MYTH: Defensible borders are unrealistic in an era of ballistic missiles.


History shows that aerial attacks have never defeated a nation. Countries are only conquered by troops occupying land.  One example of this was Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, in which the latter nation was over-run and occupied in a matter of hours.

Though the multinational force bombed Iraq for close to six weeks, Kuwait was not liberated until the Allied troops marched into that country in the war’s final days.  Defensible borders are those that would prevent or impede such a ground assault.

Israel’s return to its pre-1967 borders, which the Arab states want to reimpose, would tempt potential aggressors to launch attacks on the Jewish State – as they did routinely before 1967.  Israel would lose the extensive system of early-warning radars it has set up in the hills of Judaea and Samaria.  Were a hostile neighbor then to seize control of these mountains, its army could split Israel in two: from there, it is only about fifteen miles – without any major geographic obstacles – to the Mediterranean.

At their narrowest point, these 1967 lines are within nine miles of the Israeli coast, eleven miles from Tel Aviv, ten from Be’er Sheva, twenty-one from Haifa, and one foot from Jerusalem.  To defend Jerusalem, the US joint chiefs concluded in a 1967 report to the secretary of defense, Israel would need to have its border “positioned to the east of the city.”

Control over the Jordan River Valley is also critical to Israeli security because it “forms a natural security barrier between Israel and Jordan, and effectively acts as an anti-tank ditch,”  military analyst Anthony Cordesman noted.  “This defensive line sharply increases the amount of time Israel has to mobilize and its ability to ensure control.  Borders and Boundaries over the West Bank in the event of a war.”

He added that sacrificing control over the routes up to the heights above the West Bank makes it more difficult for the IDF to deploy and increases the risk of Jordanian, Syrian, or Palestinian forces deploying on the heights. Even in the era of ballistic missiles, strategic depth matters.

The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, an Israeli think tank considered dovish, concluded: “Early-warning stations and the deployment of surface-to-air missile batteries can provide the time needed to sound an air-raid alert, and warn the population to take shelter from a missile attack.  They might even allow enemy missiles to be intercepted in mid-flight…As long as such missiles are armed with conventional warheads, they may cause painful losses and damage, but they cannot decide the outcome of a war.”


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