Ron Kronish

Why an all-out war with Lebanon is very risky proposition

The author of this post at a demonstration in Jerusalem with a  poster saying "Justice, Justice you shall pursue." courtesy of Ron Kronish
The author of this post at a demonstration in Jerusalem with a poster saying "Justice, Justice you shall pursue." courtesy of Ron Kronish

A few days ago, I heard an interview with retired general Giora Eiland on public radio in Israel. He cautioned the citizens (and the government ) of Israel against opening a major war with Hezbollah. He said very clearly that the war is not winnable! It is wrong to view Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. It is a full-fledged army, armed from head to foot with many advanced precision missiles. It would be a much better idea, to end the war with Hamas, which would automatically lead to the end of the war of attrition in the north!

And a headline in Haaretz  on June 10th read : “Despite rescue op, defense officials agree deal is best way to return hostages.” In other words, even though we rescued four Israelis last Shabbat, the security establishment in Israel is firmly in favor of the Biden/ Bibi ceasefire/hostage release/ prisoner exchange plan that Secretary of State was promoting on his 8th visit to the region in recent days, as more and more centrist people in Israel in recent weeks are saying in the media, including MK Benny Gantz, who finally left the Bibi government of extremists yesterday.

And to make it perfectly clear why a war in Lebanon is a bad idea, Haaretz’s columnist Alon Pinkas, a former consul general for Israel in New York, laid it out quite clearly in his column on Sunday, June 10th when he wrote what could happen if Israel launches a ground invasion and major war with Hezbollah:

Missile and rocket salvos of up to 1,000 a day. This would happen for several days, inflicting mass destruction and hundreds, possibly thousands of casualties. Despite preemptive strikes by the Israel Air Force on missel-launching sites, Hezbollah will still be capable of firing missiles. The precision missiles are aimed at military bases, particularly air force bases in the north and central Israel, as well as the power and water grids, Ben Gurion International Airport, oil refineries and ports.

 If this wouldn’t be bad enough, Pinkas added that if Israel strikes Hezbollah, then Iran will join in the battles, probably dragging in America as well.

In addition, Israel’s leading military analyst Israel Harel wrote today (June 13, 2024) that there is a lack of strategic thinking when it comes to assassinating leading figures of Hezbollah, which could lead to an all-out war:

Israel has been in a strategic bind with regard to Hezbollah for a long time, with many tactical achievements not adding up to a significant advantageous position in the confrontation. The assassination of Abdullah is an expression of a familiar pattern: an intelligence and operational opportunity crops up and a decision to assassinate is made, without necessarily taking into account all the strategic implications.

It’s important to know whether some strategic thinking took place before a decision to act was made, or whether this is another instance of the tail wagging the dog. The army is frustrated, sustains criticism and then takes action – which, while successful operationally, could bring us closer to the brink of war, apparently without political echelons having seriously considered the significance of this action.

In tandem, there is pressure by the public and the media to take more drastic action in the north, given the widespread destruction there and the lack of a resolution for 60,000 internal refugees while hostilities continue without any result on the horizon. Such circumstances could also drive the two sides into an all-out war.

I bring you statements from these experts to demonstrate that  Israel’s security situation is the worst that it has been in the 45 years that I have lived in Israel. How did it get so bad?

The answer is: Benjamin Netanyahu and his extreme right-wing government of irresponsibility. The war in Gaza should have ended a long time ago. Many former generals have said this publicly. By now, it is clear to most people in Israel and abroad. The end of the war in the south could have led to a deal to bring back the hostages and to a cessation of the war of attrition in the north, and the prevention of an all-out war in against Hezbollah.

But the Netanyahu/Ben Gvir/Smotrich coalition does not want to end this war. Rather, Netanyahu –and the people of Israel –are being held hostage to the far-right fanatics in this government, who continue to want perpetual war, no matter the consequences to Israel, to the Palestinians and to the Middle East region. Until Israel rids itself of this government of destruction and disaster, the hostages will not be brought home and the war will not stop.

Let’s hope that the departure of the National Union political party led by Benny Gantz will hasten this process. It would help if some other courageous politicians, including a few from the Likud, who used to be considered rational and responsible people, would also bolt the coalition.

Netanyahu and his far-right partners have brought much sham and shame to the people and the state of Israel. It is time for them to go, to be replaced by some sane, honest, responsible, albeit imperfect leaders.



About the Author
Rabbi Dr Ron Kronish is the Founding Director the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI), which he directed for 25 years. Now retired, he is an independent educator, author, lecturer, writer, speaker, blogger and consultant. He is the editor of 5 books, including Coexistence and Reconciliation in Israel--Voices for Interreligious Dialogue (Paulist Press, 2015). His new book, The Other Peace Process: Interreligious Dialogue, a View from Jerusalem, was published by Hamilton Books, an imprint of Rowman and LIttelfield, in September 2017. He recently (September 2022) published a new book about peacebuilders in Israel and Palestine entitled Profiles in Peace: Voices of Peacebuilders in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which is available on Amazon Books, Barnes and Noble and the Book Depository websites,
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