This is a painful post to write.
The Israeli papers have only hinted at it but AP is reporting 12 to 14 dead soldiers and another 25 injured and on their way to hospitals.
UPDATE: Israeli papers are now reporting 9 dead, 3 severely injured and another 24 injured.
Anybody want to talk about disproportionate attacks right now? It’s clear that they weren’t disproportionate if Hizbullah remains this capable after nearly two weeks of war. By the way, they have launched 1400 rockets into Israel as of now and have threatened Netanyah next. Hitting Netanyah would require missiles with 100 mile range.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the initial failures by Halutz’s IDF that led to this war. I wrote with the hope that the IDF would show those to be anomalies and Halutz would be vindicated. As of now it seems that rather than the IDF pushing Hizbullah into a corner, it is Hizbullah killing Israel’s young men. The causes are not hard to figure out: poor planning, poor intelligence, poor execution or a combination of those. My guess is that poor execution is the least problem, if it is one at all. That leaves the other two issues. The IDF seems unprepared for this adversary and the type of fight in which they are engaged.
Let’s not minimize this, we are seeing an existential war for Israel. Even if it is taking place in Lebanon, a show of real weakness by Israel and a serious depletion of Israeli fighting resources (how long will it take to rebuild the IAF’s arsenal?) will encourage others to enter the fight or to start one very shortly. Syria has already been on their highest alert for a number of days and has sent unguarded warnings to Israel not to deploy forces too close to their border. That’s a small step away from perceiving that they would find it advantageous to attack anyway. Iran is monitoring as well, and even Jordan’s king has said publicly that if Israel continues attacking Lebanon, it could lead to war.
The politicians and the IDF need to entirely reassess the nature of this war and Israel’s adversary. This is not just Hizbullah – the tactics, arms and training are too sophisticated. This is a proxy arm and by extension, apparently, a part of the Iranian army. They have spent years planning for an Israeli incursion, building fortifications and tunnels, arming themselves to the teeth and preparing for a rocket and missile attack on Israel’s population centers. The IDF seems to have seriously underestimated the extent of Hizbullah’s development as a force and has fought this war accordingly.
Thus far Israel has resisted calling up large numbers of reserves and has not gone into these villages full bore. The Israeli government has also consistently changed their public statements (and subsequently their actions) about how they plan to fight this war. This morning even George Bush said on the radio that he has been told consistently by the Israelis that they knew this enemy best and how to handle it. He then added with some sarcasm that it seems that events are proving this wasn’t the case. George Bush said this!
If the death toll the AP is reporting is correct, then either we are being fed disinformation, or the politicians and even the top generals believe things that aren’t true. Either way, there is clearly no time to lose here. If what it takes to take over every Hizbullah-run village is the loss of 10 or 20 or more Israelis, something has to change. It is time to change the tactics and goals of this war. According to Olmert, Israel is only using a small percentage of its capacity to fight. They need to change that to a much higher percentage and fast. They need to reconsider whether there are better tacticians among the general staff of the IDF and if so, give them the opportunity to organize the Israeli attacks. Fast. And hit hard. Why is that village still standing, most of the civilians are gone? And stop denying the truth because it weakens everybody’s faith in the Israeli government and the IDF. Let Hizbullah be the only liars here.
The “yihyeh b’seder, mah ata lachutz” (“it’ll be alright, what are you worried about”) mentality is the opposite of what is needed to win this tough war.
UPDATE: see this:
However, officers in the Golani and Paratroops Brigades charged that the IDF employed insufficient force before the soldiers were deployed to search the homes. They said that once the civilians had been told to leave the town, the army should have regarded Bint Jbail as a battlefield and destroyed any home where Hezbollah guerrillas were suspected of hiding.
They also charged that not enough aircraft were used to attack targets.
The IDF’s modus operandi in southern Lebanon in recent days has sparked great debate among all ranks of the army. Many field officers argue that insufficient forces are being deployed in the fighting and that the army is being ineffective against Katyusha rocket launchers.