Washington, Nov. 15 - Israel’s military is adapting to defend against the uncertainty engulfing its neighboring countries, a top Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson said Wednesday.
“The situation for us remains not too definitive at this point,” Lt.-Col. Avital Leibovich, Head of International Media and Communications Branch IDF Spokespersons Unit, said on a conference call hosted by The Israel Project.
“For us as a military, we have to be ready in a few fronts, where in the past we were usually ready for one front.”
Leibovich summarized the main security challenges Israel faces in a regional environment altered by the “Arab Spring.” Israel’s borders with Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria pose the greatest risks to its population and the IDF.
On the northern border with Lebanon, Israel has to contend with the Shiite militia Hezbollah which stores its weaponry under civilian villages in the south of Lebanon. Near Gaza, Israeli citizens now face missiles fired from the Hamas-run enclave that can reach farther into the Jewish state than ever before. And in Syria, uncertainty surrounding the fate of the embattled Assad regime, who last May organized mass marches on the Golan Heights border with Israel, has the IDF concerned, Leibovich said.
One worrying development is the use of civilian populations as fronts for military operations, Leibovich said. “Basically we can see a phenomenon which is becoming stronger and stronger in the recent region in which civilians serve as human shields. We’ve seen it in Gaza, and we see it now in Lebanon,” she said.