IDF forces in a training exercise. (Cpl. Amit Elkayam/ IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Hezbollah Rocket Battery

A Hezbollah Rocket Battery. (palaestinafelix.blogspot)

IDF officials provided a bleak forecast on the threats Israel may face in the coming year. 

The IDF is preparing for a multi-front war in the north against Hezbollah and against Hamas in the south. However, the IDF also estimates that the likelihood of these terror organizations initiating a war in the next year remains low due to their preoccupation with the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, and because of Israel’s current deterrence abilities.

Regardless, the IDF’s top brass thinks that the likelihood of a severe incident leading to an escalation, and even a war, has increased and is being described by the IDF as “moderate.”

Hezbollah and the Islamic State (ISIS) are embroiled in the Syrian civil war, while Hamas is fighting to suppress rival terror organizations and maintain its strangling rule over Gaza.

The various terror organizations operating on Israel’s borders consider it to be an “aggressive and unpredictable player,” and therefore have yet to attack.

Hamas in Gaza suffered severe material loss during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, from which it has not entirely recovered, but is working vigorously to do so.

Hezbollah has been building up its military might since its defeat against Israel in 2006. However, it is well aware that an attack on Israel would spell devastating consequences for Lebanon.

Israel has been preparing its forces to meet the looming threats, including another war with Hezbollah, which would entail scenarios such as massive rocket fire on civilian targets, hostage situations, the downing of aircraft and damage to naval vessels.

“The next war will be different from the wars we’ve seen in the past 20-30 years. The conflict will be very complex,” IDF officials told reporters in a briefing on Tuesday, Israel’s Ynet reported.

“Hezbollah has turned the majority of its Shi’ite villages in southern Lebanon into massive military strongholds. They’re investing more in missile accuracy and warhead size, and are working more on underground warfare and bringing the war into our territory. Hezbollah started digging tunnels before Hamas did, and a war tunnel such as the ones dug under a Lebanese village can also be dug in the border area. But we have the knowledge and ability to hurt Hezbollah. These villages would be hit and this will lead to many refugees,” the officials warned.

Hamas terrorists

Members of Hamas’s military wing parade in the streets of Gaza. (AP/Illustrative)

Relating to the recently signed nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, the IDF officials said it could mean new opportunities for Israel, much as IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot stated earlier this month.

“There are advantages to the nuclear deal,” Ynet quoted the IDF officials as saying. “A better deal could’ve been reached, and there’s a bit of frustration because the deal doesn’t take care of the Iranian involvement in our region. But the damage to the amount of enriched material and the dramatic reduction in the number of centrifuges is something with which you can’t argue.”

However, “Iran hasn’t given up the dream of a regional hegemony. It’s funding Hamas, attempting to have a hold in Judea and Samaria, and is guiding and paying for terrorist infrastructure in the Syrian Golan Heights.”

As for the threat posed by ISIS, IDF officials carefully state that there are initial signs of ISIS’ decline in Syria as a result of the international coalition fighting it, but say it is too soon to make a decisive statement on the issue. However, more ISIS terror attacks in Europe could be “a kind of third world war, in the sense of changing the Europeans’ lives.”