For the past month, our soldiers have fought and our citizens have tolerated constant bombardment for one reason and hope: that the threat from Hizbullah would be permanently eliminated. The present war alone will not accomplish this objective, but it has laid groundwork that can and must be built upon. Even more importantly, it must serve as a wake-up call for Israel and the world regarding the real threat: not Hizbullah, but its masters in Iran.
The great accomplishments of this war were achieved in the first few days. First, Israel demonstrated that it would not be deterred by the fact that thousands of missiles were pointed at her citizens, and would act to defend herself with the full knowledge of the risks this entails.
Second, with accurate intelligence and pinpoint action, the IDF destroyed most of the long-range missiles pointed at our cities. These missiles constituted Iran's primary deterrent against preemptive military action against its nuclear facilities.
Third, the dense network of bases and bunkers sitting on Israel's border, which allowed for the attack and kidnapping of soldiers that began the war, has been destroyed and, it is realistic to expect, will not be rebuilt.
In addition, Israel had two other objectives: to eliminate Hizbullah's additional bunkers and short-range missiles located mostly south of the Litani river, and to eliminate the ability of Hizbullah to, through force of arms, impose its will on Lebanon.
The deployment Friday night and yesterday of tens of thousands of additional ground forces, some of whom have already reached the Litani, will advance these last two objectives. The deployment was critical because it is clear to all concerned that neither the Lebanese military nor the proposed international force will disarm Hizbullah, despite the former's explicit requirement to so under the UN Security Resolution 1701, passed on Friday.
Today the cabinet will meet to consider the Security Council decision, and will undoubtedly endorse it. It will do so even though our wider objectives were not met. But this endorsement will not prevent the IDF from continuing to degrade Hizbullah's forces until the Lebanese army and an international force have been assembled to take the IDF's place.
This tactical progress, as important as it is, should not be allowed to obscure the larger struggle. This struggle, in the end, has little to do with Lebanon, and even with Hizbullah, but with the true existential threats facing Israel, first and foremost from Iran.
Hizbullah has undoubtedly been dealt a blow, but the fact that Israel did not decisively vanquish it will encourage all those seeking Israel's destruction. We must imagine what the events of the past month would have looked like had Iran already obtained nuclear weapons.
The fact that Israel allowed Hizbullah to build up such a massive arsenal shows that we as a nation were not doing what was necessary to address potential existential threats. We were busy cutting our defense budgets, ignoring growing threats, and quietly watching as the international community was not confronting Iran with sufficient seriousness.
Though in the coming days and weeks a vigorous debate will ensue over who was responsible for this debacle, let us stipulate this now: the blame spreads so far, wide, and deep that almost no part of our political spectrum or institutions can fully escape it. Indeed, the pervasiveness of our complacency was so great that it should help to create a new consensus that our course must be changed.
This country now demands leadership that will embark on an unabashed and determined preparation to deter and prevent the next war if possible, and to fight it if necessary. We must maximize our capabilities both for preemptive attack and to defend against all forms of aggression, principally against missiles.
We were not prepared for this war, nor did we want to fight it. Nor is this immediate battle over. But the battle in Lebanon, as critical as it is, does not itself encompass the existential struggle; it is a reminder that we are in one. Our job now is to better prepare ourselves at every level: societal, diplomatic, governmental, and military; and, as the nation on the front line, do our utmost to mobilize the free world to collectively and effectively defend itself.
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