A Dangerous Game Changer
Israel's many enemies, in their unrequited passion for Israel's destruction, are converting from failed military solutions to a political/media-based onslaught. They understand that Israel's hi-tech military is generations beyond Hezb'allah, Hamas, and even Iran, the three major antagonists in this life-and-death struggle. And as the participants know well, and conversely the media don't know or disingenuously ignore, these three primary enemies have no interest in a negotiated settlement, a peaceful solution -- they openly advocate the annihilation of Israel and the removal of any surviving Jews from the Middle East.
Kidnapping soldiers and sending suicide bombers and rockets at Israeli civilians may be satisfying at times but the endgame of these three partners in war remains beyond their nefarious means. And so they ingeniously hope, so far successfully, to ally themselves with many of the radical leftist groups that are virulently antagonistic to Israel, as well as with a proliferation of likeminded Arab dictators. They also, finally, ally themselves with traditional anti-Semites and new-age universalists who see Israel variously as imperialistic and hegemonic nationalists, as the Little Satan (with the USA as the Big Satan), as infuriatingly successful conspiracists bending the world to their will, and inevitably as land-grabbing territorialists oppressing not only the now 4 million mainly third-generation Palestinian refugees ensconced in camps beyond their own borders, but also somehow the 350 million Arabs around them who just happen to live, albeit with much dissatisfaction and inequality, on the majority of the world's oil reserves.
The focus of these three antagonists is now to align the willing media and political establishments to their age-old propaganda and ploys, to embarrass Israel internationally, to provide provocative video and images that can be used to undermine Israel's right to exist and present Israel as latter-day Nazis. It likely comes as no surprise then that Israel is the only country in the world whose right to exist is questioned, who is the object of a majority of the UN's condemnations, yet who has started none of the six major wars (or the many lesser ones) fought for its survival.
In the upside-down world of Hamas and Hezb'allah and many other jihadist offshoots, the more Palestinians that can be wounded or killed in protests, in political confrontations, demonstrations, and sea flotillas, the better. Impressionable Palestinians from the refugee camps are mere fodder for their propaganda mills. It's one of those amazing misnomers of this conflict that whilst the Israeli Army spends an inordinate amount of time and materiel to prevent Arab casualties, these protagonists do the reverse. The more blood, the more publicity, is their "sine qua non."
Thus increasingly groups of innocents and agitators alike (directed by background masterminds safely pulling the strings far from the danger zones) will be bused to Israel's borders, to climb its fences, march by the thousands and tens of thousands on Israel's border posts and checkpoints, forcing confrontations, hoping for violence and blood -- always newsworthy. After all, since Israel's eradication is their preeminent goal, why bother negotiating? Israel has many imperfect characteristics -- being suicidal is just not one of them.
Unbeknown to most, Israel's army has a humanitarian and non-lethal philosophy second to none -- their principal focus is on the saving of lives1. This creed serves as a basis for all combat, all war, and all deterrence. They need however to increasingly engineer a way to confront those provocative, violent, and often illegal protests in a way to minimize the drama and deaths these protagonists seek and which the media fulminates over. The army needs to maximize nonlethal firepower to put a stop to these confrontations -- overly passive responses will only encourage the protagonists.
Some ideas that may work are water cannons steeped with an and intensely irritating, itchy, rash-producing chemical that instantaneously converts the protesters' aggression into a overwhelming scratching incapacitation. Another is to use Israel's hi-tech military industries to recalibrate a shotguns muzzle to spray, in an explosive arc, a very wide two foot high horizontal barrage of hundreds of small non-lethal projectiles. Those, if aimed at the feet of the rock- and Molotov cocktail-throwing demonstrators, would likewise incapacitate large groups of attackers yet not kill them. In both instances, the participants would likely rue the day they volunteered for these very memorable consequences -- most likely dampening the demonstrators' zeal for another round of Israel-bashing.
This long-overdue evolution in tactics might even find favor amongst the international community as the army necessarily changes the likely consequences of most mass demonstrations and crowd-based attacks on Israel's borders and personnel from lethal (even if provoked) to nonlethal. The army would thereby reduce the media and histrionics quotient whilst decreasing and frustrating the motivation of the "egged on" participants. No more martyrs, no more 72 virgins, just debilitating rashes and onerous wounds.
Israel needs desperately to quickly invest in powerful but nonlethal crowd control, and in protester inhibitors. It needs to be clever more than tough. Otherwise by sheer numbers, the day may come when its borders are overwhelmed by increasing quantities of human bodies dead-set on marching with stones and likely guns. And remember: the West Bank is in places only nine miles from Israel to the Mediterranean Sea coast. A renegade militant with a mortar or a couple of rockets could easily close down Israel's only airport, never mind much of central Israel's main transport arteries, from any number of West Bank locations. East and West Jerusalem are still an open, unified city. Israel does not have the luxury of size and space -- it is after all situated on only on a fifteenth of one percent of the land constituting the Arab Middle East.