Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

IDF priorities

An article in Haaretz suggests that the IDF did not always give the search for kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit the priority it deserved.
During the first six months after Hamas kidnapped Shalit to Gaza in June 2006, the documents show, the IDF failed to allocate the necessary resources to the search for him. This search relied heavily on the use of drones and other air force resources that were allocated to different army units for a limited number of hours per day. But at a meeting in December 2006 with Maj. Gen. Tal Russo, then head of the IDF's Operations Directorate, a senior Shin Bet security service official was still complaining that his agency had been allocated insufficient drone hours to pursue the search in an optimal manner.

The following year, the Shin Bet reiterated this complaint during an internal IDF inquiry into the allocation of drone hours, saying the search for Shalit "did not receive the requisite priority, and additional flight hours were not allocated to this mission until December 2006."

Even then, however, the Shin Bet did not get as much drone time as it wanted. That did not happen until February 2007, when then defense minister Amir Peretz ordered various army units to "donate" drone time to the search for Shalit. Thus in January 2007, other army units donated 14 hours a day of drone time, out of a total of 120, to the search; the following month, this figure was doubled.
Of course, we have no idea what the other uses for the drones were and whether those uses may have been of equal or paramount importance. Haaretz suggests that this was nothing but a turf war.
The internal inquiry eventually concluded that the desire to give all units a "fair share" of drone time sometimes resulted in low-priority operations getting drone time at the expense of high-priority missions.
And maybe rescuing Shalit was one of those 'high-priority missions' that didn't get enough drone time. But there are many others - mostly in the political echelon - who ought to be blamed before the IDF.

Disgraced former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz suggested in 2006 (according to the same article) that Israel not agree to a 'cease fire' with Hamas unless Shalit was returned. The cabinet rejected that idea at the time. It finally accepted the idea a few weeks ago, which is what led to the current intensive round of negotiations, which has to make you wonder what might have been had the cabinet made the same decision in 2006.

The IDF's Policy and Planning Directorate objected to the acceptance of General Keith Dayton's 'benchmarks' plan in early 2007 unless Shalit was returned. The cabinet over-ruled them too.

And finally, the government seemed to have no interest at all in searching for Shalit during the recently concluded Operation Cast Lead until protesters took to the streets in the final days of the operation. As I mentioned during the operation, it is likely that Shalit was held for the operation's duration in the same underground bunker beneath Shifa Hospital in Gaza City in which Hamas' 'leadership' was hiding. Would it have been worthwhile to lay siege to the hospital and demand Shalit's release? We'll never know because the government was too timid to order the IDF to try it.

Sorry, but this article strikes me as a cheap attempt to lay responsibility on the IDF for not doing enough to free Shalit. The IDF follows orders that it receives from the political echelon, and for too long the political echelon has been afflicted with a tunnel vision that the only way to free Shalit is the 'risk-free' way of trading terrorists for him. The problem with that method is that in the long run - after this particular group of spinelss politicians is gone - the risk we didn't take for the past two and a half years will (God forbid) come back to haunt us with a vengeance.


At 11:36 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel's leaders have never understood the only way to deal with Hamas is the KGB way - chop up the enemy into small pieces and mail him the remains. That's what happened to Hezbollah wiseguys who kidnapped a Russian in the 1980s and he was promptly released. The Russians refused to give into extortion. If Israel could bring itself to do it, Shalit might come home after all. One can be sure an outright surrender to Hamas will be for nothing.

Its not the IDF that failed to bring Shalit home; its the political echelon that paid no attention to him until public pressure forced them to act. The public is wrong in embracing the "at any price" idea but that can be traced to the government's craven willingness to surrender to the terrorists again and again and again.

What kept Ehud Olmert from surrendering this time to Hamas was that Hamas raised the blackmail price far higher than even someone as timid and feckless as Olmert could stomach. Its the height of cynicism to believe that after all these years Israel's out-going Kadima government suddenly found "red lines" in its waning days in office.

It never had any before.


Post a Comment

<< Home