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Introduction | An Attack's Anatomy

The Cross of Bethlehem

The Cross of Bethlehem II

IDF's Syrian Blitzkrieg



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Letter of Intentions

In 1988, Israel conducted what until then was its largest military exercise. "Ba'al HaHalomot" (Dreams' Owner) was the first and only attempt of the IDF to see if its Vertical Bypass Division could deliver its promise to open a second front for the IDF.* A very young officer in the unit's headquarters, I was impressed for an unforgettable event: an M-113 troops carrier stuck on the boarding ramp of a Hercules airplane.

In the subsequent mayhem, I was troubled by a different issue: when would the exercise be implemented?

British Vehicle in Battle of Megiddo, 1918

British Vehicle in Battle of Megiddo, 1918
A Blitzkrieg from before the term was adopted
The Roots of Blitzkrieg

Many years afterwards, I have solid reasons to think that this plan would never be implemented; neither in Iraq nor in the only other possible landing spot. Military exercises not always become operative. However, they always broadcast a letter of intentions.

Shhhh! It's top secret!

IDF Exercise June 2013
Inside the Nazi War Machine: How Three Generals Unleashed Hitler's Blitzkrieg Upon the World

Being an open letter delivered without a stamp, most of the exercises are not classified. Sometimes they are even published in excruciating detail by the state-sponsored media. This is the case of the video reproduced next to this paragraph. It was released on June 20, 2013, by Yediot Ahronot, minutes after the end of a large IDF exercise. Netanyahu sent a letter without a stamp.

The Letter's Message

The newspaper was kind enough to inform the composition of the force. An unidentified division from the Central Command** participated with a reserve battalion. The air force and the navy participated with their regular forces. This is enough to classify the event as a multi-branch event (ground-air-sea) carried out in a "skeleton-drill," i.e. the exercise was not intended to train the few participating soldiers, but the commanders and control facilities.

The event lasted four days and took place in the Galilee, in territory controlled by the IDF North Command. This is an important clue to what was being checked. The ground forces—which eventually are supposed to stick a flag atop the enemy's headquarter—had been taken out of their area. In other words, the IDF exercised a multi-branch attack deep in enemy's territory. This definition and the composition of the force define it as a blitzkrieg plan.+

Merkava Tank in the Golan Heights

Merkava Tank in the Golan Heights
During the winter, the Golan becomes a tanks-trap


"Bibi, to whom should I deliver the letter?" asked the postman

A continuous source of delight for me is the easiness that state agents are identified. Beyond the unavoidable Delay Effect there is a typical redundancy enforced by those who can't trust their own people. This case was not different.

There is no doubt that the event was closely watched by the main armies active in the area, including Syria. Its message was also pretty obvious. Yet, fastidious to the end, the IDF made sure that the message will pass. Fastidious to the end, it did so in a foolishly indirect fashion.

Yediot Ahronot reports that "partly, the goals of the exercise are not related to deep-strikes into Syria or the strained situation in the Golan Heights." Let me rephrase in the positive fashion favored by English speakers: "Partly, the event is related to a deep-strike in Syria."

"I still don't understand" said the Syrian soldier watching the approaching troops

Fastidious to the end, Israeli Minister of Defense Ya'alon delivered yesterday a speech in Ba'ad 1, the IDF Officers' School, during a graduation ceremony. He said: "...these days, the IDF faces, from inside and outside Israel, several fronts of uncertainty. We have such a front along the Lebanese border...We have such a front with Syria...a war that is approaching our borders..."

"Ok, OK," said Assad, "Got the message."


* Israel occupies a strategic spot. Two important oil pipelines cross its territory. Between 1935 and 1948, the Mosul–Haifa oil pipeline transported crude oil from the oil fields of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, through Jordan to Haifa. Nowadays they function with crude oil brought with ships. The point marked H2 in the map is considered strategic by the IDF since it is the largest plain along the pipeline's path. As mentioned in The Cross of Bethlehem, this is the chosen area for opening a second IDF frontline against a ground attack by means of a vertical bypass. This pipeline may become of immense importance in the new geopolitical scenario developing in the Middle East.

Mosul Haifa

Mosul–Haifa oil pipeline

** Don't confuse the Central Command, responsible for the West Bank and central Israel and located in Jerusalem, with the IDF General Command in Tel Aviv.

+ Blitzkrieg is a term that was popularized by the media following the attack of Nazi Germany on Poland in 1939. it was coined in 1935 by the German Army, but similar attacks happened before, like the British attack in 1918, during the Battle of Megiddo.

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