“War Games in the North” came as part of the INSS annual conference in the Smolarz Auditorium at Tel Aviv University with Israeli, American and Russian participants discussing various scenarios of a potential development of a conflict in the Middle East, involving Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Hezbollah and Iran and global players – the United States and Russia.
The participants in the military simulation came to the conclusion that all of the actors of the hypothetical conflict – in which Israel initiates attacks on Lebanon and Syria – would opt for de-escalation as no one is interested in an all-out war.
One might ask whether the discussion indicates that Israel is bracing for new conflict in the region given the US-Iran row over Quds Force commander’s assassination and Tehran’s subsequent retaliatory strike, as well as Trump’s “deal of the century” that has already reverberated through the Arab world.
This is not the case, says retired Brig. General Dr Meir Elran, a senior research fellow and head of the Homeland Security Program and a co-head of the Society-Military Program of INSS: whatever experts are discussing at INSS annual gatherings is not necessarily based on immediate events, he says.
“Presently we have several main issues that we are concerned with”, Dr Elran stresses. “One of them of course is the situation in the north [of Israel], especially the attempts of Hezbollah with assistance of Iran to accelerate the military buildup over there. The question is being asked in Israel what we should do about this kind of military threat. And the other one [issue], of course, is the Trump initiative which has been developing for more than three years now but coincidentally was published exactly the same date that the conference opened”.
The security expert elaborates that “what Israel is basically trying to do is to keep the status quo”: “This is the most important strategic goal as far as Israel is concerned”, he adds.
“We are definitely not interested in any conflict and I think any conflict will be detrimental to the interests of Israel. We are doing whatever is possible to refrain from any major conflict”, Dr Elran says, referring to Israel’s Campaign Between Wars (CBW) doctrine aimed at proactively delaying wars and deterring enemies by constantly weakening their force buildup.