Syrian refugees, as well as radical Sunni groups, move into Lebanon.
It is this uncertain reality for which the IDF is preparing. These initiatives include enhanced intelligence, strengthened border security, improved surveillance capabilities, and swift responses to any sudden eruption of conflict on multiple fronts.
The dramatic changes in the region have prompted the Israel Defense Forces to put a special focus on its intelligence and precision-fire capabilities.
Hi-tech intelligence-gathering techniques give Israel a superior chance of receiving a prior warning before threats materialize, while precision-guided weapons, which can be deployed by the air force or from ground-based platforms, enable the IDF to strike targets both near and far at a moment's notice.
Israel is prepared, even if it hopes that these preparations will not be necessary.
Comment on this item
by Richard Kemp
Would General Allen -- or any other general today -- recommend contracting out his country's defenses if it were his country at stake? Of course not.
The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.
There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.
Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.
If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.
by Louis René Beres
The Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], forerunner of today's Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came into the unintended control of the West Bank and Gaza. What therefore was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
Why does no one expect the Palestinians to cease all deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being considered for admission to statehood?
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States endorsed a "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the right of Jews to settle anywhere they chose between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the core American legacy of support for a Jewish State that President Obama now somehow fails to recall.
A sovereign state of Palestine, as identified by the Arabs -- a Muslim land occupied by "Palestinian" Arabs -- has never existed; not before 1948, and not before 1967. From the start, it was, and continues to be, the Arab states -- not Israel -- that became the core impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
by Timon Dias
It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.
A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents "anti-Europe."
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Soeren Kern
Austria has emerged as a major base for radical Islam and as a central hub for European jihadists to fight in Syria.
The proposed revisions would, among other changes, regulate the training and hiring of Muslim clerics, prohibit the foreign funding of mosques, and establish an official German-language version of the Koran to prevent its "misinterpretation" by Islamic extremists.
Muslims would be prohibited from citing Islamic sharia law as legal justification for ignoring or disobeying Austrian civil laws.
Leaders of Austria's Muslim community counter that the contemplated new law amounts to "institutionalized Islamophobia."
Official statistics show that nearly 60% of the inhabitants of Vienna are immigrants or foreigners. The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible.