Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has faced numerous security challenges. Ongoing threats to the country’s security could potentially lead to a serious crisis or even escalate to a war. Israel’s greatest concerns are Iran’s nuclear program, Hizballah in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In addition, there has been unrest in the West Bank, incidents in the Golan Heights, fighting in Sinai, and uncertainty about Jordan.
Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has faced numerous national security challenges. The current Israeli government, as of the writing of this article, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also had to deal with many national security issues on almost all of Israel’s fronts: disputes with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, the fragile status quo with Hizballah in Lebanon, tensions with the Hamas in the Gaza Strip, incidents on the border with Syria, and unrest in the Sinai Peninsula. Nonetheless, and in spite of all these concerns, Israel’s top priority is undoubtedly Iran and its nuclear program.
THE POSSIBILITY OF ISRAEL STRIKING IRAN
Since 1979, there has been an ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran, with the latter threatening to destroy Israel. Due to the physical distance between the two countries (over a thousand kilometers), a conventional showdown between the two is not possible. Yet having a nuclear weapon would allow Iran to strike Israel, which would retaliate with its own nuclear weapons, which according to non-Israeli sources are in its possession. This would be among the most severe ramifications, if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons.
A nuclear armed Iran poses a much greater danger to Israel than to the United States. Although Iran considers the United States “the great Satan” while Israel is “the small Satan,” the Jewish state is more exposed to Iran’s aggression due to its physical proximity, which is within the range of Iran’s surface-to-surface missiles. Due to its tiny size (22,072 square kilometers), Israel is in danger of annihilation from a nuclear strike, while the United States is vast enough (9,826,675 square kilometers) to absorb a nuclear offensive. These differences grant Israel legitimacy–at least from its perspective–to strike Iran as a preemptive defense measure.
According to Yossi Kuperwasser, “Once the Iranians realize that the Americans (or the Israelis) are ready to use force, they will give up the project altogether.” Yet the United States opted for a nuclear agreement with Iran and has tried to convince Israel that the deal between the P5+1 and Iran was the best solution Israel could hope for. Jerusalem, however, has rejected the terms of the accord, seeking to impose much stricter constraints on Iran and tougher sanctions, which in addition to the decline in oil prices (Iran’s revenues rely on oil exports) would severely cripple the Iranian economy. Israel’s hope is that such economic hardship would lead to unrest, and perhaps a revolution, in Iran, thus leading to regime change. While this is not expected, neither was the fall of the Soviet Union or the Arab turmoil, for example. Iran would eventually be left with nuclear capability but with a new regime that would invest in domestic affairs and not in nuclear weapons and destabilization of the Middle East.
Despite disagreement on Iran, Israel and the United States should not allow this to interfere with their efforts to stop Iran from producing nuclear weapons, nor should this undermine U.S.-Israel relations. Rather, the two countries could turn the Iranian challenge into an opportunity to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations and face Iran together.
If Iran breaches the signed agreement, this would place pressure on the United States to act, perhaps even militarily. On July 29, 2015, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter stated that the military option remained on the table. To this end, the United States has developed the MOP, the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb, for such a potential calamity. The MOP is capable of penetrating even the most protected Iranian nuclear sites. The American aim is clear: to show Israel that the United States is capable of destroying Iran’s nuclear sites, if necessary. Israel, however, may not rely on such a promise. Moreover, Israel could claim that if its American patron has not ruled out the military option, Israel too can maintain such a position.
Clearly much depends on Israel’s decisionmaking process. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who remained in office following the 2015 elections, established a coalition government based on several parties, but it is he who is in charge of national security issues such as Iran. Since the main focus of his election campaign was to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, Netanyahu can assume he got a mandate from the Israeli public to do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from producing the bomb, including striking its facilities. Netanyahu has not decided to attack as of yet, but it should be noted that he also avoided confronting Hamas in the Gaza Strip–which is also seen as a threat–for several years. Eventually, however, Netanyahu conducted a major operation against Hamas (in November 2012 and again in the summer of 2014). Thus, there is still the possibility that Netanyahu will strike Iran.
