Monday, August 17, 2009

The Winds of War Shift?


The Winds of War Shift?

That is the title of an opinion piece by Jonathan Rosenblum in today's Yated Ne'eman.

How I would like to remove that question mark from the title. And until midday yesterday (Sunday), it finally appeared that a more definitive and positive statement might be possible. Now, however, the question mark must return.
Last week ended with the Israel’s political echelons subjected to withering criticism from two of its best friends in the international media: Charles Krauthamer and Bret Stephens. Stephens, the former editor of the Jerusalem Post, pronounced Israel to be losing the war, both politically and militarily, in the Wall Street Journal. He pointed out that Prime Minister Olmert had consistently downgraded Israel’s war goals from the outset of fighting. Initially, Israel had spoken of "breaking" Hizbullah, then of evicting it from the Israeli border, still later of "degrading" Hizbullah’s capabilities, and, finally, of creating the circumstances for an effective international force to police the border.
Yet after scathingly critical articles by Bret Stephens, Caroline Glick, and Charles Krauthammer, there seemed to be a definite shift in Israel's favor.
And indeed by the end of last week, it appeared that the tide had turned in Israel’s favor. Israeli troops were now operating against Hizbullah positions in twenty or so villages in southern Lebanon, as opposed to the two that had occupied all the IDF’s attention in the war’s first weeks. And in a daring commando raid, deep in the Beka’a Valley, more than 60 miles north of the Israeli-Lebanese border, an Israeli force managed to capture five Hizbullah fighters and valuable intelligence information, and return home without incurring any casualties. Naval commandos landed off the Lebanese coast, and entered the coastal city of Tyre, from which most of the missiles aimed at Haifa have been launched. "The IDF has been able to learn on the go, and learn well," pronounced Glick.
But then, just as quickly and without warning, the tide seems to have turned once again--against Israel.
The horrendous casualties when a katyusha landed directly on a group of reservists gathering at Kfar Giladi on the Lebanese border, killing 12, however, seemed to have changed all that. The Jerusalem Post reported Monday morning that the IDF no longer planned to push to the Litani, and would content itself with securing a 6-8 kilometer security zone from the northern border.
With a cease-fire that would allow Israel to leave its forces in place till a suitable international force could be formed to take its place, Hizbollah would still be able to claim victory for being able to live to kill another day. never mind the question of what kind of international force can possibly be found that can stand up to the intimidation and bribes of Hizbollah--which so obviously undercut UNIFIL, currently under the command of the French.

Rosenblum suggests a way for Israel to keep Hizbollah under control:
Is there anything else Israel can do to deter Hizbullah? At least one school of thought assumes there is: Put Syria on notice that it will be held accountable for Hizbullah.

Hizbullah depends on Syrian support. And there is reason to believe that Syria will listen if the threat is credible. In 1998, Turkey threatened to go to war with Syria if Syria did not cut off support for Kurdish rebels in Turkey. Syria did. The time has come, writes Efraim Inbar, for Israel to talk Turkey to Syria.

The only question is: Does any Israeli leader know Turkey.
After Rosenblum finished his article, news came out that Israel might yet take the battle to Hizbollah and the winds might yet shift once again.

According to Arutz Sheva:
Halutz, who has not appeared in public in recent days, announced Tuesday that his deputy chief of staff, Major-General Moshe Kaplinsky (photo above), will work alongside Adam, overseeing all military forces operating in Lebanon.

...Others explain that the move signals more than dissatisfaction, but also a clear sign that Halutz expects to receive the green light from the prime minister for a large-scale military operation, one that will involve more than the close to 100,000 reservists already activated for service, one that will bring IDF forces deeper into Hizbullah territory in Lebanon.

Military historians report that Halutz’s move is not without precedent, citing that during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, then Chief of Staff David Elazar appointed his predecessor, former IDF Chief of Staff Chaim Bar-Lev to take command of the southern district, replacing Southern District Commander Major-General Shmuel Gonen (Gorodish).

...Since the start of the warfare, 105 Israelis, civilians and military personnel, have been killed. 3,487 Katyusha rockets were fired into Israel, and Magen David Adom emergency medical service officials responded to 1,070 calls for assistance resulting from rocket attacks. Air force officials’ report pilots have carried out over 5,127 sorties, and foreign sources report close to 800 Lebanese have been killed.

Despite Peretz’s and Halutz’s definitive position, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is moving cautiously, with aides admitting the prime minister remains undecided. Olmert is seeking additional guarantees regarding a decisive IDF victory, realizing the past four weeks have not produced the desired results. Analysts agree that IDF forces have ‘won’ most battles, but Hizbullah has not exhibited true signs of defeat as rockets continue to pound civilian population centers.
One thing is clear, when this operation is finished, there will be an investigation--both on how the 2 soldiers were abducted to how the operation was run. There will be tough questions, and answers that Israel will not be happy with.

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