It is unclear to any observer, even those of us living here, whether those in charge of running the war want to win the war or not. They often talk tough, but then there’s what comes out of the other side of their mouths.
When Gantz joined the War Cabinet, he demanded an exit strategy, while lately he’s been telling the public the war will go on throughout 2024. Lately he’s at least not contradicting Netanyahu’s statements that the Palestinian Authority can’t run Gaza, at least in its current form , but he supports strengthening that same PA .
Netanyahu claims he’s fighting international pressure, while also giving in, allowing fuel trucks after saying he wouldn’t allow fuel trucks. Why? I’m going to hazard a guess based on this article in which an unnamed person says the fear is being brought before the Hague*. At least right now, he’s dodging the question of what happens “the day after” in Gaza, knowing no one will probably like the real answer.
In a similar vein, Herzi Halevy, the current head of the army did a surprising and telling thing a couple weeks ago. Some soldiers accidentally shot three hostages whom they mistook for Hamas. A normal army would decry the incident as a shame and the fault of Hamas. Halevy decided to throw the soldiers under the bus. He went into the field and told soldiers to “wait two seconds” to determine whom you’re firing at, as if soldiers have all the time in the world to react. He made his point even stronger by saying if Hamas operatives have their hands up in surrender, the soldiers have to make sure they don’t shoot them. By the way, the investigation hadn’t even finished when he was out saying all this.
Worrying about friendly fire would have been a noble reason for Halevy to make a statement, but he’s said nothing about the fact that 17% of IDF fatalities have been because of friendly fire and accidents. He’s worried about stuff that looks bad in the press. Deaths of Hamas dressed as civilians look bad; deaths of IDF soldiers is par for the course.
On the other side stand the Israeli people, including the combat soldiers.
A survey by the Israel Democracy Institute, which claims to be non-partisan, but certainly isn’t rightist, says that 75% of Jews oppose reducing the intensity of the war and 65% of Jews think it’s the best way to get the hostages back.
According to a news report, the unit that accidentally shot the hostages were reinstated after the mother of one of those hostages said she didn’t blame the soldiers.
Soldiers are constantly putting up taunting grafiti, menorahs and other religious symbols broadcasting Shema Yisrael from a mosque full of weapons – despite being suspended for it – and other acts which serve to dishearten the enemy and build our own morale. Like a normal army.
Don’t mess with Israeli mothers
The most important issue being discussed is the risking of IDF lives to try to score “morality points”. Soldiers are risking their lives to deliver aid, allow movement of “civilians” for “humanitarian” reasons and most of all to fight house-to-house, none of which seems to be connected to winning the war or rescuing the hostages. In response to this, a group of mothers, calling themselves Mothers of Warriors, have been pressuring the government to cut off the aid to Gaza and put the lives of the soldiers ahead of enemy “civilians”. Here is an interview with two of the leaders, in English. You should know that a group called Four Mothers got Israel to leave Lebanon after 18 years, so there’s precedent here.
The history of the State of Israel comes down to doing nothing until it is forced to. Can the people force the government to put Israeli lives first and really get rid of the Palestinian terror issue once and for all? It remains to be seen. The populace has changed and October 7 broke a lot of delusions. I hope so.
*Note on the Hague: This means the International Criminal Court. Even though Israel never agreed to the Rome Statute, the Court decided it has jurisdiction over Israel. However, in order to be tried in the Hague, one has to leave his own country. Other countries can arrest a foreigner wanted by the Court when they are on their soil, but it would take a military operation to kidnap someone from his own country. I interpret the statement in the meeting to mean that those who are worried about the Hague are really worried about their ability to travel or live outside Israel, especially after they leave their current positions. Tellingly, Itamar Ben Gvir said he wasn’t afraid of the Hague and as far as I know, he’s never left Israel.