IDF chief Herzi Halevi is the biggest disappointment since Israel's establishment - opinion

Herzi Halevi's failure as chief of staff is evident in army preparation for war, war conduct, and damaging army values and ethics.

 Herzi Halevi  (photo credit: Flash 90-)
Herzi Halevi
(photo credit: Flash 90-)

Herzi Halevi is one of the most disappointing chiefs of staff since the establishment of the State of Israel.

His failure is evident in the military's preparatio for war, in the conduct of the war, and in the fatal damage to the values and morals and the ethical code of the army on which generations of fighters were raised. Halevi's method of choosing the next generation of commanders to follow him is neither moral nor ethical. It also causes irreparable damage to the IDF and the country as a whole by the public losing confidence in IDF commanders and the entire army.

Halevi was appointed chief of staff by his close associate Benny Gantz and brought upon Israel a terrible disgrace and disaster, the likes of which had not been seen since the establishment of the state. Thousands were murdered, thousands of wounded are trying to recover, hundreds were kidnapped by Hamas into tunnels, and more than a hundred thousand were displaced from their homes.

These facts cannot be debated, and yet Halevi continues to hold his title, thanks to his accomplices, PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. This group could bring us total destruction. It is simply unimaginable how this group that should have stood trial continues to manage the country and the war for us. These three and all their followers should resign from their jobs, sit in their homes until the end of their days, and atone for their sins.

 Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi  (credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi (credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)

The colossal failure of Herzi Halevi in preparing the army for war

When Halevi was the head of the military intelligence, at the beginning of March 2017, he estimated that Hamas or Hezbollah were not interested in a military conflict 'in the near term'. He argued that Israeli deterrence reduces the likelihood of an initiated war.

When Halevi was the commander of the Southern Command, an internal IDF document was published in August 2021. The document describes the defense system in the Gaza Envelope and reveals the depth of the failure and the destructive concept that dominated military thinking in recent years.

In the three years from 2018 to 2021, Herzi Halevi served as commander of the Southern Command. During this time, the defense plans against Hamas deteriorated without measures to deal with the hundreds of kilometers of Hamas tunnels. The operational discipline on the border with the Gaza Strip also deteriorated. Halevi advocated that Hamas was deterred and, therefore, did not come across as a threat to Israel.

 Aviv Kochavi and Hatzi Halevi at the exchange of chiefs of staff ceremony in January 2023  (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
Aviv Kochavi and Hatzi Halevi at the exchange of chiefs of staff ceremony in January 2023 (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

One of the reasons that the IDF did not enter Rafah at the same time as Gaza City at the beginning of the war when the world was still with us and the attack was still possible was that there were no concrete attack plans. These plans require years of preparation, training the forces, studying the area in detail, and allocating forces to tasks within the cities and villages in Gaza. The study of land-air-sea combined with combat was not done at all.

This is the reason the IDF planned its entry in an attack on Gaza City only while moving at the same time to mobilize the forces. Halevi must take direct responsibility for the lack of war plans neither in defense nor in attack.

In February 2020, during Halevi's tenure as commander of the Southern Command, he joined the former director of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, on a secret trip to Doha, the capital of Qatar. There, the two met with Mohammad bin Ahmad Al-Musnad, the national security adviser of the Emirate of Qatar, and with Mohammad al-Emadi, Qatari businessman.

In response to this meeting, MK Avigdor Liberman stated on Channel 12, "The head of the Mossad together with the commander of the Southern Command on Netanyahu's behalf, begged the Qataris to continue pouring money into Hamas after March 30."

During the days of Halevi as commander of the Southern Command, the process of tightening the instructions to open fire on the border of the Gaza Strip that began in early 2018 continued. The depth of the perimeter near the border where Gazans are not allowed to enter was reduced from 300 meters to 100 meters, and severe restrictions were imposed on shooting at unarmed Gazans. The IDF refrained from shooting Gazans who crossed the fence and those throwing Molotov cocktails. In mid-2019, restrictions were even imposed on shooting at armed men approaching the fence for fear of harming Hamas fighters who are controlling the riots, according to the understanding of Halevi.

 Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi at the Northern Command (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)
Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi at the Northern Command (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)

During the years of Halevi's tenure as chief of staff, the IDF's broken organizational aspects deepened: lack of discipline, failure to verify orders, failure to control and follow up on decisions made, failure to learn lessons, and unreliable investigations. The culture of lying rose to monstrous proportions, and the standards of performance fell below all criticism.

In most army units, routine practices and orders were not followed. One of the many examples is the failure of the units in operational employment on the border lines to be on alert at dawn. Anyone who did not carry out this order in the past was dismissed, and it was in our hands on the morning of the Hamas attack on the settlements surrounding Gaza on October 7, 2023. 

The conduct of Halevi, at three o'clock in the morning on October 7 and the decisions he made were disastrous for the people of Israel. He remained complacent despite all the warnings that were before his eyes. This was not an error in judgment, but a concept deeply embedded in his personality. This is how he conducted himself as commander of the Southern Command, and this is how he acted as chief of staff and instilled in his subordinates this severe pattern of action.

The failed management of the war by Halevi is a huge failure that Israel has not experienced since the establishment of the state. Instead of starting the war on the Gaza Strip with full force in both Gaza City and Rafah, Halevi acted only in a column in the Gaza Strip. The war has been going on for a very long time to such an extent that forces have lost their strength both in terms of resources and in terms of mental strength.

After half a year of war with hundreds of dead and thousands of wounded, many seriously, the IDF captured 80% of the Gaza Strip. Within a short time, Hamas returned through the tunnels and retook control of all the territories abandoned by the IDF. In other words, we lost the war.

The IDF's raids will not lead to a victory over Hamas but to a war of attrition that could last for years. The fighting forces will wear out because they have no replacements due to the cutting of six divisions in the last twenty years by the chiefs of staff who decided that the big wars have all passed, and it is possible to be satisfied with a small, technological, and smart army.

The situation has reached such a point that our forces cannot eradicate Hamas and not even stop its re-establishment. The same is true for Hezbollah. As long as we fight a war with Hamas that no longer has a purpose, Hezbollah will continue to exhaust us in the North. This fighting will bring Israel to the collapse of the army, the economy, international relations, and society.

The slogans of Bibi, Gallant, and Halevi that the IDF will not stop fighting until it achieves all the war's goals are empty slogans and massive deception to the public. Their only goal is to continue the fighting at any cost. Again, this is a war in which we have already been defeated. 

Halevi's attack on the "spirit of the IDF" and the values of the IDF and the norms upon which generations of fighters were raised.

 Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Golani commanders in the north  (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)
Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Golani commanders in the north (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)

Considering these grave failures, why doesn't Halevi resign now and appoint a replacement? Halevi will go down in history for his failure to prepare the army for war and the terrible failure on October 7. Additionally, he will be remembered worldwide for his failure to conduct the war without achieving its goals, in which he, Bibi, and Gallant are responsible

This chief of staff has failed at immoral and unethical levels that we have not known before. I am receiving very difficult testimonies from senior officers in the army who have lost complete trust in their commander, the Halevi, who does not set a personal or ethical example.

Herzi Halevi receives backing for his nefarious actions from his fellow retired generals who were an integral part of the reasons for the disintegration of the army and the failure that occurred. One of the retired generals who had a significant part in wearing down the army has become one of the spokesmen for the army. They should be in prison for criminal negligence.

In conclusion, the State of Israel has only one way to stop itself on the slippery slope toward the abyss, and that is to end the war, take a time-out, and release the hostages. We must restore the army, the economy, international relations, and society. The officials responsible for the terrible disaster we experienced must be fired.