INTO THE FRAY: The deadly detriments of a doctrine of defense

For your perusal, my latest INTO THE FRAY column

 The deadly detriments of a doctrine of defense

(Kindly consider “liking”, sharing, tweeting – please use hash-tag ‪#‎IntoFray)


Every round of violence, in which the results are not a clear-cut IDF victory is, in the eyes of Israel’s enemies, another nail in the coffin of the Zionist entity.” – Veteran war correspondent, Ron Ben Yishai, June 1, 2019.


It appears this week on the following sites (in alphabetical order):

JERUSALEM HERALD: (To be posted)
JEWISH PRESS:  (To be posted)

Tags:  #IntoFray #Israel #Palestinian  #IDF #Gaza #Hamas

Several short excerpts:

…the ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive. Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength.—Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”, circa 400 BCE.

I am, of course, aware that I used this exact same excerpt in commencing my recent column, Cracks in the Dome?, in which I warned of the disturbing defects of adopting an essentially defensive doctrine in facing the escalating threat from Gaza.

However, I make little apology for its re-use, as it is equally—arguably more—fitting for this week’s topic.

Disturbing indications

Indeed, for a considerable time, I have cautioned against Israel’s excessive reliance on defensive measures and its operational derivative of “managing the conflict”—see for example “Conflict management”: The collapse of a concept, and The ruinous results of “conflict management”.

Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher, Sun Tzu (554 BCE-496 BCE)

Significantly, recent media reports have provided disquieting signs of corroborating the emergence of at least three perils of which I have warned repeatedly in recent years—and, although some may be inclined to downplay their significance, this would be a grave error…

Arabs in Gaza or Jews in the Negev?

With regard to the Jewish presence in the Negev, I have argued constantly that unless the violence in Gaza is terminated permanently, Israel may well face the grim prospect of the Negev being depopulated by Jews, who, unable to raise families in adequately secure conditions, will abandon the region for safer locations– see Israel’s stark option: Arabs in Gaza or Jews in Negev….

Protest of Gaza area residents over continuing violence against them

Last week, reinforcing this very caveat, the media gave high profile coverage to the decision of almost a dozen families in the Gaza border area to leave their homes in the wake of the recent outbreak of violence—see for example here, here and here

The danger of drones

With regard to the almost one billion dollar anti-tunnel barrier currently being constructed to encircle the Gaza Strip, I have forecast time and again that the Gazans will devise methods to neutralize it—or at least greatly reduce its efficacy.

Incendiary balloons reduce much of South to blackened charcoal

Thus, last year I observed: “Every time the Gazan terrorists developed some offensive tactic, Israel devised some countermeasure that was designed to thwart the attacks, rather than prevent them being launched in the first place….it takes little imagination to envisage the deployment of future modes of Judeocidal assault on the Jewish state and its citizens—such as a possible drone swarm carrying explosive—perhaps even some non-conventional—charges, to be detonated on, or over, some luckless Jewish community.”

Drones (cont.)

Barely two weeks ago, a widely reported incident seemed to indicate that the drone threat is becoming increasingly operational, when the Islamic Jihad released footage allegedly showing a drone attacking an Israeli tank…

Scene from footage released by Islamic Jihad showing alleged drone attack on IDF tank

Thus, although Hamas’s drone program suffered a severe setback with the assassinations in Tunisia (2016) and Malaysia (2018) of leading engineers involved in its development, it is hardly beyond the limits of plausibility that Israel will have to contend with the specter of a swarm of drones, armed with biological or chemical payloads, directed at nearby Israeli communities—rendering the billion dollar anti-tunnel barrier entirely moot. For those who might dismiss this as implausibly alarmist – see here, and here.

“Why Israel will not win the next war”

Of course, while such an attack on a rural community may not constitute a devastating strategic blow, physically, it certainly is likely to constitutes a grave strategic blow to national morale—which leads into the third topic for discussion: Israel’s reluctance to launch a large-scale offensive aimed, not at punishing terror attacks but at preempting them…It is this reluctance that is causing Israel to continually back away from conflicts that it can win, until it backs itself into a conflict that it cannot win or win only at ruinous cost.

In this regard, a stern caveat (in Hebrew) appeared recently in the highly trafficked Ynet web site, entitled Why we will not win the next war .Written by Ron Ben Yishai, one of Israel’s most authoritative military correspondents, it catalogued the reasons preventing the IDF from adopting a strategy of decisive victory over its terrorist adversaries and warned of the grave consequences thereof…

Emasculating the IDF operational capacity 

{a}ccording to Ben Yishai, perhaps the most severe inhibiting factor on the IDF strategy is the hypersensitivity to casualties, which has made avoiding them more important than achieving operational objectives….According to Ben Yishai, these factors create a situation in which “Israel’s civil society is slowing but surely emasculating the operational ability, the initiative and innovativeness of [IDF[ field commanders”. 

“Attack is the secret of defense…” 

I began this column with an excerpt from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.”  It is, thus, perhaps fitting to end it with one: “Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack.”

It is precisely in this spirit that Ben Yishai concludes his article: “Every…military clash with any enemy in the area must end with an unequivocal IDF victory. Our very existential interest—as a nation and as a people—mandates that we get rid of everything and anything that impedes attaining this objective”.

Doubtless, Sun Tzu would approve.

As usual your talkbacks/comments/critiques welcome,

Best wishes,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *