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Hezbollah – Israel War: Comments

4 August 2006

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Israel is now at war for the 24th day. The conflict was initiated by the Hezbollah Khomeinist Islamic terror organization on July 12 with the abduction of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of another eight. Israel decided to respond beyond anything the Hezbollah expected. Below are a few comments which may help in grasping the situation a bit better.

• Israel decided on a “limited objective conflict”. Lebanese state infrastructure for the most part remains intact (except for bridges and the airport runway) and the IDF has been instructed to advance into south Lebanon 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of the border with the possibility of continuing north to the Litani River, some 25 kilometers (16 miles) away on the western front as close as 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from Metulla in the east. It was believed that a commitment of limited forces of enlisted men was all that was necessary in the battles for Maron a-Ras and Bint Jbail. The battles took 5-6 days, much longer than planned. Limited offensives often demand massive force to gain one’s objectives quickly. Pres. Anwar Sadat did this to Israel when Egyptian forces crossed the Suez Canal from at the outset of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, securing his objective of holding the entire Canal Zone (excepting Israel’s most northern position) within a few days.

• Israel used air power to destroy Hezbollah command/control and political targets in the Beirut region and Lebanese transport infrastructure in an effort to disrupt Hezbollah’s ability to pursue the war and to signal the Lebanese government as to the destruction Nasrallah & Co. are causing that country. Both are only partially successful. Hezbollah continues its attacks and the Lebanese government, at least overtly, is supporting the rocket attacks against Israel, in particular after the debacle at Kfar Kana.

• Further air force strikes are directed at rocket launchers, weapons and ammunition dumps and re-supply convoys sent by Syria. Much of the long and medium range launchers were destroyed, but the short range katuyshas continue to fall. They are hidden by the thousands in the villages (garages, backyards, living rooms, etc.) stretching from Israel’s northern border to the Litani River. They can only be taken out with a massive (call up the reserves) ground offensive.

• The IDF reserves are being called up, but lo and behold, far too many have not undergone maneuvers in several years, nor been called to active duty. They needed a week of training before being brought to the front. More lost time as an impending cease-fire is floating on the horizon. This is how war objectives can be lost. The neglect of reserve training readiness is the subject for a major investigation inside the defense ministry and army when this is over. The average soldier and officer are doing their jobs despite the fact that those at the top did not plan correctly or believed air power could achieve everything. Belatedly, Israel is pressing forward on the entire front.

• Israel has a “Lebanon complex” or “trauma” and is petrified of sinking into the “Lebanese mud” as happened from 1982 – 2000. Therefore it was thought that air power could do virtually everything and avoid casualties. Air forces do not capture territory and in this case the only way to halt the short range katuyshas with a reach of 22 kilometers is by holding the villages from where they are fired. The way to overcome traumas or in military terms what is called “combat fatigue” is to send the soldier back to the battlefield and then do the job correctly, meaning no long stay in Lebanon or building fixed positions in a “security zone”.

• There are those who demand a cease-fire and negotiations since “we will end up negotiating in any case so let’s do it now and save the casualties.” As explained in previous articles, this may sound correct, but one needs to arrive at negotiations as the winner with the ability to tap into the anti-Hezbollah, anti-Iranian forces world wide and set terms curbing Nasrallah’s ability to attack Israel in the future and limiting his political influence. Negotiating now will only enhance Nasrallah and Iran’s influence in Lebanon and throughout the region, encouraging both to initiate further conflict as soon as possible.

• Many, especially in the Arab/Moslem world and among the Europeans are condemning Israel for “excessive force” particularly in light of the Kana incident. Let us recall the condemnations Israel absorbed after bombing the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981. PM Menachem Begin was rewarded with universal condemnation (even Pres. Reagan and the US were outwardly unhappy), yet everyone breathed a sigh of relief and admitted a debt of gratitude towards the Jewish State by 1990-91 with the advent of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and ensuing Gulf War. The same hypocrisy is at work now.

• There is talk of detaching Syria from the triangle with Hezbollah and Iran, as if that is in the interests of those in Damascus. To do so, Israel is to sign a peace treaty with Syria and return the Golan. Without getting into Israeli-Syrian relations (an involved topic in itself) we must ask ourselves who can be expected to replace the present Assad led Ba’ath party in the event of an overthrow or “election”. The only reasonable answer is the radical Sunni Moslem Brotherhood. Syria is trapped into an alignment with Tehran whether Israel returns the Golan or not. A signed peace agreement will not hold back aggressive Iranian behavior towards Israel through its Syrian proxy nor will such an agreement be honored by a possible future Moslem Brotherhood regime. There is no reason to bring Syria into the loop since any concession made by Israel (signed or not) will backfire.