Efraim Inbar has argued that Israel should strike Iran: “History indicates that such Israeli actions are not welcomed by American administrations, but are highly appreciated later on. In this case, it is Israel that will have to save the Americans from themselves.” In April 2015, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz claimed that if Israel were left with no other choice, the military option would still exist. As for U.S. objections to such a strike, Steinitz mentioned that Israel destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 despite the disagreement of the United States. Still, if Israel were to attack Iran and a war were to break out between the two countries, the United States might not lend Israel full support, a matter the Jewish state would have to consider in advance. Nonetheless, it is possible that the Israeli government could conclude it must take military action, despite the risk of losing American assistance, albeit temporarily. Israel might assume it could initially manage alone, banking on a later improvement of its relations with the United States, as indeed happened after past crises between the two states.
Iran might assimilate the S-300, an advanced antiaircraft missile. Defeating it would require the Israeli Air Force (IAF) to train accordingly and to update its equipment. The IAF has already conducted exercises relating to this weapon system, in Greece. Russia has argued that the S-300 is a defensive system that wouldn’t put Israel at risk. Yet as Russia knows very well–particularly following lessons from wars in the Middle East–antiaircraft batteries can be used for offensive purposes. The most famous example was the 1973 showdown, when Soviet antiaircraft missiles, in both the Golan Heights and Sinai, protected Arab ground forces when they attacked the Israeli lines. If Iran were to acquire a nuclear bomb, for example, the S-300 would pose a problem for Israel in any preemptive strike or retribution against Iran.
Some of Iran’s nuclear sites are heavily protected by natural and/or artificial fortifications. In contrast to the American armed forces, it is unlikely that Israel’s military could inflict heavy damage to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Israel would also be seen by many as the aggressor, although it is Iran that is planning to produce a nuclear weapon and is threatening to destroy Israel. Thus, Israel’s goal would be to point out the danger the Middle East faces because of Iran’s nuclear project. The international community might intervene, in order to avoid a future war between Israel and Iran, which would be far more destructive if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons. Israel might, therefore, hope that as a result of its strike, Iran would come under substantial pressure to dismantle most of its nuclear infrastructure.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has had to prepare for a future war by improving its active and passive defense. This factor would play a key role since Iran’s retribution would be based on several hundred missiles that could hit Israel. Iran could also initiate terror assaults against Israeli and/or Jewish targets around the world. It is possible, however, that Iran would restrain itself to avoid becoming entangled in a war when the timing was wrong for it. Iran faces other challenges, both internal and external, such as fighting the Islamic State (formerly called ISIS). It thus might choose to postpone any confrontation with Israel, while focusing on rebuilding its nuclear infrastructure following the potential Israeli raid. There is a risk, however, for Iran that Israel would attack again.
In 2006 Lebanon War, Israel faced the Iranian proxy Hizballah, a non-state organization. It is possible Hizballah would join its patron to bash Israel if the latter were to strike Iran. The group has approximately 100,000 rockets and missiles in Lebanon. In March 2015, the IDF estimated that Israel could absorb 1,200 rockets a day if it were to engage in a war with Hizballah. Nonetheless, any confrontation with the Iranian proxy might be limited, as Hizballah would not want its country and population to suffer significantly. On more than one occasion, Israel has warned that it would make Lebanon pay dearly if Hizballah were to attack. Furthermore, Hizballah is occupied on other fronts, mainly in Syria, fighting to save Assad, and might not have enough men to confront Israel as well. This factor might encourage Israel to strike Iran.
Sunni Arab states–mainly those in the Gulf, such as Saudi Arabia–may decide to negotiate with Israel. Furthermore, they strongly oppose Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It is possible Saudi Arabia would collaborate with Israel on this matter, perhaps by allowing Israeli planes to pass through Saudi airspace en route to Iran. Such a move could arouse protest among some Arabs out of hatred for Israel and their solidarity with a Muslim state, i.e. Iran. Yet when Israel attacked Hamas in the Gaza Strip during the war of July-August 2014, this did not prompt a wave of demonstrations in the Sunni Arab states, despite the fact that Hamas itself is Sunni Arab. As Iran is primarily Shi’ and Persian, the Sunni Arab world might not be compelled to protest against Israel. In addition, the Sunni Arabs have more urgent concerns in the region, such as the Arab turmoil, the Islamic State, etc. While the Arab governments, particularly those in the Gulf, may officially condemn Israel, they will do nothing against it, and may in fact secretly welcome the raid.
