North, South, East, West:
Threats to Israel in 2012, from all directions

Published: 21 August 2012
Briefing Number 316

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Summary: This Briefing lists military and strategic threats facing Israel in 2012 – from the North, South, East and West.  Israel’s many detractors need to ask themselves: “What would I do in Israel’s situation?”.  This Briefing summarises Israel’s current context.

How many countries in the world face as complex and serious a collection of strategic and military challenges as Israel?  In August 2012 a large group of Jihadists from Sinai attempted to infiltrate into Israel.  They were apparently so desperate to get into Israel, and presumably cause mayhem, that they killed 16 Egyptian soldiers to further their effort (enraging the Egyptian authorities).  This event was a sobering reminder of the daunting realities which Israel faces, and which its government, its diplomats, its security forces and its people each have to address.  The threats which Israel faces include the following:

  • The rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and its long-term implications for the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt
  • Terrorism and attempted infiltrations into Israel by jihadi and Islamist groups based in the Sinai peninsula
  • A bitter and very violent civil war in heavily-armed Syria
  • The risk of large stocks of chemical weapons in Syria falling into the hands either of Hizbollah in Lebanon, or Islamist or other terrorist groups
  • The Iranian President’s latest calls for the annihilation of Israel, the “cancer in the region”, a call echoed by the Iranian political, military and theocratic elite
  • The failure of the latest round of diplomatic negotiations by the major international powers to curb Iran’s nuclear programme
  • The expansion of Iran’s long-range ballistic missile programme
  • Iranian-sponsored terrorism against Israel around the world, from Bulgaria to Thailand, India to Georgia
  • Hizbollah’s rise to power in Lebanon, its massively expanded missile arsenal and its warnings to strike throughout Israel
  • Hamas intransigence in Gaza, its conversion of Gaza into a heavily-armed frontline  mini-state dedicated to confrontation with Israel
  • The Palestinian Authority’s long-standing refusal to negotiate with Israel, coupled with its continued attempts to “win” against Israel and defeat it in international forums
  • Continued attempts by certain West Bank Palestinian groups to launch terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, and kidnap Israeli soldiers
  • Israel’s frozen relations with Turkey, and difficult relations with Jordan
  • The one-sidedness of many European governments and agencies regarding Israel
  • The manifest bias of many UN institutions against Israel, and their obsessive focus on Israel at the expense of legitimate other issues

Israel’s many detractors need to ask themselves: “what would I do in Israel’s situation?”.   Israel faces a uniquely complex and challenging context.  At the very least, criticism of Israel needs to be informed and balanced by that context.