Just before this war began, a leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria remarked publicly that they would seek to develop a rocket capability that would be used from this territory against Israeli cities. I pointed out that this was a significant red line and then proposed that what Alan Dershowitz had proposed once would be a tactic worth pursuing. Namely, he suggested that Israel provide ongoing warnings that if it is attacked, it would move into the area and methodically destroy the village from which the attack came.

It occurs to me that this strategy should be applied with Lebanon. One of the key problems the IDF encountered in this war was the presence of Lebanese civilians in its attacks. They pose an ethical dilemma on the one hand and a tactical, perhaps even strategic fighting dilemma on the other. If you attack, you risk killing innocents which is immoral, but if you don’t attack the enemy tries to kill your civilians which is immoral for them but also doubly immoral for Israel since they could have prevented those deaths by fighting differently.

If the current government of Israel states publicly, in a consistent pattern and ensuring the message arrives in South Lebanon, that it will methodically destroy the villages of S. Lebanon from which attacks emanate or from which Hizbullah members originate, I believe the likelihood of any civilians staying behind will diminish greatly. This would open the door for proper and open fighting between the two armies.

This will also eliminate the moral equation for Israel since they will have provided ample warning of their intentions and the resulting war will be upon the heads of its initiators, Hizbullah, rather than on Israel. The blame of any destruction will also fall on Hizbullah. It has in this war as well, but at an early point, opinion in Lebanon and the world turned against Israel because it did cause severe destruction in some areas. In the scenario where they are warned consistently, it will be very difficult for them to claim they didn’t anticipate the vigorous Israeli response – which is what Hizbullah leaders are saying now.

As a result of this war, many people equivocate that Israel was not careful enough, should have avoided any attacks on civilian targets even if they had a connection to military operations, and foisted unnecessary destruction on Lebanon. If the Israelis proceed with a policy of openly and consistently warning of the consequences of future attacks, objections to its fighting method will decrease. I also believe civilian casualties will decrease considerably because there will be no doubt on anybody’s part as to what is about to happen and most civilians will leave these areas. There would be little dispute as to what is about to happen and why, and this will free Israel’s hands to fight as they need to fight.

I know, I know, it’s not the Middle, but I see few other solutions to the issue of how to fight an enemy that uses civilians as another weapon in its arsenal.

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themiddle

17 Comments

  • Sorry Themiddle, but I think it would not work.

    To put it the other way, if Hizbollah were to advise beforehand that they will strike e.g. Haifa and the residents should flee or face death, any deaths would be the fault of the people who stay? That sounds very stupid! Why should it sound smart when put the other way around?

    The fact is that not all people are able to leave even if you announce it beforehand. Dropping leaflets which threaten them with whatever you can come up with is not a silver bullet to a clear consciousness of “I’ve done all I can, now let’s bomb it”. Threatening “death by a bomb” vs. “A HORRIBLE DEATH BY A HORRIBLY BIG BOMB FOLLOWED BY HORRIBLE ERADICATION OF ALL” doesn’t really mean much, death-threat is a death-threat and if you can’t leave for whatever reason, you can’t leave.

    I wonder if it would help to dismantle the armed wing of Hizbollah as such by assimilating it into the Lebanese army under Lebanon command? That way if new unprovoked attacks were to come, it would be the Lebanese army doing the attacks, the blame would be on them and the situation would be overall easier to handle. And I say “unprovoked” because it’s quite easy in the current situation to provoke either side to shoot rockets and drop bombs, courses of action which obviously should not be done.

    And as a side note, Mr. Nasrallah says the abductions were a mistake and then he also rambles on about the month October in a couple of distinct places. This left me puzzled, what’s special about October? Where does the month come from? Is it the folklore date of a supposed US-led invasion of Iran or what is he talking about?

  • The suggestion is one that can not be made explicitly, but must be understood implicitly, as it now may be. But a direct announcement of such would seem to violate the spirit and perhaps the terms of Geneva conventions. Again this is an aspect of deterrence. It may indeed be very ugly, but it might avoid another bloody war for awhile. Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • 1) I think Israel has made its strategy clear during the recent engagaments in Lebanon. The Army spokespeople were much less apologetic than they have been in the past.

    2) This might assauge Israeli guilt, but it will in no way effect the external condemnation of Israel when it goes to war.

  • In Lebanon, many of those who did not flee (and did not become displaced, a related dilemma) were the poor, disabled, elderly, etc. Besides, martyrdom is welcome in certain Muslim quarters, as we know.

    Rather than worry about “blame” or “guilt”, how ’bout a Kantian approach– figure out what’s right/moral on its own terms, ignoring whether a particular course of action will lead to reward?

  • Finnish, your comment was well thought out, but your opening line about Hezbollah warning Haifa is off the mark. First Israel is not using civilian neighborhoods to stage there attacks, secondly Hezbollah doesn’t have the destruction power which the IAF/IDF has. And VJ, its a violation of the Geneva Conventions to use civilian areas as staging grounds for assaults, and after that happens the country attacked (ie. Israel) has the right to destroy that target, be it a home, a mosque, a hospital, or a school.

