Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
Continued fighting during intifada also stemmed from the IDF’s show of strength, Shelah says
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov

No need for a preemptive strike

Some top IDF officials are buying into Nasrallah’s spider web theory and fear that a pullout will send a message of weakness, but such thinking is flawed, says Ofer Shelah

Two weeks before the start of the disengagement, top IDF officials are issuing warnings about a wide-scale military operation which will be necessary before the evacuation of Gaza settlements.


According to the officials, the traffic along roads leading in and out of Gaza will be so heavy and the Palestinian Authority’s ability to handle the situation is so meager, that there will be no choice but to seize control of extensive areas from which Qassam rocket fire or terror attacks may emanate from, in order to avoid larger scale casualties from rocket attacks. 


This warning should not be dismissed. There are only a few roads leading to and from Gaza, and according to the IDF’s Technology and Logistics Directorate, these roads will be jam-packed, requiring a very high level of control and defense, even under the most ideal of conditions.


However, these warnings do not relate to security-related issues alone, because once they are made public, they garner a certain demand for a military operation; should this operation not be carried out, the responsibility for any pullout casualties would lie with the government, which did not heed these warnings.


During the withdrawal from Lebanon, another unilateral move forced on the IDF by the government, several army officials argued that an entire division must be brought in to secure the withdrawing forces.


However, this claim was motivated by an ulterior military motive as well: The IDF, which has always regarded a unilateral withdrawal as surrender that would cause great damage in the future (former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon did not hide this opinion of the upcoming Gaza withdrawal), aspires to strike the enemy prior to the government-imposed move, in order to prove we are pulling back out of strength, not weakness.


Mofaz is more than qualified


It seems that as much as Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah believes in his spider web theory, according to which Israeli society is weak and therefore Israel may be defeated via resolve and a fighting spirit, some senior IDF officials also accept it to be true.


IDF officials fear any move they consider to be an act of weakness will encourage hostile activity against Israel. To this day, many of them believe the withdrawal from Lebanon spurred the intifada; therefore, they are determined to prevent the next intifada, or remind the Palestinians what they will be up against in case a new uprising does erupt.


These senior officers believe that the enemy must be dealt a severe blow before Israel engages in what many believe is a submissive move, even though they do not say so publicly.


The withdrawal from Lebanon did indeed encourage the Palestinian militant stance, but Israel’s militant behavior encouraged the Palestinian armed struggle just as much.


The continued fighting also stemmed from the IDF’s show of strength during the first days of the intifada.


Defense Minster Shaul Mofaz, who, for the meantime, is thwarting any attempts at thrusting Israel toward a wide-scale preemptive operation, will have to distinguish between Israel’s true security interest and the psychology that drives those who call for such a strike.


Mofaz, who was chief of staff during the withdrawal from Lebanon and the first phase of the intifada, is more than qualified to make such a distinction.


פרסום ראשון: 07.31.05, 11:47
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