Libmonster ID: U.S.-1314

Keywords: Israel, West Bank, militants, Gaza Strip

A. A. ERMAKOV, PhD Student

I. V. RYZHOV, Doctor of Historical Sciences Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod

The armed confrontation between the State of Israel and radical Palestinian organizations demonstrates various scenarios for the development of the conflict, the arena of which is the territory of the Palestinian National Authority ( PA) - the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.1 did not bring the expected peace to the Jewish State. Since the evacuation of the settlements, anti-Israeli forces have become more active in the sector, which led to an armed confrontation the following year, during which the Israelis faced an enemy capable of challenging the regular army.

The level of preparation of the militants for military operations was quite high. "Of course, the militants we are fighting here are not Hezbollah militant groups. But it should be noted how much their training has increased recently. Let's say that before, they had no idea about intelligence at all. Now all their actions are clearly planned. It is obvious that the militants in Gaza have improved both in their tactical skills and in working with weapons, " 2 said a soldier from one of the Israeli special forces. The military pressure exerted by the Jewish State on Palestinian radicals to free Corporal Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by militants on June 25, 2006 near the Kerem Shalom border checkpoint, was not enough, and Tel Aviv did not dare to conduct a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. At that time, there was a strong view among the Israeli leadership that it was necessary to avoid prolonged military operations on the territory of the Palestinian enclave*. Although the positions of the Minister of Internal Security Avi Dichter and the head of the Shin Bet (or Shin Bet - Israel's political counterintelligence) Yuval Diskin were directly opposite-they both supported a large-scale military operation against the radicals of Gaza.

THE THREATS OF RADICALS CANNOT BE IGNORED

The Palestinian enclave has become a hotbed of growing military threats to the Jewish State, aided by the Hamas takeover of its territory in 2007. This event was the culmination of the confrontation between Fatah and Hamas, which are significantly different in their political attitudes.3

Fatah's loss of control over Gaza prevented further escalation of the conflict between the Jewish State and radical organizations in the Palestinian enclave. This was evidenced by the rather constructive actions of the PNA leader Mahmoud Abbas, who put an end to the armed confrontation in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian leader reinforced the agreement reached with his participation on a truce between the radicals of Gaza and Tel Aviv by sending Palestinian security forces to the northern part of the strip, which is most convenient for rocket attacks from the territory of the Jewish state.

An important event that determined the dynamics of the conflict in the West Bank was Operation Protective Wall, which was conducted much earlier - back in 2002. During this operation, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), resorting to the "swarming" tactics created within the framework of the "network war"concept, 4 dealt the militants a blow from which they never recovered. At that time, it was possible to avoid further escalation of the conflict in the West Bank thanks to the opposition of the radicals both from the Jewish state and from the Palestinians.

The Israelis have made great efforts to weaken the military potential of their enemy. Thus, in 2006, Tel Aviv refused to extend the ceasefire agreement with the Gaza radicals to the territory of the West Bank. At the same time, the Palestinians, on the initiative of the PA, significantly weakened the position of radicals in their security services.

The events of 2012 - the "March" and "June" wars, as well as Operation Pillar of Cloud-marked the beginning of a new stage of confrontation between Israelis and radical organizations in the Gaza Strip5. During the armed escalation, the Jewish state, with minimal losses on its part, was able to significantly weaken the Gaza radicals. The success of Tel Aviv was ensured by the tactic of "remote fire", which was largely the result of the success of the Iron Dome missile defense system and the high efficiency of the Israeli Air Force.

Difficulties with making up for losses against the background of an unspoken military conflict


* A similar position was held by a member of the Knesset of the 16th and 17th convocations, a member of the Knesset's foreign Affairs and security Commission, as well as the former head of the Israeli foreign intelligence service MOSSAD, Dani Yatom, who advocated an increase in the number of special forces operations. Uneasy times await us / / Military Bulletin of Israel. 2007, N 3, p. 3.

page 38

and Cairo's intelligence cooperation with the Jewish State6 forced the Gaza radicals to refrain from further escalating the conflict.

