Why does Israel frequent low-intensity conflicts?

China Military Online
Lin Congyi
2023-09-15 15:58:23

By Li Ruijing and Zhang Xigui

Israeli security personnel perform duty at the conflict site in the Jordan Valley region on September 5, 2023.

On September 5, Israeli forces killed two Palestinians during military operations in the West Bank city of Tulkarem and the Jordan Valley region. Throughout this year, the tension between Israel and Palestine has remained high, resulting in conflicts and casualties in Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and other areas. Simultaneously, Israel conducts "periodic airstrikes" on Syrian government-controlled territories approximately twice a month.

The primary reason for Israel's frequent small-scale military strikes in Pakistan and Syria is to eliminate potential long-term military threats through "low-intensity conflicts." Additionally, Israel intentionally creates tension in neighboring regions to maintain internal cohesion. Recent polls in Israel indicate that as many as 46% of Israelis oppose the government's vigorous push for judicial reforms, leading to large-scale protests. In this context, the Israeli government resorts to external conflicts to divert public attention.

Israel's military strikes predominantly target Syria. These strikes exhibit a noticeable "periodicity," as Israel's intelligence agencies identify and accumulate a certain number of military and dual-use targets within a set period. Subsequently, the Israeli government decided to launch military strikes. This approach weakens the Syrian government, its military, and pro-Iranian militias within Syria, further dividing and destabilizing the Arab world, thus increasing Israel's influence and control over the Middle East.

Moreover, the escalating Russia-Ukraine conflict has shifted international focus to Ukraine, leaving little attention to the Middle East. Russia is also preoccupied and cannot fully commit to Syria. Therefore, although Israel frequently conducts military strikes in neighboring regions, global attention remains relatively low.

Israel's military strike targets also include anti-Israel militants in Palestinian territories. Over the years, Israel and Hamas have seemingly fallen into a "death spiral" - each side revenges at every attack by the other. The Israeli government has conducted several military strikes in the West Bank this year. Notably, Israel used armed helicopters for the first time in 20 years in the West Bank on June 19, resulting in nearly a hundred casualties. On June 21, Israel employed drones for targeted strikes in the West Bank, killing three Palestinians alleged to be "terrorists." Additionally, in early July, Israel conducted its largest military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin in 20 years, resulting in hundreds of casualties and sparking multiple rounds of conflict.

Israel's continuous military strikes in neighboring regions seem to be responses to "terrorist activities," but they serve both political need to divert domestic public attention and its strategic planning of "preemptive strikes" against potential threats. For the Israeli government, seeking a delicate strategic balance that avoids escalation while not compromising its security interests seems to be the prevailing strategy.

It is foreseeable that, whether due to domestic political considerations or military needs, Israel will continue to maintain this state of "low-intensity conflicts" in its neighboring regions. Achieving true peace and stability in the Middle East remains a formidable challenge.

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