EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israel’s decisions a) to contain Hamas’s continuous provocations rather than use them as a casus belli and b) to refrain from an immediate military response to the discovery of Hezbollah tunnels into Israeli sovereign territory in the northern Galilee highlight the issue of deterrence as a core factor affecting the Israeli image in the region. Assuming the current Israeli modus operandi is the product of rational and thoughtful staff work, it can be inferred that deterrence is no longer either a decisive factor or even a strategic goal in the asymmetric conflicts with Hamas and Hezbollah.
The recent round of hostilities between Hamas and Israel (November 2018) highlighted the question of whether or not deterrence remains a core factor affecting Israeli security along the border with the Gaza Strip.
Prevailing opinion among military commentators and the Israeli public alike suggests that Israel now has an image of eroding deterrence, perhaps even loss of deterrence. The fact that Israel couldn’t stick to its commitment to provide full security to its citizens in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip and beyond, while Hamas was able to maintain a large arsenal of long-range rockets and launch almost 500 projectiles towards Israel within less than 48 hours, enabled the Islamist terror group to claim a victory.
BBC News website reporting on Operation Northern Shield has to date been confined to the one article published on the day the operation began, December 4th.
Under the sub-heading “What do we know about the operation?” the last version of that report told BBC audiences that:
“Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said the activity was focusing on the border town of Metulla, with the area declared a closed zone.
He said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were concentrating on a tunnel which began in a Lebanese civilian home, was at least 200m (650ft) long, and ran 40m inside Israel.
The IDF announced the start of the operation, dubbed Northern Shield, on Twitter, with video footage showing heavy machinery boring in unidentified locations.”
As noted here previously, that report failed to inform BBC audiences of the important fact that the tunnels dug by the terror group Hizballah…
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The absolute venomous loathing displayed once more by the United Nations General Assembly, a representative majority of the world’s nations, has again come to the fore in their voting not to sanction the offensive actions launching rockets into Israel by Hamas in the recent violence. The resolution went further than simply Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, including its digging of terror tunnels, and launching of incendiary balloons at Israeli communities destroying thousands of acres of farmlands, forest and protected wilderness preserves in the Gaza envelope. The ninety of nations choosing to stand in disgrace was the result of fifty-seven countries voted against the resolution, and thirty-three countries abstained. This would be the final vote with the United States represented by Nikki Haley who stated emphatically before the vote in a final plea for the General Assembly to do as it had never done before, level charges against those who terrorists…
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After Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai about reports of Google’s bias against conservatives during Pichai’s hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, Pichai denied any bias, dodged questions, and claimed human employees were unable to manipulate algorithms.
“Google has revolutionized the world, though not entirely in the way I expected. Americans deserve the facts objectively reported,” declared Rep. Smith. “The muting of conservative voices by platforms has intensified, especially during the presidency of Donald Trump. More than 90 percent of all Internet searches take place on Google or its subsidiary YouTube, and they are curating what we see.”
“Google has long faced criticism for manipulating search results to censor conservatives. Conservative individuals and organizations have had their pro-Trump content tagged as ‘hate speech,’ or had their content reduced in search results. An enforcement of immigration laws has been tagged as hate speech as well. Such actions pose a grave threat to our democratic forum of government,” he continued. “PJ Media found that 96 percent of search results for Trump were from liberal media outlets. In fact, not a single right-leaning site appeared on the first page of search results. This doesn’t happen by accident, but is baked into the algorithms. Those who write the algorithms get the results they must want, and apparently, management allows it. Dr. Robert Epstein, a Harvard-trained psycologist authored a study recently that showed Google’s bias likely swung 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Google could well elect the next president with dire implications for our democracy. This should be a real concern to all but the most politically partisan. Those at the top set the tone. It will require a Herculean effort by the Chief Executive and senior management to change the political bias now programmed into the company’s culture.”…
Pichai said, “It is not possible for an individual employee or groups of employees to manipulate our search results. We have a robust framework, including many steps in the process.” Smith disagreed, saying: “I disagree, I think humans can manipulate the process. It is a human process at its base.”…
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: If and when the Palestinian Authority (PA) collapses, Jordan will bear the greatest brunt of the resulting humanitarian crisis. Such a collapse could be triggered by several factors, but will almost certainly lead to a mass exodus of Palestinians from Areas A and B. While Israel will probably opt for a minimalist containment approach, the government in Amman will have to choose: it can either come to the aid of the Palestinians in the territories, or it can allow them to enter Jordan for help. Israel and Jordan are both likely to favor the first option, which may then facilitate a solution to the problem of governance in the territories.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is on life support, due largely to decades of political intransigence and systemic corruption. Israel (which, it must be remembered, founded the PA) is the doctor in the room, wondering if and when it should pull the plug. The US administration is gradually choking off aid in an effort to incentivize Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table, which he left a decade ago. In a display of obliviousness to his own predicament, Abbas has countered by purportedly demanding the replacement of America’s chief envoy in the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, before talks can begin.
But there is a sense that the whole world, including the Palestinians in Areas A and B, are now awaiting the PA’s demise. Many believe the moment will come soon after Abbas’s death. However, with the possible exception of Israeli internal intelligence assessments, no one seems to have worked out likely scenarios of what would follow the collapse.