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Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
'There was no choice but to respond militarily.' IDF troops in Bint Jbeil
Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Nahum Barnea
Inquiry commission that wasn't
Politicians, army officers and journalists who spend their time covering their hide should be the first to testify
Every Israeli responded to the fighting in the north in his own way. I feel like I'm sitting in the stands, rooting for my team to win, biting my nails while they play, kicking the air when they miss the goal, cursing the day when they take a blow.

 

And they are taking a blow.

 

Aside from the fringe left, there is almost no debate that Israel had to respond militarily to Hizbullah's attack inside Israeli territory. There are some things a country hoping to survive simply cannot tolerate.

 

Israel can live with mortal enemies for neighbors. It can live with an arsenal of rockets and missiles that can hit a large portion of the country.

 

But it cannot live with an arsenal of rockets and missiles and commando units operated by a terrorist organization which views itself as exempt from responsibility – for the rules of the game, for agreements, for the civilian population from which it operates.

 

There was no choice but to respond militarily. The only questions were how, how much and at what cost.

 

General assessment

 

IDF generals say everything is going according to plan: The rate of progress, the number of hits Hizbullah is taking, Israel's and Lebanon's military and civilian losses, accidents and screw-ups. This is a limited war, says the army, built on the air force and artillery and limited use of ground troops.

 

We didn’t do what the Americans did in Kosovo - we didn't blindly carpet-bomb the enemy capital.

 

I believe the generals. Like Ehud Olmert said on that black day at Bint Jbeil, I have no other army. But this faith does not excuse me from asking questions.

 

Civilian questions

 

The most pressing question I have is: Did the government, the army, the political echelon and the media not take to blind cheerleading, a move that served only the enemy?

 

The question came up when I heard Defense Minister Amir Peretz explain proudly that he had removed limits on the IDF regulating warfare in areas where civilians live alongside Hizbullah soldiers.

 

I can understand accidentally hurting civilians while fighting a war. But explicit instructions about the civilian population in south Lebanon and the Shiite neighborhoods in Beirut is a rash, fool-hardy action that invited disaster.

 

Covering our skin

 

We saw the results of that policy yesterday, in the bodies of women and children being carried out of the rubble in Kana. We warned them ahead of time, says the IDF. We dropped leaflets telling them to leave. According to International Law we covered ourselves.

 

The generals may consider themselves "covered," either by their understanding of international law or the instructions they received from Defense Minister Peretz.

 

But I, for one, am covered in shame. Anyone who has visited the north in the last couple of weeks can tell you what it's like for civilians during wartime: Those who can leave, do.

 

Those left behind are the weaker elements of society: the poor, the sick, the elderly, the children, the handicapped. No leaflet is going to make those who have no where to go leave their homes.

 

Historical precedent

 

In late 1953 David Ben-Gurion resigned as prime minister and defense minister. HE bequeathed the defense portfolio to one of the most dovish members of the party: Pinhas Lavon.

 

Things weren't easy for Lavon: Terrorists infiltrated Israel many times and murdered civilians. Ben-Gurion looked over his shoulder; the army didn't trust him.

 

Overnight, Lavon went from peaceful dove to predatory hawk.. This is the real danger that faces Amir Peretz since he took his current job. Forget about lack of experience in deploying frightening force. Rather, it's his lack of experience with the limits of power.

 

Calm down. Stop threatening Nasrallah. Unfortunately, Peretz's threats sound absurd to Nasrallah.

 

Ignore the writers

 

Olmert and Peretz would do well not to listen to all the excitement of TV and print commentators. The day the situation around the country
changes they will forget everything they said and in a burst of populism will come to settle scores.

 

This reminds me of another annoying phenomenon surrounding this war: Everyone, from the prime minister to the defense minister to IDF officers to lowliest member of the punditry is waiting for the commission of inquiry that is sure to be established. Everyone is covered, everyone is humiliated.

 

The prime minister asked all the relevant questions, the army gave its assessment of possible scenarios, the writers warned about what would happen and are now sharpening their pencils, waiting for the blessed chance to say "told you so."

 

I will not take part.

 

The issue here is life and death. The issue is the hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced from their homes and jobs, and a fanatical, dangerous enemy.

 

Those who occupy themselves under such circumstances by preparing for a commission of inquiry should be the first to be indicted by the commission. This would be a refreshing change: The first commission of inquiry to pass judgment on those who prepared for the commission instead of doing their jobs. 

 


פרסום ראשון: 07.31.06, 16:42
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