Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Know thine Enemy

by Moshe Feiglin

During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, then-Deputy Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot updated the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on the conflict and the IDF's handling of the terror tunnel threat. Rocket fire had been targeting Tel Aviv for over a month, and an end to the war was nowhere in sight. No secrets were discussed at that meeting, and almost every word was reported later on the evening news, but I will quote what I myself, having grown sick of the idle chatter, said at the meeting.

Turning to Eizenkot, I asked a simple question: I have never been chased by a tunnel, so could you please tell me, who is the enemy?

I cannot remember his exact response, but there is no real need to do so, because, after almost two months of fighting, he was unable to answer my question.

I recently found myself in a similar situation.

When several senior terrorist operatives were killed as a result of the IDF detonating a terror tunnel inside Israeli territory last month, the military responded in what appeared to be an apologetic manner in which it clarified it had only intended to destroy the tunnel and not kill the terrorists inside.

The following day, I discussed the matter on a morning news program on Channel 13 with Brig. Gen. (ret.) Giora Inbar, who found no fault with the IDF's response.

Reminded of the previous meeting with the Knesset committee, I turned to Inbar and said, "Can I ask you a question?"

"Ask as many questions as you'd like," he replied.

"Who is the enemy, Hamas or the tunnel?" I asked.

"The tunnel," Inbar replied.

The answer did not surprise me. It was clear to me that just like Eizenkot during Operation Protective Edge, Inbar too would not answer that Hamas is the enemy.

For the average citizen, this answer is hard to swallow. Can the IDF's senior command really be so blind to reality? How can it be that the people responsible for our security do not recognize an enemy that any child can see?

In the 24 years since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, the military leadership in Israel has undergone a revolution of consciousness that has blinded it to reality.

As the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin once said, there is no more "us" and "them," there are only "enemies of peace" and "supporters of peace."

And so, just like that, our national identity disappeared. The IDF began to see itself as a type of U.N.-style military force, whose job it was to freeze the current situation and keep the "peace."

No officer stood a chance of being promoted without adopting the conceptual world of the "New Middle East."

The result was a nearly six-fold increase in the number of deaths among Israel's civilian population and nearly 20 times the number of wounded compared to the period that preceded the accords.

For the senior military leadership that developed out of the Oslo consciousness, Hamas cannot be an enemy, it can at most be a recalcitrant partner. Operation Protective Edge was in effect the operation to preserve Hamas' rule. More than the rockets that fell on Tel Aviv, the IDF was disturbed by the possibility that the Hamas regime might collapse.

It is in this manner that the tunnel has become the enemy, and a small terrorist organization that bombarded Tel Aviv for months was able to come out even in a conflict with an army that knows no enemies.

It was during this process of identity loss that the IDF forgot what it means to be victorious. If you don't know who you are, you cannot recognize your enemy. And if you don't know your enemy, no matter how big, strong or sophisticated you are, you will always lose.

The way to the restoration of Israel’s security passes through the return to our identity and our ability to understand who our enemy is.

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