The current situation in the conflict between Tel Aviv and the radical organizations of the Palestinian enclave is reflected in the words of one of the leaders of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, who stated that "... the resistance is in a state of permanent preparation for future battles with the Zionist enemy. " 7

Recently, Israeli intelligence agencies have noted that after a long break, Hamas has again begun to restore the representation of its military wing in the West Bank. In the 2 years since the liberation of Gilad Shalit*, the Shin Bet has prevented more than 80 sabotage operations in this territory, prepared by Hamas members from the Gaza Strip.8

MILITARY POTENTIAL OF ANTI-ISRAEL FORCES

The anti-Israeli forces opposing Tel Aviv in the West Bank are heterogeneous and include radicals who are still fighting the Jewish state, as well as supporters of Al-Qaeda "jihadists". At the same time, "jihadists" seeking to further destabilize the military and political situation in the region are met with opposition not only from the Israeli and Palestinian security services, but also from the Hamas movement, whose militants in 2009 in the Gaza Strip defeated the so-called "emirate", proclaimed by the" jihadist "group" Army of Followers of Allah".

It is interesting that not all militants operating in the West Bank belong to clearly structured organizations - some carry out "amateur" attacks on Israelis as part of the so-called popular resistance.

The military potential of the West Bank militants is not comparable to the level of the military potential of the combat units of the Gaza Strip. The militants operating on the territory of the Palestinian enclave possess not only modern small arms and anti-tank weapons, but also improvised rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv. It was the military potential of the militants of the Gaza Strip that was one of the factors that forced the Jewish state to avoid conducting a large-scale ground operation in the enclave.

However, the increase in military tensions near Israel's southern borders in June 2014 and the rocket attack on Israel by Hamas militants forced Tel Aviv to launch a large-scale operation "Unbreakable Rock" against the military units of the Gaza Strip on the night of July 7-8.

Head of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Z. Elkin stated:"...The most basic goal, without which there is nothing to talk about at all, is to stop the shelling of Israel and restore calm... there are also additional tasks: the maximum weakening of Hamas, the destruction of a large part of its missile potential."**

Initially, during Operation Unbreakable Rock, the Israelis relied on the actions of the Air Force. Various elements of the militant infrastructure, including tunnels and underground rocket launchers, weapons "factories", were hit by Israeli aircraft. As in the days of the armed confrontation in 2012, the Iron Dome missile defense system provided reliable protection to the Israeli rear. At the same time, the Israeli leadership was well aware that without a large-scale ground operation in the Gaza Strip, it was impossible to weaken Hamas as much as possible, and the plan for the ground stage of Operation Unbreakable Rock was approved on July 9, 2014.

Tel Aviv assumed that most of the radicals ' military infrastructure was located in densely populated areas of the sector. However, a ground operation on this territory would inevitably lead to a huge number of civilian casualties. As a result, it was decided to send a ground operation to fight the tunnels that Hamas planned to use to reach the "fortresses, bases and homes" of Israelis. On the night of July 17-18, 2014, a ground operation began, during which the opposing sides began to suffer heavy losses.

Meanwhile, tensions continue to persist in the West Bank. Israeli intelligence agencies note that after a long break, Hamas again began to restore the representation of its military wing in this territory.

Palestinian groups in the West Bank are much less "equipped" - they use only light small arms, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), molotov cocktails, as well as cold weapons and stones.

Easy-to-make "Molotov cocktails" are used by radicals more often than IEDs and small arms. This is evidenced by statistics: in June 2013 alone, 88 molotov cocktails and only 4 small arms attacks were carried out in the West Bank, as well as in Jerusalem; 7 cases of IED planting were also recorded.9

However, attacks with the use of molotov cocktails, in general, are ineffective. Only a few of these operations still achieve the goal. Thus, on May 15, 2013, in the south of Mount Hebron, a patrol car overturned and caught fire from a thrown molotov cocktail, and four servicemen were injured.10

A significant difference between the armed confrontation in the West Bank and the recent military operations in Iraq and the ongoing ones in Afghanistan is the relatively weak spread of the "mine war". In these countries, the enemy opposing the US forces and their allies made a significant bet on the use of improvised explosive devices and mines. The fact is that to carry out a hidden bookmark of the IED


* Gilad Shalit spent 1,940 days in captivity and was released on October 18, 2011 as part of the Loyalty to Free People exchange deal: 1,027 Palestinian prisoners convicted of terrorism and killing Israeli citizens were released. The exchange deal helped strengthen the political authority of Hamas.

