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What the hell has happened to the Israeli army?

By       Message Uri Avnery     Permalink
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SO WHAT has happened to the Israeli army?

This question is now being raised not only around the world, but also in Israel itself. Clearly, there is a huge gap between the army's boastful arrogance, on which generations of Israelis have grown up, and the picture presented by this war.

Before the choir of generals utters their expected cries of being stabbed in the back - "The government has shackled our hands! The politicians did not allow the army to win! The political leadership is to blame for everything!" - it is worthwhile to examine this war from a professional military point of view.

(It is, perhaps, appropriate to interject at this point a personal remark. Who am I to speak about strategic matters? What am I, a general? Well - I was 16 years old when World War II broke out. I decided then to study military theory in order to be able to follow events. I read a few hundred books - from Sun Tzu to Clausewitz to Liddel-Hart and on. Later, in the 1948 war, I saw the other side of the medal, as a soldier and squad-leader. I have written two books on the war. That does not make me a great strategist, but it does allow me to voice an informed opinion.)

The facts speak for themselves:

On the 32nd day of the war, Hizbullah is still standing and fighting. That by itself is a stunning feat: a small guerilla organization, with a few thousand fighters, is standing up to one of the strongest armies in the world and has not been broken after a month of "pulverizing". Since 1948, the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan have repeatedly been beaten in wars that were much shorter.

As I have already said: if a light-weight boxer is fighting a heavy-weight champion and is still standing in the 12th round, the victory is his - whatever the count of points says.

In the test of results - the only one that counts in war - the strategic and tactical command of Hizbullah is decidedly better than that of our own army. All along, our army's strategy has been primitive, brutal and unsophisticated.
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Clearly, Hizbullah has prepared well for this war - while the Israeli command has prepared for a quite different war.

On the level of individual fighters, the Hizbullah are not inferior to our soldiers, neither in bravery nor in initiative.

THE MAIN guilt for the failure belongs with General Dan Halutz. I say "guilt" and not merely "responsibility", which comes with the job.

He is living proof of the fact that an inflated ego and a brutal attitude are not enough to create a competent Chief-of-Staff. The opposite may be true.

Halutz gained fame (or notoriety) when he was asked what he feels when he drops a one-ton bomb on a residential quarter and answered: "a slight bang on the wing." He added that afterwards he sleeps well at night. (In the same interview he also called me and my friends "traitors" who should be prosecuted.)
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Now it is already clear - again, in the test of results - that Dan Halutz is the worst Chief-of-Staff in the annals of the Israeli army, a completely incompetent officer for his job.

Recently he has changed his blue Air-Force uniform for the green one of the land army. Too late.

Halutz started this war with the bluster of an Air-Force officer. He believed that it was possible to crush Hizbullah by aerial bombardment, supplemented by artillery shelling from land and sea. He believed that if he destroyed the towns, neighborhoods, roads and ports of Lebanon, the Lebanese people would rise and compel their government to remove Hizbullah. For a week he killed and devastated, until it became clear to everybody that this method achieves the opposite - strengthens Hizbullah, weakens its opponents within Lebanon and throughout the Arab world and destroys the world-wide sympathy Israel enjoyed at the beginning of the war.

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