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Losing our deterrent power

Op-ed: IDF possesses heavy weapons, but government won’t allow it to use them

IDF Intelligence Chief, Major General Amos Yadlin, described last week the rocket and missile threat faced by central Israel from the direction of Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza. He of course did not detail what means Israel has at its disposal to respond should the threat materialize to some extent or fully. Yet even if he would have provided details about such means, he would have done it knowing that the Israeli government would not use them effectively.


Israel is quickly losing its deterrent power vis-à-vis its enemies, both near and far. The weak government, which speaks in several voices on almost any issue, the fear of local and international commissions of inquiry, and the inability to make it clear to our enemies that they will sustain a grave blow should they attempt to harm our civilian population turned Israel into a state that one can aim thousands of missiles and rockets at, and even use them one of these days.


The loss of deterrence starts with local incidents that are limited in scope. In August of this year, after Colonel (res.) Dov Harari was shot and killed on the northern border by a Lebanese sniper, the Air Force bombed several Lebanon Army facilities. In the face of such provocation, a self-respecting government with desire to build its deterrent power would have responded with a major blow; a blow that would prompt the Lebanese government to think twice about its open and surreptitious cooperation with Hezbollah.


The Israeli Air Force has the means to do it. Israel’s defense industries developed the arms, yet the government fears its own shadow – and so, we did not see the takeoff of fighter jets that could have prompted someone in Lebanon to think twice next time and to fully understand what would happen should such incident take place again.


Israel invests huge sums of money in developing advanced weapons systems, including some that are unique in the world. In the past we thought about wars in terms of thousands of tanks and two armies charging at each other. Yet wars in the 21st Century are different. Today we are dealing with what is known as low-intensity warfare or the firing or rockets and missiles at civilians. Israel adapted itself to the change. The IDF has the means necessary to contend with it. Yet it is very doubtful whether they will be used by the army when the rockets and missiles described by the IDF intelligence chief land in population centers.


Under such circumstances, it would be no wonder if the decision to fire the missile and rocket arsenal directed at Israel will be taken with relative ease. In the Middle East, people fear the strong kid who holds a big bat. Israel is no longer considered to be this threatening kid. This guy is indeed very muscular, and he does hold a bat, but his parents tied his arms behind his back. It is also no wonder that the IDF Home Front Command launched a campaign this week urging Israelis to prepare their secure rooms. All of us may be sitting in them for a while.



פרסום ראשון: 10.13.10, 15:36
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