** Cit. By: Ze'ev Elkin: the operation will end when Hamas throws out the "white flag". Интервью - http://www.newsru.co.il/ israel/13jul2014/elkin_int_701.html

page 39

in the natural environment of the West Bank, it is not easy. In addition, these devices have a much larger weight and volume compared to mines manufactured using explosives "in the factory"11. Certain restrictions on the use of powerful but bulky IEDs by militants also impose difficulties in transporting them.

IF HAMAS HAS ROCKETS...

Hamas has attempted to organize rocket production in the West Bank and thereby bring the armed confrontation to a higher level. In 2013, the security forces of the Jewish state neutralized two links of Hamas militants who planned to carry out not only a number of sabotage operations, but also to start producing rockets for shelling Israeli settlements. One of these groups operated a laboratory for the production of explosives specifically designed for use in combat missiles. 12

The expected deployment of large-scale rocket production by Hamas in the West Bank will, of course, pose new challenges for Tel Aviv. Both settlements beyond the "green Line" and central areas of Israel will be under the threat of rocket attacks. The implementation of plans to deploy rocket weapons in the West Bank would significantly enhance the operational and tactical capabilities of Hamas.

The very ability of Hamas to threaten Israel's heartlands has a great strategic advantage. Regardless of success or failure in causing real damage, Hamas now has a reputation for challenging the Jewish State, even though Palestinian rockets did not actually hit Jerusalem or Tel Aviv during the fighting in November 201213. And the almost inevitable retaliatory rocket attacks on Israel from the West Bank will only strengthen the position of Hamas in the field of information and psychological confrontation with the Jewish state.

However, according to Palestinian intelligence officials, if Hamas manages to establish the production of rocket weapons in the West Bank, it will use them only in the event of an all-out confrontation with Israel, or as retribution for the elimination of one of its high-ranking operatives.14

This point of view deserves attention. Hamas leaders are aware that the militants ' use of rocket weapons in the West Bank is bound to provoke a tough response from Tel Aviv. Such a response is likely to be a large-scale operation that could negate Hamas 'efforts to establish" rocket laboratories " in the area.

At present, the Jewish state manages to contain the growth of the militants ' military potential and nip in the bud a significant part of their sabotage operations. In the course of countering Palestinian groups in the West Bank, a key role is assigned to the so-called targeted events that have become almost daily, during which militants are detained or destroyed, weapons and ammunition are seized, etc. Such operations allow the Israelis to successfully neutralize entire militant groups in a short time.

Israel pays a lot of attention to its checkpoints. These checkpoints periodically become targets of attacks, but their work has repeatedly helped to stop sabotage operations of militants, including attacks with the use of IEDs. Thus, on January 8, 2012, at the Salem checkpoint, 11 IEDs, firearms and edged weapons, as well as a large amount of ammunition were seized from vehicles heading to Israel.15

The prevention of militant attacks is also facilitated by the conduct of patrol service by employees of the Israeli security forces. For example, in June 2013, soldiers of the Israeli Border Guard Service, while patrolling in the Beit Lehem area, neutralized a group of militants armed with sniper rifles equipped with silent firing devices.16

The militants also face opposition from Ramallah. A major success of the Palestinian security services was, for example, the destruction in September 2012 of an underground warehouse of Hamas militants located south of Nablus, which, by the way, contained hundreds of thousands of dollars.17

A heavy blow was also inflicted on the militants during the large-scale operation "Bring back the Brothers", conducted by the Israelis in the West Bank from 13 to 30 June 2014 in response to the abduction of three students of a religious school by Palestinian radicals. Unfortunately, it was not possible to save the teenagers - all of them were killed some time after the abduction.

Israeli security forces detained hundreds of radicals, seized a large number of weapons and ammunition, and eliminated several weapons "laboratories". In addition, the IDF special forces in Hebron uncovered a powerful underground infrastructure, which the militants planned to use in sabotage operations against Israelis.

