The latest security tensions in Israel were presented to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday as a strategic warning by Defense Minister Yoav Galant, backed by intelligence officials. The warning was based on solid intelligence materials and officials’ interpretation of the security system. These tensions include Iran and Hezbollah’s willingness to step up attacks against Israel in Syria, the erosion of Israeli deterrence, the fear of terrorism in Judea and Samaria prior to Ramadan, and the damage to relations with the US. The security establishment led Galant to hold talks with Netanyahu, with emphasis placed on the Megiddo attack, which has the potential to continue the trend of escalation in the northern arena.
Before the attack in Megiddo, the political-security agenda was completely off-track due to the internal crisis in Israel. Following the attack, Galant froze the legal reform legislation and directed the attention and agenda to urgent security issues. Despite this, the political-security cabinet did not convene, and Netanyahu did not take the necessary action until three weeks later, at much heavier prices – politically and security-wise.
Major General Aharon Haliva warned that Iran continues to try to inflame the territory, leading to a conflagration. The attack in Megiddo and the deep crisis in Israeli society had washed away security issues, but the recent drone intrusion and counter-reaction by the Israeli Air Force provided a ladder for Netanyahu to withdraw from the minister’s dismissal at a time of security instability. However, the prime minister only partially addressed the issue and postponed his decision.
Gallant, defined by the prime minister as a provisional defense minister, will continue to represent the position of the security establishment regarding the need for broad consensus among the people regarding reform, despite the attempts to narrow his steps. The coming Passover holiday allows the two to try to sort out their issues.
The column was written on Monday
All the data that make up the latest security tensions were placed before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as a strategic warning formulated by Defense Minister Yoav Galant, backed by intelligence officials.
The willingness of Iran and Hezbollah to step up against the attacks attributed to Israel in Syria, in view of the erosion of Israeli deterrence following the internal crisis in Israel, the fear of terrorism in Judea and Samaria on the eve of Ramadan and the damage to relations with the US – all of these were combined together in a strategic warning based on solid intelligence materials, in addition to the interpretation of officials The profession in the security system.
The picture presented to him by the security establishment led Gallant to hold talks with Netanyahu, in order to show him the serious picture of the situation. Special emphasis was placed on the attack in Megiddo, and it is estimated that this is a bigger story than the attack itself and has the potential to continue the trend of escalation in the northern arena.
All of this was on the Prime Minister’s table after the attack in Megiddo, when relations with the Minister of Defense were still good, the reserve crisis was already present and serious, but at a much lower level.
Except that the same conclusions that could have been reached then, were accepted weeks late, but at much heavier prices – also for Netanyahu, at the political level. Three weeks of crazy whirlwind, at the end of which Netanyahu made the same decisions that could have been made long before.
The defense minister realized even before that the political-security agenda had gone completely wrong due to the internal crisis in Israel. The attack in Megiddo, along with the crisis at that time in Squadron 69, led him to the decision that the legal reform legislation should be frozen until the summer session, and even then – to carry out the legislation with broad consensus. Not only to stop the consequences of the crisis on the army, but also to immediately direct the attention and the agenda to the very urgent security issues.
It’s not that Netanyahu didn’t understand the materials he saw. Only in the bottom line, the political-security cabinet did not convene, Netanyahu did not draw the necessary conclusion, and only under pressure, three weeks after the attack in Megiddo, was the legislation frozen.
The freezing of the legal revolution, the attempts to reach agreements at the President’s House and the Passover holiday that we are already in the middle of have brought security issues back to the agenda, chief among them the tensions in the northern arena with Iran and Hezbollah. It’s not that this tension wasn’t there before, but the legal revolution, the protest in the streets and the deep crisis in Israeli society washed away everything.
The head of the AMN, Major General Aharon Haliva, said at the beginning of the week at the graduation ceremony of the KMN course: “Those who seek our salvation, and they are quite a few, do not rest even these days. Iran, on its many branches, is trying to inflame the territory and lead to a conflagration.”
