Israel’s Operation Shield and Arrow Recap

Israel’s Operation Shield and Arrow against the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist group in Gaza ended after five days with a ceasefire on May 13. It was the fourth round of hostilities between Israel and Gaza-based terrorists in just five years and the third to involve only PIJ and not the much larger Hamas. Nor is it likely to be the last such conflict. Operation Shield and Arrow is unlikely to have changed the dynamics that are driving PIJ’s attacks and making them increasingly frequent.

Israel succeeded in its operational objectives to eliminate PIJ leaders and degrade the Iran-backed terrorist group’s capabilities without Hamas joining the fighting. Yet the decision to target only PIJ, despite Hamas violating an understanding with Israel to prohibit any attacks from Gaza, could have demonstrated to Israel’s adversaries that it is as much reluctant to engage in a larger conflict against Hamas as Hamas is to fight Israel again. This perception could undermine Israeli efforts to restore deterrence against PIJ already complicated by the group’s lack of strategic interests inside Gaza—and make another round of conflict likely in the near-term. The United States should support Israel’s right and ability to protect itself through additional support for Iron Dome air defense batteries and interceptors, continue defending Israel against unfair criticism at the United Nations, and look to extract lessons from the conflict for its own military purposes.

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Jonathan Ruhe – Director of Foreign Policy
Ari Cicurel – Assistant Director of Foreign Policy