Netanyahu in front of map

Israel’s Inherent Weakness


DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR, ILLUSIONS OF STRENGTH
It’s no secret that the Americans bankroll Israel, provide it with over $3 billion in military hardware each year (in addition to other foreign aid not typically mentioned) and protects it from the consequences of its action in the UN Security Council. And it is commonly stated that Israel has the fourth most powerful military in the world, but that is also a myth. Israel’s military is not up to fighting adults armed with real weapons, who are trained and know military strategy and tactics. That is why Hezbollah has defeated the “mighty” Jewish military not once but twice. Israel is only used to shooting unarmed Palestinian boys who throw rock, and farmers. It is only the illusion that keeps the myth alive, and it is only this illusion-based myth that keeps the surrounding nations and, more importantly, people in surround nations from taking on Israel.

11 July, 2014 Revolution Observer
The kid­nap­ping and even­tual deaths of three Israeli teenagers[1] led to the Israeli gov­ern­ment to call upon its reserves in order to launch an inva­sion of the Gaza Strip.[2] Israel has named this oper­a­tion “Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge.” Israeli offi­cials have gone to great lengths to high­light the oper­a­tion is the begin­ning of a lengthy offen­sive against Pales­tin­ian mil­i­tants. Israel was forced in the last Gaza flare-up in 2012, named — Oper­a­tion Pil­lar of Defence – to seek a humil­i­at­ing truce with Hamas as rock­ets were reach­ing Israel’s key cities includ­ing Tel Aviv. Whilst Israel will use this cur­rent flare-up as cover to main­tain its bal­ance of power and achieve what it failed to do in 2012, Israel’s military-security doc­trine suf­fers from a stark real­ity which no amount of mil­i­tary devel­op­ment, incur­sions and col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment will change. This can be seen from five perspectives.

Firstly, despite Israel’s aggres­sive pos­ture and grand state­ments about its right to defend itself, the coun­tries geog­ra­phy and demog­ra­phy works against it. As a coun­try with less than 21,000 km2 of land, smaller than Wales in the United King­dom, Israel lacks strate­gic depth. At its nar­row­est, Israel is a mere 10 km wide. A hos­tile fighter could fly across all of Israel (40 nau­ti­cal miles wide from the Jor­dan River to the Mediter­ranean Sea) within four min­utes. Israel is sur­rounded by Mus­lim nations. Egypt the largest coun­try in the region and with a pop­u­la­tion 11 times the size of Israel can field a mil­i­tary that will out­num­ber Israel. This means Egypt can absorb casu­al­ties at a far higher rate than Israel. This would mean the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary can engage in an extended, high-intensity bat­tle that would break the back of the Israeli mil­i­tary with a rate of attri­tion that Israel can­not sus­tain. If Israel was forced to simul­ta­ne­ously engage with the other coun­tries it shares bor­ders with, divid­ing its forces and sup­ply lines it will run out of troops long before Egypt, even if Egypt were absorb­ing far more casualties.

Sec­ondly, Israel is also small in terms of its demog­ra­phy. Its pop­u­la­tion is around 8 mil­lion peo­ple. In com­par­i­son, there are 22 mil­lion peo­ple in Syria and 80 mil­lion in Egypt. Unable to field a large army com­pared to oth­ers in the region, due to its small pop­u­la­tion, Israel must rely on its reserves. Israel’s small pop­u­la­tion also increases its sen­si­tiv­ity to civil­ian and mil­i­tary losses. Los­ing just one war can mean the end of the coun­try and thus ever since 1947 Israel faces an exis­ten­tial sur­vival from the sur­round­ing states as well as non-state actors. The basic chal­lenge of Israel is its national secu­rity require­ments out­strip its mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties, mak­ing it depen­dent on an out­side power.

Thirdly, Israel’s econ­omy has been con­structed to deal with its pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion. Israel has an extremely small pop­u­la­tion, too small for gov­ern­ment to col­lect suf­fi­cient taxes to fund a large indus­trial base. As a result Israel has focused on key indus­tries for its sur­vival. This means many indus­tries such as min­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing have been neglected. To com­pen­sate for this Israel relies on tech­nol­ogy, mil­i­tary and for­eign aid trans­fers. It also relies on influ­en­tial Jews across the world, espe­cially in the US to influ­ence for­eign poli­cies of these states in favour of Israel. Israel has a heavy depen­dency on the good­will of other states. If it was to lose favour it is too small a coun­try to be self-sufficient

Fourthly, these real­i­ties makes invest­ment in mil­i­tary plat­forms is pro­hib­i­tively expen­sive because of the huge invest­ment required to keep a lead­ing posi­tion in those areas. Israel is also lim­ited in pur­chas­ing plat­forms from abroad, due to costs, even though it has con­sis­tently found for­eign patrons to its cause, politi­cians from its incep­tion have found that defence sales have come with strings attached. At the same time Israel faces a for­mi­da­ble threat from its neigh­bors, this quan­ti­ta­tive imbal­ance has been dealt with through the devel­op­ment of an indus­trial base that main­tains an asym­met­ri­cal Qual­i­ta­tive Mil­i­tary Edge (QME). Know­ing it can­not com­pete with the region on quan­tity Israel has focused on main­tain­ing fewer but qual­i­ta­tively more advanced plat­forms. Israel’s end­less strug­gle will remain in hav­ing a qual­i­ta­tive advan­tage over its neigh­bours, some­thing its econ­omy has no capa­bil­ity to fund. If Egypt or Syria were to go through rear­ma­ment they would bank­rupt Israel.

Fifthly, Israel’s aggres­sive pos­ture is really a deter­rent to halt the sur­round­ing nations from ever con­tem­plat­ing an inva­sion – some­thing the rulers con­tinue to abide by. Israel lacks the strate­gic depth for a long inten­sity bat­tle and aside from its air force has no power pro­jec­tion capa­bil­i­ties. Israel has invested heav­ily in the Israeli Air Force (IAF) as its main fire­power. In 1953, Prime Min­is­ter David Ben-Gurion laid this out: “Dom­i­nance in the air, more than any other fac­tor, will ensure us vic­tory, and vice versa.”[3] The empha­sis was on qual­ity for sur­viv­abil­ity in the Mid­dle East and that dic­tated an advanced strike force.

Israel faces a pre­car­i­ous mil­i­tary real­ity, which no amount of mil­i­tary devel­op­ment can change. Despite receiv­ing sig­nif­i­cant US funds and mil­i­tary equip­ment it has failed to change the fact that it is out­num­bered and sur­rounded. Hamas and Hizbul­lah have exposed Israel’s Achilles heel on numer­ous occa­sions despite the fact that sur­round­ing nations have large con­ven­tional armies. Israel’s attempts at devel­op­ing indige­nous plat­forms have failed on most occa­sions as it lacks the econ­omy to fund such large projects. This is why it has come to rely on US hand outs and part­ner­ships in devel­op­ing state of the art mil­i­tary  plat­forms. Despite pos­sess­ing some capa­bil­ity, in a region where Israel is alone, with­out exter­nal help Israel would not have sur­vived. This is the rea­son why Israel will always need to con­duct reg­u­lar raids as its weak­ness forces it to cre­ate a deter­rent pow­er­ful enough to ren­der any attack or pos­si­ble inva­sion not worth­while by the sur­round­ing Mus­lim nations.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_kidnapping_and_murder_of_Israeli_teenagers

[2] http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/IDF-chief-Gantz-asks-for-call-up-of-40000-reserves-amid-Operation-Protective-Edge-361953

[3] http://www.israeldefense.com/?CategoryID=472&ArticleID=912

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