SABOTAGE WAR

The effectiveness of countering radicals is significantly reduced due to the presence of their agents in the ranks of the Palestinian security services, as well as accomplices among Israeli citizens. Thus, on November 21, 2012, a bus was blown up by a group of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants on Shaul ha-Meleh Street in Tel Aviv. The main role in the operation was played by an Israeli citizen of Arab origin, who was driving an IED to Tel Aviv and installed it in the bus cabin, after which it was remotely activated. 18 On December 22, 2013, an attempt was made by Islamic Jihad to blow up the bus on Mivtsa Sinai Street in Bat Yam. One of the participants in the operation turned out to be an agent who had infiltrated the ranks of the Palestinian police. Although both the "policeman" and his brother, who is also a member of the Islamic Jihad, were under surveillance by the Israeli and Palestinian security services long before the attempt to blow up the bus, they were not neutralized in a timely manner. 19

These developments suggest that the West Bank radicals are still capable of inflicting heavy weapons.

page 40

painful blows to the Jewish state. Such high-profile operations, which are part of a diversionary war in which methods of informational and psychological influence are widely used, 20 serve as one of the integral elements of the fight against the State of Israel for Hamas militants and their allied groups.

Operations in the depths of Israeli territory, designed to create a sense of vulnerability and insecurity among the civilian population of the Jewish state, contribute to strengthening the position of radicals in the field of information and psychological confrontation with Tel Aviv. Hamas spokesman Hassam Badran said of the attempted bus bombing in Bat Yam: "Against the backdrop of a permanent war against the Resistance in the West Bank, the operation in the heart of Israel is a success. The losses of the occupation in this case fall by the wayside. " 21

* * *

Summing up the above, it can be stated that during the conflict in the West Bank, the Israeli and Palestinian security services, in general, manage to contain the growth of the operational and tactical capabilities of the militants quite effectively. However, the recent operations of the West Bank radicals on Israeli territory, as well as the growth of sabotage activities outside the "green Line" clearly indicate that the Jewish state needs to multiply efforts aimed at improving the effectiveness of the fight against the enemy, paying equal attention to countering both militant groups and lone terrorists.

In turn, the desire to avoid further escalation of the conflict in order to advance the Palestinian-Israeli peace process against the background of attempts by radicals to bring the armed confrontation in the West Bank to a new level makes it necessary to strengthen the security services controlled by Ramallah in order to increase the effectiveness of countering militants from the Palestinians themselves.


1 The evacuation of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip in 2005 was carried out in accordance with the unilateral disengagement plan, which provided for the withdrawal of all Jewish settlements from the territory of the Palestinian enclave, and part of the settlements from the territory of the West Bank. With the withdrawal of the Israelis from the Gaza Strip, a new stage of the conflict between the Jewish state and Palestinian radicals began, during which the militants of Hamas and its allied groups operating in the strip were given full freedom of action to significantly strengthen their military potential.

2 Cit. by: E. Groysman War in non-stop mode / / Little Brother. 2007, N 1, с. 51. (Groisman Е. Voina v rezhime non-stop // Bratishka. 2007, N 1) (in Russian)

Avilov K. 3 Fatah and Hamas: the Struggle for Power / / Asia and Africa Today. 2007, N 7, с. 53. (Avilov K. FATH i HAMAS: borba za vlast // Aziya i Afrika segodnya. 2007, N 7) (in Russian)

Korolev A.V. 4 "Low-intensity conflict". A new method of Israel's struggle with the Palestinians / / Asia and Africa Today. 2009, N 3, p. 16. (Korolev A.V. "Konflikt nizkoy intensivnosti". Novyi metod borby Izrailya s palestintsami // Aziya i Afrika segodnya. 2009, N 3) (in Russian)

5 Operation Pillar of Cloud was conducted from November 14 to 21, 2012, in response to rising military tensions along the southern borders of the Jewish State (over 500 rockets were fired at Israel by Palestinian militants in the first seven months of 2012 alone), which forced Tel Aviv to conduct a large-scale operation against the Gaza radicals in order to: the weakening of their military potential. During the operation, the signal for the beginning of which was the destruction of the head of the Hamas military wing, Ahmed Jabari, as a result of an airstrike, the Israeli side relied on the actions of the Air Force, which carried out more than 1.5 thousand airstrikes on targets in the Gaza Strip, destroying dozens of militants and a significant part of the military infrastructure.

