Recent happenings have undoubtedly left a bad taste in the mouths of many who have been following the unfolding of events. The kidnapping of three teenagers and their tragic deaths, followed by the resumption of heavy rocket fire in the south is a reminder of the rapidly destabilizing nature of the region we live in. With chaos reigning in neighboring countries, we are being sucked into the mess as well against our will.
But the bad taste also has to do with the actions of the Israeli security establishment. The procedural failures attributed to the police as well as the army raises serious questions to the abilities of those entrusted with the job of serving and protecting the country’s citizens. This inability is heightened by their ineffectiveness to locate the teenagers for three long weeks, and frustrating incapacity to capture the killers and provide much-needed closure to the families of the victims and the nation.
No doubt things are always more complex than they may seem. But then of what good is all the military might and technological superiority that we keep hearing about from the security experts and like-minded journalists? What justification is there for the IDF to demand tens of billions of dollars every year for ‘preparedness’ when it does not seem to have any operational solution to end the nightmare of those living in the south? The definition of military preparedness would imply putting those military exercises, intelligence gatherings, arms procurements and technological advances to use in the field when the need arises. With over fifty rockets raining down in the south in the past few days alone, and not for the first time in the last decade, one wonders what it would really take to implement this ‘preparedness’ in real-time?
We hear about the ‘limitations of power’ as another excuse to basically do nothing. We hear about how the IDF has no real strategic objective by entering the Gaza strip, and that it would only prove detrimental in the long run. This sounds completely absurd. Is not the destruction of Hamas rocket launchers capable of hitting not only the south but also the center of the country as was evident in 2012, a strategic objective? Is not reinforcing our heavily diminished deterrence a strategic objective? We also hear that Hamas has been weakened politically as well as economically and is desperately trying to drag us into a ground offensive in order to garner regional support from the Arab states, which we should resist by thinking from the ‘head’ and not the ‘stomach’. We fear that the international community will as always be against us and that any large scale operation will only further isolate Israel diplomatically. We also risk further straining relations with one of the most biased US administrations in Israel’s history.
All of the above may be absolutely true, and certainly needs to be taken into consideration to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of military action. But the most worrisome aspect is the dreadful feeling that the IDF simply has no idea how to deal with the rocket attacks. These attacks not only cause destruction to property and possible civilian casualties, but also heavily damage public morale and national pride. It is high time that the security establishments stop preaching restraint or recommend political solutions to acts of aggression, and rather focus on operational readiness based on accurate intelligence reporting. In parallel, those entrusted with promoting Israel’s foreign policy abroad need to get their act together and maybe even learn how to manage an effective public relations campaign from our adversaries.
No one expects the leadership to rush into an offensive at any cost. But policy makers need to convince the population that they have the appropriate plans in place, and which can be executed effectively under specific circumstances if and when the need arises. That important conviction is disappointingly lacking at this time.