Right at the beginning, and before I am accused of racism, generalisation, scare mongering or irresponsibility – let me put things in the right perspective. Israel’s Arab population numbers over one and a half million people. The vast majority of them are peaceful, law abiding citizens who like all of us want to return home every evening to their families having earned their living in the office, garage or restaurant. The last thing this population wants is a regional war that will benefit nobody, resolve nothing and will hurt it no less than it will hurt the Jewish population of Israel. With that, to those who observe and follow the increasing political and national radicalisation of some streams within the Israeli Arab population, it is clear that in times of emergency this radicalisation can express itself in hostile action. Ignoring this will constitute a total lack of national responsibility.
Any population, Jewish or Arab, contains at its fringes extreme elements who prepare themselves for action when the right time comes. During an all out regional missile war, if these extreme elements would sense that the grip of the civil government or the military command over events is loosening, there is no doubt that they will try to influence the conduct of the war using direct violence. Even if one percent of the Israeli Arab population will decide to take the law and the initiative into their own hands, and this is not an exaggerated estimate by any means, we are looking at a force equalling ten infantry brigades. So please – bear with me, read patiently and if you wish to respond – please leave your measured comment at the bottom of this article.
During the last two decades, there has been a huge increase in civil and military arms being stolen and sold to criminal or terrorist elements. It is enough to read the (Hebrew) protocol of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee which discussed this subject to understand how serious the problem is. http://www.knesset.gov.il/protocols/data/html/pnim/2010-10-11-03.html
Estimates I have heard in the past talked about nearly 10,000 stolen or smuggled arms now in the hands of these elements – from civilian pistols to the most advanced automatic weapons destined to elite IDF units that were stolen by a worker directly from the production line before serial numbers were even stamped on them. Shoulder launched anti-tank LAW missiles are regularly used in violent resolutions of conflicts, from Natanya to Taybe, and so are IDF military standard explosives. During an all out war, many of these weapons will be directed against IDF forces, civilian populations and national infrastructure within the borders of Israel.
There are many scenarios that demand preparing to. I will give but a few examples:
The blocking of main transport routes in a way that will prevent or significantly delay the fast flow of military forces to the frontline.
The blocking of reserve units’ access to their emergency stores and the prevention or significant delay of these units taking their weapon systems out of these stores.
A very widespread use of arson as a means of disrupting and damaging military bases and installations and civilian towns and villages.
Initiating or joining external terrorists in taking large numbers of civilian hostages, especially in the north of Israel and along the Lebanese border.
Inciting and inflaming young and easily influenced Israeli Arabs to descend upon isolated Jewish villages.
Damage to local or regional infrastructure like water and electricity supplies.
Like many other Israel related issues, this issue of internal security has also deteriorated with the years by the ‘Boling Frog’ method. Someone said to me recently: “What is the matter with you? Two border guard Jeeps take control over such events in a minute.” Twenty or thirty years ago – perhaps. Not any more. The IDF may find itself dedicating large infantry forces needed on the frontline to deal with these internal situations, the likes of which we have not seen in previous wars, with all the implications on its ability to fight the war itself.