Is There A Country That Could Defeat Israel? We Find Out

Israel is perhaps one of the most talked about, and controversial, nations in the world. In fact, the country’s contentiousness is clear in the sheer number of conflicts it has fought. Although some nations in Israel’s region have signed official peace agreements, many haven’t; and even in the ones that have public support is still generally against Israel. However, there hasn’t been a major war between Israel and another nation since 2006, but that could change. With that said, no country has succeeded in defeating Israel, but is there a country today that could?

Many major military powers could defeat Israel in a war, including the United States, China, India and Russia. These countries all have enormous armies compared to Israel. However, it is highly unlikely that any country in the Middle East could win a war against Israel.

…but that’s just an overview. In order to really understand which countries could win a war against Israel, we need to look at the data.

Is There A Country That Could Defeat Israel In A War?

Israel has a powerful military, especially for such a small country. However, it’s armed forces is tiny compared to countries such as America, China, Russia and India. Many major miliary powers, including these, could defeat Israel in a war.

In order to fully asses if there is a country in the world that could defeat Israel militarily, we first need to compare Israel’s military strength against those of other countries. To do this, we will look at the size of Israel’s army against those of the most powerful in the world. Israel has a formidable armed forces so it is clear that any country with a smaller, or even comparably sized, military would probably not defeat Israel.

Below is a table comparing the Israeli armed forces with those of major military powers.

CountryNumber of Active-Duty SoldiersNumber of ReservistsNumber of Main Battle TanksNumber of Combat AircraftNumber of Warships
United States1,388,100844,0506,2092,628490
North Korea1,280,000600,0003,500537630
All data from Wikipedia.

The United States has over eight times the number of active-duty military personnel and almost double the number of reservists that Israel has. America also has nearly five times more tanks, more than seven times more fighter jets and ten times the warships. It is clear that America would defeat Israel in a war.

China has even more troops than America does compared to Israel. With millions more frontline and reservist troops, thousands more tanks, aircraft and ships, there is no way Israel could win a war against China.

India also has a massive military compared to Israel. India has over eight times more active-duty soldiers, and over three times more tanks. The Indian air force and navy are twice the size of Israel’s. India could definitely defeat Israel in a war.

Russia is another country that has an enormous military, especially compared to Israel’s. Russia has millions more troops, thousands more tanks, and dozens more jets and warships. There is almost no way Israel could win a war against Russia.

Vietnam is often included in lists of countries with the largest armed forces, not because of its regular troops, although it does have over twice the number Israel does, but because of its millions of reservists. Vietnam has over ten times the number of reservists than Israel has conventional troops. If these were all called to battle, Vietnam could easily defeat Israel.

North Korea’s army may be poorly equipped and trained, but it is still significant in size. In conventional troops the DPRK has seven times more than Israel. However, Israel’s advanced training and military technology may offset the superior size of North Korea’s army. Although it is likely North Korea would defeat Israel, the outcome of this conflict is harder to predict.

Is There A Country In The Middle East That Could Win A War Against Israel?

Right, so we’ve looked at Israel’s military strength and compared it to the major global powers and it is clear that almost all of them could defeat Israel in a conventional war. But, in many ways this is unrealistic. All of these countries are far away from Israel and many are actually its allies. So what about countries in Israel’s own region, are there any Middle Eastern states that could win a war against Israel.

It is highly unlikely that any country in the Middle East could defeat Israel. Not only does Israel have one of the strongest armies in the region, but it also (almost certainly) has nuclear weapons. These factors combined make winning a war against Israel almost impossible.

Below is a table comparing the military strength of Israel to other countries in the Middle East.

CountryNumber of Active-Duty SoldiersNumber of ReservistsNumber of Main Battle TanksNumber of Combat AircraftNumber of Warships
Saudi Arabia227,00009601,10652
All data from Wikipedia.

As we can see from the data, there are a number of Middle Eastern nations that have armies that are comparable in size to Israel’s. However, all of these countries have militaries that lack the very high level of training that Israeli forces have, and the very advanced technology. This gives Israel a significant advantage in a conflict and makes it difficult to defeat. Israel is also the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, which would mean it almost definitely wins any war if fought.

It’s also important to note two of these countries – Egypt and Jordan, have peace treaties with Israel. Other nations in the region have little appetite for war against Israel, especially after several decades of failed attempts.

Why Is Israel Hard To Defeat?

Israel has fought seven conventional wars since its founding 1948 and won all of them. Many consider Israel to be one of the hardest nations in the world to defeat, but why is this? Actually, there are five main reasons:

  • Israel’s large military
  • Israel’s military training and tactics
  • Israel’s use of advanced military technology
  • Israel’s nuclear arsenal
  • Israel has powerful allies

Let’s take a quick look at each of these…

Israel’s Large Military

A first reason why Israel is hard to defeat in a war is because of its large military. Although Israel has a smaller armed forces than major nations such as America, China or Russia, for a small country it has significant military power. Israel has a large conventional force, as well as a hundreds of thousands of reserve troops. The size of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) makes Israel hard to win a war against.

Israel Military Training And Tactics

A second reason why Israel is difficult to defeat is because of the IDF’s advanced training and tactics. Israel’s military has many unique doctrines developed over decades of fighting both conventional forces and counter-insurgency. These tactics, and the way Israeli soldiers are trained, makes Israel a very hard nation to win a war against.

Israel’s Use Of Advanced Military Technology

A third reason why Israel is hard to defeat is because of its advanced military technology. Israel has a major arms industry that utilizes technology to develop weapons systems that often far outclass any other nation. The fact that Israel can deploy such advanced military technology means that most countries would struggle to defeat it.

Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal

Another reason why Israel is difficult to defeat is because it (likely) has nuclear weapons. Israel has never officially confirmed that it is a nuclear power. However, it is generally agreed that Israel has a sizeable nuclear arsenal, with probably around 90 warheads. This means Israel could launch a nuclear strike against any nation it goes to war with, making it an almost impossible country to defeat.

Israel Has Powerful Allies

A final reason why Israel is hard to win a war against is because of the country’s alliances. Israel is a very close ally of the United States. Although the US has never come to aid Israel in a war, if it looked like Israel was going to be completely defeated, it is highly likely America would intervene to protect it. The US has probably the most powerful and advanced miliary in the world, meaning it would almost certainly be able to stop Israel from being defeated.

Global Affairs Explained

Global Affairs Explained is an ongoing project aiming to provide concise guides to world events. Focusing on international relations, history, and geo-politics, Global Affairs Explained uses original research and data to answer questions often not covered by traditional media.

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