Yaari E. 6 Israeli-Egyptian Peace: Forty Years After the 1973 War and Holding // The Washington Institute for Near East Policy -http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/israeli-egyptian-peace-forty-years-a fter-the-1973-war-and-holding

7 Cit. by: Ismail Haniyeh visited the family of the Qassam Brigad martyr... / / Palestinian Information Center - http://www.pales-tinc-info.ru/ru/default.aspx?xyz-U6Qq7k%2bcOd 87MDI46m9rUxJE pMO%2bils7gkyUgu8pmiApZar%2bXbj74kyyA3iPyjgSQii5xvwZziPD oIAvfCs8QFM42hudEw5Ilu7ZoHfaqqEtqX6DRo632bUoaey%2fNcJbn JN%2bXKw0vAt8%3d

8 Intelligence Agencies: Hamas released in exchange for Shalit creates terror network in West Bank - http://www.newsru.co.il/ mideast/20dec2013/shalit302.html

9 News about terrorist activities and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (3-9.07.2013) / / General Meir Amit Center for Intelligence and Anti-Terrorist Information-http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20543/R_107_13_549851362.pdf

10 Novosti o terroristicheskoy deyatel'nosti i ob izraelsko-palestvenskom konflikt (14-21 May 2013) [News about terrorist activities and the Israeli - Palestinian conflict (May 14-21, 2013)]... http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20516/ R_074_13_1029550628.pdf

Kimaev A.M. 11 Mine protection of modern armored vehicles. Puti resheniya i primery realizatsii [Solutions and examples of implementation]. 2012, N 9, с. 8. (Kimaev A.M. Protivominnaya zashchita sovremennykh bronirovannykh mashin. Puti reshenya i primery realizatsii // Tekhnika i Vooruzhenie. 2012, N 9) (in Russian)

12 News about terrorist activities and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (August 28-September 2, 2013) / / Center for Intelligence and Anti-Terrorist Information... http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20565/ R_140_13_266159919.pdf

Brom S 13., Eiland C., Kam E., Golov A., Elran M., Shapir Y., Eran O., Dekel U., Perlov O., Landau E.B., Kurz A., Schweitzer Y., Alterman O., Yadlin A. In the Aftermath of Operation Pillar of Defense: The Gaza Strip, November 2012. Tel Aviv. Institute for National Security Studies. 2012, p. 28 - 29.

14 Secret PA intelligence report on the Third Intifada -http://mignews.com/news/society/world/020114_115935_41294.html

15 Novosti o terroristicheskoy deyatel'nosti i ob izraelsko-palestvenskom konflikt (4 - 10.01.2012) [News about terrorist activities and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (4-10.01.2012)]... - http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/data/pdf/PDF_19093_6.pdf

16 News about terrorist activities and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (26.06-02.07.2013) / / Center for Intelligence and Anti-Terrorist Information... - http://www.tcrrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20539/R_102_13_593093035.pdf

17 Novosti o terroristicheskoi deyatel'nosti i ob israelsko-palestvenskom konfliktsii (20-24.09.2012 g.) [News about terrorist activities and the Israeli - Palestinian conflict (20-24 September 2012)]... - http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20396/R_190_l2_770l63805.pdf

18 News about terrorist activities and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (23-29 October 2013) / / Center for Intelligence and Anti-Terrorist Information... - http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20588/R_181_13_366462666.pdf

19 Arrest of the organizers of the bus bombing in Bat Yam. Data on detainees - http://www.newsru.co.il/israel/03jan2014/bat_yam_ 102.html

Grachev S. I., Gasymov A. A., Stesikov I. A. 20 Osobennosti sovremennogo terrorizma i problemnye aspekty v sisteme antiterrorizma [Features of modern terrorism and problematic aspects in the antiterrorism system]. 2012, N 7, с. 95 - 96. (Grachev S.L, Gasymov A.A., Stesikov I.A. Osobennosti sovremennogo terrorizma i problcmnye aspekty v sisteme antiterrorizma // Vlast. 2012, N 7) (in Russian)

21 Cit. po: Individual guerrilla actions will be a huge headache for Israel... / / Palestinian Information Center - http://www.palestine-info.ru/ru/default.aspx2xyz-U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO% 2bils7%2f2Mlo0JeSTJ7W %2bgLjuNNyCi8y0jpJ%2fv%2fOtW4oA%2fJDshDi7t3vggIWZ7eEEM5 F5PIeKmHxGmY5md080p4Iy9jKblLSMiRDtTluv%2fF6KSdtow%3d


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