Eiran: The Terror Attacks in Israel’s Southern Sector (fixed format)

My colleague Dr. Ehud Eiran offers preliminary thoughts on the terror attacks in Israel: (same text but better formatting than first time)

The rather internally-focused Israeli political summer turned again to the external Arab-Israeli conflict following the deadly terror attack in Israel’s southern sector. There are four immediate possible implications:

1. The attacks, the Israeli causalities (eight dead, dozens wounded), and the Israeli retributions in Gaza, all provide potential for further Israeli-Palestinian escalation. This latest interaction adds to concerns that the coming fall may see another large round of Israeli-Palestinian violence following an expected Palestinian move to declare a state at the United Nations.

2. The proximity to the Egyptian border adds the potential of tension between Israel and Egypt. Egypt’s own power shift (struggle?) creates internal incentives for the Egyptian army and the Islamists – for their own, different reasons – to focus on tensions with Israel. Further tensions could occur, for example, if Israel chooses to act militarily in Sinai.

3. Assuming the attackers used the Sinai Peninsula as base, or passed through it, one can see why Israelis did not welcome the Arab Spring: the demise of the Arab security state opened the way for non-state actors to operate against Israel. A weak Lebanon dragged Israel into a four-decade long military engagement in its northern border. Will there be a similar southern exposure?

4. And internally: The renewed concern over security may weaken the potential of the Israeli left to develop a serious challenge to Prime Minister Netanyahu over his socio-economic agenda, as reflected in the “Israeli Spring” demonstrations. The demonstrators canceled a mass event planned for this weekend, and one of their leaders, Itzik Shmuly, explained that if called to reserve duty, he will, in effect, put his involvement in the socio-economic struggle on hold. The attacks will also weaken calls to direct some of the funds from the defense budget to social welfare programs.

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