The IDF Should Safeguard Israel, Not "The Peace"
This article originally appeared in Hebrew in the Yisrael Hayom newspaper and website: http://www.israelhayom.co.il/opinion/518411
During Operation Protective Edge, then Deputy Chief of Staff (today’s Chief of Staff) Gadi Eizenkott came to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee and reported to the committee members on the fighting on the frontlines. At that point, Tel Aviv had already been shelled for over a month and the end of the war was not on the horizon. No secrets were told at the committee meeting. Almost every word spoken there could have been heard by anybody watching the news. Nevertheless, I will quote only what I said.
When I was sick of hearing all the empty words, I directed a simple question to the Deputy Chief of Staff: “A tunnel has never chased me,” I said to General Eizenkott. “Can you tell me please, who is the enemy?” I cannot quote the answer, but there is also no need to – because after almost two months of fighting, the Deputy Chief of Staff could not answer.
Recently, I found myself in a similar situation. The IDF detonated a terror tunnel that had been built into Israeli territory. As a result of the explosion, senior terrorists who were in the tunnel were killed. The IDF publicized what seemed like an apology and clarified that there had been no intention to harm terrorists, but only the tunnel. The next morning, I was on a panel on the morning show on Israel television’s Channel 13, discussing the issue with Retired Brigadier General Giora Inbar. Inbar found nothing wrong with the IDF’s announcement.
“Can I ask you a question,” I said as I recalled the discussion in the Knesset.
“Ask as many questions as you want,” Inbar answered.
“Who is the enemy?” I asked. “The Hamas? Or the tunnel?”
“The tunnel”(!) answered the senior officer…
Inbar’s answer didn’t surprise me. It was clear to me that, similar to Eizenkott in Protective Edge, Inbar would not answer simply that Hamas is the enemy.
It is difficult for the average citizen to accept this. It is hard to believe that the most senior command of the IDF is truly blind to reality. How can it be that those people responsible for our security do not identify the enemy that any child can see? Do they not see that the emperor has no clothes?
In the 24 years that have passed since the Oslo Accords were signed, the IDF senior command has undergone a transformation of consciousness that has blinded its eyes. There is no more “us” and “them”, as Yitzchak Rabin explained. There are “enemies of peace” and “supporters of peace” from both sides of the divide.
All at once, Israel’s national identity disappeared and a “new Middle East” emerged into the world. No officer had a chance of progressing up the ranks if he did not adopt the new concepts. The IDF began to see itself as a police army – a type of UN force whose job is to freeze the situation and safeguard “the peace”.
The result was an almost six fold increase in civilian fatalities in Israel and twenty times more injured, in comparison to the parallel amount of time prior to the Oslo Accords.
For the senior command that grew up from within the Oslo mentality, Hamas cannot be an enemy. At most, it is an unruly partner that must be reined in. Operation Protective Edge was actually an operation to preserve the rule of the Hamas. More than the rockets exploding in Tel Aviv disturbed the IDF senior command was the thought that the Hamas rule of Gaza might collapse.
That is how the tunnel became the enemy and the fighting between an army that has no enemies and a small terror organization that shelled Tel Aviv for two months ended in a tie.
In the process of losing its identity, the IDF also lost the concept of victory. Because if you do not know who you are, you cannot know who your enemy is. And if you do not know who your enemy is, it makes no difference how big, strong and sophisticated you are. You will always lose.
The way to the restoration of Israel’s security passes through the return to our identity and our ability to understand who our enemy is.