Photo by Mark Neiman (GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin today (Monday), received the 2018 Strategic Assessment for Israel produced by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). At the meeting, the institute’s Executive Director, Major-General (res.) Amos Yadlin presented the President with the report, while the institute’s researchers reviewed key security and policy issues addressed in the report.
“Knowledge is power, and knowledge that is accessible to all is a power that is accessible to all,” began the President and said, “The strength of the strategic assessment is that it enables every Israeli citizen to form an opinion, independently, on the significant security and political challenges facing the state at this time. Therefore, this is an important document for the strength of Israeli democracy.” He went on to note, “The current assessment shows how the regional and global changes that have taken place in the past year have changed the map of threats and challenges to Israel. At the top of the new map of threats, is the northern front in Israel, which presents a particularly complex combination of challenges, including: the strengthening of Iran and its satellites in Syria and Lebanon; Russian involvement, who have strong interests; and global jihad forces whose military defeat in the region is likely to affect the security of Jews and Israelis throughout the world.”
He continued, “However, the assessment does not limit itself to pointing to the threats and assessing their severity. To the credit of the assessment, this year, it also adds the writers’ recommendations to deal with the issues, while considering the preservation of Israel's vital interests in the short and long term. In this regard, I was pleased to read in the assessment, the importance of maintaining our relations with the United States, including the Jewish community there. Israel does not and will not have a more important alliance than with the United States of America. Finally, the assessment stresses again that political progress with the Palestinians is necessary in order to deal with the totality of the threats facing us, as well as to reach new break-throughs in our relations with the various Arab countries in the region.”
The following is a ranking of the leading threats facing Israel according to the order of severity, as presented in INSS's strategic assessment:
1. The “First North” war - against three elements: Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime. Iran continues to arm and finance proxies near Israel's borders as an arm against Israel. Iranian actions to build a military force in Syria may – with the Israeli Government's resolute policy of dealing with this threat – lead to an escalation on the northern front. This will probably not be limited to a single element, and will lead to confrontation on the Syrian and Lebanese fronts simultaneously with the integration of forces of Hezbollah, the Syrian regime, and forces serving Iran. In the background, Russia’s presence and involvement, while seemingly neutral, will impose limitations on Israeli freedom of action.
2. Military confrontation in the South - the potential for a flare-up with Hamas in Gaza continues: While the organization is deterred it continues to build its strength, and even if both sides are not interested in it, confrontation may break out due to: 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. In the background constantly remains the socio-economic distress and the humanitarian difficulties in the Gaza Strip. The response that the IDF is developing and deploying on the border of the Gaza Strip against the Hamas attack tunnels – an essential strategic element – can even cause the organization to initiate an earlier confrontation.
3. The Islamic state approaching Israel’s borders: While the organization has been defeated and lost its important strongholds in Syria and Iraq, it is precisely this defeat that transfers the center of activity to areas where a comprehensive military effort to combat the organization has not yet been concentrated. 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), which translated into many attacks against the Egyptian army and the civilian population, points to a growing threat with potential for a major terrorist attack against Israel.
Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson