Think Israel's deterrence has now been restored?

Don't delude yourself. There's much more that needs to done.

By
September 18, 2007 23:07
3 minute read.
f-15 i 298.88

f-15 i 298.88. (photo credit: Israel Air Force web site)

 
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The statement that was - or maybe was not - made by Military Intelligence head Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin was one more addition to the complex web of events that did - or perhaps did not - happen lately. As The Jerusalem Post reported on its front page (September 17), Yadlin told members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that "[Israeli deterrence] is having an impact on the whole region, including on Iran and Syria." Of course, a denial was issued immediately following the publication of this statement, but to a certain extent, it also reflects the general feeling in the Israeli military: The IDF has rehabilitated itself, it has restored its power of deterrence, it is fine. This is a delusion that must be cleared up once and for all. It is the same delusion that led us into the Second Lebanon War in haste, without preparation, without due consideration. A sense of arrogance accompanied the IDF on its way to southern Lebanon, to familiar areas that were once under its control. But in the six years which had passed since Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, the southern part of that country had changed - it had turned into a haven of Katyushas and long-range rockets, harboring Hizbullah fighters whose tactics against the IDF were sophisticated and bold. Deterrence is one of the three pillars on which the concept of Israel's security rests. The other two are advance warning and decisive victory. These three pillars have been weakened over the past years, starting with the first intifada, followed by the first Gulf War, the drawn-out first Lebanon war, the Second Lebanon War and the second intifada. Israel did not achieve a decisive victory in any of these wars, our intelligence reports on enemy activity were inadequate, and the adversary - predominantly terrorist and guerrilla groups - was not deterred. THE DANGERS associated with these earlier conflicts has not abated. While IAF aircraft were on their way to Syria to destroy a nuclear installation supplied by North Korea, "Ahmad" in Jabalya completed another three Kassam rockets, according to foreign reports. I don't know how much it costs to make a Kassam, but it is certainly less than our military operation, or the missiles fired from the air. Thus, before our eyes, we are witnessing the asymmetry that characterizes the latest round in the Middle East. We are a military and technological power capable of reaching the far corners of the region from the air, the sea and maybe even the ground. But we haven't yet managed to find a way to catch "Ahmad" before he finishes making the Kassam rockets; nor have we managed to deter him from even thinking about it. In the new year, Israel faces two military tests, each very different in character and demands, each requiring totally different responses. Our long arm indeed excels in getting the job done. It has all the advantages that turned Israel into the Middle Eastern Goliath. But when that same Goliath attempts to combat Palestinian terror, or Iranian proxy terror in the form of Hizbullah, the creativity and sophistication disappear. This other arm, the one that needs to perform short-range operations on the borders and within the country, is short and not sufficiently successful in reaching the terrorist organizations and their activists. The residents of Sderot have not expressed an opinion on the reportedly spectacular military campaign deep inside Syria. They were probably too busy worrying about when the next Code Red alert would be sounded. Where would they run to for safety? What would happen to their children? In order to restore the basic security equation - deterrence, advance warning and decisive victory - Israel must extend its short arm. It must unite the two military capacities into one. That is the challenge Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Gabi Ashkenazi face today. The writer is senior vice president and director-general of UJC Israel and a former IDF Spokesman.

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