Rebellious non-state actors of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula have been arming themselves through smuggling networks operating in north-east Africa and the Middle East. They feature complex, dynamic, open systems which include many components of various organisational and national identities, and which are driven by various motives, united in order to accomplish the goal of arms smuggling. Previously, this system was dominated by the supply of Iranian large and high-quality weapon systems, mainly rockets, to the Palestinian Hamas, enabling them to build up military force that has sustained long-standing conflict against the stronger Israel. The Arab turmoil initiated dramatic changes in the arming system: Iran stopped, at least temporarily, the channelling of weapons to the Hamas due to its support of the Syrian opposition against the Assad regime. Egypt blocked many of Hamas’s smuggling tunnels, intensifying Hamas’s strategic isolation. Following the removal of Gaddafi and lack of government, Libya became a major arms source, serving mainly regional radical Islamic groups. Salafist jihadist groups in Sinai revolted against the Egyptian government, using huge local stockpiles of weapons and operational cooperation with Palestinian Islamists. This article argues that to survive, rebellious non-state actors must exploit arming opportunities in the physical, social and political environment, whereas securing shared borders is vital for defeating rebellious non-state actors. The arming of non-state actors should be analysed broadly, considering the needs of the civilian population among whom the militants are operating.
The popular uprising that started in Tunisia in December 2010 quickly spread across the Arab world, culminating in a historic regional realignment with far-reaching implications. This essay details the implications of the Arab Spring for Israeli security. After highlighting the history of Israel’s defense strategy and reviewing the Arab Spring revolts, the authors find that the recent uprisings exacerbate several issues faced by Israel, including geopolitical relations with other countries in the region, energy issues, and growing threats presented by nonstate actors.