Defense Minister Ehud Barak's
incompetence is no secret. Thursday's attacks along Israel's border with Sinai which killed eight people and wounded 35 is an example of Barak's inability to think ahead, even when he received specific warnings of imminent terrorist attacks from that area.
The collapse of Egypt's control of the Sinai, an open border with the Gaza Strip which allowed terrorists to infiltrate into Sinai, blowing up gas lines and attacks on Egyptian soldiers were obvious signs that security along Israel's border was at risk.
Yet Barak did not adequately anticipate the threat to Israel
and deploy intensive defense measures to secure the area. Instead of prioritizing a security fence and increased surveillance along the Egyptian border, he apparently relied on Egyptian efforts.
Allowing one or two thousand more Egyptian soldiers into a sea of lawlessness of an estimated 350,000 Bedouin is obviously inadequate. Why wasn't civilian traffic advised to avoid this isolated and dangerous area?
If a preemptive military operation in Sinai was cancelled due to a fear of infringing on Egyptian sovereignty than we are at the mercy of our enemies.
Killing the terrorists who attacked is not success; killing them before they attacked is.
Focused on Israeli concessions and withdrawals, however, Barak is surrounded by media advisors to promote his image. Yet no matter how hard they try, he continues to lead – backwards.
Barak advocated apologizing to Turkey for the first Gaza flotilla
raid more than a year ago, in which IDF soldiers were injured and nine Turkish militants were killed. Since he was responsible for this botched operation, it's understandable that he would try to placate the Turks, regardless of the consequences.
Barak was also responsible for the IDF incursion into Gaza in 2009, along with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,
and for the failure to bring captive soldier Gilad Shalit
home at the end of that operation.
If such failures were exceptions rather than the rule, or just minor mistakes, one might cut him some slack. But Barak is a serial blunderer with a history of defeatism, arrogance and faulty judgment.
Barak's failures to anticipate consequences are a matter of record:
As Prime Minister (1999-2001) he failed to acknowledge the threat of terrorism, or respond adequately. Instead of decisively putting down the violence that exploded after the failure of Camp David (2000), he wavered, along with then-Army Chief Mofaz. Symbolic of their policy of defeatism, they allowed an IDF soldier to bleed to death at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, rather than rescue him from Arab mobs.
Barak's order to retreat from South Lebanon in 2000, amidst chaos and confusion, abandoning our allies in the South Lebanese Army, gave Hezbollah
a victory and led to the war in 2006.
Barak was, of course, an enthusiastic supporter of former PM Sharon's unilateral withdrawal
from the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria in 2005 – the "Disengagement" – which created the catastrophe we now face.
Barak's lack of military and strategic intelligence is matched by his economic incompetence. In 2000, as prime minister, he gave away Gaza's entire offshore gas and oil fields to Arafat without any reason, or condition. He has never explained this decision and this has never been investigated.
While turning over IDF bases and land to Arabs in Judea and Samaria, however, Barak is less generous to Israelis. He opposes turning over unused and under-utilized IDF bases (like Sde Dov) in order to build affordable housing.
Under his rule, the IDF has become more politicized, thus undermining the morale of soldiers. Despite serious legal and moral questions about the use of IDF soldiers in political, non-military and non-security related actions, such as evacuating and destroying Jewish communities, he promotes his leftist agenda.
Despite socioeconomic protests that reflect the hardship that many Israelis experience, Barak refuses to offer a single concession to cut the bloated defense budget. Instead, he asks for more. This is not only obstinate; it's immoral.
While attacks from Hamas increase, Palestinian Arabs threaten a new wave of violence, Hezbollah rattles 50,000 missiles, and the Sinai is flooded with terrorists – can Israel rely on Barak's judgment?
"Barak objects to punishing PA for statehood bid," (Haaretz, Aug 11) leads one to question whose side he is on.
Prime Minister Netanyahu may want Barak for political reasons, but Israel cannot afford his recklessness. Minister and Major General (ret.) Moshe Ya'alon would be an appropriate replacement.
The author is a historian and journalist living in Israel