Israel's Enemies: Then and Now

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Golan Heights - In the lead-up to the Six Day War, many of Israel's enemies talked openly about destroying the Jewish state.

Today, leaders are making similar threats. CBN decided to take a look at the parallels between then and now and also what's changed since 1967.

A New Day, A New Threat

The combined Arab armies Israel so soundly defeated in the Six Day War do not pose the same threat today.

These days Israel has a cold peace with Egypt and a cool peace with Jordan. But the third main enemy -- Syria -- remains a key link in a chain of warfare against Israel and the West.

Forty years ago Syrian guns fired shells into northern Israel. During the Six Day War, Israel captured Golan Heights to stop shelling from places overlooking the Galilee.

But today the threat is much more serious. Syrian missiles are far more deadly and can be equipped with chemical weapons.

Exclusive satellite photos from CBN News showed that since 1967 Syria has developed one of the most ambitious ballistic missile programs in the Middle East. It is also considered the chemical weapon superpower in the region. Experts believe missiles will likely be the main weapon in any future Middle East war.

My Enemies Surround Me

Syria's ties with Iran, Hezbollah, other radicals in Lebanon, and Palestinian terrorist groups make the nation a threat to Israel on at least three fronts.

For several months, Israel has been concerned about Syrian troop movements near the border. Israel's military conducted large-scale war games this spring to prepare for a possible attack.

In the meantime, Israeli leaders have repeated that they don't intend to go to war with Syria. But historian Michael Oren believes one lesson learned from 1967 is that misperceptions can often lead to conflict.

"We could have an event, say, in the northern border of Israel in which Hezbollah and Lebanon fire rockets into northern Israel. Israel fires back into southern Lebanon and the Syrian army mobilizes and begins moving tanks." Oren said. Then, "Israel preemptively strikes the Syrians and the Iranians start sending missiles into Israel."

He continued, "Within the course of a couple of hours, a war that maybe nobody wants and nobody anticipates gets out of control and becomes a regional conflict. And that could happen tomorrow."

It is Iran, with its drive for nuclear weapons and its dreams of a Middle East Islamic caliphate, that causes the most concern in Jerusalem.

Yaacov Amidror is a former Israeli general and a Middle East analyst.

"Here today, it's less secular and more religious, but the basis is still the same: Israel should not exist in the Middle East. What the Arabs believed before the Six Day War is what the Iranians believe today, and both try to implement it," Amidror said.

Trouble Brewing on the Gaza Strip 

Another cauldron boiling on Israel's border is in the Gaza Strip.

Two years ago, Israel pulled out of the territory it won in 1967, displacing 8,000 Jewish residents.

But Israel's pullout from Gaza and its pullout from Lebanon seven years ago did not lead to peace and quiet.

Instead it led to a barrage of rocket attacks, with Katyushas in the north during last summer's Lebanon war, as well as Kassam rockets from Gaza that have put the city of Sderot on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

Israel's former military chief of staff, Moshe Yaalon, says there are painful consequences in conceding ground to jihadists.

"What we got is Hamastan, Hezbollahstan, al-Qaedastan, with a deteriorated security situation in the Gaza Strip. And it is not understood in the West," Yaalon said.

He says there is a lack of clarity among the people of the West who can't see that jihadists plan to carry out their war against both Israel and secular societies in Europe and North America.

Yaalon said, "It's not just a question of Israel's border or border disputes. It is a clash of civilizations. This is World War III, and we should deal with it as such."

 

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