Interested parties trying to turn Gaza war failure into bogus success story
Shmuel Gordon Published: 04.09.10, 00:46 / Israel Opinion
The defense minister’s announcement that Army Chief Gabi Ashkenazi’s term will not be extended beyond four years provoked a great media storm. One of the arguments made by those opposing the decision was that the chief of staff did a great job in rehabilitating the IDF and managing Operation Cast Lead. Yet this argument is not worth the paper it’s written on.
Had the praise been well deserved, it would not only be lavished at the army chief, but also at the defense minister, who is in charge of the defense establishment, its budget, and the outcome of its actions.
However, the deception that had been guiding public opinion ever since Operation Cast Lead constantly aims to convince us that the army eliminated most of the shortcomings discovered in the Second Lebanon War and displayed a significantly improved military performance in Gaza. However, this assessment is baseless.
The campaign in Gaza repeated almost fully the patterns of the war in Lebanon. Both campaigns started with a massive aerial bombardment that stunned our rivals and prompted the enlightened world to demand a ceasefire on the terms stipulated by Israel.
In both campaigns, the political leadership ignored the initial achievements, did not complete the military operation, and deployed ground forces in areas where there was no point in doing so. In both campaigns, the army marched a few kilometers into enemy territory before stopping in its tracks. In both wars, we also saw a long, futile, and aimless standoff.
Even the way the two campaigns ended was similar: In both cases, the fighting ended with a unilateral agreement that our rivals – Hezbollah and Hamas – had not signed to this day.
Where’s the improvement?
However, after the Second Lebanon War, a United Nations force came in and filled the vacuum that remained in south Lebanon, with quiet on the northern border being strictly maintained since then. On the other hand, we still see rockets and mortar shells fired from the Gaza Strip, explosive devices are planted along the border fence, and attacks regularly target IDF forces, as if we never saw a ceasefire.
If that’s the case, how did the IDF get any better? In terms of its operational planning capabilities? Offensive skill? Ability to win a war? The answer is no. Two capabilities were indeed greatly improved: The functioning of the Home Front Command, which deserves much praise, and the ability to provide water and food to troops deployed two or three miles beyond the border. What a great improvement.
The Gaza campaign, on all its failures and frustrations, was managed by both the defense minister and army chief who are currently at the eye of the storm. We, the citizens, must not allow interested parties to fool us and turn the failure in Gaza into a bogus success story.
Shmuel Gordon, a former Air Force colonel, holds a Ph.D. in strategic research and international relations
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