So many people from around the world write to me that they are glued to their television sets, their computers, their telephones, and their tablets, in order to remain connected to every moment of this war between Israel and Iran’s tentacles. I understand. I live in the heart of Jerusalem and I too, cannot help but be consumed 24/7 with the current war with Hamas, and the possibility of an even larger war with Hezbollah in Lebanon in the near future. I have a very good reason to be consumed by it. It is on my doorstep and affects those I love deeply. Many of you around the world have the same commitment and connections. But what of those who do not?
Allow me please, to make a suggestion which you are quite welcome to ignore. Select those to whom you listen, with great care. Personally, I cannot bear to listen to the major television stations with their self-proclaimed political pundits, drawing on their vast lack of international experience, philosophizing about the “rights and wrongs” of wartime. I am quite sure that 99% of them have never experienced any kind of war whatsoever. Most of the young “influencers” such as one with the initials “K.B.” are clearly only interested in how many clicks they received as the dollars float into their bank accounts. Why will I not use “her” name? Because it would result in more clicks. The length of her false eye lashes is inversely proportionate to her wisdom and understanding of international affairs. Still, young people follow “her.” Anyone with “two-penneth” ( an English expression absorbed in the sixteen years during which I “partially” resided in London.) of experience and maturity would not.
The only analysts which interest me as a Journalist, are those who understand the dynamics of wartime…and of this war in specific. A press conference with Israel’s former National Security Advisor, reserve Major General Yaakov Amidror was edifying. Information perhaps not easily accepted… but clearly true, none the same. Important concepts which we in Israel, and indeed the world judging us, must internalize. These will not go away, and they are non- negotiable.
First: The Major General explains that the year 2024 will be dedicated to cleaning-out Gaza. This will not please our adversaries. It is simply a fact. It is not that Israel “won’t“ stop this operation. It is simply…that it “cannot” stop this process. Israel is intent on its own survival and our enemies… Hamas… are equally intent on our destruction. There is no choice for Israel. Israel will remain in Gaza until such time as the international community has a commitment to create order there for its residents. It is not Israel’s responsibility to do so. It is that of the Arab countries in her midst. The United States, the United Nations, the European Union, et al., really cannot change this necessity. Their protestations that they will not participate in the re-building of Gaza unless there is a “clear path to a two-state solution” are empty words spoken by politicians deluded by their own sense- of- power. Additional delusions abound. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken apparently is making proclamations- that Israel cannot win this war. It is reported that he is speaking with “the opposition” to push for Israel to “stop.” Does Blinken actually think that the “opposition” is willing to take the risk of listening to his theories? The absurdity of his meddling is beyond comprehension. While the “opposition” always is looking for an edge in the next round of elections, it is not actually prepared to write a death sentence for the State of Israel in that pursuit.
Next: Maj. General Amidror explained that we have learned from our experiences in Judea and Samaria. We now understand that rooting out terrorist cells is a slow, methodical process. There, in the West Bank, it took more than three years to “clean-out” the terrorists after conquering the area. In the process three thousand people were arrested, and three hundred terrorists were killed in battles with our enemies there. Even so, we are well aware that enemy remnants remain and that they can do substantial damage when not detected.
While every possible action is taken to create a safe-zone for our citizens, there are always remaining cells which re-group and intend to do us harm. The recent attack in Rananna, with a terrorist car-ramming is a perfect example of “local” terrorists (this time apparently from Hebron), infiltrating Israel “proper” as illegal workers in order to commit murder and mayhem upon innocents standing at a bus stop. Twenty victims of this terror attack… what more can one say?
