Israeli military preparedness follows a depressing pattern. The IDF does not change its assessments of the strategic environment until Israeli blood runs in the streets.
In Judea and Samaria, from 1994 through 2000, the army closed its eyes to the Palestinian security forces' open, warm and mutually supportive ties to terror groups.
The military only began to reconsider its assessment of the US- and European-trained and Israeli-armed Palestinian forces after Border Police Cpl. Mahdat Youssef bled to death at Joseph's Tomb in October 2000. Youssef died because the Palestinian security chiefs on whom Israel had relied for cooperation refused to coordinate the evacuation of the wounded policeman.
Youssef was wounded when a Palestinian mob, supported by Palestinian security forces, attacked the sacred Jewish shrine. They shot at worshipers and the IDF soldiers who were stationed at Joseph's Tomb in accordance with the agreements Israel has signed with the Palestinians.
In Lebanon, the IDF only reconsidered its policy of ignoring Hezbollah's massive arms build-up in the south after the Shi'ite group launched its war against Israel in July 2006.
In Gaza, the IDF only reconsidered its willingness to allow Hamas to massively arm itself with missiles and rockets after the terror group running the Strip massively escalated the scale of its missile war against Israel in December 2008.
It is to be hoped that Thursday's sophisticated, deadly, multi-pronged, combined arms assault by as yet unidentified enemy forces along the border with Egypt will suffice to force the IDF to alter its view of Egypt.
By Thursday afternoon, seven Israelis had been killed and 26 had been wounded by unidentified attackers who entered Israel from Egyptian-ruled Sinai and staged a four-pronged attack. The attack included two assaults on civilian passenger buses and private cars. The assailants used automatic rifles in the first attack, and rifles as well as either anti-tank missiles or rocket-propelled grenades in the second attack.
The assault also involved the use of missiles and roadside bombs against an IDF border patrol, and open combat between the attackers and police SWAT teams.
There can be little doubt of the sophisticated planning and training required to carry out this attack. The competence of the assailants indicates that their organizations are highly professional, well-trained and in possession of accurate intelligence about Israeli civilian traffic and military operations along the border with Egypt.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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