INSS


Institute for National Securities Studies, INSS is an independent academic institute.

The Institute is non-partisan, independent, and autonomous in its fields of research and expressed opinions. As an external institute of Tel Aviv University, it maintains a strong association with the academic environment. In addition, it has a strong association with the political and military establishment.

Most Recent Articles by INSS:

The United States Decision to Withdraw Forces from Syria: Significance for Israel

Dec 24, 2018 — INSS

The United States Decision to Withdraw Forces from Syria: Significance for Israel
For the United States, which still has interests in the Middle East, a hasty withdrawal of forces from Syria weakens its influence on processes in the region and limits its room to maneuver in the face of existing challenges. The US administration leaves its allies with question marks regarding US ability to back their policies, and at the same time, heightens Iran’s motivation to strengthen its grip and influence in the area. Israel remains alone in its campaign against Iranian entrenchment in Syria, and at most will receive political backing from the United States in the context of this struggle.


The Escalation in the West Bank: The Need for a Change in Israeli Strategy and Policy

Dec 19, 2018 — INSS

The Escalation in the West Bank: The Need for a Change in Israeli Strategy and Policy
A recent wave of terrorist attacks in the West Bank and East Jerusalem featured modes of action familiar from the past: shooting from passing vehicles, infiltration of a Jewish settlement, stabbing, and car-ramming. These latest incidents brought the number of Israelis killed in terror attacks in the past year to 13. Shooting attacks on the roads, particularly from passing vehicles, have proven to be the most effective in terms of causing casualties, and also provide the cell launching the attack the greatest chances of survival. The two shooting incidents, which were the most serious attacks in this wave, are attributed to the Hamas infrastructure in the Ramallah area.


Iran’s Cyber influence Campaign against the United States, and Implications for Israel’s

Dec 17, 2018 — INSS

In recent months, the increasingly tense relations between Tehran and Washington have been manifested again in cyberspace. Over the past six months, cyber security firms and technology companies have exposed extensive Iranian cognitive-related activity in cyberspace aimed primarily at the US public. Fire-Eye Ltd., a cyber security company, issued a warning about many fake news sites and profiles on Facebook and Twitter that in its assessment were operated by the Iranian regime as part of its cyber influence campaign. Cyber influence efforts were also exposed by Twitter, which posted one million Tweets generated by fake accounts; Facebook, too, announced it had deleted dozens of fake profiles.

These revelations come on the heels of other warnings regarding Iranian activity in cyberspace appearing in annual summaries published in November 2018 by Fire-Eye and Fortinet, another cyber security outfit, and a current study released by the US think tank Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. These publications all describe Iran as an increasingly aggressive player in cyberspace.


Israel’s Stake in the Egyptian Natural Gas Pipeline: Strategic and Economic Benefits

Oct 15, 2018 — INSS

Israel’s Stake in the Egyptian Natural Gas Pipeline: Strategic and Economic Benefits
On February 19, 2018, the Israeli-American consortium that owns natural gas concessions in Israel’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), including gas fields Tamar and Leviathan, announced an agreement with the Egyptian Delphinus company. According to the agreement, estimated at $15 billion, an annual 3.5 BCM will be sold from each field, beginning in 2019. As such, Tamar, which is already active, and Leviathan, are together to supply 64 BCM over the next decade.


Iraq as a Conflict Arena between the United States and Iran

Oct 12, 2018 — INSS

Iraq as a Conflict Arena between the United States and Iran
The US administration blamed Iran for the September 2018 rocket attacks against the US consulate building in Basra, Iraq, claiming they were carried out by Shiite militia forces. The administration announced the transfer of its diplomatic staff to the embassy in Baghdad, and senior US officials have threatened that Iran will pay a heavy price if it strikes American targets. Although the US statements relate to Iran’s overall activity in the Middle East, they seem to place special emphasis on Iraq’s potential to become more of a conflict arena between the United States and Iran, a conflict already underway regarding the respective influence on the establishment of the new Iraqi government following the parliamentary elections of May 2018. Israeli threats to take action against Iranian targets in Iraq require that full coordination first be achieved between Israel and the United States, particularly in light of US concerns regarding Iranian intentions to strike at American targets and the administration’s sensitivity regarding continued stability within Iraq.