Israel is now faced with a serious dilemma regarding the Palestinians in Gaza who wish to return to Israel to work as they did before. Amongst them are those who will continue to do us harm. Among them are also people simply wanting to earn a living wage to help raise their families. Their services are valued in Israel, which is why they find legal employment here. Now the Israeli cabinet and security advisors will have hours of debate to determine whether they can …or cannot be allowed to return. This is a complicated issue. Our lives are at stake. In the best case scenario, our Shabak (secret service), will need to decide which individuals are invited to return to work in Israel, and it will take great investigation on their part to “vet” the history of each person applying for entrance. Every decision is accompanied by “risk.” This is indeed a difficult way to live.
Alternative “labor force” options abound. Inviting workers from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, India, all of whom would work for a reasonable wage, is certainly an option. My personal favorite is that Israel no longer would deport the domestic Filippino workers …but would allow them to stay once their visas expire and encourage more to join us in other areas than caregiving. A win-win for both communities. Although not related to this war, the idea of deporting established, qualified caregivers to our elderly, is one of the grossest errors ever made by any Israeli government. Having a working population in our midst which respects us and will never bring us harm, is critical. Let the Arab countries hire the Palestinians… as a show of their “good faith.”
Everyone is on “tender-hooks” worrying about whether the bombings from Hezbollah, and the military interactions on our northern border with them, will result in a serious escalation of this war. The Major-General explained the dynamics at play and why this is not a “given” nor a simple decision for either side.
I published an article almost five years ago ( June 26, 2019), titled: “The Next Lebanon-Israel war will be unlike any other” [https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-next-lebanon-israel-war-will-be-unlike-any-other/ ]- Nothing described in that article has improved over the past five years.
The moment has come to face extremely serious considerations. Amidror listed them for the international group of journalists today. They are as follows:
A war with Hezbollah now is ten times more complicated than this war with Hamas is, at present. Hezbollah has more sophisticated technology and systems with which to “do battle” with Israel…provided by Iran. If you take the time to click on the link to my previous article, you will understand just how insidious Hezbollah became, forcing the Lebanese people wanting to build new homes, to provide blue-prints for their homes to be built with internal missile silos, essentially placing all of their civilians on the potential front line of a future Israel-Hezbollah war. Israel is well aware of the 150,000 + rockets ready to be used against us, should war break-out.
On the other hand…there is thankfully another hand!
On the Israeli side of the equation, we have much, much more information about the terror sites in Lebanon, than we had about Gaza. Our soldiers have actually been trained for an existential war with Hezbollah. They know how to handle it. It was this current, extremely complicated urban warfare with Hamas which required additional training before entering. Our troops are ready to fight Lebanon and Hezbollah if necessary. Don’t believe me…do believe the Major General!
Because the Lebanese terror/missile sites have been intentionally placed inside of residential areas, should war begin and we are forced to then bomb those locations, entire civilian areas will be “turned into dust”. The explosive mix of 200-300 kilos of their hidden explosives in addition to the additional fuel hidden in the basement of a house, hospital, mosque, or office building… when combined with one of our half-ton bombs… upon impact…will “evaporate” the areas around the impact. This is a massive consideration when deciding whether or not to enter a full-scale war, not just on the Israeli side…but absolutely by the Lebanese and Hezbollah. Lebanon was once considered the “Paris of the Middle East.” Are they prepared for it to become the “wasteland” of the Middle East? It is our understanding that many of the civilians have actually left those homes and moved elsewhere, understanding that the concept of their being “human shields” is no longer a deterrent in the face of a large scale conflict.
Hezbollah, much like Hamas, believed that using their citizens as human shields would stop Israel from using the full force of their abilities to fight their enemy. While that might have been true before October 7th… it is no longer a consideration. Hamas re-wrote the rules of the game.
Israel knows full-well that we too would pay a very high price in a full-scale war with Hezbollah. But Israel also knows that it has no options. All of the banter of talk shows and proclamations of world leaders will not actually change what will happen in the days and months to come. I must quote Maj. General Amidror who clearly stated the following in today’s press conference:
“With all respect to the international community… We will survive, no matter what they say or do!”
You are welcome to hear the recording this morning’s press conference now available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXz6BBS4FXs