Since seizing the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas has clashed with Israel several times. The organization has enjoyed Iranian support, including military aid, but Hamas’ refusal to assist Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s ally, against the former’s foes created a rift between Hamas and Iran. Following the summer 2014 war, however, Hamas and Iran became closer. If Israel strikes Iran, the latter might urge Hamas to attack Israel. As of the writing of this article, Hamas has only a few thousand rockets to launch at Israel and the organization is still struggling to recover from the 2014 confrontation. The Gaza Strip is in a terrible state and requires rehabilitation. Hamas is aware that another clash with Israel, particularly such that would serve Iran, could turn the population in the Gaza Strip against Hamas. The group also knows that while Israel’s ground forces could not reach Iran, they could conquer the entire Gaza Strip and topple Hamas. It is thus unlikely that Hamas would join Iran in an attack against Israel.
In short, if left with no other choice, Israel may consider an attack on Iran worth the price and risk entailed.
Israel has conducted a long and ongoing battle against Palestinian guerrilla and terror activity. Following the failure to reach a peace accord with the PA, Hamas’ unwillingness to talk, and its refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist, Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians has been mostly damage control. Israel has attempted to delay any confrontation, while continuing to act to prevent attacks on its citizens. It has tried to contain the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, holding the Palestinian rulers there responsible for stopping and restraining guerrilla and terror operations, as much as possible. One could argue that both Israel and the United States have taken advantage of animosity among their enemies–the United States with Iran versus ISIS, and Israel with Hamas against more radical groups in the Gaza Strip.
Uzi Rabi and Harel Chorev have emphasized Hamas’ commitment to the “resistance” (muqawama), a strategy which is aware of Israel’s military might, yet assumes that Israel is also internally weak. During the 2014 war, Rabi and Chorev claimed that “the message is that the Resistance maintains its survival and ability to fight in any condition. An interpretation of this message is Hamas’ feeling of achievement, which arises from the constant rocket fire, in spite of Israel’s actions. The fact that millions of Israelis are driven into bomb shelters is a victorious image that Hamas is seeking.” This could be the case in the next round of fighting as well. Hamas might not fight for Iran, but it could attack Israel for its own reasons.
The Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is a small area (365 square kilometers) that is highly monitored by Israel, allowing it to gather vital information about the military activity of its enemies there. Despite its monitoring, the discovery of tunnels inside the Gaza Strip during the summer 2014 confrontation between Israel and Hamas was both a surprise and a major security concern for Israel, particularly the underground routes leading into Israel. While Israel underestimated the threat of the tunnels among the many security issues it faces, the lessons were learned and since then the IDF has invested its efforts in fighting and destroying the tunnels.
On March 22, 2015, the IDF launched a surprise drill near the Gaza Strip, in the largest exercise carried out by its Gaza division since the 2014 confrontation. The training included ground, air, and sea units examining several scenarios, such as penetration by land from the Gaza Strip, massive bombardments of rockets and mortar shells, etc. The same month, the IDF conducted exercises to prepare the troops for a possible collision in the West Bank, which could start with violent stone throwing protests of Palestinians confronting Israeli forces, and possibly deteriorate into an armed conflict. It was expected that the Israeli security fence around most of the West Bank would prevent a large number of assaults within Israel originating there. In 2002, a wave of such attacks led to an Israeli offensive and the retaking of areas inside the PA. In a future confrontation, clashes within the West Bank alone could eventually prompt Israel to initiate a massive attack there that might bring down the PA, even if this is not Israel’s aim.
It would be in the interest of both Israel and the PA to avoid another confrontation in the West Bank. For the PA, opening a diplomatic campaign against Israel–for example in the UN–would be futile if its home base were to go up in flames. Though the two sides have also been unable to negotiate a peace accord, they should at least maintain their security cooperation in order to prevent chaos in the West Bank.
Following Israel’s March 2015 legislative elections, U.S. officials warned Jerusalem not to backtrack from its commitment to the two-state solution, for if it did, the Obama administration would not cast a veto against attempts in the UN to create a Palestinian state unilaterally. It is also possible the United States would not support Israel in the case of another clash between the latter and the Palestinians. One example worth mentioning in this regard is that of the October 1, 1985, IAF bombing of the PLO headquarters in Tunisia. Three days after the attack, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 573, which condemned the Israeli raid. This decision was approved by 14 states. The United States, however, abstained.
