Se la vittoria di una battaglia militare è definita dal raggiungimento dei propri obiettivi militari, allora Hamas ha vinto l'attuale round di violenza con il suo primissimo sbarramento balistico su Gerusalemme dieci giorni fa. Israele, invece, non vincerà, non può vincere e non si sogna nemmeno di vincere.
in recent ‘rounds’, all Israel hopes to achieve is an ‘image of
victory.’ Despite its military might and destructive enthusiasm, Israel
can’t prevail militarily because it doesn’t even remember what military
objectives are or what they look like.
the last seven decades Israel has worked relentlessly to divide the
Palestinians in an attempt to dismantle their ability to resist as one
people. This project had been so successful in the eyes of the Israelis
that many of them started to believe that the Palestinian cause had
evaporated into thin air. But then, completely out of the blue (as far
as the Israelis are concerned), Hamas managed to unite the Palestinians
into a unified fist of resistance: on Tuesday every Palestinian between
the River and the Sea joined a strike called by Hamas. Such a
collective, multi-sectorial strike didn’t happen in Palestine since
victory is not measured by the carnage you inflict on your foe. It
isn’t measured by the number of casualties or the residential towers one
reduces into dust. Admittedly, there is no room for comparison between
Israeli military capabilities and Hamas’ firepower. Israel is one of the
most technologically advanced military forces in the world. Hamas is
decades behind, yet it wins over Israel in every round of violence.
reason is simple. Hamas’ military objectives are simple and modest.
Hamas has vowed to keep the resistance alive. It fulfills its promise.
By achieving this goal Hamas has positioned itself as the Palestinian
unifier. Israel, on the other hand, can’t decide its military goals. We
hear Israel’s Defence Minister vowing to bring security to the Israelis
but Hamas proves him wrong, continuing to rain Israel with rockets at a
growing rate. Israel brags about its precision bombing of Hamas’
tunnels, yet rather cynically, Hamas keep operating from tunnels that
seem intact and operational.
doesn’t take a military genius to grasp that in order to stop Hamas,
Israel needs to deploy ground forces and to engage in a fierce battle in
the streets of Gaza. But this is exactly the one thing the IDF refuses
to do and for a manifold of very good reasons. Firstly, the Israelis are
fearful of a house-to-house battle. Second, Israel doesn’t want to
control 2.5 million Gazans. Third, not one Israeli military leader is
willing to face the relentless Israeli mothers brigade. In the region,
however, Israel’s reluctance to send foot soldiers to Gaza is understood
as cowardice and weakness.
For Israel, Gaza in particular and Palestine in general is a no-win situation.
there is a deeper reasoning behind Israel’s hopeless situation. Israeli
decision makers (both within the political realm and in the military)
subscribe to the power of deterrence. For Israelis, the power of
deterrence means punishing the Arabs so heavily that their will to fight
would practically stop existing. For one reason or another, the
Israelis manage to clumsily zigzag through their troubling history in
the region in an attempt to validate this doctrine. For instance, Israel
works hard to convince themselves that despite their military fiasco in
Lebanon in 2006, Hezbollah has been reluctant to enter a new round of
violence with Israel because it is intimidated by the consequences.
of Israeli history actually defies the Israeli doctrine. When Arabs are
defeated and humiliated in the battlefield they keep fighting until
they win. When Arabs win, they often lose their motivation to keep
fighting. They occasionally seek peace and harmony in accordance with
the Islamic teaching.
1967 Israel defeated 3 Arab armies in just 6 days. Israel performed a
perfect Blitzkrieg operation. The Israeli air force surprised and
destroyed the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian air forces on the ground in
less than four hours. Simultaneously, Israeli Panzers raided into
Sinai, within hours the Egyptian forces collapsed. The humiliation of
the Egyptian army was unprecedented in military terms.
the Israeli doctrine carried any validity, Egypt wouldn’t consider any
military confrontation with Israel. But the reality on the ground proved
the opposite. Just a few months after their June 1967 defeat, the
Egyptian Army launched a war of attrition against Israel, one which
exhausted the Israeli forces (including the air force). In the War of
Attrition (1967-70) Egypt displayed new capabilities, relying on new
Soviet ground-to-air missiles that obliterated Israeli air superiority.
Yet Israel refused to draw the necessary conclusions. It was suffocated
by hubris that prevented it from reading its neighbors and their
October 1973 (Yom Kippur) at 2 PM, Egypt and Syria launched a
coordinated attack on Israeli forces in the Suez Canal and in the Golan
Heights. Within hours the two Arab armies managed to obliterate the
Israeli defence lines. A few days later and thanks to a close American
airlift Israel recovered. It gained its lost land in the occupied Golan
heights and even managed to conquer some new territory in Syria. In the
South, Israel managed to establish bridgehead over the Suez Canal. It
encircled the Egyptian 3rd army and cut its supply lines. But Israel
failed to push the Egyptian 3rd and 2nd armies back. The Egyptian army
ended the war, claiming a narrow strip of Sinai back. It was this
victory that empowered Anwar Sadat to launch a peace initiative four
years later (1977).
al-Assad, the Syrian leader at the time, didn’t manage to claim a
victory. Syria remained a defiant enemy of Israel. It is reasonable to
speculate that if Assad was allowed to cling to some of his territorial
gains in October ‘73, Israel and Syria could have proceeded into further
same logic can be applied to Hezbollah. The Lebanese Shia resistance
movement is reluctant to fight Israel not because it is afraid of the
consequences, as Israelis delude themselves, but because it already won
significantly over the IDF. A war with Israel is dangerous for Hezbollah
not because Israel will do its best once again to destroy Lebanese
infrastructure and flatten half of Beirut, but because the outcome of
such a war is unknown. Hezbollah is in a much better position retaining
its status as the Arab military force that made the IDF run home with
its tail between its legs (2006).
may wonder whether Israeli strategists are so thick as not to grasp the
most obvious facts about their neighbors and what fuels their
motivation to fight. It may of course be possible that Israel’s decision
makers aren’t as excited by tranquility as some of us want to believe.
Gaza is where Israel tests its new weaponry and tactics. Gaza rockets
are a necessary ingredient in the Iron Dome’s public relations. Most
importantly, the Gaza crisis emerged when Netanyahu’s political options
were running out. It was the Gaza current conflict that made the
political powers in Israel subside and then crystalize lucidly within
the realm of the hard right. This war made both Netanyahu and Hamas
would be fair to argue that Hamas is operating within the modernist
perception of conflicts as devised by Carl von Clausewitz. For the
German military philosopher “war is the continuation of politics by
other means.” In ‘postmodernist’ Israel, it seems war is one of the
means that keeps some politicians out of prison.
(Republished from Gilad Atzmon
by permission of author or representative)