"Security 101" – Passover 2006

Ynet Hebrew edition, April 01, 2006

How realistic are those, who blur the security irreplaceability of the Judea & Samaria (J&S) mountain ridges, which constitute the "Golan Heights" of Jerusalem, of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem freeway and of the coastal plain?

 

If they would merely assume that the peace treaty with Jordan, and the demise of the Saddam regime, have eliminated the deadly threat from Israel's eastern front, DA'YE'NOU (it would have sufficed).


However, US military presence in Iraq is transient.  Its termination could severely destabilize the Mideast, prompting a radical regime in Baghdad, exacerbating the Iranian and Syrian threats and toppling the regimes in Riad, Amman and Cairo. In 1967, Israel demolished the military infrastructure of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, and developed the concept of "Low Probability" for Arab offensive.  But, in 1973, the concept collapsed with a surprise Arab attack, and Israel barely escaped annihilation.  In 1979, Iran was violently transformed from a cardinal ally to a sworn enemy, and the 1993 Oslo vision of peace was abruptly transformed into a nightmare of unprecedented wave of Palestinian terrorism. There is no free lunch for wishful-thinkers in the Mideast.

 

If they would solely contend that the 21st century strategic thinking is overlooking topography in general and  land barriers in particular, DA'YE'NOU.


However, the US – with its most modern military - controls more than 200 overseas military bases (100 between Turkey and Portugal), which are strategically located.  According to General (ret.) Al Gray, former Commandant, US Marine Corps, "The principal threat to Israel’s existence, for the foreseeable future, will remain the threat of an invasion and occupation by heavy armored forces... Achieving military success in a war requires more than lobbing a few hundred missiles... To win a war against Israel, Syria must move armor, infantry and artillery into Israel proper, and then destroy Israeli forces on the ground. This was true in 1948, it was true in 1967 and 1973, and it remains true in today’s Age of Missiles..."

 

If they would simply believe that advanced technology and military systems constitute a proper substitute for the J & S mountain ridges, DA'YE'NOU.


However, today's High Tech is destined to become tomorrow's Low Tech.  On the other hand, today's High Ground will remain so tomorrow. Contrary to technology, geography and topography cannot be altered.  The most advanced US surveillance systems and satellites – stationed in/over the Persian Gulf area - did not detect Iraq's invasion of Iran (1980) and Kuwait (1990), and US aircraft could not hit Iraq's primitive Scud missile launchers (1991).  In 2006, Israel's sophisticated technology and missiles are unable to stop Palestinian Kassam and Katyusha missiles, as long as Israel does not control the Palestinian launching ground.

 

If they would simply ignore the crucial role played by J & S mountain ridges in the deployment of Israel's reservists, who constitute 75% of Israel's military, and spared Israel annihilation in 1973, DA'YE'NOU.


However, the switch from non-war to war, in the Mideast, has usually been sudden and lethal, as demonstrated by the 1967 and 1973 wars, as well as by Iraq's invasion of Iran and Kuwait.  A surprise Arab invasion of Israel would accord the invading armored forces a 7:1 advantage until deployment of Israel's reservists.  The more sophisticated the Arab military systems, the shorter the geographic depth of Israel and the more convenient the topography (facing the invading force), the closer would be the battle ground to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, at a distinct Israeli disadvantage, while deployment of reservists is incomplete.  The more accurate, long-range and destructive the Arab missiles, the more substantial the damage to Israel's military installations (including air force bases), the more havoc at the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv-Haifa "Soft Belly", which is the home of 70% of Israel's reservists, and the slower the process of reservists deployment. Israel's control of the mountain ridges enables a small Israeli regular military force to hold back an unpredictable invasion, thus providing additional critical time for the deployment of reservists.  Surveillance systems on the J & S mountain ridges provide Israel with early warning data, which extend all the way to the Persian Gulf.  In 1973, it was the control of the Golan Heights northeastern hilltops (overlooking Damascus), J & S mountain ridges and the Sinai, which made it possible to deploy Israel's reservists, thus averting an Israeli calamity.

 

If they would simply maintain that the Sinai precedent (retreat and demilitarization) applies to J & S, DA'YE'NOU.

 

However, Sinai and J & S are diametrically opposed topographically, geographically and demographically.  Thus, a surprise invasion through Sinai (22,000sqkm) would require, at least, 40 hours to reach Israel, thus providing Israel with substantial time for the deployment of reservists.  Such an invasion would be effectively confronted from the sparsely populated Negev, which constitutes 2/3 of Israel's territory and serves as the training platform for most of Israel's regulars and reservists.  On the other hand, a similar invasion through J & S (5,500sqkm) would provide only 10 hours for deployment.  It would be confronted from the densely populated, narrow-waistlined coastal plain, which is the home of Israel's most critical industries, transportation arteries, scientific and population centers, and cannot accommodate a substantial military force. While the Sinai does not possess any topographic advantage over the Negev, the J & S mountain ridges are endowed with a unique topographic edge: A 3,000ft steep slope overtowering the Jordan Valley in the east – the most effective tank obstacle in the region; and a 2,000ft moderate slope – a dream platform of invasion to the 8-15 mile coastal plain. No country – especially not in the violent Mideast - would give away to its sworn enemies a superb tank obstacle and provide them with a tempting invasion platform.  Whereas the Sinai giveaway was a calculated risk, a giveaway of the J & S mountain ridges would be a lethal gamble.

 

The flawed world view, which blurs the security irreplaceability of the J & S mountain ridges, is exposed in view of the fact that Israel's Narrow-Waistline (which is dominated by J & S mountain ridges) is shorter than the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport, equal to the distance between JFK and La Guardia airports and between Wall Street and Columbia University, as well as equal to a roundtrip between RFK Stadium and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

 

The test of a secure boundary is not whether it facilitates the signing of a peace treaty.  The test of a secure boundary is whether it could withstand an unpredictable concerted offensive by a number of Arab countries – assisted by the Palestinians – in the Mideast, which has not experienced an inter-Arab peaceful coexistence during the last 1,300 years.  The J & S mountain ridges – the aquifers of 40% of Israel's water supply – are irreplaceable for the survival of Israel, whose margin of wartime error is close to zero.