Tony Greenstein | 10 July 2016 | Post Views:

It is well known that Israel
funds, arms and provides medical support for the fighters of Al Qaeda’s Syrian
branch, al-Nusra.  According to the Daily
out of the goodness of its heart, Israel has rescued and saved some
2,000 Islamic fighters in South Lebanon. 

Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevy speaks at the Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on June 15, 2016. (Adi Cohen Zedek)
For those who are not
addicted to fiction then Electronic Intifada’s article Why
has Israel embraced al-Qaida’s branch in Syria?
explains why Israel has put
its eggs in Jabhat al-Nusra’s basked and elements of Israel’s military elite
would be happy to see ISIS in control of Syria.
I have previously documented
Israeli support for ISIS and al-Nusra for example in Israel
Supports ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria

From Israel’s perspective the matter is quite simple – their main enemy
strategically in the Middle East is Iran. 
Not because it is developing nuclear weapons but because it challenges Israel’s
hegemony.  Saudi Arabia because it is an
enemy of Iran, for much the same reason as Israel, has become the de-facto
partner of Israel.  There are persistent
rumours of Israeli support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen [Why
did Israel side with Saudi Arabia on Yemen?
] because Iran is seen as
backing the Houthi rebels. 
The article below covers the speech of Israel’s Intelligence
chief, Major General Herzi Halevy at the Herzliya
security conference.  Below it is a
contrasting article on the same speech by The Israel Times which plays down Israel’support
for ISIS at the same time as seeing things in the typically racist Israeli manner,
as a product of a conflict between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam.
Tony Greenstein

Says ISIS Faces Difficulty, Loss Would Put Israel in
‘Hard Position’
by Jason Ditz, June
21, 2016
a speech at the Herzliya Conference, Israel’s military intelligence c, took
Israel’s long-standing position that it “prefers ISIS” over the Syrian
government to a whole ‘nother level, declaring openly that Israel
does not want to see ISIS defeated in the wa
Israel’s military intelligence chief Major General Herzi Halevy speaks at the Herzliya Conference.
in the Hebrew-language NRG site, linked to Maariv, Maj. Gen. Halevy expressed
concern about the recent offensives against ISIS territory, saying that in the
last three months the Islamist group was facing the “most difficult” situation
since its inception and declaration of a caliphate.
officials have regularly expressed
with the idea of ISIS conquering the whole of Syria, saying they
find it preferable to the Iran-allied government surviving the war. At the same
time, they were never so overtly supportive of ISIS and its survival.
went on to express concern that the defeat of ISIS might mean the “superpowers”
leaving Syria, saying this would put Israel “in a hard position” after being so
opposed to the survival of the Syrian government.
then said Israel will do “all we can so as to not  find ourselves in such
a situation,” suggesting that the Israeli military is looking at direct support
for ISIS as a matter of policy, and not just rhetoric.

chief warns of growing gaps between Israel, neighbors

At Herzliya Conference, Maj. Gen. Herzi
Halevy describes a strong, powerful Israel in an unstable Middle East; warns of
potential conflict with Hezbollah, Hamas

By Judah Ari Gross June 15, 2016, 1:15 pm
the Arab Spring in 2011, Israel has gotten stronger, more stable and wealthier
than its neighbors. But that’s not necessarily something to be proud of — it’s
something that should be worrisome, according to Military Intelligence chief
Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevy.
a speech Wednesday at this year’s Herzliya Conference, Halevy introduced a
portmanteau to describe a dynamic Middle East: mishtarkev, which he said
was made up of the Hebrew words for improve, mishtaper, and complex, murkav.
speech gave a general overview of the region, but did not reveal any
information not previously released by the Israel Defense Forces. He touched on
the Syrian civil war, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in
Gaza, terror in the West Bank and the Islamic State group.
of these threats has existed for years, but one area of concern Halevy touched
on was the growing disparity between Israel and its neighbors.
the one hand, Israel’s status as a strong, stable democracy in the Middle East
is something that should be treasured and not forgotten.

“Maybe because of the Holocaust we carry with us a
feeling of persecution,” he said. “But around us, we’re seen as a very strong,
aggressive, unexpected and capable figure. That’s something important for us to
on the other hand, though Israel may be stable, its neighbors are not. And that
does not bode well for the Jewish state. Economic strife can give rise to
religious extremism and terrorism, the Military Intelligence chief warned.

“There’s a gap between us and everyone around us, and
that gap is growing,”
Halevy said.
“If you look at per capita gross domestic product, in
Israel we’re approaching $40,000 (NIS154,000). Around us there are countries,
that [our GDP] is five times greater than theirs, seven times greater, 10 times
and even 20 times greater,”
Halevy said.
“This shouldn’t make us proud, it should make us
he said. “When
your neighborhood deteriorates, the value of your home does not go up.”
terror not only in Israel, but around the world, Halevy pointed to the internet
and other technologies that make it easier for individuals to carry out attacks
without having to join extremist organizations.

