When Avigdor Liberman first entered the Defense Ministry, one of his first tasks was to assemble the top brass of the defense establishment. One of his first questions was to inquire about strategic plans to defeat Hamas in a future confrontation.
Looking puzzled at each other, the generals told their new defense minister that no such plan existed or had been requested in the past. This means that none of Liberman’s predecessors had thought to create a plan for victory over Hamas, even if just to sit in the proverbial dusty drawer.
One of the defense minister’s first acts was thus to order a full strategic assessment and plan for defeating Hamas. Not placating Hamas, not fighting to return to the status quo, not giving them a slight disadvantage only to allow them to regroup a few months later, but the defeat of the genocidal terrorist regime in Gaza.
The terminology of victory and defeat was one he tried to instill in all echelons of the army, the type of language and mentality that has sadly been lacking from the political leadership for some generations, perhaps back to the Six Day War.
When, earlier this year, Liberman began the process of selecting a new chief of staff and interviewing the candidates for the job, he put this new mentality front and center of his decisions.
“I searched for someone who would talk to me in terms of decisiveness and victory,” Liberman said at the time. “In discussions with military officials I hear many expressions such as ‘political arena’ and ‘legal ramifications.’ The most important value in my eyes is victory, not explanations.”
In the end, Liberman chose Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi against the wishes of other members of Israel’s political leadership, who wished for a continuance of their mollification policy.
During his two and a half years in the Defense Ministry, Liberman set out, quietly but assuredly, to return the IDF to being a victorious army. He reshaped it strategically, tactically and mentally for a new type of warfare that had a simple resonance in military history.
Liberman is a great student of history and warfare, and he understood that for wars to end and for peace and security to be reestablished, one side had to win, but perhaps even more importantly, one side had to accept defeat.
Every war in history ended that way. Those that didn’t merely became enduring wars of attrition where blood continues to be shed and misery is shared all around.
This is sadly the situation of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Israelis, who remain under the constant shadow of Hamas’s increasing missile armory. The fact that a Qatari agent was recently allowed into Gaza with suitcases full of $15 million, the first of six payments, which ended up almost in full in the pockets of the Hamas leaders with the full knowledge and acquiescence of the Israeli leadership, is as baffling as it is unforgivable.
For the first time in Israel’s history, we had paid protection money to a terrorist organization. Even Hamas was laughing at us when they rained down hundreds of missiles on our people’s heads thanks to Qatari largesse.
Liberman was outraged. He had prepared his fighting force for victory, and instead the prime minister and other ministers were busy formulating a defeat.
The fact that we ran with undue haste to sign a ceasefire, without the requisite vote in the security cabinet, has sent a clear message to our enemies on all our borders, that we do not want to fight, and certainly not to win.
Hamas, of course, called it a “great victory.”
So, all the good preparatory work that Liberman did was wasted on this occasion. However, the foundations that he put down in the defense establishment will hopefully be seen in the future when unfortunately Israel will once again need to defend itself.
It is hoped that the apparatus of victory will be used fully.
Yisrael Beytenu has never been a party of talk, but of action and principles. Liberman has shown in the past that he will put principles before office or position, resigning in the past over the Hebron Accord, the Disengagement and the Annapolis talks.
Liberman prepared a plan, mentality and a strategy for victory. One day, when an Israeli leader decides to use the IDF to truly defend our people and defeat our enemies, we will have one person to thank.
As Winston Churchill once said: “Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”The writer is a member of Knesset for the Yisrael Beytenu Party and chairman of the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus.
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