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July 24, 2018 11:10 am

The Myth of Israeli ‘Deterrence’

avatar by Martin Sherman

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A swastika on display during Gaza border protests in early April. Photo: IDF via Twitter.

For more than a decade, Israel has inflicted heavy damage on the Islamist terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas, which are ranged against Israel on its northern and southern borders, respectively. Yet Israel has never really managed to deter them in the real sense of the word — i.e., breaking their will to continue the fight.

Forced to regroup, re-arm, and redeploy — but not give up the fight

True, Israel has regularly forced these groups into ceasefires, which they have always exploited to regroup, re-arm, and redeploy. But the Jewish state has never really eliminated the groups’ readiness to engage at some future opportunity, usually of their choosing — when they feel they are able to do so. Thus, Israel has never succeeded in eliminating the tangible threat of continued conflict and combat.

In fact, quite the opposite is true.

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Despite the losses they have suffered, both Hamas and Hezbollah have emerged from each round of fighting defiant and still spoiling for a fight. Indeed, not only have they never surrendered, but they have even declared victory — not entirely without justification from their perspective.

Moreover, after the end of each round of fighting, the terror groups have managed to enhance their offensive military capabilities dramatically within a relatively short space of time.

Thus Hezbollah, after the widespread destruction that the IDF inflicted on Lebanon during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, has increased both the quantity and the quality of its weaponry directed against Israel. Its arsenal has grown ten-fold — now reportedly numbering 150,000 rockets and missiles — with their accuracy and destructive capacity significantly upgraded relative to pre-war levels. This will severely strain and possibly even overwhelm Israel’s anti-missile defenses. These defenses will now not only be called on to contend with a far greater number of incoming projectiles, but due to the rockets’ improved precision they will likely prove more deadly and effective.

Circumventing Israeli countermeasures

In Gaza, Hamas has demonstrated impressive ingenuity in developing its martial prowess. Indeed, in 2005 the most formidable weapon that Hamas had at its disposal was a primitive rocket with a half-kilogram explosive charge and a range of 5 km. Today the Islamist terror group has missiles with a range of up to 100 km, and warheads of up to 100 kg. In addition, Hamas has burrowed a vast array of underground terror tunnels into Israel, developed naval capabilities, and is reportedly engaged in producing drones for use against the Jewish state.

Thus, every time that Israel has attempted to devise a countermeasure to neutralize terrorist aggression, new methods of attack were found to circumvent it. When Israel installed a fence to prevent suicide attacks, it found itself under salvos from rockets and missiles; when the Iron Dome system was introduced to neutralize the rockets and missiles, underground attack tunnels were excavated; when a billion-dollar 130 ft deep underground barrier was constructed and new, costly hi-tech detection technology was introduced, low cost incendiary kites and balloons were deployed.

Implacable enemy, not prospective peace partners

Indeed, had anyone prior to the 2005 unilateral Israeli evacuation from Gaza warned that this would be the situation facing Israel today, he or she would have undoubtedly been dismissed as nothing more than a demagogic scaremonger. Clearly then, if Israel cannot dissuade the Palestinian terror groups from persisting with their murderous aggression, it must cripple their ability to launch such aggression.

However, to do this, Israel must extricate itself from the constricting bonds of the two-state formula and the failed land-for-peace dogma. It must cease relating to the Palestinian Arabs as prospective peace partners until they prove they are ready to stop fighting. Only then will Israel be able to deal effectively with the endemic Judeocidal impulses of its sworn adversaries.

Dr. Martin Sherman ( is founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies ( A different version of this article appeared at NewsMax.

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