An Israeli think tank warns of several security threats in the coming year including war with Iranian proxies the north.
The Institute For National Security Studies warned Monday of the danger of “The First Northern War” as executive Director Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amos Yadlin submitted the 2018 National Assessment to President Reuven Rivlin.
The annual report on the security challenges facing Israel in the year ahead warned of three possible scenarios on the northern front: A war with Hezbollah, war with Hezbollah and Syria supported by other Iranian proxies and a war with Hezbollah and Syria with full-blown Iranian involvement.
Iran continues to arm and finance proxies near Israel’s borders as an arm against Israel, and Tehran’s steps to build a military force in Syria may, given the Israeli government’s resolute policy of dealing with this threat, lead to an escalation on the northern front, the report said. Such a conflict, according to the assessment would likely lead to confrontation on the Syrian and Lebanese fronts simultaneously with the integration of forces of Hezbollah, the Syrian regime, and forces serving Iran. Noting the presence of Russian forces in Syria, the report said Moscow could be expected to maintain neutrality, but could impose limitations on Israel’s freedom of action.
Possible confrontation in the south
The second major security challenge for Israel in the year ahead, the report noted, is the possibility of military confrontation in the south.
The potential for a flare-up with Hamas in Gaza continues, the report said. According to the INSS, while Hamas remains deterred, it continues to build its strength, and even if both sides wish to avoid full-blown conflict, confrontation may break out due to a variety of circumstances including uncontrolled escalation of a localized incident; an initiative of Jihadi elements; difficulties in implementing the internal Palestinian reconciliation agreement, or tensions surrounding the issue of Jerusalem.
The assessment noted Gaza’s socio-economic crisis as a major stress point that could lead to an outbreak of hostilities. It also pointed out that the IDF’s recent progress in developing solutions to uncover Hamas’ cross-border tunnels – a major strategic asset for the organization – could lead it to initiate confrontation.
Third challenge: ISIS
The Islamic State’s presence on Israel’s borders was the third major challenge noted in the assessment. While ISIS has been defeated and has lost its strongholds in Syria and Iraq, it is as a result transferring activities to areas where a comprehensive military effort to combat the organization has not yet been concentrated, the report said, noting the presence of the Islamic State in southern Syria near the Golan Heights and especially in the Sinai (and less conspicuously in the southern Syrian Golan Heights). ISIS’ presence in these areas points to a growing threat with potential for a major terrorist attack against Israel, the report said.