Go all the way
If the IDF doesn't finish the job now, residents of the north will have suffered in vain
Hizbullah was created by Iran as part of the ayatollahs' overall strategy. The organization has two principle purposes: One, to take control of Lebanon in order to turn it into an Islamic republic supported by Iran. And two: To right Israel and to present a strategic threat to this country and to Israeli society. Iran wants to "blanket" Israel with missiles and rockets, from Gaza in the south the West Bank in the center of the country, and from Lebanon in the south.
When Iranian President Ahmadinejad speaks about destroying Israel, he means exactly that. And before he obtains nuclear weapons, he is trying to hammer and weaken Israeli society with various types of rockets and missiles. Therefore, the war against Hizbullah is part of the wider war between Israel and the evil, hate-filled regime in Tehran that openly aspires to destroy Israel.
Complete the mission
It is clear why Israel cannot cease its fire in Lebanon before its mission is complete. The mission is to destroy Hizbullah's infrastructure in Lebanon and to push the organization away from the Galilee once-and-for-all. If we complete this mission, it will be our first victory over Iran and will constitute an unmistakable message that we have no intention to shy away from Iran's nuclear and terrorist threat.
It will also be a lesson to other Western democracies, who are afraid to take on Tehran, about what needs to be done vis-Ã -vis Iran.
For six years Iran has stockpiled rockets and missiles in south Lebanon and managed to create a balance of fear with Israel. The threat of hundreds of rockets on Israeli settlements has forced Israel to restrain itself in the face of repeated provocations along the Lebanese border. I believe the high price a ground war with Hizbullah would surely exact from IDF soldiers deterred previous Israeli governments from taking such action.
Strong home front
The decision not to hold back after the kidnapping of two soldiers and the killing of their comrades was the correct decision. There is no way to root out Hizbullah by stopping the operation with some political agreement that could restore the status quo in south Lebanon. Were that to happen, the suffering of residents in northern Israel would have been in vain.
In recent days I have visited embittered residents of the north, and the message I have been hearing has been unilateral: We are prepared to withstand these difficult times, provided the government carries out the destruction of Hizbullah to the very end.
Told you so
And on a personal note: In 2000 I warned against a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, because of the vacuum that would be created by an IDF pullout. I said that Hizbullah would take over the area in all its force, and would deploy opposite our settlements in the north.
This is exactly what happened. Now, the IDF is correcting the mistake. I warned that the message we would be sending to the Arab world would be that it is more worthwhile to draw Israeli blood than to negotiate with us. This also came to pass.
Four months after the pullout from Lebanon the second intifada broke out. We lost more than 1,000. I hope we have learned the bitter lesson.
MK Ephraim Sneh is the leader of the Labor Party Knesset faction and was the commander of IDF forces in south Lebanon during Operation Peace for Galilee