Since 2011, a civil war has been raging in Syria. Some Syrian outfits receive aid and training from the United States, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. However, the goal of those Middle Eastern states is to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the Obama administration’s focus is on the Islamic State (IS, formerly called ISIS). In mid-2015, Assad’s forces suffered several defeats as a result of strategic, operational, and tactical mistakes. If Assad is brought down, the United States and its Sunni partners will go after IS. Either way, Syria would remain a failed state, while the fighting would continue among the various parties. If no winner emerges, this could lead to an arrangement based on the division of Syria.
In late May 2015, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Israel’s policy regarding Syria “is on the one hand not to intervene, on the other hand to keep our interests. We have three red lines: One is not to allow the delivery of advanced weapons to any terror organization, whether by Iran or by Syria. Second, not to allow delivery of chemical agents or weapons to any terror faction. The third is not to allow any violation of our sovereignty, especially in the Golan Heights. When it happens, we act.” Since the start of the Syrian civil war, Israel has launched several strikes inside Syria, despite the risk of a Syrian retribution–short and limited as it may be. Still, this could deteriorate into a much larger confrontation. However, Assad, who has barely managed to survive his enemies inside Syria, cannot afford such a war.
In 1967, Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria. During the 1973 war, Syria attempted to recapture the Golan Heights but failed. Since then, while Syria could have tried again, it did not. Israel too could have initiated a preventive war or a preemptive strike aiming to stop a possible future Syrian offensive, but it similarly restrained itself. Thus, a war that could have cost thousands of lives on both sides was avoided, and from 1974, there was complete quiet in the Golan Heights.
Since 2011, there have been dozens of incidents–albeit minor–on the border between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights. Most occurred when fire, such as mortar shells, from the fighting inside Syria accidently hit the Israeli side, occasionally resulting in light casualties among Israelis. Though Israel fired back, it did so in a very selective way. Since the civil unrest in Syria, Syrian outfits, including radical organizations like Jabhat al-Nusra, have seized control of most of that border area, a potential springboard to attack Israel. While these groups do not present a real challenge for Israel, as the Syrian military has since 1974, this could turn the Golan Heights into a frontline, just as the Gaza Strip has been since 2005. The ongoing friction in the Golan Heights might therefore lead to an escalation that neither the Israeli nor Syrian outfits stationed there seek, at least for now. Thus, if Israel absorbs heavy losses due to an attack from Syria, it could be dragged into the Syrian quagmire.
For Hizballah, “fighting in Syria has hardened a new generation of Hezbollah militiamen, but it has also depleted the group’s ranks and eroded its carefully cultivated image as an organization devoted to ‘resisting’ Israel.” If Assad falls, Hizballah, with all its rockets, would have difficulty resupplying its units in Lebanon. In addition, there has been tension between Israel and Hizballah on the border in the Golan Heights, where several Hizballah operatives were killed by an Israeli air bombardment in late January 2015.
No other Arab country has caused Israel more casualties and posed a greater threat to the Jewish state than Egypt from the 1950s to the late 1970s. Following the 1973 war, Egypt understood that Israel could not be defeated in the battlefield, or that achieving this goal would be too costly. As a result, Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. While this peace turned cold, it did at least prevent war.
One of the stipulations of the 1979 peace treaty was Egypt’s obligation to demilitarize most of Sinai, which made the defense of the peninsula much more complicated in the case of an Israeli invasion. In order to compensate for this weakness, Egypt felt obliged to strengthen its military, though Israel had no intention of attacking Egypt. The price for Israel’s demand to demilitarize the Sinai was therefore the creation of a stronger Egyptian military.
Over three decades later, in 2015, Egypt’s strategic thinking is still influenced by past wars against Israel, and the Egyptian military continues to train for a potential confrontation with the Jewish state. For example, between October 11 and November 6, 2014, in their biggest drill since 1996, Egyptian troops carried out the Bader-2014 exercise, which examined several scenarios, including a war against the IDF. In February 2015, Egypt purchased 24 Rafale jets from France, claiming they were needed because of skirmishes with outfits such as the Islamic State located in Libya, Egypt’s western neighbor. Yet Egypt’s F- 16–though quite old models–should be more than enough against those armed groups, which don’t have an air force. Rather, Egypt seeks to upgrade its air force by assimilating the Rafale as part of its preparations for a possible clash with the IAF.
