This essay is a critique of the article “The threat of maritime terrorism to Israel” by Lorenz Akiva. It is focused on the main themes of the author, the comprehensiveness and uniqueness of the article, and the analysis of the data presented within the article.
Maritime terrorism has been defined as “acts of terrorist activities within the maritime vicinity, using or against vessels or fixed platforms in port or at sea, or against any one of their personnel and passengers against coastal settlements or facilities, including, but not limited to, port areas, tourist resorts, and port urban centers” (Akiva, 2006). Such definition, however, fails to address whether the terrorism entails attacks at the sea against merchants (civilians) or whether it targets the military vessels only. On this, therefore, a more concrete definition has been crafted so as to include the two i.e. the use of violence or threats against marine vessels either military or civilian (Akiva, 2006).
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Israel lies at the cross road of Asia, Africa, and Europe. In the north, it borders Syria and Lebanon, in the east - Jordan, Egypt in the west, and in the south - Palestine. Owing the hostile neighbors, the Israel main naval base at Ashdod used scooters and inflatable boats to survey its sea line. This was as a result of constant attacks from hostile neighbors, and therefore, using these took a matter of minutes to identify and tackle maritime terrorism threats. It is on this fact that the author of the article “The threat of maritime terrorism to Israel” based his argument (Akiva, 2006).
The article is strongly supported by the statistics, detailing the major commercial ports i.e. Ashdod, Eilat, and Haifa and the average tons of the cargo and passengers that enter the ports annually. The author went further to quote the figures associated with cargo and passengers, which constituted 37.7 million tons and 250,000 respectively (AP, 2005). The author further stated the importance of Israel maritime check on the terrorism, which restricts Israel trade with EU, Asia, and North America due to sour relations with its Arab neighbors. For Israel to access these trade partners, its merchant ships have to pass Suez Canal, straits of Tiran, straits of Gibraltar and Malacca or Bab el Mandeb.
The author of the article went further and highlighted the incidences that featured the maritime terrorism and security breach along its maritime boundaries. He presented the incidences beginning from 1970s, because before that time, the maritime terror threats were almost negligible. In his article, the author further talked of the tactics used by Palestinians rebels after the explosion of the Palestinians by the Jordanian king Hussein, where they settled in Lebanon from where the PLO and other Palestinian military wings spied against the operations of the Israeli marine crafts and intensified cross border attacks after the Yom Kippur (1973).
The Palestinian rebels intensified their training in Algeria, Libya, Egypt, and even Syria was not spared from scrutiny. The author alluded to the incidence in the northern border in 1974 and the gunmen that had held some Israelis hostages, which ended to their demise and demise of some citizens under their captivity after the gun battle with the Israeli marines. He also mentioned the measures that were implemented by Israel, including the radar system to curb future attacks and infiltration from the same front at Rosh Hanikra. The author went further to note the efforts of the IDF in 1976 Savoy attacks from the Mediterranean coast and the attacks from Abu Jihad (Fatah) in 1979 (Akiva, 2006).
The writer moved on to highlight relative serenity in the 80s and 90s owing to the tougher measures taken by Israeli navy against terrorist networks and also because of the intensification of its forces’ activities in the region due to improved budget of the Israel Defense Forces, allocated in order to aid them in curbing the marine insecurities and related disasters. The author shed some light on some of the attempts of the Abu Abass rebel group that were thwarted by the IDF either via the naval operations or the radar systems and their efficiencies.
The writer of the article further focused on recent 2000’s advancement of maritime techniques, including speedboats, suicide bombers in rafts, long rage rockets from far proximities, light weapons i.e. Kalashnikovs, grenades, RPGs, rocket launchers, etc. He also highlighted the diplomatic approaches taken by the both sides to end the stalemate between the Israeli state and its Arab neighbors, but per se that bore no fruits (Akiva, 2006).