And Netanyahu should have understood this as early as March 13, following the attack in Megiddo. The signaling was clear: Hezbollah, which apparently promoted the attack, is ready to take a bet and go up another level in the reaction equation against Israel, due to the actions attributed to Israel in Syria against Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guards targets.
It can be assumed that just as Israel is acting in Syria with what the Air Force prepares, the campaign between the wars, in which even though it is clear to all parties who attacked in Syria, Israel maintains for years a policy of ambiguity and does not take official responsibility for the attacks – this is how Hezbollah also sought to obtain Air Force His own in the attack in Megiddo.
Until now, Israel has not officially announced Hezbollah’s involvement in the attack. On the other hand, Hezbollah did not take official responsibility either. The IDF investigated the attack. The facts that the terrorist acted alone and was killed made it difficult for the investigative process regarding Hezbollah’s involvement. It may already be clear, and it remains to decide the limits of the counter-reaction.
Since Israel is not interested in a dramatic escalation against Hezbollah at this stage, but wants to reverse the new equation that the organization is apparently seeking to establish, it can be assumed that the boundaries of the sector for the Israeli response will be limited to the Syrian sector. In a sequence of three attacks in four days, attributed to Israel, important Hezbollah targets on Syrian soil were hit and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were hit.
The counter-reaction was not long in coming, when an Iranian drone launched from Syria penetrated Israeli territory and was shot down by electronic warfare systems. The Iranians, it seems, without intending to do so, have thereby closed, at least for now, the farce of impeachment of the Minister of Defense.
It is possible that the need for an immediate response by the Air Force in the form of a large-scale attack in Syria against targets of Iran and Hezbollah in response to the drone intrusion provided Netanyahu with the ladder with which he could descend and withdraw from the minister’s dismissal at a time of security instability. But the prime minister, who in this term gives the impression that he Not missing any opportunity to fall into any hole, he only went down to half the scale. He contented himself with issuing a statement through his associates, according to which, in light of the developing security situation, Netanyahu is postponing his decision on the issue and will only be required to do so later.
Regardless of whether you are for or against the reform, it can be agreed that such conduct, which makes Gallant a conditional defense minister, is irresponsible and sleepless. The red card against Gallant, which was drawn impulsively, also caused a lot of damage to the prime minister himself politically and certainly to the security system. This is how we reached a situation where, on the eve of an apparent escalation, the Prime Minister places at the head of the security system someone in whom he declared that he had no confidence in him and that his future was clouded. There is no doubt that if Israel enters into a more significant conflict with Hezbollah, this is not the way to run a country.
It seems that the Defense Minister and the Prime Minister are now in a kind of marriage, which neither of them really wants to continue. However, for now, the marriage serves both of them. Netanyahu has already paid a high price for the move he made (and delayed). On the other hand, Gallant, most likely, takes into account that Netanyahu can turn over again. But he already passed the threshold of fear of losing the job he so coveted in the first round. Now he is expected to deal mainly with security issues and the IDF and less with the political system. So, despite the attempts to narrow his steps, even for Netanyahu, given the results of the first round, it will not be easy at all.
It is possible to argue against Gallant that he made a mistake when he made a statement while the Prime Minister was abroad. However, in practice, by freezing the legislation and subsequently by freezing the impeachment, Netanyahu actually accepts Gallant’s positions that it is correct to stop the legislation in order to reach a reform based on widespread public support, and moreover , to be focused on Israel’s security and political challenges.
Although Gallant’s status was actually defined by the Prime Minister as a provisional defense minister, Gallant is not expected to change his professional line – nor his positions regarding the need for broad consensus among the people regarding the reform. He has already accepted his principled choice to present his position with all his might, even when it conflicts with Netanyahu’s conduct, and he will continue to represent the position of the security establishment.
The coming Passover holiday, alongside the security tensions, allows the two to try to sort out their relationship, so that they can be defined as normal at their basic level. The current security tensions provide both of them with the opportunity to do so. However, at the end of the holiday period, and with the general assumption that the attempts to negotiate at the President’s residence will fail, the renewal of the legislative race is expected to intensify the tensions between the two again.