In spite of the 1979 peace treaty, Egypt has poured funds into its military instead of investing in solving its enormous economic and social problems. The social and political upheaval since the start of the Arab turmoil was the result of these policies. Mubarak believed that allocating huge budgets to his military, at the expense of the population, would secure his regime. He was proven wrong in 2011, when the Egyptian people, supported by the military, toppled Mubarak. Egyptian President Abd al-Fatah al-Sisi, who is well aware of his country’s dire economic situation, should not repeat this mistake. To this end, Al-Sisi has sought the help of other states, including the Arab Gulf states.
Al-Sisi and Israel have a common enemy, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as was evident in the 2014 war. Another conflict in the Gaza Strip could mean Egypt and Israel would have to face Hamas again. The two countries have also been collaborating against armed groups in Sinai, but if one of the groups in Sinai manages to carry out a deadly assault inside Israel, this could create tensions and even lead to a clash between Israel and Egypt.
Since 1949, Israel has been more concerned about the Hashemite Kingdom’s strategic location near Israel’s population centers, which could have served as a springboard against Israel. In 1994, following years of secret talks between Jordanian and Israeli leaders, the two signed a peace agreement. Since then, Jordan has for the most part succeeded in preventing guerrilla and terror activities against Israel from within its territory.
Amman has expressed concern about the lack of negotiations between Israel and the PA, despite the fact that a Palestinian state could jeopardize Jordan, whose population is mostly Palestinian. The kingdom has also had to deal with severe economic hardship and the rise of the Islamic State in neighboring Iraq and Syria. Jordan has extricated itself from complicated and dangerous situations before, such as in 1970, when its military fought an internal foe–the PLO–and an external enemy–Syrian forces that invaded the kingdom. With the support of Israel and other states such as the United States, Jordan may once again succeed in overcoming its internal and external challenges.
Israel will continue to deal with challenges regarding Iran and Hizballah, the Palestinians, Syria, and Egypt. The Arab turmoil and instability in the Middle East could lead to dramatic developments on each of Israel’s fronts.
Since 1979, Israel and Iran have been in a state of cold war, a conflict which has intensified since the early 2000s with the development of Iran’s nuclear program. Israel is deeply concerned about Iran, which has called for Israel’s destruction, arming itself with nuclear weapons. It is unlikely that Israel has the military capability to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure completely, without using an arsenal it does not officially admit is in its possession, i.e. nuclear weapons. Yet Israel could continue to threaten to strike Iran with conventional weapons–if only indirectly–in order to put pressure on the world powers to supervise Iran’s actions and to prevent Iran from obtaining the bomb.
Israel may collaborate with the United States and/or Arab states against Iran. However, this anti-Iranian bloc would be fragile due to conflicts of interests between Israel and the Arab states, as well as with the United States. The U.S. government opposes an Israeli raid on Iran. There is thus no guarantee the United States will come to Israel’s aid or offer significant help in a war against Iran. As far as Israel is concerned, the Arabs are far less reliable allies due to their severe constraints and disputes with Israel as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Jerusalem does not want to be in a position in which a raid on Iran would be its last option. One of the possible shortcomings of such an attack would be a war between Israel and Hizballah. The latter has 100,000 rockets that cover all of Israel. Still, the Iranian-sponsored group has good reason not to confront Israel while thousands of its men are pinned down in Syria, fighting to save their ally, Assad. Hizballah is a powerful non-state organization, but it is not that strong. It is unable to focus on two fronts, Syria and Israel. Therefore, Hizballah would have to choose its priority: to retaliate against Israel if the latter attacks Iran and thus to get entangled in a war against it or to help Assad survive.
Prior to its decline due to the civil war, the Syrian military was Israel’s greatest concern, as far as a clash with a conventional military. The relatively poor condition of his armed forces is one reason Assad would not join his Iranian ally in a war against Israel. Furthermore, Assad fears an Israeli retribution that would render him weak and vulnerable to his enemies within Syria, enabling them to defeat him. As of the writing of this article, Israel has not intervened in the Syrian civil war. Since the beginning of the unrest there, Israel was not sure if its interests lay with Assad staying in power or with all kinds of outfits taking over Syria. Either way, Israeli air strikes inside Syria would likely continue, in order to prevent the delivery of advanced weapons to the Hizballah.
