Israel has been involved in a number of wars and conflicts throughout its history. Some key reasons why Israel goes to war include:
Protecting Against External Threats
- Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has faced threats from its neighboring Arab countries who have disputed its right to exist. This has led Israel to go to war several times to defend itself against what it sees as existential threats.
- Key wars include the 1948 Arab-Israeli War after Israel declared independence, the Six-Day War in 1967 when Israel launched preemptive strikes against Egypt, Jordan and Syria, and the Yom Kippur 1973 war in which Egypt and Syria invaded Israel.
- Israel sees Iran as a major threat today because of its nuclear program and support for militant groups like Hezbollah. Israel has allegedly launched strikes against Iranian targets to curb the threat.
Controlling Territories and Borders
- Capturing territory for strategic depth and secure borders has been a factor in some Israeli wars.
- In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel conquered the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt.
- Israel annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and continues to control the West Bank today. It withdrew from Gaza and Sinai as part of peace deals.
- Controlling borders aims to prevent attacks and rocket fire from hostile forces. However, occupation of territories is controversial.
Battling Militant Groups
- Israel has gone to war with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon repeatedly as part of efforts to degrade their military capabilities.
- Major conflicts include the Second Intifada from 2000-2005, the 2006 Lebanon War, and wars against Hamas in Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
- Israel uses heavy military force in these wars including airstrikes, ground invasions, targeted killings and blockades to try to achieve security by neutralizing militant threats on its borders.
Seeking Deterrence Through Military Force
- Some analysts argue Israeli military action is intended to send a message to enemies about Israel’s strength and deter future attacks.
- Large scale wars reestablish Israeli deterrence in the eyes of Arab states and non-state groups, though critics argue they perpetuate conflict.
- Preemptive airstrikes against alleged threats in Syria, Iraq and other countries also aim for deterrence. Israel wants to signal the high costs of threatening its security.
Questions and Answers:
Q: What are the main reasons Israel goes to war?
A: The main drivers of war for Israel include defending against external threats from Arab states and Iran, controlling disputed territories for security, battling militant groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and using military force to try to achieve deterrence.
Q: Which enemies has Israel gone to war against?
A: Israel has fought major wars against Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon over the decades. It also does battle with non-state groups Hamas and Hezbollah regularly. More recently, Israel has struck Iranian targets in Syria.
Q: What territories does Israel occupy from its wars?
A: Israel gained control of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem from Syria and Jordan in 1967. It also occupied the West Bank, Gaza and Sinai Peninsula at various points, withdrawing from Sinai and Gaza.
Q: Why is Israel’s occupation of Arab territories controversial?
A: Critics argue the occupation violates international law and Palestinian human rights. Proponents say controlling disputed lands provides strategic depth and security against attacks on Israel’s borders.
Q: How does Israel try to achieve deterrence through military force?
A: Large scale wars aim to reestablish deterrence by imposing huge costs on Israel’s enemies. Preemptive strikes against regional threats also signal Israel’s willingness to act decisively to protect its security interests.