The Reformists in Iran: Between Conservatives and Subversives

Aug 13, 2018 — INSS

The Reformists in Iran: Between Conservatives and Subversives
In recent months the reformist camp in Iran has been engaged in an intense debate about the movement’s future. This internal debate reflects growing concern among various sections of the Iranian establishment regarding the increasing influence of radical elements (“subversives”) who oppose both main political camps (the conservatives and the reformists) and challenge the very existence of the regime.


New Obstacles Facing Israeli Natural Gas Exports

Jul 10, 2018 — INSS

New Obstacles Facing Israeli Natural Gas Exports
Two developments of recent weeks threaten to reduce significantly the possibility of exporting Israel’s natural gas. One is Erdogan’s victory in the Turkish elections and the expansion of his powers, which reduce and perhaps eliminate the chances of an underwater gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey. The second is initial reports regarding new gas reserves off the coast of Egypt, which threaten the existing deal to export gas from Israel to Egypt, as well as Israel’s plan to make use of Egypt’s liquefaction facilities to export liquid gas to Europe.


Demonstrations in Jordan: A Bona Fide Threat to the Regime?

Jun 7, 2018 — INSS

Demonstrations in Jordan: A Bona Fide Threat to the Regime?
For several days now, thousands of Jordanians have been demonstrating against the Jordanian government and Hani al-Mulki, who, until June 4, had been serving as its prime minister. The demonstrators are protesting the government’s intention to enforce more meticulous collection of taxes, raise the tax rate, and increase the prices of products for which demand is virtually inflexible, such as electricity and gasoline. The demonstrators are demanding the government’s resignation and the annulment of the changes it has proposed. The prime minister has indeed resigned, and at this stage, the king has halted the implementation of the government’s decisions. However, the monetary and fiscal hardship remains as does the regime’s dilemma of how to overcome it.


Iran’s Dilemma: Respond to Israeli Actions in Syria with Terror Attacks Abroad?

May 23, 2018 — INSS

Iran’s Dilemma: Respond to Israeli Actions in Syria with Terror Attacks Abroad?
In view of the public promise by senior Iranian spokespersons that Israel would soon weep over its soldiers just as Iran mourned its soldiers, it remains to be seen if and how Iran will retaliate against Israel’s recent broad counter-attack against Iranian targets in Syria: with what intensity, with what method, and in what location. However, notwithstanding declarations from Iranian leaders that ongoing Israeli actions against its forces and proxies will lead to the destruction of Haifa and Tel Aviv, it appears that Iran is not genuinely interested in war, particularly not on Syrian or Lebanese territory, fearing the consequences for both the survival of the Assad regime and for Hezbollah’s status. (Israel too is not interested in an all-out war.)


Israel Apartheid Week 2018

May 19, 2018 — INSS

Israel Apartheid Week 2018
Over the past 14 years Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) has been observed in various countries across the globe, among them the United States, Britain, Canada, and South Africa. The “week” is typically implemented on and off university campuses during specific days between mid-February and mid-April. As opposed to criticism against particular, concrete policies of the Israeli government, IAW encompasses harsh anti-Israel activity, traditionally in the form of alleging linkages and similarities between Israel and apartheid South Africa – with the aim of delegitimizing and isolating Israel internationally.

“Israel Apartheid Week” is of threefold concern. First, events held under its banner can, and often do, evolve into anti-Semitic displays and slurs, reportedly resulting in a sense of insecurity among Jewish communities, particularly Jewish students at university campuses. Second, polls and research show that on campuses, the immediate affiliation with Israel thrust upon Jewish students – expected to advocate or condone Israel regardless of the fact that they may prefer not to take a stand – leads to anger and anxiety, which in certain cases is assumed to encourage alienation from Israel. Third, IAW, which is only a part of a larger ongoing campaign to mar Israel’s image, actively strives to delegitimize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.


