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Zero-Sum Game of National Resilience

(Second Newsletter in the Series) 

In the first newsletter of the series earlier this week, We discussed the need to update the spatial defense concept of frontline settlements to serve as the first line of defense against invasions for various reasons. This includes the understanding that this concept significantly contributes to strengthening societal and national resilience and has the potential to contribute to social cohesion.

This update is especially important given the Iranian military doctrine and its proxy network, including Hamas, which seeks to break the spirit of Israeli society, not necessarily to defeat it militarily.

Protecting the border line settlements

Typically, the discourse around the conventional Iranian threat focuses on the missile ring of fire Iran is building around Israel, accompanied by limited ground operations at Israel's borders. However, I want to focus this post on what I call 'spatial offensive tactics,' namely the use of human surge to create waves of civilian onslaught, as we saw on October 7th. This idea isn't new, and terror organization leaders and Iranian leaders have spoken about civilian onslaughts also from the West Bank and Lebanon. An example of this was the border demonstrations organized by Hamas in recent years.

The "idea" likely originated in 2001, when the Palestinian leader from Jerusalem, Faisal al-Husseini, died in Kuwait. Israel agreed to the Palestinians' request to bury him on the Temple Mount, next to his father's grave, Abdel Qader al-Husseini, who was killed in the famous battle of Castel in 1948. Encouraged by Arafat, who adopted the slogan "Millions of martyrs marching to Jerusalem," the funeral became a Palestinian surge that "conquered" parts of Jerusalem that day. The Palestinian surge even broke into the home of then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the Old City and set fire to surrounding shops. The police force's helplessness, choosing not to prevent the surge but only to concentrate forces in defending Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, made this event a defining moment for the “moqawama” axis, inspiring the concept of offensive surge.

The Hamas military objective is to prevent the IDF from achieving a decisive victory, and the overarching Hamas goal is to demoralize Israeli society and create fear until it disintegrates. The 'spatial offensive tactic' dovetails with and complements the Iranian doctrine of a ring of fire around Israel and the Palestinian ethos of 'resilient standing' (Sumud).

Why is this important? On a tactical level, because we need to prepare for such surge scenarios in the North and other areas. On a strategic level, because the October 7th pogrom sharpens the fact that we are in a zero-sum game of national resilience with our enemy. In one of the upcoming posts, I will explain why, despite the crunch time we are in, our chances of winning this war are very good.

Cultivating national resilience and social cohesion is the most important national security task. These tasks are, of course, influenced by government conduct but are no less dependent on civil society. They are expressed in the development of citizenship, pioneering spirit and Arvut Hadadait, and, primarily, in the Israeli society's ability to leverage the cohesion we experience during the war for the day after.


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