Israel-Hezbollah War

A view of the July-August 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war from an Israeli living in Haifa (under Katyusha rocket attack)- send personal comments to

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Unrealistic expectations with multiple constraints

Reading an article "Not dying in vain" on the webiste of the excellent Israeli newspaper Ha'artez made me think about the strange attitude of the Jewish Israeli public to war these days.

At the beginning of this war there was a lot of fighting talk in Israel about "teaching the Hezbollah a lesson", "wiping the Hezbollah out", "making the Lebanese government understand that they have to take responsibilty", "let the Israeli army win".

On the other hand, there is an expectation, or rather a constraint, that there should be few Israeli casualties or fatalities. If, God Forbid, there should be many casualties , the public , through the medium of an agressive and accusatory media will look for those who are to blame. There's a very mixed message here "We the public want a quick clean war which you the politicians and generals guarantee we'll win".

The Jewish Israeli media (and public) altogether behaves in a very strange way. At the beginning of the war they group together in a fawning national concensus where they accept without question the meaningless platitudes and cheerleading from commentators and military spokespeople. But, if and when things start to go wrong then they will suddenly start to act like hungry wolves looking for prey, someone to blame, as if war is supposed to be a risk-free enterprise with the good guy winning like in a 195o's Hollywood cowboy movie.

The other serious constraint to the Israeli Army's freedom of action is the desire to limit to a resonable number (what a terrible thought) the number of civilian injuries on the Lebanese side. It is unclear to what extent this is motiviated by true humanitarian concerns and to what extent by the possible adverse reaction in the world if many Lebanese civilians should be killed. The Israeli Army well remembers the miserable incident in Operation "Grapes of Wrath" in 1996 in which Israeli bombs mistakenly killed over 100 Lebanese civilians seeking refuge .
International reaction forced a premature cease-fire on Israel.

These constraints pose severe questions about what could be achieved by Israel in the current operation all the more so as the Hezbollah are fighting very effectively. Expectations were clearly unrealistic.


Anonymous shira said...

David, how true. I saw the shocking headline today that Israel has lost 8 to 14 men in Bint Jbeil. I hope that the consensus for this war does not crack as a result of that. War is hell.

8:59 PM  

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