President el-Sisi’s Second Term: The Challenge of Legitimacy

May 10, 2018 — INSS

Egypt, Israel, President el-Sisi's Second Term
As expected, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was reelected Egyptian president in late March 2018, this time, with 97.08 percent of the vote. Only 41.05 percent of eligible voters voted in these elections, compared with 47.5 percent in the 2014 elections and 51.85 percent in the 2012 elections, although the elections continued for three days and despite threats (later proven empty) to fine any eligible voter who did not exercise his right to vote 500 Egyptian pounds ($28, one sixth of the average monthly wage in Egypt).


The Parliamentary Elections in Lebanon: Hezbollah’s Victory within the Political Status Quo

May 10, 2018 — INSS

The Parliamentary Elections in Lebanon: Hezbollah’s Victory within the Political Status Quo
On May 6, 2018, parliamentary elections were held in Lebanon for the first time since 2009. The results – which, in stark contrast to elections in other Arab countries, were held in a free and democratic atmosphere – show that the Shia bloc grew stronger, mainly at the expense of the political party of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. Within the Shia bloc, the Amal party was apparently strengthened at the expense of Hezbollah. The elections were held after a year replete with crises, strikes, and demonstrations over many domestic issues. The low voter turnout reflected the sentiments of substantial segments of the population, mainly among the young generation, who are alienated by the traditional politics and the alleged corruption and dirty dealings in the Lebanese political arena. The voter turnout also reflected the growing troubles among the middle class, the country’s faltering economy, the need to contend with approximately one million Syrian refugees in the country, and more.


Israel and United States Military Assistance to Egypt

Apr 30, 2018 — INSS

Israel should encourage the US to retain its policy of orienting the military assistance to counterterrorism and border security challenges
In January 2018, with little fanfare, the United States and Egypt signed a bilateral communications security agreement known as the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), which protects and regulates the use of sensitive American avionics and communications systems. Until now, Cairo refused to sign CISMOA, objecting to the invasive access it accords the US to Egypt’s facilities and communications systems.

The lack of an agreement affected the level of the telecommunications and navigation devices on the US-made platforms and armaments sold to Egypt, limiting them to low standard commercial-grade systems. Consequently, the precision guided munitions (PGMs) sold by the US to Egypt were limited to the laser-guided kind, and only recently, with the purchase of the Rafale fighter jets from France, Egypt acquired European-made GPS-guided PGMs, such as the AASM Hammer bomb. The signing of CISMOA now allows, for the first time, the acquisition by Egypt of US-made high precision GPS-based air-to-ground weapon systems and components, as well as advanced air-to-air missiles.


The Saudi Revolution

Apr 23, 2018 — INSS

The Saudi Revolution
Saudi Arabia is in the midst of revolutionary processes that aim to change the economic and social fabric in this conservative kingdom. In contrast to the bottom-up Arab revolutions that took place over the past decade, the Saudi revolution is guided top-down by Crown Prince and acting ruler Mohammad bin Salman from his palace in Riyadh. The 32-year-old prince is also trying to impose change to the house of Saud itself: a switch from collective rule by the different branches of the family, which created a system of checks and balances, to what more and more appears to be the autocratic rule of bin Salman himself. Opponents of bin Salman, whether by choice or circumstance, including people in the media, religious figures, businessmen, and even princes have been dismissed, arrested, or dispossessed in the name of the struggle against corruption in a process that has thus far lacked transparency.


National Home Front Exercise “Solid Stand”: Doubts concerning Civilian Preparedness for an Emergency

Apr 17, 2018 — INSS

The
The “Solid Stand” nation-wide home front exercise conducted by the Home Front Command (HFC) took place this year on the third day of the general staff exercise, which was held on March 11-15, 2018. The exercise dealt with a multi-front conflict, with the northern front – Syria and Lebanon, through Hezbollah – representing the central threat to the Israeli civilian home front. The exercise was intended to advance cooperation between the Home Front Command and the various emergency and rescue organizations, so as to enhance the public’s readiness for war. In practice, the volume of information that was delivered to the civilian sector was very limited. Consequently it was reported that “following the first siren, the rescue call centers were flooded with questions from terrified people who knew nothing about the drill” (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv, March 14, 2018).