The writer also mentioned a number of the recent maritime threats, including that of Islamic militants-Hezbollah, Fatah, PIJ, Hamas, and many other in connection to attacks at Ashdod port, Eilat port, attack at Israeli cruise ship, with over 5000 Israeli tourist in Diyarbakir, south-east Turkey in the year 2005(AP, 2005). He also cited the Iraqi al-Qaeda cells in a trial to launch rockets from the Gulf of Aqaba using Katyusha rockets (AP, 2005). The author went an extra mile to analyze different changes in tactics of camouflage and also advancement in both the ‘terrorists’ and the Israel defense force in the process of countering one another since the dawn of 1970s to 2006, when the article was published (Akiva, 2006).
Akiva clearly stated the topic of the research, being how Israel had been averting maritime terrorism, and clearly supported his questions with a number of historical facts, detailing on the same from 1970s to 2000s. The author named the key dates and the tactics employed by respective terrorists on the Israeli sea coast, while juxtaposing it with the counter maritime terrorism tactics that were in turn employed by the Israeli navy to counter the same terrorism (Akiva, 2006).
However, the article lacks clear implication of hypothesis as the author was focused on what had been already implemented instead of carrying out a new study to come up with the technicalities to be implemented thereafter; hence, taking the approach of analyzing the actions of IDF apart from researching what should be done by the IDF in case of future eventualities (AP, 2005).
On the other hand, the author of the article addressed the question “so what?” in a sense that he provided proper identification of the problem, its origin, and recurrence and hence predicted its future course. In reference to this article, therefore, it is worth noting that by analyzing the trends of Maritime terrorism on Israeli seafronts, Akiva tried to predict the following trends of the same acts of terrorism and how one could act in case of their occurrence by IDF. Based on this argument, this study could be considered worth and beneficial to respective stakeholders involved, i.e. Israel, which bears direct implication, and its North American and EU trade allies (AP, 2005).
The author failed to address the method he used for data collection and analysis of the historical, tactical, and statistical (numerical) facts he tabled in his article. This, therefore, made it very hard for one to replicate the study in the article. The author also failed to give a variable to the maritime terrorism other than the use of IDF, for example a dialogue, which is a good source to root out the truth and then the solution for the atrocities from Israel’s neighbors and related techniques of problem solving (Akiva, 2006).
It is worth noting that the study supported the author goals to a good extent. This can be supported by the effort of the IDF to thwart and reduce the cases of terrorism. On the other hand, there was a failure on the side of the goals of the author as the attacks of the ‘terrorists’ did not reduce, and in case of occurrence, it would lead to loss from both sides, hence disapproving the author’s myth and ideological inclination to Israeli military tactics being the silver bullet in the Middle East Arab-Israeli conflict (AP, 2005).
The conclusion follows the argument provided in the body stating how Israel successfully survived all the maritime threats with the aid of the proliferation security initiative (PSI) and CSI, both regarded as the initial step in order to block this Achilles’ heel (AP, 2005). Despite this, author’s conclusion was not that convincing as the author failed to give the possible future solution to the Israel maritime problem, and hence it can be compared to ‘treating symptoms rather than the disease itself’ (Akiva, 2006).
Although the author highlighted the implications of the results, he still failed to solidify the problem and give the concrete solution to it in the future. The writer of the article failed to mention the economic and social liability incurred by Israel, and hence, his article was given from subjective (inclinable) point of view as opposed to the maritime security neutral angle, which made the study one sided as opposed to multidimensional, multi-thematic, universal and scholarly non-partisan approach that is required in such a sensitive topic (AP 2005).
All in all, the author’s argument and the flow of ideas were well articulated in the article. Historical facts, characterized by the years, dates, and people responsible for the maritime terrorism and their activities and how they ended up, are well documented. His coherence on the way the way the ‘terrorist’ organizations, training, financing and so on, is wonderful. He also mentioned the Israeli counters while highlighting Israeli institutions that had been put into place as a counter for the same. Besides, the author’s description of the coupled agreements to curb the terrorist activities in the Israeli maritime boundaries, including the Maritime Activity Zone (MAZ) as per Gaza-Jericho agreements among others, is worth giving credit.
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