Analysis: The fingers of blame

Helplessly we watched footage of a missile launcher in Tyre launch rocket after fiery rocket at Haifa.

wounded woman haifa 88 (photo credit: )
wounded woman haifa 88
(photo credit: )
For all the death and bloodshed, and all the frustration at international hypocrisy, that have built up over 25 days of a war Israel has all-too plainly not been decisively winning, Sunday was the bitterest day of this conflict because the Israeli public's sense of impotence reached new heights. Helplessly we watched, in perfect and terrible televisual clarity, footage of a missile launcher in Tyre launch rocket after fiery rocket toward Haifa. Helplessly we saw the fatal impact - bursts of flame in the evening sky, buildings destroyed, innocent lives ripped apart in an instant. Hours earlier, we had seen death in broad daylight, and felt even more frustration along with the awful sense of futility. A single Katyusha at Kfar Giladi and a dozen of our reserve soldiers, men who had left their families to answer the call to protect our nation, were gone. We heard a parade of Israeli military experts explain, for the umpteenth time, why searching for rocket-launchers from the air is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. And then we viewed the daily round of arguments between generals who would push the army further north and those who counsel that going full-tilt to Tyre, Beirut or even beyond to wipe out the launchers with ground forces would create losses on a scale that would dwarf those we have sustained so far. The instinct, at times such as this, is to lash out at the culprits, any culprits. And it is easy to to point fingers of blame at whoever was responsible for having those soldiers assemble in open ground in easy Katyusha range. A foolhardy, misguided machismo seems to have afflicted some of those responsible for the logistics of IDF planning in the North. It is easy, too, to blame a prime minister for underestimating the enemy and hailing victory amid the deadly rocket rains, and blame the government, the IDF or anybody close to home for the untenable fact that the barrages are still screaming in, faster and more devastatingly than ever, in this fourth week of conflict. But the culprit is not domestic. The culprit - notwithstanding the infuriating sense of impotence and the escalating protests by the public about the perceived misassessments and errors made by Israel's leadership in this war - was and remains Hizbullah and its Iranian sponsors. We are at war with the frontline troops of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's army, inspired, trained and armed by Teheran. To prevail requires more astute use of the IDF, of diplomatic channels to ensure that the soldiers' gains are not frittered away and of "public diplomacy" to maximize support and puncture misperception. Israel needs to improve, urgently, in all three areas. But the fingers of blame? Point them at the killers firing the rockets, and those who, having armed and dispatched them, revel in the tolerance of so much of the watching world and delight in their murderous effect.