From the First Intifada to the “March of Return”

Apr 12, 2018 — INSS

From the First Intifada to the March of Return
The “March of Return” events have brought out the masses. It seems that since the first intifada the Palestinian arena has not witnessed such widespread mass participation as evident in the recent protests along the Gaza Strip border - on Land Day, Friday, March 30, 2018, and the Friday that followed. As the organizers see it, this is the start of a series of moves, intended to peak on May 15, 2018. The higher number of fatalities than generally known in mass events of recent years and the large number of wounded have aroused in the Palestinians the desire for revenge and increased the motivation to continue the demonstrations. On the other hand, the number of dead and wounded has also deterred many from continuing the activity along the border fence.


A Sense of Victory on Both Sides: A Recipe for Escalation in Gaza?

Apr 9, 2018 — INSS

A Sense of Victory on Both Sides: A Recipe for Escalation in Gaza?
Following the “March of Return” events led by Hamas on two turbulent Fridays at the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, both sides declared victory.

Hamas boasts a sense of victory and satisfaction given that in its view, the organization has reclaimed the leadership of the Palestinian struggle, found an effective strategy to challenge Israel without (at least, so far) igniting another round of fighting, positioned itself as the leader of an unarmed, non-violent civilian protest, shown Abu Mazen to be irrelevant and limited his ability to increase the sanctions on Gaza, and aroused international criticism of Israel for ostensibly disproportionate use of military force in particular, and for the “blockade” of Gaza in general.




Preparations for the Nakba March: Hamas’s Cognitive Campaign

Mar 21, 2018 — INSS

preparations-for-the-nakba-march-hamass-cognitive-campaign
The Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip is heavily engaged in preparations for a major event, the “Great March of Return,” when thousands of Gaza’s Palestinians will march toward the security fence and position themselves in tent cities along the Israeli border. This event, scheduled for May 14, 2018, marking seventy years since the establishment of the State of Israel, is designed to highlight the Palestinian refugee issue and connect it to the plight of those living the Gaza Strip. The move is also designed to serve the Hamas leadership in Gaza in its struggle within the Palestinian arena, given its assessment that the reconciliation talks with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are doomed to fail, and in order to position Hamas as leader of the national struggle and a worthy alternative to Fatah.


The Gas Deal with Egypt: Israel Deepens its Anchor in the Eastern Mediterranean

Mar 13, 2018 — INSS

The Gas Deal with Egypt: Israel Deepens its Anchor in the Eastern Mediterranean
On February 19, 2018, the gas partnerships in Israel announced a $15 billion contract to export 64 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Egypt over ten years. The contract, between the owners of the Tamar and Leviathan fields and the Egyptian Dolphinus Holding, is based on a memorandum of understanding from October 2014. Presumably the government of Israel played an important role in securing this deal, by promoting it with the Egyptian government and possibly also by covering the guarantees required from Dolphinus for its approval.


Delaying the Release of Fifth-Generation Fighter Planes to the Arab States

Mar 7, 2018 — INSS

Delaying the Release of Fifth-Generation Fighter Planes to the Arab States
Israel’s aerial superiority remains a key component of its qualitative military edge in the region. Israel’s airpower is central to its image and deterrent ability: it protects the country’s airspace, provides the first and multi-arena response to both immediate and more distant threats, enables retaliation and retribution missions for attacks on Israel, and plays a central role in managing military operations on various fronts. However, Israel’s aerial superiority has been eroded in recent years, due to a combination of two force buildup processes in Arab states – the improvement of their air defense systems and the massive acquisition of advanced fighter planes. For Israel to maintain aerial freedom of action in the next decade, it must have exclusive regional access to fifth-generation fighter planes, such as the F-35 (known in Israel as the “Adir”).


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