Ehud Barak Holds IDF on Leash against Hamas Missiles, Hizballah Rockets
“To all the warmongers among you I say I am not minister of war but minister of defense.”
This emotional statement was delivered by Ehud Barak Monday, Nov. 24, to his many critics at a briefing session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee. He went on to lambast Iran for its energetic pursuit of its nuclear program while deceiving the world. Israel does not rule out any option against a nuclear-armed Iran, he said, “but the less said about this better.”
debkafile‘s military sources suggest that Barak take his own advice. While never short of words and promises, his performance in deeds is seriously wanting.
Minutes after he spoke, the Society for Recording Terror-Induced Trauma Cases published figures which should have made him rethink his positions: 55% of Sderot’s citizens had witnessed Qassam missile blasts; 28.4% were made dysfunctional by post-traumatic effects; while 33.6% of the town’s schoolchildren aged 13-18 suffered from severe learning disabilities.
In his briefing to the parliamentary committee, Barak admitted that during his tenure as “minister of defense” Hizballah had trebled its rocket arsenal to 42,000 and, compared with the 2006 Lebanon war, their range had been extended and they could now reach targets as far south of Lebanon as the Negev capital of Beersheba and even Dimona.
The defense minister had a special argument for inaction against the Palestinians’ eight-year long missile offensive from Gaza, ignoring the fact that they too had extended their range to including more Israeli cities. Barak maintained it was worth Israel’s while to put up with “the odd missile or two fired by a negligible group” for the sake of preserving an informal truce.
Speaking as an old warrior who had seen many of his comrades killed in battle, Barak said he did not need to be taught the meaning of war and its consequences.
There are three fundamental problems with the defense minister’s position and they explain why he is sinking fast in all the opinion polls:
1. The personal views he developed during his years in politics, decades after his army years were over, are hardly the morale-booster needed by young soldiers forced to face one or more active enemies every few years.
2. His statement that the Palestinian missile offensive from Gaza had “stabilized’ in the last day or two – as though the close to 300,000 Israelis living within range could now start living normal lives – mocked the distress of people who live on a knife edge of never knowing what tomorrow will bring. He may have forgotten, but they have not, that in one day on the 5th of this month, 50 missies rained down on them, two of them Grad rockets which reached Ashkelon, and another 80 rockets the following week. Eight Israelis were injured, scores suffered trauma and homes, vehicles and public and agricultural property were extensively damaged for the umpteenth time.
But the key question raised by Palestinians’ ballooning missile capabilities is the effect of Barak’s stance on Israel’s deterrent power – not only against the Gaza-based threat but against Hizballah too. The 42,000 rockets Iran has given Hizballah all point in one direction: Israel. By turning the IDF into a paper tiger in the south, he is playing into the hands of Iran, Hizballah and Syria as well as Hamas.
3. Finally, what has happened to Gilead Shalit, the Israeli soldier Hamas abducted more than two years ago? Barak said enigmatically on Nov. 23 that there are ways to free him other than negotiations. If that is so, why has he held back for so long? The answer is that he relied on Egypt instead of Israel’s own diplomatic and military resources – another of his policies which has proved disastrous.