Ex-security chiefs argue if IDF should hit Lebanon in future war

Mossad, intel heads debate NSC chief, Defense Ministry official.

An Israeli soldier stands atop a tank near Israel's border with Lebanon January 21, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)
An Israeli soldier stands atop a tank near Israel's border with Lebanon January 21, 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A top panel of security chiefs got into a heated exchange on Monday over whether the IDF would be required to attack all of Lebanon or just Hezbollah in a potential future war at a security conference in Tel Aviv.
The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference mostly focused on Iran issues. But the discussion about Iran’s usage of Hezbollah as a proxy and how to get Iran out of Lebanon led to intense criticism from an otherwise respectful panel of top officials who know each other well.
The debate pitted ex-Mossad chief Tamir Pardo and former IDF intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. and INSS director Amos Yadlin, who said there was no way to avoid attacking Lebanon more broadly, against former National Security Council chief Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror and ex-top Defense Ministry official Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad, who favored attacking only Hezbollah.
In August, Pardo advocated to The Jerusalem Post that the Trump administration could help solve the threats in Lebanon of Iranian influence and of Hezbollah’s separate army within only a few months.
His solution was for the US to impose the same sanctions on Lebanon that it has re-imposed on the Islamic Republic.
At the Monday conference, Pardo again advocated his idea, with the explanation that resolving the issue through sanctions and not war was now more crucial.
He said this was because in any future war in the North, Israel would have no choice but to strike all of Lebanon, as Hezbollah is now too intertwined with the government to distinguish between its supporters and others.
In contrast, during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the IDF tailored its attacks to be only against Hezbollah and left the Sunni and Christian sectors, which are considered less hostile to Israel, mostly unharmed.
Gilad and Amidror both strongly criticized Pardo’s idea as unrealistic to resolve the issue, and added that the IDF could continue to use tailored attacks only against Hezbollah in a potential future war.
Amidror said it was not that Israel does not have the power to strike and destroy all of Lebanon, but there was a moral argument against the concept, and the IDF’s precise intelligence and weapons could allow it to only hit Hezbollah.
At t he same time, he said, “only lots of force and blood” could possibly “send Iran home” – not economic sanctions, even serious ones.
Yadlin then supported Pardo on the prediction that if there was a war in the North, there would be no way for the IDF to avoid hitting all of Lebanon this time as opposed to just Hezbollah.
He agreed with Pardo that Hezbollah had become far more deeply ingrained in the Lebanese state than it had been in 2006.
Among the other panels about Iran at the INSS conference, a majority of panelists said they did not believe the US pressure
campaign would succeed in topping the Islamic Republic’s regime, or getting it to agree to a deal desired by the US.
Overall, panelists also predicted that Iran would not completely leave the 2015 nuclear deal in the coming year, as it would prefer to play for time and would want to maintain the current diplomatic split between the US and the EU regarding the nuclear standoff.
Most of the panelists also did not trust either the US or Russia with reducing the Iranian threat in Syria, saying that Israel would need to continue to confront that threat itself.
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon predicted that if down the line, Iran was confronted with a choice of facing a major attack that could endanger the regime’s survival versus breaking out to obtaining a nuclear bomb, that it would choose regime survival.