Israeli Army Includes Jewish-Arab Clashes in Its Strategic Scenarios

Israeli army's plans were updated in the wake of riots in mixed Jewish-Arab cities during fighting with Hamas in May 2021

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
Israeli soldiers patrol a public street in Jerusalem, following a recent series of fatal attacks, on Sunday.
Israeli soldiers patrol a public street in Jerusalem, following a recent series of fatal attacks, on Sunday. Credit: REUTERS / Ronen Zvulun
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

The Israel Defense Forces has defined tensions between Jews and Arabs in Israel as a strategic factor that could potentially have a negative effect on fighting in the future.

Recent attacks in which Israeli Arabs were involved, together with last year’s clashes in mixed and Arab cities between Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis and the security forces, as well as the possibility of some Israeli Arab citizens having an affinity with Hamas during future hostilities.

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“The security challenges within Israel and the internal tensions now have a negative strategic impact,” a senior security official told Haaretz. “The recent events, which reached a climax during Operation Guardian of the Walls have very severe effects on security, much more than Iran and Hezbollah,” he added.

In February 2021, after an extensive exercise conducted by the IDF in the north, the army decided to add the coronavirus pandemic as a factor in its plans.

Scenarios presented to Israel’s leaders regarding potential confrontations in the north included the possibility of thousands of rockets, missiles and drones launched from Lebanon, Gaza and the Golan Heights by forces identified with Hezbollah.

Traffic could be impeded might also be tied up in places where there are numerous Arab communities. During missile strikes on Israel, the police will have difficulty reaching places where unexploded ordnance has fallen, or close off areas to prevent injury to civilians.

Israeli Border Police forces during clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians near Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, on Sunday.Credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

In late 2019, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi approved a plan for the northern and the southern commands for all fronts. It covers various levels of intensity and provide responses to point-by-point security incidents, days when fighting takes place and hostilities in all arenas.

Some of the scenarios involve serious clashes begin in mixed cities that require large police deployments. This would mean, according to a senior IDF officer, that the Israel Police would be assigned to dealing with events inside Israel and will not be available to the army during fighting. The Israel Police are responsible for keeping roads open for combat forces to reach the front, and to prevent looting of homes of people who have been evacuated. It is anticipated that tens of thousands of residents will have to be evacuated during the next round of hostilities in the north.

The IDF is preparing for a situation in which the Military Police will have to be fielded in an emergency to deal with civilian criminal incidents during fighting and in areas where fighting is underway. The Home Front Command, together with engineering forces, will operate in places where missiles fall where the Israel Police is unable to respond immediately.

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