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.

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Read more at BESA Center

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

 

Iran’s Responsibility for West Bank Terror

On Friday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli police officer and was then shot by another officer after trying to grab his rifle. Commenting on the many similar instances of West Bank-based terror during the past several months, Amit Saar, a senior IDF intelligence officer, predicted that the violence will likely grow worse in the coming year. Yoni Ben Menachem explains the Islamic Republic’s role in fueling this wave of terrorism:

The escape of six terrorists from Gilboa prison in September 2021 was the catalyst for the establishment of new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank, according to senior Islamic Jihad officials. The initiative to establish new armed groups was undertaken by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in coordination with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, implementing the strategy of Qassem Suleimani—the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards who was assassinated in Iraq by the U.S.—of using proxies to achieve the goals of expansion of the Iranian regime.

After arming Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Iran moved in the last year to support the new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank. Iran has been pouring money into the Islamic Jihad organization, which began to establish new armed groups under the name of “Battalions,” which also include terrorists from other organizations such as Fatah, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. First, the “Jenin Battalion” was established in the city of Jenin, followed the “Nablus Battalion.”

Despite large-scale arrest operation by the IDF and the Shin Bet in the West Bank, Islamic Jihad continues to form new terrorist groups, including the “Tulkarem Battalion,” the “Tubas Battalion,” and the “Balata Battalion” in the Balata refugee camp.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank