Saturday, August 19, 2006

Israel's list of failures

We are 5 days into the cease fire and it seems as if calm has been restored. Lebanese residents have been flocking to their homes, while Israeli civilians have been exiting the bomb shelters. The world is still angry, and it appears as if Israelis are angry as well.

"Our Government straight out failed and should be held accountable", a friend of mine said at dinner tonight. He was speaking in reference to Israel's recent military campaign.

I agree. I also believe that Olmert and Kadima will most certainly feel the pain as a result of this recent war. Public opinion has become harsh as of late and will become worse if this cease fire fails.

Looking back, there is no question that Israel has a long list of failures it needs to address. First and foremost the 2 "obvious ones" that let this war happen:

*** As one of the most of respected militaries in the world, the mere fact that 3 soldiers were kidnapped is absolutely unacceptable. The first kidnapping took place in Gaza, while the other two were kidnapped during Hizbollah's cross-border attack.

*** Lack of intelligence gathering up north has enabled Hizbollah to freely survey, scope, and strategize for cross border attacks. It has also allowed Hizbollah to build up weapon stockpiles. Since Israel's evacuation in 2000 from S. Lebanon, she had negelected to keep an eye on activity within S. Lebanon.

Then you have the failures of the campaign to eradicate Hizbollah, restore security, and establish deterrence.

*** While the number of Katuysha's hitting Israel should have been reduced by the end of the war, it actually peaked. I find this fact to be disturbing and I feel disappointed. IDF claims it destroyed over half of their stockpiles - but how can we be so sure?

*** Nasrallah lost many men, but at the same time gained many more new men. The war definitely resulted in newly gained support for Nasrallah and Hizbollah - resulting in an even more influential and legitimized terrorist group.

*** Time will tell whether or not such incidents can take place again with UNIFIL securing the border. As long as Syria and Iran roam freely, the Hizbollah will certainly find ways to attack Israel - the question is how and when. Hizbollah is not afraid of Israel, even after Israel's latest reaction to a cross border attack.

Other major failures include the inability to kill Nasrallah, bring back the soldiers, and improve public relations (media war).

The bottom line:
Israel fought this war instinctively and did not think through her actions deeply enough. In one way this is ok - to throw off the enemy and quickly turn the defensive into an offensive. However, as we see today, we performed poorly in terms of destroying Hizbollah bunkers, weapons, and even soldiers. The lack of strategic and even tactical planning is apparent today and some are beginning to question the intelligence capabilities of the IDF.

Ehud Olmert, Israel's newly elected Prime Minister had to show his nation that he will not tolerate such incidents, and that he has a firm hand when it comes to Israel's security. Unfortunately, Olmert is new to the international community as well and attempted to fight a "safe" war - a war from the skies. Olmert wanted to see the least amount of civilian casualties on Lebanon's side as possible (to show the world his righteousness), while preventing Israeli soldiers from risking their lives on the ground.

Many think that if Ariel Sharon was active - the war would have been conducted much differently and more efficiently. You can't say this for sure, but we have learned that Ehud Olmert, Dan Halutz, and the Kadima party need to revisit their strategies and learn from their major mistakes quickly. Otherwise, we'll see a new elected leader and party very soon.

I am fairly skeptic of this cease fire. I believe that Hizbollah is recruiting new soldiers, getting new weapons from Syria/Iran, and getting ready for their next attack. UNIFIL will fail to regulate and disarm Hizbollah - and before you know it the UNIFIL forces will once again either aid Hizbollah, or will simply turn a blind eye to Hizbollah.

We will have another incident in the near future - the question is will Israel learn from her mistakes this round, and come back stronger next round?

Time will tell..


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