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Israel may need to invade Iran, concludes Tel Aviv think tank

Israeli soldiers at an army base in the Israeli-annexed Syrian Golan Heights look out across the southwestern Syrian province of Quneitra, visible across the border on July 7, 2018. (Photo by JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers at an army base in the Israeli-annexed Syrian Golan Heights look out across the southwestern Syrian province of Quneitra, visible across the border on 7 July 2018 [JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images]

Israel may need to invade Iran to stop its entrenchment in Syria, an assessment by the Institute for National Security (INSS) in Tel Aviv has concluded. The independent think tank affiliated with Tel Aviv University looked at a range of scenarios in a report in which it concluded that the most serious threat facing Israel in 2019 would be an all-out war in the north.

The report was launched today at a ceremony at the official residence of the President of Israel. It lists threats to Israel in order of severity and makes recommendations on how best to challenge Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Details of the assessment reported by the Jerusalem Post show that the most serious threat facing Israel in 2019 would be an all-out war in the north involving Iran, Hezbollah and Syria. Such a confrontation, it says, is likely to spill over to the south, and Israel would additionally find itself battling Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hence, says the think tank, Israel must be prepared for a war on all fronts, described in the report as the “whole case” scenario, which is also the “worst case” scenario. Included in the list of threats is, predictably, Iran’s nuclear programme.

Despite ranking the situation in Gaza as the least threatening to Israel, the report found that there was greater urgency to address the situation in the enclave because it was liable to escalate in the immediate future, more than any of the other arenas.

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While noting US President Donald Trump’s change of policy towards Iran’s nuclear programme and his decision to take a much harder line than his predecessor Barack Obama, the institute said that Washington is not prepared to enter into a military confrontation with Tehran. It cited Trump’s recent decision to withdraw troops from Syria to emphasise that Israel may need to go it alone and invade Iran.

Regarding Hamas, the report said that Israel needs to prepare an operational plan for a killer blow against the movement, without intending to reoccupy the Gaza Strip. Noting Israel’s repeated failure to defeat the Palestinian resistance, the report said, “The military wing of Hamas has not suffered a severe blow in the three rounds of conflict between the organisation and Israel over the past decade.” It added that the likelihood of another military confrontation in the south with Hamas was “extremely high” in 2019.

Commenting on the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the institute noted that this “has been and remains Israel’s fundamental problem in its relations with its neighbours in the region and with the international community.” The Trump government’s initiative for the ‘deal of the century’ is being delayed, it explained, and the rupture between the American administration and the Palestinians will make it difficult to advance the process. “However, the United States and the pragmatic Sunni Arab world will expect an Israeli move that will renew confidence in Israel’s good intentions.”

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