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With this recent attack by Hamas I looked up the incident on Wikipedia and it says:

"It is the first direct conflict within Israel's boundaries since the 1948 Arab–Israeli War."

Israel has fought a number of wars and conflicts, does this mean that in all previous conflicts, including the Six-Day Way and the Yom Kippur war, the enemy has never entered Israel's borders? This doesn't sound right.

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    Nov 3, 2023 at 12:28

2 Answers 2

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"It is the first direct conflict within Israel's boundaries since the 1948 Arab–Israeli War."

The statement is certainly technically incorrect. But with some qualifications one can discern what is meant here.

Israel boundaries
Firstly, some countries and organizations do not recognize Israel's existence at all, in which case speaking of boundaries/borders is simply meaningless. As far as the organizations and states recognizing Israel are concerned, its territory is very different from that designated by the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine of 1947, which triggered the declaration of Israel as an independent state and the first recognition by other states.

What is mostly meant by the Israeli boundaries in western media (to which we can assign Wikipedia in English) is its borders before the Six Day War, which is really the 1949 armistice lines, often referred to as the Green Line or 1967 borders. This excludes some of the territories that are considered parts of Israel under the Israeli law - notably the Golan heights, the eastern parts of Jerusalem, and parts of what is known as the West Bank.

Scale of incursions within the Green line since 1949
Starting from the armistice of 1949 (which is mistakenly put in 1948 in the quoted Wikipedia sentence) Israel fought wars mostly outside of the Green line. Six Day War was initiated by Israel (at least technically), and resulted in Israel capturing more territory. The War of Attrition and Yom Kippur War were fought largely in the territory outside of the Green Line that Israel controlled at that time - notably in the Golan Heights (with Syria) and Sinai Peninsula (with Egypt.)

Incursions within the area delimited by the Green line by various Palestinian and Lebanese groups did take place, just to give a few examples:

However, none of these raids resulted in a number of casualties and the scale of fighting comparable to the one that took place on 7 October 2023. Indeed, the number of the casualties on the Israeli side in the 2006 Lebanon War was 121 of military personnel and 46 civilians (including two non-Israeli citizens.) This is a significant number for a country with population of about 8 million (e.g., if scaling to the size of the US and comparing to 9/11 or the American casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan.) In other words, from the Israeli perspective, the fighting is more resembling a full-scale war than a terrorist raid, and it is the first time that the fighting on this scale took place within the Green line. This is the best that I can offer as the interpretation of the Wikipedia claim.

As an extra information, similar unexpected losses in 2006 Lebanon War and in Yom Kippur War resulted in creation of State Commissions of Inquiry (Winograd Commission and Agranat Commission respectively) whose conclusions had far-reaching political consequences.

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    Small correction: the Agranat and Winograd were not parliamentary commissions, they were State Investigation Commissions. Under Israeli law there are 3 types of investigation commissions, set up usually after major disasters: State, Government, and Parliamentary - in order of decreasing powers and gravity. The State kind of commission is a big thing, it's appointed by the President of the Supreme Court, presided over by a Supreme Court justice and has wide-reaching subpoena powers. The other two types are used mostly for soft-pedalling and gaslighting in practice. Oct 11, 2023 at 7:46
  • I'll edit if you don't mind. Oct 11, 2023 at 7:46
  • @FelixGoldberg yes, what you say is correct. Thanks.
    – Roger V.
    Oct 11, 2023 at 7:58
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Technically Yom Kippur was inside Israel as the Sinai WAS Israeli territory at the time. Wouldn't be surprised if Syria also had groups on the ground inside Israel in that conflict. And both Syria and Egypt conducted air strikes inside Israel during that conflict as well, as they did during the war of attrition that preceded Yom Kippur for several years.

Then again, if you're Iran you claim that Israel doesn't exist so there can be no war inside Israel. If you're of the opinion that the West Bank and Gaza are an independent country from Israel you'd claim that any IDF operation there was outside Israel, I personally consider both to be part of Israel so any IDF operation against terrorists there would be inside Israel.

Etc. etc.

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  • Sinai was occupied and never annexed (i.e. claimed as Israeli territory).
    – user103496
    Oct 11, 2023 at 1:16
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    The problem is that if both are "part of Israel", then by that definition there are millions of residents of "Israel" who aren't being allowed to vote, or even citizenship (which is a violation of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). If they were given those things, then the Jewish-run nature of the nation would disappear, as there are now more Muslims than Jews in that vision of Israel. They are in a "Democracy, Zionism, Territories: Pick any 2" position, and their choice has been to assert the occupied territories aren't part of Israel.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 11, 2023 at 13:51
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    @T.E.D. at the time when Israel controlled Sinai and the above-mentioned vision of Greater Israel was talked about, the demographic prognosis was for the Israeli population to grow significantly - exceeding 20 millions by 2000 or something like that. As this was not happening, Israel withdrew from many of those territories (indeed, it has been withdrawing ever since Yom Kippur war.) The inhabitants of the territories legally annexed by Israel were indeed given Israeli citizenship (notably in the Golan Heights) or at least resident status (east of Jerusalem.)
    – Roger V.
    Oct 12, 2023 at 8:04
  • @T.E.D. another problem with the arguments about if everyone in Israeli-controlled territories were given voting rights is that these implicitly imply a one-state solution - a position popular in some circles, but which is at odds with the official position of Israel, most Western states, and the UN charter, which guarantees self-determination. Note that such position denies self-determination not only to Jews, but also to the Palestinians.
    – Roger V.
    Oct 12, 2023 at 8:07

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