Friday, 23 November 2012

Lions led by donkeys

This was said of the leadership of Britain's troops in World War I. General Haig's answer for defeat in battle was to send ever larger numbers of soldiers to be mown down by the German enemy's machine guns.

Jewish generals value life and have always had to fight with their conscience, of how they can order men into action when they know a portion will not return. This great reluctance to take casualties led in the early years of Israel's existence to many battles being abandoned after a few casualties were taken. The famous paratroopers were unable to suppress the ever increasing fedayeen attacks which increased along with Israel's failures.Operation after operation ended in failure.

Moshe Dayan and Ariel Sharon together decided to put a stop to this. Dayan ordered that no battle was to be abandoned before at least 50% casualties were taken, and Sharon founded the famous unit 101. The enemy soon found that punishment could go both ways, that the sources of terror against Israel would inevitably be attacked and destroyed. Jordan from where most fedayeen attacks became fed up of having its army bases shot. Jordan stopped allowing arab terrorists to use its territory to launch attacks against Israel.

Arabs are not stupid. On the rare occasion Israel has really bared its teeth, arab terror has been defeated. Hezbollah carried out frequent operations against Israel before 2006. After 2006, despite the poor showing of Israel's army, the pasting that was dealt out in Lebanon meant that there have been no Hezbollah attacks on Israel (It has on rare occasions allowed other groups to mount missile attacks).

Israel is now back in 'spare the soldiers' mode, which is very laudable as they are after all our children and we dread any harm coming to them.

The only problem with this way of thinking is that we are back in the post 1948 scenario, whereby rather than spare lives, we are costing them. We are allowing terrorists to dictate when and where outbreaks of violence happen and when they end in a 'ceasefire'. 

This is allowing the near constant disruption of the life of the south of Israel.Sacrifing the gaza settlers and then Sderot has meant that Tel-Aviv is not now safe.

For years children have to reckon with being targeted on the way to and from school, and families will frequently get the 6am wake up call by a rocket. By the time the siren has woken people up, the rocket has hit. The terrorists maximise their chances of killing someone because nobody is in a state to get to a shelter at that time.

So the home front is now the frontline in the war with Hamas terrorists. Thankfully Iron Dome is there to save major damage and injury, but the terror always remains. And the more defences Israel builds around itself, the less likely it will really find the will to stop the attacks. The rocket attacks must be added to Israel's population having to normally live with terror. They live with terror not only in Judea and Samaria, but by having to be aware of their surroundings wherever they are in Israel lest some arab try to knife, stone, shoot or bomb them.

This state of affairs can not go on, no country would allow that. But it does and has for over 10 years now for inhabitants of Israel's south.

With the latest operation there was a glimmer of hope that Israel might finally extirpate the Iranian financed and trained Hamas monster. There was hope that Olmert having made the mistake of conducting a half realised operation in Gaza, Netanyahu would learn the lessons and finish Hamas. I realised before any other of the pundits that this was not going to happen, that Netanyahu's bombs and rockets were not doing the job. And this is because Hamas had learned from the last war to separate its men from the firing of rockets either by timers or by remote control. Rockets could be primed and rearmed from underground thus not exposing themselves to Israel's drone eyes in the sky. Bombing rocket launching sites might have looked impressive, but was often near totally useless.

Netanyahu is as always long on the speeches, and short on the action. His nerve left him in the face of international warnings led by chief appeaser Obama so he bombed tunnels and rocket launchers, declared victory and has suffered utter defeat. Again Netanyahu listened to the generals trained not in winning wars but in saving our own soldiers and most importantly, enemy civilian lives. Not for nothing did Netanyahu keep defence Minister Barak who has known only defeats ever since he became prime minister. Barak was the architect of pulling out of Lebanon which led to years of attacks culminating in the Lebanon War of 2006. And Barak has along with Netanyahu allowed Hamas to survive intact. Of course the army killed a couple of top terrorists and knocked out terror infrastructure, but that will be easily replaced.

If Israel did not want a ground invasion, it was madness to send in the IAF in the way it did.

General Gantz is know saying that Israel won a victory and that "The results will speak for themselves”. In this at least he is correct. The 'ceasefire' has until now been a mirage. Gazan terrorists have not stopped firing and will continue to fire at a level just short of Israel's red line of Tel-Aviv. The terror and disruption will go on. Nothing has been achieved. 
Israel could have at least re-calibrated the  'red line' by warning that any firing of rockets would be a casus belli. But Israel not only did not do that, it has allowed yet another point of contact by doing away with the border 'no go' zone. This helped to protect against IED's and exploding tunnels being used against troops. Now the enemy can come that much closer to harm the IDF. Were Netanyahu and Barak that desperate to get a ceasefire? Israel has come out of this worse than it went in.

Not only did Israel beg for a ceasefire, it has now worsened its tactical stance on the borders. The parents of soldiers killed in future attacks will not forgive our desperate duo.

If Israel can no longer find the will to send in the troops to destroy Hamas, then the only other option is to reduce Gaza to the stone age from the air and using artillery in the next confrontation (which is surely not far away now). The institutions of education, the electricity station, bridges and offices of state should be reduced to rubble.

Israel should also declare that instead of blockading from the sea, it will now go for the 'Turkish' option of a blockade from the land.
As Turkey blockades peaceful Armenia, so should Israel hermetically seal that terrorist statelet of Gaza from where unending terror is delivered to Israel.

The rockets and mortars have come into Gaza in such numbers so as to make the blockade ineffective. Israel could relax its sea blockade into a regime of inspection to make sure no cargoes containing war munitions are imported into Gaza.

Egypt must then take responsibility for Gaza, to feed it and supply its needs as both entities are after all led by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Pundits keep warning that without Israeli help Gaza will become a new Somalia. There isn't a chance of that as Egypt and Hamas are effectively one. Egypt does not want Somalia in its back yard, but even if that were the case, Somalia might be easier to deal with than the centralised and state directed terror of Hamas.

Without Israel Gaza will wither on the vine but that is the decision Gazans took for themselves in voting for Hamas and aiding it. 

It is time for Israel to circle the wagons around itself.

Shabbat shalom

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