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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Shake-up in northern command means push to Litani going ahead

There was a shake-up in the IDF's northern command yesterday. Chief of Staff Dan Halutz yesterday appointed his own deputy, Moshe Kaplinsky to 'oversee' IDF northern commander Udi Adam. While it's very hard to really know what is going on without being close to the situation - and those close to the situation are reluctant to talk - a couple of things are apparent from reading the various analyses in this morning's press (all of them analyze this situation).

First, there is a personality conflict between Halutz and Adam, despite the fact that Adam was appointed by Halutz in the first place. Who is to blame depends on which analysis you want to accept. The Jerusalem Post blames Halutz:
But complaints about the pace of the operation might more appropriately be directed at Halutz, not Adam. The operational plan being used by Northern Command was not created by Adam but by the General Staff. In addition, the reluctance to launch a ground offensive in Lebanon was not just Adam's but that of the entire General Staff, which practically laughed at the ground offensive plan with which it was presented the day the war erupted, opting instead for a massive air offensive which proven to be much less successful than had been hoped. The political leadership, it should be added, also did not demand a ground operation in those early days.
But Arutz Sheva implies that Adam had to go be pre-empted in order for the IDF to achieve a decisive victory:
Halutz’s move to override Adam’s authority in the northern district is a major step towards achieving such a goal. Some military analysts also view Halutz’s move as one to cover his back, realizing when the war ends, a national inquiry into the events will also focus on the operation of the IDF, and Halutz has just thrown a significant portion of the responsibility for any failure on Adam’s shoulders.
Second, although Ehud Olmert is still hesitating, because he wants 'assurances' of victory, it is apparently that the security cabinet will approve the push to the Litani this morning, and that it will be a huge and potentially costly operation. Arutz Sheva notes:
Others explain that the move signals more than dissatisfaction, but also a clear sign that Halutz expects to receive the green light from the prime minister for a large-scale military operation, one that will involve more than the close to 100,000 reservists already activated for service, one that will bring IDF forces deeper into Lebanon, deeper into Hizbullah territory.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz supports Halutz’s position, seeking to deploy tens of thousands of IDF forces in southern Lebanon towards bringing a halt to daily rocket attacks. Peretz agrees that Hizbullah has created the current reality, but Israel must now chance the face of realities along her northern border of face an endangered future existence.

Military intelligence reports that Iranian and Syrian support for Hizbullah has not waned, perhaps explaining why Syrian forces have been placed on a state-of-alert -- a level of preparedness that has not been seen in decades.


Halutz on Tuesday expressed his opinion in clear terms, not flinching at the reality that a large-scale incursion deeper into southern Lebanon would result in considerable loss of life, with predictions hovering between 300-500 soldiers.

Halutz warns that there is no alternative, explaining that if a ceasefire is forced on Israel with the current realities, Hizbullah will declare victory and the result will be a real threat to Israel’s future existence.


Despite Peretz’s and Halutz’s definitive position, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is moving cautiously, with aides admitting the prime minister remains undecided. Olmert is seeking additional guarantees regarding a decisive IDF victory, realizing the past four weeks have not produced the desired results. Analysts agree that IDF forces have ‘won’ most battles, but Hizbullah has not exhibited true signs of defeat as rockets continue to pound civilian population centers.
At the end of the day, neither Halutz nor Adam are to blame for what is happening up north. The blame belongs at the political level:
Most analysts are in agreement, albeit some hesitantly, admitting that then Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s unilateral retreat from the security zone in May 2000 has provided Hizbullah the stage to prepare for the current war, leaving the Syrian/Iranian back[ed] guerilla army six years to stockpile weapons and train forces for the big standoff with Israel. Despite warnings, successive governments following Barak’s move opted to ignore the signs, preferring to turn their backs on reality rather than be labeled the government that forced Israel to once again become involved in Lebanon.
That means Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert - who has now been Prime Minister for nearly eight months including his caretaker period and who was also totally unprepared for this war - are to blame for ignoring the developing reality in Lebanon. And for retreating in Gaza and for trying to retreat in Judea and Samaria where the same thing has (Gaza) and will (Judea and Samaria) undoubtedly happen. You can't afford to behave like France in this neighborhood and constantly retreat and surrender.

As Harry S. Truman used to say, "the buck stops here." Let's see if Olmert has the guts to do what Golda Meir did after the Yom Kippur War and resign. I'm not holding my breath waiting for it to happen.


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