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International Criminal Court in The Hague. Former IDF officers and politicians could be targeted
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Yoaz Hendel

ICC bid a real threat to IDF fighters

Op-ed: Instead of dealing with Bennett's performance as a young officer in Lebanon, we should ask ourselves how to prevent Palestinians from filing lawsuits against our soldiers in the near future.

In April 1996, I found myself wandering with a military force in Lebanon. Hezbollah had fired rockets at Kiryat Shmona, and then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres decided to respond. We were the outcome of that decision.

 

 

I was 20 years old, I wasn't afraid to die in a war, I wasn’t afraid to lose friends. The fear only arrives when you grow older, in reserve service.

Operation Grapes of Wrath lasted about two weeks and ended in nothing. The same understandings with Hezbollah, the same regional explosiveness, and mainly one fire incident.

 

While we conducted raids, teams from the elite Maglan unit hid on the ground in posts they built to hunt rocket launchers. Every post was planned and approved on maps, and every post delivered reports and targets to the posts in the back.

 

A young company commander named Naftali Bennett was stationed in one of those posts, not far from the place I was wandering in.

 

After several days on the ground, Hezbollah spotted Bennett's force and fired mortar shells on it from a civilian building in Kafr Qana. The IDF fired back, and civilians were killed. The complexity of fighting in brief: Terror organizations use civilians as a human shield. When they are hurt, Israel loses points.

 

Operation Grapes of Wrath. 'The soldiers and officers who have fought since then could find themselves exposed to a diplomatic battle which they do not control, defenseless' (Photo: Emanuel Ilan)
Operation Grapes of Wrath. 'The soldiers and officers who have fought since then could find themselves exposed to a diplomatic battle which they do not control, defenseless' (Photo: Emanuel Ilan)

 

The Kafr Qana affair has been making headlines recently due to a public argument over Bennett's performance in that incident. An unnecessary argument about a military incident during fighting. Bennett was a junior officer in a major military battle. The decisions he made were purely tactical, for better and for worse. As far as I know, they were the right decisions.

 

Israel ended Grapes of Wrath following international pressure, because that’s the way operations in Lebanon ended, and the full responsibility lay with the political echelon, because it is the army's job to follow orders.

 

This is where we should ask what does a military operation which took place 19 years ago have to do with the current election campaign. What does the young idealist officer Bennett, who lived in a military world where truth is reported, have to do with the skillful politician Bennett, who now lives in a world in which only lies are usually reported?

 

The answer is nothing. There is no connection. With the absence of a serious dispute about the present, we turn to the past. Everyone benefits from bursting emotions, and absurdly the one who benefits the most is Bennett, who gets to nurture his image as a fighter and as a target of the left-wing media.

 

This could have been summarized as a lesson about political images in a political science department, if we did not have in the background a real threat to IDF officers at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

 

While we were busy with the elections and with the question how uptight Bennett sounded on the two-way radio (which makes complete sense when you're being attacked with mortar shells), the Palestinians carried out a diplomatic attack against us.

 

Naftali Bennett. 'Gets to nurture his image as a fighter and as a target of the left-wing media' (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Naftali Bennett. 'Gets to nurture his image as a fighter and as a target of the left-wing media' (Photo: AFP)

 

I find it difficult to see the Bennett affair reaching The Hague, but other former IDF officers and Israeli politicians could be targeted.

 

There has not been a single war or operation in the past few years in which Palestinian civilians were not killed. There is always a junior officer like Bennett fighting on the ground. There is always a terror organization trying to score points using its people's blood. There is always a political echelon which sends the soldiers.

 

If there is one argument we should engage in it is where did we go wrong in the past two years, coming up against the ICC although it was a red rag; and mainly, how can we prevent the Palestinians from filing lawsuits in the near future.

 

Nineteen years after Grapes of Wrath, the responsibility lies with the current government, including Bennett. The soldiers and officers who have fought since then – including myself – could find themselves exposed to a diplomatic battle which they do not control, defenseless.

 

The "scared status quo" does not work in this context. The Palestinians were unimpressed by the threats made by Benjamin Netanyahu, Bennett and Uri Ariel. Europe did not accept our explanations on why it should not recognize a Palestinian state, and confused Israelis are helping it.

On the other hand, we have failed to initiate a thing in the past two years in order to present diplomatic alternatives.

 

There are those who believe in a peace agreement. I am not one of them. I believe in a balance of power, deterrence, interests and taking initiative. Like the initiative young officers are taught in the IDF.

 

With the absence of a peace process, we need alternatives which will prevent a diplomatic deterioration. Proposals from the right or from the left. Something to decide about – not disregard.

 

I am not worried about the leftists in Tel Aviv. I feel threatened by the radical leftists in The Hague. They, together with the Palestinian Authority, are firing mortar shells now.

 

The force is on the ground with junior officers, and the politicians – including Bennett – are required to provide, instead of slogans, a good explanation of what they are planning as rescue fire.

 


פרסום ראשון: 01.06.15, 23:51
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