Don’t Exaggerate the Mistakes of the Gaza War

March 8 2017

For the past few weeks, the big news in Israel has been the state comptroller’s much-awaited report on the 2014 war in Gaza, which was generally understood as a damning account of the government’s conduct. To Gershon Hacohen, public discussion of the report has “blown out of proportion” two of its claims: that the IDF and the Israeli government did not treat the threat of attacks via tunnels with enough seriousness, and that the diplomatic-security cabinet acted in a disorganized fashion, in part due to poor management by Benjamin Netanyahu himself. Hacohen suggests a different perspective:

The tunnels are a tactical threat, [not, as the report implies, a strategic one,] to which even today, despite significant advances, there is only a complex and incomplete response. It is true that the tools our forces had at their disposal during the operation were far from perfect. [But it] is not because of [specific mistakes] that there is [now the] potential for public panic over the tunnel threat.

[Rather, Israelis] have trouble recognizing that there are threats for which we cannot provide an impenetrable security solution. We need to examine how we developed the overreaching expectation of the national leadership and the security forces that they manage wars with complete responses for every threat. . . .

This is a particularly difficult problem for those who consider the idea of physical separation from the Palestinians to be strategic and security gospel. The premise of separation is: “They are there and we are here, and between us, there is a fence.” But the advocates of separation must provide convincing security solutions for future threats to our spatial arrangement. . . .

Of the report’s conclusion that the cabinet managed the conflict poorly and could not agree on the goals of the military operation, Hacohen writes:

It is certainly irresponsible to begin a project without outlining an inclusive and well-defined planning framework. However, we tend to ignore the significant uncertainties inherent in managing a war. In the great school of war, it is not possible to describe the outcome from the beginning. . . . The basic conditions upon which expectations for the end of a campaign are based can change as the campaign itself changes once operations begin. . . .

The president of the U.S. manages wars in an intimate group that does not include his political opponents. Israel’s government, on the other hand, has suffered since the War of Independence from a structure in which the prime minister finds himself prevented from fully disclosing all of his considerations to cabinet members. You cannot analyze the prime minister’s conduct . . . without considering the fundamental limitation on holding an open strategic debate.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli grand strategy, Israeli politics, Palestinian terror, Protective Edge

Iran’s Dangerous Dream of a Triple Alliance with Russia and China

Aug. 16 2022

Unlike Hamas, which merely receives support from the Islamic Republic, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—with which Israel engaged in a short round of fighting last week—is more or less under its direct control. In fact, the recent hostilities began with a series of terrorist attacks launched by PIJ from Samaria, which might in turn have been a response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s call “to open a new front in the West Bank against the Zionist enemy.” Amir Taheri writes:

In Gaza, the Islamic Republic has invested heavily in promoting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. . . . Islamic Jihad is in a minority in Gaza, hence the attempt by Tehran to help it create a base in the West Bank.

Reliable sources in Baghdad say that [Iran’s expeditionary and terrorist paramilitary] the Quds Force has been “transiting” significant quantities of arms and cash via Iraq to Jordan, to be smuggled to the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities say they are aware of these “hostile activities.” King Abdullah himself has publicly called on Iran to cease “destabilizing activities.”

But such schemes, Taheri explains, are part of a larger strategic vision of creating a grand anti-Western alliance even while engaging in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and Europe:

Last month, Khamenei praised Vladimr Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. And this month, China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, praised the Islamic Republic for supporting China in “asserting its sovereignty” over Taiwan.

It is clear that some dangerous pipe-dreamers in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran have fallen for the phantasmagoric vision of “three great powers” banding together and with help from “the rest,” that is to say, the so-called Third World . . . to destroy an international system created by the “corrupt and decadent.”

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Gatestone

More about: China, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Russia, West Bank