  • Yep Jon, I already knew that. And as justified as they are in doing this, this does not stop the negative PR with Human Rights Watch & Amnesty saying the these same things, but still blaming Israel first. Again that may be predictable & silly, but it only adds (unjustifiably so) to the general ‘noise’ level. So it’s best Not to be explicit about your intentions here. Ditto with the cluster bombs, effective tools of war that the US still uses in abundance everywhere. But the IDF need not present it’s target list to be approved by the UN every time their attacked by Hez/Iran, and they need to make clear that they are being held to standards that no state ever was or ever will be. Their survival is at stake, and the ‘Ref’s want to see if the IDF has committed ‘fouls’ while the other team plots to take the stadium down with explosives, all the while whining about how mean the home team is. Again this is why Israle needs a new press strategy with ALL western reporters, and should consider more meausures for everyone else. They can ill afford to be losing the PR war all the time. Hence the Middle’s frustration, while felt everywhere, may not make for the best of suggestions operationally. Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • Only thing now that will save Israel from Destruction is to use the nukes they have. Or to destroy Iran’s capabilities.
    Unfortunately, most people accept the views as distilled in this post as the gospel.
    So, I fear Israel has a shelf life, 6-12 months or so.
    The flip side is that religious folks just have to say Trust in Ha-Shem, everything will be OK.
    I have no problem w/ that, but then, you are expecting another miracle.
    Bec. the enemy, saw that Israel basically fought, if that is the word, to not lose. Didn’t fight to win. So, all they have to do, is get more and longer range missles, set them up in several places, such as Saudi, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon.

    Then Middle, they will rain them down all at once. And Middle will not allow Israel to kill innocent civilains, seriously, this view is to prefer the destruction, of Israel, over killing one innocent civilians, seriously this is an insane point of view, Middle.

  • Jobber, would you shut the fuck up already? Repeating the same offensive and idiotic screed on every single post that could be remotely construed as related is spam. Either get something new and useful to say, or go away. Why don’t you go plan some of those trips to Israel and Montreal you always seem to be three weeks away from taking? Make-believe is a fun hobby!

  • No amount of armchair strategizing in the Diaspora (or even in Israel) will lead to the comprehensive changes needed in Israel’s warfare doctrine.
    Please devote your time to rallying public opinion behind a real investigation of this failed war and getting a vote of no-confidence to oust the current government.

  • Hey Jagger I will see you in Israel soon Bro. Why do i have to have something new to say politically when I have the truth, while no one else on this site sees the light?

    Mike you have a point, but I have been very affected by this war in ways deeper than most so I apologize.

    Dude I am going to have some fun at last in the near future dude.

    Yoni, it’s no use farting around what happened, just chop down Iran now.

  • Steves Rick:
    I served in the IDF a few years ago, and I always marvelled at how we were victorious in so many wars, given the cavalier attitudes of the army towards supplying us with the latest equipment, or even equipment that was in working condition or that fit our bodies. When I confronted a high ranking officer about this issue, he told me quite bluntly, “This is not the American army.”
    I hate to say it, but the IDF is hopelessly ill-equipped even for a conventional non-guerilla war. The specter of US assistance in such a war does not make things any better; our armies use the same armaments, would be fighting on foreign territory, and our cracked electronic warfare systems basically give our enemies all of the information that they need.
    Iran is a major problem, but they cannot be taken on until the lessons have been learned from an honest inquiry into the Lebanon war.

  • Yoni, the only place I’ve seen mention of the failed electronic warfare systems is on Debka. Admittedly, they were right about a number of things in this war and published them far ahead of the main Israeli media outlets, but they are also wrong at times and do tend to broadcast news with a clear bias against the actions of the Center Right, Center Left or Left in Israel. Since I haven’t seen this claim anywhere other than Debka and am reluctant to take their word for it, do you have another source?

  • Yeah Yoni is right. I just recall all kinds of anciallry stuff courtesy of US army. They prided themselves on being mean to soldiers. For example, this former marine I served w/, said after a long grueling day, the marine commanders would then let them shower. but not the ISraelis. THey in my opinion are operating out of a very good, but antiquated model at this point.

    This is why i am fearful for ISrael’s survival, to such an extant that I have started to take some tranqualizers. to calm down.

  • Yo Mike, I am going to be bringing you some of that nice rum fron Europe. Contact me off line for further details.

  • Yoni,
    we have not won one war because we were better equipped. We do not need the best equipment to win, and each time proved it. We lose our wars/battles only when there is no specific objective.

  • I think Yoni is correct. It’s a strange mix of British origins, and resting on the past successes. Reform is much needed, so are plenty of investigations. Cheers, ‘VJ’

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