Friday, February 1, 2008

The Unanswered Questions of the War Against Terrorism


By Raphael Israeli


Since the onset of this unfortunate war, in which many civilians have lost their lives, while Israel  has been constantly and ineffectively changing tactics, in the face of an enemy who does not seem to care much about its own people,  a confused citizenry in Israel and around the world has been groping for clear war—goals, for quick moves that would  stun  the enemy and paralyze him, and for a rapid  and decisive end to the combats. Israel, instead of taking the initiative, as it had done in the heyday of its military glory,  seems to trail endlessly behind the Hizbullah and respond to it, and clumsily at that.


First of all,  the original sin has to  be acknowledged,  and that is the replay of the 1982 Lebanese war, in which Ariel Sharon had played the primary role, for which he was crucified by the very same leftists, politicians and media, who are waging the same war today, who accused him of the "murder" that he did not commit and falsely libeled him for posterity as the "butcher of Sabra and Shatila", a label that he tried to shed by embracing the suicidal course of his "peace-process", which has led us into the present impasse, only without the leadership and the military genius that he could have provided to extricate us from the deepening quagmire and from the  political and military pigmies who lead us into  nowhere.


In 1982, just like now, the PLO had been permitted for years to take over south Lebanon from its weak government, to dig in, to amass vast quantities of weapons, to train a large PLA (Palestine Liberation Army) , with the aid of Syria,  and to turn it into a state-within –a- state  and a launching pad for anti-Israeli acts of terror that demoralized and wore down the country during the 1970"s. A first attempt made  in 1978 to rid Israel of that  calamity, produced the ill-fated Litani  Operation, after which the  unfortunate UNIFIL came to dwell in that area and to perpetuate the tensions instead of fighting them and stemming them as befits a "Peace-keeping" force.


The incursion (not "invasion" as it was unjustly dubbed) into Lebanon in  1982 was much more significant that the preceding Litani operation,  for it constituted an entire concept aimed at addressing political and military matters concurrently. The ouster and humiliation of Sharon, which occasioned a retreat from his scheme, resulted in the stay of Israel  in Lebanon for years,  the total disgrace of Sharon and his grand designs, and  the shrinkage of his concept into a minimal defensive plan, which purported to hold the lines within enemy territory with the assistance of the mercenary South Lebanese Army. This worked, with reasonable efficacy, until the tired Israeli society was lured into pulling its troops unilaterally, in the process relinquishing the lines of defense that that had guaranteed Israel's safety for almost 20 years.


After  the mindless  and careless Ehud Barak, caved in to massive demands by scholars, "experts", journalists and "mothers", who promised us salvation  following the withdrawal that was effected under HIzbullah's  fire and clamors  of victory, those who gained temporary relief refused to see that under our noses a new version of the Fatahland of the 1970's was in the making. What did we wait for? To see the HIzbullah complete its digging in , it deployment, its take-over of the civilian rule, and its placing of  its thousands of Syrian and Iranian Katyushas directly targeting all Israeli cities in the north, under the watchful eyes of UNIFIL? We knew what they were doing, but we did not budge, for the sake of the "peace process", which more than any terrorist, has sunk us to the abyss.


When Ariel Sharon took over in 2001, he was aware of the change, but he too decided to do nothing, in order to embark on his ambitious "peace" move, which more than intended to resolve the  aggravating security issues of the country, was geared to redeem his image as the "Man of peace" and to deflect the public from his and his sons'  travails  with the State Prosecutor who probed into the record of that corrupt family.  As he was planning his escape from his dire straights, he came to face the HIzbullah tactics in the Gaza Strip, which he said he would relinquish unilaterally, and he uprooted 21 flourishing Israeli settlements, without any quid-pro-quo, and in response to the  accelerated harassment of the withdrawing Israelis by the Hamas, which was guided by the HIzbullah strategists who took residence in Gaza and applied their war tactics on Sharon. The stratagem worked admirably, as it had worked in Lebanon: foolish and suicidal Israelis withdrawing without any settlement and abandoning their settlements, military camps and vital installations to the mercy of the Hamas.


The new round began simultaneously and in coordination between the Hamas and the HIzbullah, this time under the sponsorship of Syria and Iran, using the same tactic of kidnapping soldiers to kindle the flame, then showering the Israelis with missiles from the positions that they had  foolishly abandoned in both places. Their reasoning was simple: they will inflict casualties on Israel and force it to release convicted terrorists in return for the soldiers; the "moderate" governments in place (Abu Mazen in Gaza and Seniora in Beirut), would support the terrorists who triggered the conflict, claim that they can do nothing against the Hamas and HIzbullah, and implore the West to help them  to stem Israeli "aggression" against "innocent civilians". The tactic works admirably, and Israel seems powerless to reverse the situation. For instead of taking the initiative from the beginning and launching a crucial, speedy and decisive attack, with all its power along the entire front,  against the kindlers of the flames, it adopted a piece-meal policy which has squandered the  worldwide support Israel had at the beginning and severed the long-rope that the US had put at our disposal.


Things can still be redressed: the full might of  the IDF can be still brought to bear, if a large force were to land north of the Litani, and from there fan out into the south and catch all the  fighters of the HIzbullah and their launchers and destroy them. The same can be done in Gaza, where no house has to be spared in the search of all terrorist infrastructure and illegal weapons in the making. At the same time, those who announce that they support the terrorists, be they the Lebanese or the Palestinian governments, have to be attacked and demolished, because supporters of terrorism are not "innocent civilian". You cannot boast that you are a Hizbullah supporter and distribute sweets when Israelis are killed, and then claim that you are "innocent" when you are attacked. The governments in both places have to be taken to task and made to choose between their terrorist sympathies, for which they  should be destroyed, or against them and show that they are taking up arms to confront them. They cannot enjoy both worlds. All the while, both governments should be pounded and their palaces and  offices bombed, until they announced their choices and made evident the kind of  responsibility they are ready to take up, as is the wont in the civilized world.

And after the war, which must end decisively and swiftly, no return to the international borders is to be envisaged until the Hamas and Hizbullah are dismantled and disarmed, their popular and political infrastructure destroyed and their suppliers and supporters sanctioned and punished by the powers. No UN forces can be trusted, when the Secretary General wants an "immediate cease fire" that would sanctify the Hizbullah gains , strengthen its prestige and encourage its further action under the watchful eye of the corrupt  UNIFIL which squanders international money for zero peace-keeping. He had long years to demand the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, which  had  mandated the  dismantling of HIzbullah and the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south, but he did nothing, and now he wishes to strengthen the hands of the terrorist organization that should have been banished in the first place. Only iron-clad arrangements that can be policed jointly with Israel would justify the resettlement of the south and the gradual retreat of Israelis, after evidence is clear that Lebanon would no longer become a terror country.


Raphael Israeli

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.



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