“You don’t have to own a big hotel chain to rent out a
room on Airbnb
,” Halevy said, referring to the popular home
rental website. “You also don’t need to
belong to a large terror organization to carry out a terror attack.”
could be seen in the attack in Orlando, Tel Aviv, Paris, Turkey and elsewhere
around the world, the Islamic State is rapidly becoming a dominant force in
international terrorism, with each attack inspiring the next one, Halevy said.
Islamic State is the “bad in the world,
the Amalek of 2016
,” he said, using the name of a biblical tribe that is
seen as the epitome of evil.

The Third Lebanon War
Israel’s borders, Halevy pointed to situations that are currently stable, but
are liable to deteriorate quickly.
the south, Hamas for now is not interested in another round of conflict with
Israel after the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge,
he said, “but next month that could be
put particular emphasis on the threat of Hezbollah in Lebanon, as Israel
prepares to mark 10 years since the Second Lebanon War next month.

explosives experts inspect a Hezbollah rocket after it landed in the northern
Israeli city of Haifa, August 9, 2006. (Max Yelinson /Flash90)
is believed to have an arsenal of more than 100,000 missiles and rockets, along
with weapons systems “that they never had
Halevy said.
intelligence chief wouldn’t say the next round of violence with the Iran-backed
terror group would result in mass casualties among Israel’s civilian
population, but came close.

“In the Yom Kippur War, we had one person killed on
the home front from a Syrian missile. The situation in the next conflict will
be completely different,”
he said.
revealed how close Israel came to experiencing that conflict last year, when
Hezbollah fired seven anti-tank missiles at IDF troops on the northern border,
killing two.

“I don’t think Hezbollah realized the full potential
for casualties there
,” he said.

soldiers look at a burned-out vehicle loaded onto the back of a truck near
Ghajar after it was removed from the seen of a Hezbollah missile attack along
the Israel-Lebanon border on January 28, 2015. (photo credit: AFP/MENAHEM
Hezbollah had succeeded in killing the total possible number of soldiers,
Halevy said, “our response would have
been different. Then their response would have been different. And maybe today
on the radio they would be talking about the Third Lebanon War with Hezbollah
and not just the second.”
the IDF has no current plans to attack Hezbollah, the army has never been more
prepared, he said.

“If our enemies knew our capabilities and our intelligence,
they would spare themselves the next conflict,”
Halevy said.

“I’m going to say this with all due caution, but there
has never been an army that knows as much about its enemy as we know about
the intelligence chief said.

“But still, the next war will not be simple, it will
not be easy,”
he said.

Iran vs. the ‘pragmatic Sunnis’
pointed to two competing groups in the Muslim world: the Shiite Iran, which
despite its “legitimate” status in
the wake of last year’s Iran nuclear deal continues to fund attacks on Israel,
and the “pragmatic” Sunni nations led
by Saudi Arabia, whose interests have increasingly begun to align with Israel.
the Middle East, both Iran and Saudi Arabia have lots of fingers in lots of
pots. The two countries have direct involvement in the Yemenite and Syrian
civil wars.

mourners carry the coffin of Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, a
commander of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards killed in an Israeli
airstrike on Syria, during his funeral procession in Tehran on January 21,
Syria, Iran has already lost “250 people,
and that’s just their fighters from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
That’s not counting the Shiite militias that are managed by Iran,”
he said.
the threat of a nuclear Iran has been put off for a few years in light of the
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed last year, the Islamic
Republic continues to develop its nuclear program — albeit at a dramatically
slower rate — only now it has “international
” to do so, Halevy said.
that Iran has been brought to the bargaining table, the country has also gained
diplomatic legitimacy, he said.
this, despite the fact that it continues to call for Israel’s destruction and
gives the military wings of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad “60 percent of their budgets,” Halevy
has also taken the lead on the cyber warfare front against Israel, he said,
carrying out digital attacks themselves and also providing training to
Hezbollah to do the same.
the other side, he said, are the “pragmatic
” — mostly the Gulf states — who are leading the fight against Iran.
Arabia today is “not the same Saudi
Arabia we saw a year and a half ago,”
Halevy said.
Saudi Arabia is more proactive, trying to
lead the Sunni camp in the Middle East. It’s a country that has perhaps
stabilized and gotten stronger in its fight against Iran,”
he said.

“Some of the interests of the pragmatic Sunni
countries are getting closer to our interests,”
Halevy said. “This
is an interesting development, and there is an opportunity in it.”

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