The Security Potential: Judea and Samaria’s Height and Breadth Advantages
Judea and Samaria’s geographic, geomorphological and topographic characteristics make it extremely important to maintaining Israel’s security.
Judea and Samaria: Topographical Characteristics
[A] The Width of the State of Israel:
Without Israeli control over Judea and Samaria, Israel would be left with especially narrow strips of land. For example, in an area where most of the Jewish population of Israel is concentrated, between Hadera and Gedera, the width of the country within this region would range between 14.3 km in the narrowest area (near Kfar Saba) and about 30 km. Taking into account the distances to the population centers themselves, the ranges are even shorter, as seen here:
- Tel Aviv: 17.5 km
- Netanya: 11.5 km
- Hadera: 9 km
- Kfar Saba: a mere 1,300 meters
[B] Control from Above:
The altitude on Israel’s coastal strip ranges between sea level (0) to just a few dozen meters above sea level. In contrast, the average altitude at the tops of the mountains in Judea and Samaria that are adjacent to densely populated residential areas is between 350 – 580 meters above sea level.
Among the tallest mountains that have aerial control of Central Israel, the most prominent are Mount Eival (940 m altitude), Mount Baal Hazor (1,019 m altitude), Mount Amasa (858 m altitude) and the peaks of Mount Halhul in Southern Har Hevron (950 – 1,013 m altitude).
Absence of Israeli Control over Judea and Samaria: The Ramifications
The width between the State of Israel’s borders and its aerial control of the region have many ramifications upon Israel’s safety:
- Infiltration of terrorists: The proximity of areas where terror organizations are active to densely populated regions in Israel will almost definitely lead to an increase in infiltration attempts by terrorists into Israel to commit attacks, kidnapping attempts and more.
High-trajectory shooting: The proximity of rocket launching sites and other high-trajectory shooting devices to Central Israel will lead to an improvement of the precision of the hits and the use of rockets with larger warheads. This is exactly what took place after Israel’s past concessions – for example, between 2005 – 2006, an increase of over 500% was witnessed in the number of rockets shot by Hamas from the Gaza Strip.
- Weapon smuggling: Similar to the Philadelphi Route in the Gaza Strip, which turned into the weapon smuggling route from Egypt to the Strip, the Jordan Valley could also potentially serve the exact same purpose in Judea and Samaria.
- Attack tunnels: Experts believe that despite the difficulty involved in digging tunnels in the hard soil of Judea and Samaria, it is a viable possibility, as was witnessed in the tunnel phenomenon advanced by Hezbollah in the mountainous region of Lebanon. Geologists are of the opinion that there is even an advantage to digging tunnels in these areas because it spares the need to stabilize them with concrete pillars. During Operation Brother’s Keeper, dozens of hidden tunnels were discovered in the Judea region. Recently, an Israeli group that attempted to dig a tunnel to smuggle weapons under the security fence, from Tayibe to Judea and Samaria, was apprehended.
- Regional threat: One of the scenarios that the defense forces are examining is the possibility of a threat developing east of a Palestinian state, with the Palestinian land serving as a frontal Iranian base (like Hezbollah in the North) for extreme militias to attack Israel. These types of militias already exist in Iraq, Lebanon, and in Gaza and Judea and Samaria. This combination of threatening forces could constitute a conventional military threat on Israel from the east, combined with local terror groups that would benefit from Iranian support.
Surprise attack: In contrast with the armies of the Arab countries that are based on standing army formations, the Israeli army is primarily based on reserve forces that require time to get organized in the event of a military attack. During this organization period, the small standing army must “hold out” on the borders until the reserve troops arrive. Under these conditions, the narrow portions of the ’49 borders (which are about 15 km) may easily surrender in the event of an organized surprise attack, which could split the country very quickly, even before the reserves arrive. This is one of the reasons that even the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States recommended leaving at least part of the lands acquired after the Six Day War in Israel’s hands,primarily those that provide a topographical advantage.
- The aerial and electromagnetic space: The distance between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is about 40 nautical miles. A fighter plane can cross the country in just four minutes. A fighter plane can even penetrate Israel via the Jordan Valley and reach Jerusalem in less than two minutes.
In addition, a Palestinian entity located on the top of the mountain ridge in Samaria would enjoy a topographical advantage over Israel, spread below along the length of the coastline. A Palestinian wireless transmitter on Mount Eival, near Nablus, could almost completely disrupt communication networks in Israel that are broadcasted in a similar frequency range.
An attack on Ben Gurion Airport would be easily possible using other means as well, due to its proximity and the topographical advantage.
Judea and Samaria is the region with the greatest potential to maintain Israel’s security, due to its geographic and topographical characteristics.
 Calculation based on the 2015 report from Central Bureau of Statistics: http://www.cbs.gov.il/shnaton67/st02_19x.pdf  All ranges, including average altitudes and widths, were calculated using the Google Earth software.  Altitudes according to the governmental maps site: http://www.govmap.gov.il/home and the Amud Anan website: http://amudanan.co.il/  General (Res.) Aaron Zevi Farkash, JCPA, 2010, http://www.jcpa.org/text/ViablePeace_Hebrew.pdf  General (Res.) Uzi Dayan, JCPA, 2010, http://www.jcpa.org/text/ViablePeace_Hebrew.pdf  Dr. Shaul Shay, IDC Herzliya, 2014: http://www.herzliyaconference.org/_Uploads/dbsAttachedFiles/SecurityDoctrine11.pdf  Interview with Shimon Ifergan, MAKO, 2014: http://www.mako.co.il/pzm-magazine/Article-30a04055fea9741006.htm  Or Heller, nana10, 2014: http://news.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleID=1064130  Nir Dvori, Channel 2 News, 2016: http://www.mako.co.il/news-law/legal-q4_2016/Article-76d872fbe0eb751004.htm  General (Res.) Aaron Zevi Farkash, JCPA, 2010: http://www.jcpa.org/text/ViablePeace_Hebrew.pdf; Explanation regarding the significance of Iran’s nuclear armament – Dr. Ron Baratz, 2007: http://www.acpr.org.il/nativ/articles/2007_1_baratz.pdf.  Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1967: https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20100528081915/http:/www.dod.gov/pubs/foi/reading_room/386.pdf  Brigadier General (Res.) Udi Dekel, from “Israel’s Security Needs In Light of a Political Settlement with the Palestinians,” JCPA, 2010.