Since the fighting in Syria erupted, the Israeli-Syrian border, in the Golan Heights, has not been calm. In 2014, armed groups seized almost all that border, from the Syrian side. As long as they are busy clashing with Assad, it is unlikely they will open another front against Israel. However, Hizballah and Iran also have a presence on that border, which they might use to attack Israel. If this happens, Israel could strike back against Assad. Israel’s aim would be to convince Iran and Hizballah that their ally, Assad, would pay dearly for any campaign against Israel in the Golan Heights.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, lost a great deal of its arsenal, such as rockets, in the 2014 war against Israel. The latter should continue to contain the Hamas in the Gaza Strip in order to slow down its military buildup. Israel cannot prevent Hamas from digging tunnels and producing rockets, but it can delay this process by preventing the flow of materials for these into the Gaza Strip. In this regard, Hamas has tried to improvise, and the assaults from the Gaza Strip may eventually be resumed, leading perhaps to another war. Israel could then conquer the Gaza Strip and topple Hamas. Another outbreak of violence might occur in the West Bank too, particularly if Israel and the PA don’t cooperate on security matters.
In Egypt, al-Sisi must concentrate on taking care of the country’s crumbling economy and spend less on the military. Hopefully al-Sisi will not try to blame Israel for his troubles, though it may come to that if his political survival requires it. In addition, he will continue his struggle against insurgents and armed groups, such as those in Sinai, while cooperating with Israel on this matter. Nevertheless, if an attack from within Sinai were to take place and result in a large number of casualties inside Israel, this would create tensions between Israel and Egypt.
Israel and Jordan continue to cooperate on security matters. Still, the Hashemite Kingdom, which suffers from serious economic problems, could be destabilized. If this were to occur, Israel would have to act quickly to strengthen its military deployment across its long border with Jordan, as was done in the Golan Heights and Sinai.
Israel is faced with numerous security challenges, which could result in a crisis or even deteriorate quickly into a war. The most serious hotspots are Iran’s nuclear sites and the Gaza Strip, followed by the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Sinai, and Jordan. Regarding Iran, a military confrontation would depend on Israel’s decision to attack, but in other cases, the first step towards a violent escalation might be initiated by Israel’s foes.
*Ehud Eilam holds an M.A. and Ph.D. focusing on Israel’s national strategy and military doctrine, a subject he has researched for two decades. He has also worked as a researcher for Israel’s Ministry of Defense, has published dozens of articles, and is author of the book, The Next War Between Israel and Egypt: Examining a High Intensity War Between Two of the Strongest Militaries in the Middle East (Edgware, UK: Vallentine Mitchell, 2014).
 David Ben Gurion, Uniqueness and Destiny (Tel Aviv: Ministry Of Defense, 1972); Yigal Allon, Curtain of Sand (Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1960); Avner Yaniv, Politics and Strategy in Israel (Tel Aviv: Sifriat Poalim, 1994); Israel Tal, National Security (Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1996); Michael L. Handel, Israel’s Political-Military Doctrine (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973).
 Yoaz Hendel and Yaakov Katz, Israel vs. Iran: the Shadow War (Dulles: Virginia Potomac Books, 2012); Ephraim Kam, From Terror to Nuclear Bombs: The Significance of the Iranian Threat (Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense, 2004).
 Yossi Kuperwasser, “Israel’s Role in the Struggle over the Iranian Nuclear Project,” The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar Ilan University, Mideast Security and Policy Studies, No. 114 (June 2015), p. 25.
 Austin Long, “If You Really Want to Bomb Iran, Take the Deal,” Washington Post, April 3 2015,
 Joe Gould, “DoD to Congress: Iran Deal or No, Military Options Open,” Defensenews, July 29, 2015, http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/congress/2015/07/29/dod–congress-iran-deal–no-military-options-open/30843573/.
 Michael Crowley, “Plan B for Iran,” Politico Magazine, June 24 2015,
 Charles D Freilich, Zion’s Dilemmas – How Israel Makes National Security Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012).
 Ephraim Inbar, “Security Challenges of the New Israeli Government,” The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar Ilan University, March 19 2015, http://besacenter.org/uncategorized/security-challenges-of-the-new-israeli-government/.
 “As Nuclear Talks Resume, Israel Threatens Military Option,” Times of Israel, April 2 2015, http://www.timesofisrael.com/as-nuclear-talks-resume-israel-hints-at-military-option/.
