While war will continue to rage in much of the region writ large, Israeli military forecasts for 2017 are cautiously optimistic that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) may get through the year that began Sunday without having to wage major combat operations.

“The probability for war in 2017, generally speaking, is low,” a senior defense official here said. “But I have to note how wars start today: It can be that both sides want to go to war; one side wants to go to war; or both do not want war. Today, the most probable war is one in which both sides didn’t want it, but due to the dynamic of escalation, we might find ourselves in it.”

As a result, the senior official said Israel must be mindful of the unintended consequences of its actions with regard to neighbors at home — Hezbollah in the north, Gaza-based Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank — as well as countries much farther way, foremost among them Iran. […]