December 10, 2023

According to the great military thinker Carl von Clausewitz, the natural course of war begins with a defensive and ends with an offensive. He argued that defense is the stronger form of warfare, and this is the approach that guided the IDF’s attitude toward Hamas.

The strategy chosen by Israel in dealing with Hamas was one of attrition, similar to the strategy employed by historical figures like Ulysses S. Grant and Titus. However, this way of thinking is now obsolete. Israel cannot tolerate the presence of a jihadist militia along its borders, which is the first lesson learned from the Israel-Gaza war.

The second lesson is that defensive strategies can lead to a dangerous mental complacency. Israel’s over-reliance on technology and lack of imagination contributed to the surprise attack by Hamas. However, the IDF’s tactical offensiveness proved to be successful in defeating the enemy.

The military lessons learned from the war will likely lead to the repair of the IDF’s defensive operation and the redeployment of forces along the borders. This may also result in an increase in military spending and regular army service.

In addition to the military lessons, there are also three social changes that the IDF should demand. The first lesson is about communal defense, emphasizing the need for stronger community-based defense squads.

The second lesson is about agriculture, emphasizing the importance of restoring farming as a Zionist value and strategic asset. This includes subsidizing farming and preserving farmland to maintain a strong agricultural presence along the borders.

The third social demand relates to the involvement of the ultra-Orthodox community in defense. The IDF should offer to train, build, and deploy ultra-Orthodox readiness squads in border communities and neighborhoods, serving as an alternative military service.

These social changes, combined with the military lessons, are essential for the IDF’s future strategy and preparedness.