Israel Goes through the Motions of a Home Front Drill

The warning sirens wailed across central and southern Israel Tuesday, March 20 purportedly to prepare the most densely populated parts of the country for unconventional terrorist strikes and mega-attacks, rocket strikes and missile attacks on three fronts. The official announcement promised the incorporation of lessons drawn from the Lebanon war when more than a million Israeli civilians were blasted by 4,000 Hizballah rockets for 33 days.
Monday, the day before the exercise, the new chief of staff Lt. General Gaby Ashkenazi called his first general meeting of the IDF’s high command, announcing he would present next year’s work schedule and his “vision for the future.”
debkafile‘s military sources would advise Gen. Ashkenazi to concentrate on more urgent practical tasks because the public needs some convincing that the various branches of the Olmert government, including the military, are seriously setting in motion preparations for the next war.
In the more than eight months since the Lebanon conflict ended, the IDF has not carried out a single pro-active operation to offset the line of replenished missiles Hizballah has arrayed on the Litani, to stem the massive Syrian-Iranian infusion of smuggled weapons into Lebanon, to curtail the flow of new weapons into the Gaza Strip, or even to dismantle the stockpile of Qassam surface missiles facing Tel Aviv from the West Bank – thus far only in storage.
The Israeli army seems to have reverted to its pre-war routine of counter-terror activity which helped blunt its performance on the Lebanon battlefield.
Maybe the IDF is being held back by the prime minister and government from such operations, but Israel cannot a chief of staff who follows in the footsteps of his predecessor Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, who passed the security buck to civilian government and was practically hounded out of his job by a country in shock from the disastrous consequences of the Lebanon conflict.
To restore Israel’s deterrent strength, not only in Iranian and Arab eyes, but for the ordinary Israeli citizen, the IDF will have to prove it is still capable of the daring operations behind enemy lines which kept it at bay. Its chief of staff must also urgently rejuvenate and re-energize the top echelons with fresh talent.
Since the war, three high generals have stepped down – Halutz, OC northern command Udi Adam and Galil division commander Gal Hirsch. But most of the officers on whose watch the Lebanon debacle occurred are still in place, including deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, Navy commander Maj. Gen. David Ben Bassat, military intelligence chief Maj. Gen Amos Yadlin, and home front director Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Gershon.
Each of them bears responsibility for his share of fateful shortcomings – Kaplinsky, for the overall misconception and mismanagement of the war, Bassat, for the direct missile hit which damaged the Israel Navy’s “Hanit,” Yadlin, for sending field commanders into battle without the necessary data on Hizballah’s anti-tank weapons, its combat methods and subterranean strongholds, and Gershon for the conspicuous absence of home front personnel and succor in a region battered round the clock by Katyusha rockets.
As for defenses against unconventional terrorist attacks or a missile blitz, supposedly drilled Tuesday and Wednesday, the government is sorely derelict – even to the old, nagging problem of providing protected areas for the schoolchildren of Sderot and its neighbors against Palestine missiles attacks, which have never stopped in six years.
Five Qassam missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip, Sunday, March 18, the day the Palestinian unity government was installed
The population of northern Israel is no better protected for the next war than they were for the last, despite the promises the prime minister, defense minister and other cabinet members scattered right and left.
A direct missile hit against a three-storey building Netanya, with sound effects provided by sirens and speeding ambulances. It is meaningless in the context of an unprotected populace under coordinated missile attacks from its northern, central and southern borders.

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