The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas is finally getting a dose of its own medicine — in the form of a suicide bombing targeting its members in the Gaza Strip.
During the past two decades, Hamas was responsible for dozens of suicide attacks that maimed and killed hundreds of Israelis, particularly during the Second Intifada between 2000 and 2006. Hamas is famous for its suicide attacks and hails the perpetrators as “heroes” and “martyrs.”
For Hamas, suicide bombings are a noble deed when they are carried out by its members and the victims are Jews.
In their own words, Hamas leaders and spokesmen continue to defend their suicide attacks against Israel as a “legitimate tool of resistance” against Israel.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Creating deterrence was Israel’s goal in the last three conflicts it fought against Hamas, but that objective has been cast aside. Any future armed clash with Gaza’s Islamist rulers will be guided by a new Israeli objective: that of achieving a crystal clear victory over the enemy.
In past models of conflict, Israel responded to Hamas aggression through the use of force in a way that was designed to punish Hamas and convince it to return to a state of calm. Systematically destroying Hamas’s military capabilities was not an Israeli objective.
Today, while Israel hopes to avoid war, it is preparing for the possibility of a new conflict. War could erupt again in Gaza for a wide range of reasons.
Should hostilities resume, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) plans to make sure the end stage of that clash will be an unmistakable Israeli victory, and that no one will be able to mistake it for a tie or stalemate.
This change in approach has been brewing over the past three years, ever since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014. That operation was launched by Israel to defend itself against large-scale projectile attacks and cross-border tunnel threats from Gaza. At two months’ duration, it was one of Israel’s most protracted conflicts.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Truces with Hezbollah and Hamas are enabling the IDF to focus on combat training and force build-up programs as part of Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot’s push towards a high state of war readiness. The need to achieve consistent war readiness is based on the assessment that the Middle East of the future will be significantly more dangerous, less stable, and more complex than it is today, due in part to the proliferation of powerful weapons throughout the region. The IDF must be in a position to deal simultaneously with multiple fronts, near and far, and be able to defeat both non-state and state actors.
Israel is enjoying a period of relative calm, but in five to ten years, its strategic environment will likely be significantly more complex and challenging than it is today. For that reason, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has, under the Gideon multi-year working plan, placed combat training and war readiness at the top of its agenda.
The IDF General Staff has identified the objective of attaining a good state of war readiness, and keeping this readiness high, as a crucial objective for Israel in the medium to long term. It is an objective that has been neglected in past years due to budget instability and the lack of a clear strategic directive to place war readiness front and center.
This dangerous blind spot appears to have been corrected. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot is intensively promoting the objective of war readiness throughout the whole of the military. A multi-year working plan provides a stable funding environment in which this can be achieved.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Gaza Strip’s rulers do not subscribe to governmental norms and are indifferent to their people’s hardships, but the notion that Gazans will rise up against them is false. Still, reports of Hamas’s eagerness for war with Israel are greatly exaggerated.
A new report by the UN has made headlines recently, alerting the world that after a decade under Hamas rule, the Gaza Strip has effectively become unlivable for the 2 million Palestinians that call it home.
This report was followed by even bigger headlines predicting that given the dire situation, it is only a matter of time before Hamas provokes fresh hostilities.
I believe the descriptions of both Israel’s share of alleged responsibility for the crisis in Gaza, as well as Hamas’s alleged eagerness to go to war, have been greatly exaggerated. There is no dispute that the life of the average Palestinian in Gaza is difficult, regardless of whether he is or is not a Hamas member. The Islamist terrorist group has never based the decisions by which it governs on what best serves the Palestinians’ interests, but on its own considerations, its war readiness, and the external pressure it faces over its activities.
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