 Yaakov Lappin, “IAF Must ‘Invest a Lot’ to Overcome Russian S-300 Missiles, Says Former Air Force Official,” Jerusalem Post, April 14, 2015, http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/IAF-must-invest-a-lot-to-overcome-S-300-system-if-it-ends-up-in-Syrian-Iranian-hands-398047.
 On 1973, see: Shmuel Gordon, Thirty Hours in October (Tel Aviv: Ma’ariv Book Guild, 2008). Trevor N. Dupuy, Elusive Victory (London: Macdonald and Janes, 1978), p.441. Ghani Abdel Mohamed El Gamasy, The October War (The American University in Cairo, 1993), p.136.
 Eitan Shamir, “Israel’s Future Wars: Universal Lessons of a Peculiar Case,” Strategic Insights, Vol. 10, No. 3 (October 2011), p. 22.
 On the 2006 war, see: Shmuel Gordon, The Second Lebanon War: Strategic Decisions and their Consequences (Ben-Shemen, Israel: Modan, 2012). Amir Rapaport, Friendly Fire (Tel Aviv: Ma’ariv Books, 2007).
 Elie Elhadj, “The Shi’i Crescent’s Push for Regional Hegemony and the Sunni Reaction,” Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), Vol. 18, No. 1 (Spring 2014), p. 46, http://www.rubincenter.org/2014/04/the-shii-crescents-push-for-regional-hegemony-and-the-sunni-reaction/; Matthew Levitt, Hezbollah: the Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2013).
 Elie Podeh, “Israel and the Arab Peace Initiative, 2002–2014: A Plausible Missed Opportunity,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 68, No. 4 (Fall 2014), pp. 584-603.
 Daniel Byman, A High Price: The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism (Oxford University Press, 2011); Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001 (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 2003).
 Uzi Rabi and Harel Chorev, “To Deter Hamas: Expect the Unexpected,” The World Post, August 12, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/uzi-rabi/israel-hamas-ceasefire_b_5673068.html.
 On the issue of the tunnels during the 2014 war, see: Udi Dekel and Shlomo Brom, “The Second Stage of Operation Protective Edge: A Limited Ground Maneuver,” Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), July 21 2014, http://www.inss.org.il/index.aspx?id=4538&articleid=7239; Yiftah S. Shapir and Gal Perel, “Subterranean Warfare: A New-Old Challenge,” INSS, July 2014, http://www.inss.org.il/index.aspx?id=4538&articleid=8176. Janine Zacharia, “Tunnel Mapping Could Have Neutralized Hamas Threat Without Fatalities,” Washington Post, August 11, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/janine-zacharia-tunnel-mapping-could-have-neutralized-hamas-threat-without-fatalities/2014/08/11/54781622-1f3c-11e4-ae54-0cfe1f974f8a_story.html. 2014 Gaza War Assessment: The New Face of Conflict, A Report by the JINSA-Commissioned Gaza Conflict Task Force, March 2015, http://www.jinsa.org/files/2014GazaAssessmentReport.pdf. On the plan to attack through the tunnels, see: Ben Caspit, “Israeli Officials: United States Chose Qatar over Us,” al-Monitor, July 29, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/07/netanyahu-abbas-kerry-protective-edge-gaza.html.
 On 2002, see: Amos Harel and Avi Isacharoff, The Seventh War, (Tel Aviv: Miskal-Yedioth Ahronoth Books and Chemed Books, 2004).
 Lally Weymouth, “Israeli Defense Minister: Iranian Nuclear Agreement Is ‘a Very Bad One,’” Washington Post, June 2 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/israeli-defense-minister-iranian-nuclear-agreement-is-a-very-bad-one/2015/06/02/9903f980-0886-11e5-a7ad-b430fc1d3f5c_story.html.
 David Schenker, “Hezbollah’s Victory in Qalamoun: Winning the Battle, Losing the War,” The Washington Institute, May 20 2015, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/hezbollahs-victory-in-qalamoun-winning-the-battle-losing-the-war.
 “Egypt’s Conventional Military Thinking”, Stratfor, June 12 2015,
https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/egypts-conventional-military-thinking; Ehud Eilam, The Next War between Israel and Egypt: Examining a High Intensity War Between Two of the Strongest Militaries in the Middle East (Edgware, UK: Vallentine Mitchell, 2014), http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Next-Between-Israel-Egypt/dp/0853038384?tag=wp-amazon-associate-21.