ISIS is threatening Israel from the south. IDF sources listing the expected security challenges to Israel in 2016 said that the biggest risk of operations against Israel over the coming year is on Israel's southern border. The IDF has realized that Israel faces security challenges along the borders in 2016, with the possibility of escalation beyond what occurred in 2015.
From the IDF's perspective, ISIS Sinai poses the greatest risk of action against Israel, although its capabilities are limited. ISIS Sinai has 1,000 members and a supply of money and weapons from its parent organization.
The IDF believes that there is also potential for escalation in Judea and Samaria, while the main restraining factor there is the economy, which will be damaged by escalation. Another restraining element is the partnership and security coordination with the Palestinian agencies still operating in the field.
The sources also said that the IDF would have to organize and prepare in 2016 for war set off by a local event that could drag the region into a wider conflict. This possibility also exists against Hezbollah on the northern border, and in the Golan Heights against the Islamic organizations located right over the border. The major terrorist attack in Paris was planned and organized in the city of Al-Raqqah in Syria, an ISIS organizational and planning center.
One of the key questions that will also affect Israel is the Shi'ite-Sunni tension in the Middle East, especially the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabian policy also has the potential setting off a conflict in the entire region, including Israel.
Assuming a lack of intervention from Iran's leadership, the upcoming elections in Iran could mark some change in Iran's attitude, although there will be no dramatic change in its policy. Iran is continuing its efforts to influence events in Judea and Samaria, giving Hamas a great deal of money in the Gaza Strip, and building Hezbollah's force, as well as working for and directing terrorist attacks in the Golan Heights.
Little likelihood of a war against Hezbollah
Hezbollah also has no interest in escalation, but the sensitive situation along the border could lead to a broader clash. The organization is under strong economic pressure, and has suffered 1,300 dead and 10,000 wounded - double the number in the Second Lebanon War. At the same time, Hezbollah is continuing to build up its forces.
This buildup against Israel is focused on a number of possibilities, including efforts - in the event of a wider clash - to move the conflict to Israeli territory. The IDF believes that such a war is not very likely, and defines an individual event igniting a large front as "moderately likely." Hezbollah is ready to take risks in order to maintain its red lines.
The Palestinian theater features a dwindling number of terrorist attacks and disorders, but a new pattern is becoming established - attacks against civilians in Jewish communities. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas is deterred from acting, but is not deterred from arming itself, digging tunnels, and restoring the capabilities it had before Operation Protective Edge.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 26, 2016
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