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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Israel Military Intelligence sees 2007 as year of war

Jerusalem Post
Analysis: 2007 - The Year of War
Dec. 4, 2006

2007 will be the year of war, both in Lebanon and in
the Gaza Strip, and possibly even against Syria. It
could happen this spring, or perhaps in the summer.

According to Military Intelligence's (MI) assessment
for the coming year, there is a high probability that
Israel will find itself fighting at least two wars on
two fronts, one against the Hamas army being created
in the Gaza Strip and the other against Hizbullah,
working hard to regain its strength after the war this
past summer.

Despite a cease-fire on the Gaza front, Hamas has
spent the last week smuggling weapons into the Strip
through the tunnels running from Sinai.

Hizbullah, despite Security Council Resolution 1701
and UNIFIL's presence in southern Lebanon, has
received shipments of antitank missiles, short-range
rockets and long-range missiles from Syria since the
war ended.

The Syrian military is on high alert and has the IDF
concerned that without political "engagement," war
could erupt there.

According to MI's assessment, if Israel offered Syria
a renewal of dialogue, President Bashar Assad would
accept. However, if Israel does not make any
diplomatic overtures toward Syria, in line with Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert's declared policy, the chance of
war will only increase.

While the defense establishment is genuinely concerned
with the ongoing Hizbullah protest in Beirut and the
effect it will have on the fragile situation in the
North, MI is not surprised by Sheikh Hassan
Nasrallah's attempt to topple Prime Minister Fuad
Saniora's US-backed government.

The massive demonstration in Lebanon is more than just
a standard anti-government gathering. It is a clash of
cultures - one led by Saniora interested in an
independent and westernized Lebanon and the other led
by Nasrallah and powered by Iran, interested in a
radical and religious regime, or as MI sees it, an
extension of Iran and the axis of evil.

Syria is also contributing to the tension and,
according to MI, is the leading suspect in the
assassination two weeks ago of Lebanese Industry
Minister Pierre Gemayel. The Saniora government's
decision to establish an international tribunal to try
those responsible for the assassination of Rafik
Hariri in 2005 was a major blow for Assad and the
ongoing protest in Beirut is partially his way of

The IDF does not anticipate long life for the
cease-fire in Gaza, obtained November 25 in a phone
call between Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas. In addition to the daily Kassam rocket
attacks since the cease-fire went into effect, the
Palestinians have continued smuggling weapons into the
Strip from Egypt.

Hamas's "army" in Gaza already numbers several
thousand troops, believed to be armed with advanced
antitank missiles, Grad-type Katyusha rockets as well
as anti-aircraft projectiles, possibly Soviet-made
SA-7 shoulder-fired missiles.

The assumption in the IDF is that the cease-fire will
not last long, maybe another couple of weeks at the
most. The major problem is that unlike the cease-fire
in 2005 before Israel's unilateral disengagement from
the Gaza Strip, this time the Palestinians do not have
any incentives to enforce or uphold the truce.

It is also important to differentiate between the
Strip and the West Bank. While Hamas is building an
army, Gaza is self-contained, cut off from the rest of
Israel. The West Bank is different. With the security
fence incomplete, a decision to remove roadblocks and
permit free passage for Palestinians could enable
terrorists to enter Israeli cities. The only way to
prevent terror there is to maintain an IDF presence in
the West Bank.

But not everyone in the defense establishment agrees
that the way to prevent terror in the West Bank is by
retaining a stifling military presence.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the
Territories Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav has been
recommending the removal of roadblocks and free
passage between West Bank cities for some months now,
claiming the move would stimulate positive economic
developments within the PA. If Israel fails to do so,
Mishlav has warned, war could also erupt in the West

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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