Editor’s note: This report was written before the outbreak of the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas, and has been updated to reflect developments as of publication. The report offers a thorough framework to understand Israel’s calculations leading up to the current fighting as well as the lessons the Israeli military will seek to learn from it, even as the nature of warfare suggests that some elements of those calculations will be called into question and revisited due to the outcomes of the current conflict.
Israel’s threat environment has changed dramatically in recent years, so much so that the change can be characterized as transformative if not revolutionary. This is especially the case when compared to the regional environment Israel faced during its first decades, the 1950s and 1960s, when its defense doctrine was first articulated and its force structure was first conceived. This report will discuss these dramatic changes, identify the new challenges Israel faces, characterize the domestic environment affecting the country’s defense allocations and attempt to ascertain the implications of these factors for Israeli strategy. The conclusion will elaborate on the debate now taking place within the country’s defense community about the future doctrine and force structure of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). ...
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