debkafile: Israeli generals impatient with government foot-dragging on Gaza operation

debkafile‘s military sources report that the tone – even more than the actual words – heard from chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashenazi, air force chief Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkedy and other generals Monday, Feb. 11, betrayed frustration over the too-little, too-late policies pursued by the government.
A former defense minister Moshe Arens voiced this sense when he said Tuesday: It is unthinkable to place children on Israel’s front line; that’s a job for soldiers.
Prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Ehud Olmert were signaled by Israel’s highest military officers that they were fed up with straining at the leash and being held back from effective ground action to stamp out the Palestinian missiles and terror at source in Gaza.
Ashkenazi told members of the IDF high command Monday night that the IDF had already been issued with the requisite orders and directives to carry out this mission -“subject to approval.” This rider was a transparent jab at Olmert and Barak – especially the latter – who told the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee earlier Monday that he had directed the Israeli army command to “prepare for a possible major assault in Gaza and for its consequences, but also to put forward alternative options.”
All these options have been thoroughly scrutinized and been languishing in the politicians’ in-trays for months if not years.
Unlike Barak, Ashkenazi’s words were crystal-clear: “The army stands ready to deepen and expand its operations (in Gaza) as needed in accordance with the decisions reached.” This tossed the ball back to the decision-makers and showed up as meaningless Olmert’s pathetic on-camera outpouring in Berlin: “We understand the suffering and pain of Sderot,” he said.
And in response to the government leaders’ implied lack of faith in the IDF, Ashkenazi told the officers: “I have confidence in you and am certain that the military will carry out its missions. There is no one but us to defend our homes and country.”
Air Force commander Shkedi said at a separate venue: “For us, terrorists on the fence and missile fire are unacceptable.”
The OC Southern Command (which includes the Gaza Strip,) Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, described the situation as “a pressure cooker about to explode at any moment.”
The military intelligence research division head Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz said: “Israel’s security and strategic situation in 2008 is more difficult and complicated than it was in 2007.”
He was snubbing the prime minister’s fond assertion that Israel was better off after fighting the Lebanon War which had put Hizballah on the run. On the contrary, said the intelligence chief: Hizballah has trebled its rocket stocks in the interim [i.e. 40,000 today] and extended their range as far as Tel Aviv.
debkafile‘s military sources: Uniformed IDF generals came as close to criticizing the government as conceivable in Israel’s democracy. What they implied not too subtly was that in Feb. 2008, while the army was ready for its national mission, the government was not. The Olmert government was falling into the same dithering mode which spelled disaster in the Lebanon war less than two years ago, whereas every Hamas missile attacking civilians added to the IDF’s sense of frustration.

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