Mission Critical: Gaza must reset the bar for the IDF
Israel must go ‘all in’ & restore deterrence
It is now accepted as inevitable, a large scale operation in the Gaza strip to end the terror threat emanating from Gazastan 24/7. Even internationally little can be said, we are a democratic country with a terror operated mini state lobbing missiles at our civilian populace with no end, if the peace process is to go forward the government in Israel has no choice but to tackle the hornets nest. The failures leading up to now are numerous.
- Withdrawal from Gaza promised the harshest response possible to terror threats emanating from vacated territory. That never happened.
- Rice & the EU assured us that ceding border control at the Philadelphia corridor linking Egypt, Gaza & Israel would be a stepping stone to peace & security. We got neither, and Hamas is now armed to the teeth with a standing army thanks to the collapse of the EU initiative resulting in rampant arms smuggling, the lack of speedy response from Rice & the US, the faltering ally in Egypt and our government’s foolhardy fold to the initial pressure.
- Hamas being allowed to run for PA elections despite being a recognized terrorist group, only to win further weakening the overall global US strategy for the region & Israel specifically by acquiescing to this ludicrous notion.
- Hamas seizing the Gaza strip by force and setting up a mini terror state with nary a reaction by the world and shamefully muted reaction by the Israeli govt. compounded by an increase in violence & terrorism.
- The kidnapping of IDF soldiers in terrorist assaults, and subsequently years of manipulation by the same terrorists holding his life in the balance. This is well below the norms of accepted humanity yet the UN, NGOs, and public opinion seem resolute as ever to declare Israel the war criminal.
A clear path of support linking Hamas, Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah has materialized and the planet in a supposed global War on Terror has not even bat an eye. This web extends all the way into Lebanon and Iraq and further through the Revolutionary Guards all the way even into Afghanistan bridging towards Al Qaeda - these regions making up the main battlefield in the war against Islamist Jihad. Despite the global pitch to deny sanctuary & national territory to terrorists, seemingly in Gaza this is a supported goal internationally.
These realities are a failure on Israel’s part by orders of magnitude..
Lebanon’s long shadow
The political failures above are the domain of the government, the IDF & security establishment can make an argument that they warned every step of the way. Unfortunately, political missteps also led to the employment of the IDF in Lebanon on a large scale and the results were lackluster. A serious blow was dealt to the IDF and Israel’s deterrence by stagnation on the battlefield. We have been assured that our military has taken these issues to heart, reformed itself of its lack of vision, begun investment in its equipment and infrastructure in the tefen plan, replaced key personnel and philosophies with lessons learned, and renewed its desire to regain a perch amongst the most capable in the world.
A key component of Israel’s lack of gusto in Lebanon vs Hezbollah was our apparent lack of deftness and agility, combined with an equally lacking ability to employ heavy force in strategic spots and chalk up gains which could be built on for momentum. Both the political & military echelon appeared hesitant to employ strong tactics and commit to getting whatever the job be, done.
Already we have seen the reforms in action regarding deftness and agility through the combined us of intelligence and force – Skillfully I would add, through high risk / high payoff operations designed to further national security policy while also providing the spin-off benefit of restoring deterrence.
- IDF soldiers driving donkey parts deep into Hamas territory and smuggling out Hamas terrorists for interrogation comes to mind.
- The veil of silence and skillful bombing of a dangerous target in Syria, something which garnered nearly zero condemnation incidentally. If anything.. Begrudging respect of the type not seen since Entebbe.
- The associated employment of high technologies in the manner expected by the IDF sending a loud & clear message with a huge payoff, the apparent knocking out of the entire Syrian air defense net to such an extent that Russian technicians were on the scene within 48 hours to investigate how such a feat were even possible, causing palpable alarm all the way into Iran with billions of dollars invested & at stake.
- The vast reduction in civilian collateral casualties through pin point accuracy employed by the IAF, I don’t recall the exact statistic but it is on the order of a 99% reduction in civilian losses through operations. No small investment or effort was made over the last few years to tune the machine to a level where this was possible. The payoff obviously being lives saved combined with some possible leeway in employing force as a matter of security, not too mention the resulting accuracy of force – as exhibited in Syria is of a calibre that sets a worldwide scale.
- The targeted elimination of Hezbollah chieftains deep in their protective territory is no small matter either, let alone the fact that such an individual be amongst the most hunted men on earth. This one is the slot machine that will keep on paying for a long time to come.
These examples of very special operations have gone a long way, but Gaza will be the test of mettle for the IDF. Gaza requires all the tools & skills above, combined with scale and regular more conventional forces. Gaza means dangerous contact in close quarters with a terrorist / guerrilla trained enemy built up in territory and capabilities, and Gaza requires a political / diplomatic component that is in itself complex. Israel and the IDF can ill afford any half efforts. All eyes are on this one, there is something to prove.
I’m looking at how the IDF can take Gaza, decapitate the Hamas leadership, quell the terrorist infrastructure, as well-as the necessary political dynamic in a second part to this post.
IDF chief: I can’t rule out conflict in near future (Haaretz)
Olmert: Israel’s deterrence well-known (Jpost)