Israel’s security requirements are peaking at this time of regional turmoil
By Yoram Ettinger
The dramatic developments in Tunisia and Egypt – and the potential regional destabilizing ripple effects that could dwarf the Egyptian upheaval – have a dramatic impact on the state of national and regional security, and therefore have dramatic consequences upon national and regional security requirements.
The lower the stability and life-expectancy of Middle East regimes, the shiftier their ideology, policy and commitments, the higher the volatility of domestic and regional affairs, and the higher the security threshold and requirements.
Moreover, President Obama’s policy of engagement and the announced evacuation of Iraq and Afghanistan are perceived by Arab/Muslim regimes as a policy of retreat, undermining the US posture of deterrence.
In 2002/2003 the White House projected an assertive posture in the Middle East, in the battle against terrorism and in global affairs at-large. In 2011, the White House projects a relatively timid posture. The more uncertain the US global posture, the more eroded the US posture of deterrence, the more adrenalized are rogue regimes, the more acute is the threat of war and terrorism and the higher the security requirements.
Security requirements are peaking as a result of the long-term (and possibly immediate-term) potential of the Egyptian turmoil. It could traumatize northern Africa, the Horn of Africa, the eastern flank of the Mediterranean, the Middle East in general and pro-US Arab regimes (e.g. Jordan) in particular, threatening vital US interests, undermining Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and emboldening enemies of the Big and the Small “Satan,” the US and the Jewish State.
‘Key threat to Israel – invasion’
Key US military officials expressed their assessments of Israel’s security requirements in general and of the unique role played by the Judea and Samaria mountain ridges. For instance, Lt. General (ret.) Tom Kelly, chief of operations in the 1991 Gulf War: “I cannot defend this land (Israel) without that terrain (West Bank)…The West Bank mountains, and especially their five approaches, are the critical terrain. If an enemy secures those passes, Jerusalem and Israel become uncovered. Without the West Bank, Israel is only eight miles wide at its narrowest point. That makes it indefensible.”
The late Admiral Bud Nance: “I believe if Israel were to move out of the Golan Heights and the West Bank, it would increase instability and the possibility of war, increase the necessity to preempt in war, and the possibility that nuclear weapons would be used to prevent an Israeli loss, and increase the possibility that the US would have to become involved in a war.”
General (ret.) Al Gray, former Commandant, US Marine Corps: “Missiles fly over any terrain feature, but they don’t negate the strategic significance of territorial depth. The key threat to Israel will remain the invasion and occupation by armored forces. Military success requires more than a few hundred missiles. To defeat Israel would require the Arabs to deploy armor, infantry and artillery into Israel and destroy the IDF on the ground. That was true in 1948, 1967 and 1973, and it remains true in the era of modern missiles.”
Most effective tank obstacle
The Judea and Samaria mountain ridges constitute the most effective tank obstacle (a 3,000ft steep slope over-towering the Jordan Valley, 40 miles away from Tel Aviv and pre-1967 Israel) and a dream platform of invasion to 9-15 miles wide pre-1967 Israel (a 2,000ft moderate slope) in the most conflict-ridden, unpredictable and treacherous neighborhood in the world.
Israel’s control of the Judea and Samaria mountain ridges provides it with the time, which is required to mobilize its active reservists (75% of the military force!) in face of a surprise offensive mounted by a few Arab countries.
The pre-1967 width of the Jewish State is equal to the distance between JFK and La Guardia airports, to the distance between RFK Stadium and the Kennedy Center, the length of Dallas-Fort Worth airport, to the width of Washington, DC, San Francisco and Miami and to the distance between Wall Street and Columbia University.
The pre-1967 sliver along the Mediterranean is less than the distance between downtown London and Heathrow Airport, equal to a roundtrip distance between Albert hall and the Tower of London and to the distance between Bois du Boulogne and La Place de la Bastille.
The Judea and Samaria mountain ridges constitute the “Golan Heights” of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport and the entire pre-1967 coastal plain of the Jewish State, the core of its population and infrastructures.
See Related: Israel Archive
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