Israeli Military Thinking: Insights and Analysis

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Israeli Military Thinking: Insights and Analysis

8th March 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

As Israel grapples with significant security challenges both domestically and the evolving threat posed by Iran, this event will focus on the strategies and tactics employed by the Israeli military.

We shall explore the latest strategic thinking in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to improve its response to violent attacks perpetuated by Hamas and Hezbollah. In light of international and regional transformations such as the ongoing war in Ukraine, the US withdrawal from the Middle East, and the Russian-Iranian alliance, this conversation will seek to identify the latest trends in military strategy that can help Israel achieve a decisive military advantage. We will also focus on Israel’s positionality as a rising regional power and its adapting approach to these changing dynamics in the regional and international order.

The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to welcome you to join this discussion where you can expect to gain a greater understanding of the unique challenges faced by the Israeli military and the innovative solutions they have developed to meet asymmetric campaigns. Discussions will also include lessons learned and how they can be applied to other military contexts.



Brigadier General Eran Ortal is the current commander of The Dado Center for Interdisciplinary Military Studies. Ortal is also the founder of the Israel Defense Force Dado Center journal, dedicated to Operational art and military transformation.

Ortal’s published work focuses on operational planning and IDF force design at the general staff level. For instance, Ortal, along with Gen. Tamir Yadai, argued that since Operation Accountability in 1993, the IDF has pursued a de facto doctrine they call the “deterrence operations paradigm.” Ortal and Yadai proposed a conceptual and practical framework to restore the battlefield victory approach in the IDF.

In recent years, Ortal adapted that approach to deal with the challenge of “missile based terror armies,” like Hezbollah and Hamas. In a series of articles, he stressed the strategic significance of the rocket threat on Israel, and the imperative of developing a new offensive approach to defeat the new threat. Ortal has also analyzed other core issues the IDF has dealt with in recent years, including ground maneuver, subterranean threats, the rocket threat, and the IDF’s learning and transformation system.

His critique of the IDF’s General Staff force design system and strategic learning system led to practical change in the General staff including the formation of new organizations. Ortal played a role in strategic thought processes in the Military Intelligence Directorate (Ma’aseh Aman) and in the Ground Forces (Land Ahead). Both processes describe a critical evaluation of the performance of these arrays considering change, and offer a solution based on the potential in the changing world, especially in technological development.



Dr Yaniv Voller is a Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Kent. Before that, he was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh. In 2018-2019, Yaniv was also a Conflict Research Fellow at the Conflict Research Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science, supported by DFID and the Social Science Research Council. He received his PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he also taught courses in the International Relations and the International History Departments.

Yaniv’s research broadly concerns the geopolitics of the Middle East, the foreign policies of Middle Eastern states, separatism/liberation, insurgency and the role of ideas, ideology and practices in shaping international politics. He is the author of two books: The Kurdish Liberation Movement in Iraq: From Insurgency to Statehood (Routledge, 2014) and Second-Generation Liberation Wars: Rethinking Colonialism in Iraqi Kurdistan and Southern Sudan (Cambridge University Press, 2022). His articles have appeared in International Affairs, Democratization, the Middle East Journal and the International Journal of Middle East Studies.



Dr Gadi Yishayahu holds a PhD in the study of crises in the Department of International Politics at the University of London (City). He previously worked in the field of crisis management in the Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Deloitte Economic Consulting Services, and as a senior associate in a commercial law firm in Tel-Aviv. His research focuses on the foreign policy of Israel, contemporary Foreign Policy Crises and their implications on the discipline of crisis management.



Dr Burcu Ozcelik holds a PhD in Politics and an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge and subsequently held the prestigious Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the Department of Politics and International Studies where she taught Conflict, Peacebuilding, and the Politics of the Middle East.

Dr Ozcelik’s research primarily focuses on the international relations of the Middle East, non-state armed actors and peacebuilding. She has extensive experience with Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Israel.

Prior to joining HJS, Dr Ozcelik was an associate fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and has previously worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Turkey and in civil society, focusing on democracy and human rights. In addition to her scholarly articles, Dr Ozcelik’s research has been widely published in journals including War on the Rocks, The National Interest, Foreign Affairs, New Lines Magazine, Middle East Eye, the Royal United Services Institute and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Dr Ozcelik also acted as contributing editor of The politics of race and racialisation in the Middle East (Routledge 2022) and authored An Analysis of Seyla Benhabib’s The Rights of Others: Aliens, Residents and Citizens (Routledge and Macat 2017).





The Henry Jackson Society was honored to be joined by a panel of distinguished experts to discuss the strategic thinking of the Israel Defense Forces as it grapples with the rapidly shifting political dynamics of the 21st century. Dr. Gadi Yishayahu began the discussion by introducing the panelists and providing a brief description of the dynamics of contemporary Israeli foreign relations. Brigadier General Eran Ortal of the IDF provided an analysis of Israeli strategic thinking, arguing that while Israel remains an economic, political, and military power in the region, it is not a peer competitor of Iran, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia and must conduct its foreign policy accordingly. General Ortal explained that Israel cannot engage in a protracted military conflict with Iran, and must instead decisively remove operational threats as they arise close to its borders. General Ortal proposed a policy of containment in which Israel vigilantly protects its borders from imminent threats posed by Iranian proxy forces in Lebanon and Syria while avoiding direct confrontation with the Islamic Republic itself until the internal cohesion of the Iranian state inevitably breaks down under the weight of its own disfunction, repression, and foreign overextension. Dr. Yaniv Voller spoke in agreement, saying that while powerful, Israel remains in a precarious position made worse by its current political crisis, and that it must avoid direct confrontation with larger regional powers to ensure its security.




Brigadier General Eran Ortal, Dr Yaniv Voller, Dr Gadi Yishayahu


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