Joined: 09 Sep 2006
|Posted: Fri Oct 03, 2008 3:43 pm Post subject: Disproportionate Force: Israel's Concept of Response in Ligh
|Disproportionate Force: Israel's Concept of Response in Light of the Second Lebanon War
~Siboni, Gabriel INSS Insight No. 74, October 2, 2008
Not long ago Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was quoted as saying, "the
Zionists will think ten thousand times before attacking Lebanon." Nasrallah's
remark appears to have been in reference to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's
declaration, made while visiting the IDF Home Front Command, that the IDF
would face fewer limitations in future confrontations. Indeed, the pressure
on Nasrallah seems to be taking its toll. The Hizbollah leader is beginning
to internalize what he understands as a fundamental change in Israel's
approach in responding to a threat emanating from Lebanon.
Indeed, an updated Israeli security concept regarding Israel's response to
rocket and missile threats from Syria, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip is
gradually evolving. Now, more than two years after the Second Lebanon War,
it appears that Israel's immediate response after the July 2006 kidnapping
attack significantly boosted its ability to deter Hizbollah and Syria from
operating against Israel.
The current predicament facing Israel involves two major challenges. The
first is how to prevent being dragged into an ongoing dynamic of attrition
on the northern border similar to what in recent years developed along the
border with the Gaza Strip. The second is determining the IDF's response to
a large scale conflict both in the north and in the Gaza Strip. These two
challenges can be overcome by adopting the principle of a disproportionate
strike against the enemy's weak points as a primary war effort, and
operations to disable the enemy's missile launching capabilities as a
secondary war effort.
With an outbreak of hostilities, the IDF will need to act immediately,
decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy's actions
and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and
meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive
reconstruction processes. The strike must be carried out as quickly as
possible, and must prioritize damaging assets over seeking out each and
every launcher. Punishment must be aimed at decision makers and the power
elite. In Syria, punishment should clearly be aimed at the Syrian military,
the Syrian regime, and the Syrian state structure. In Lebanon, attacks
should both aim at Hizbollah's military capabilities and should target
economic interests and the centers of civilian power that support the
organization. Moreover, the closer the relationship between Hizbollah and
the Lebanese government, the more the elements of the Lebanese state
infrastructure should be targeted. Such a response will create a lasting
memory among Syrian and Lebanese decision makers, thereby increasing Israeli
deterrence and reducing the likelihood of hostilities against Israel for a
an extended period. At the same time, it will force Syria, Hizbollah, and
Lebanon to commit to lengthy and resource-intensive reconstruction programs.
Recent discussion of "victory" and "defeat" in a future war against
Hizbollah has presented an overly simplistic approach. The Israeli public
must understand that overall success cannot be measured by the level of high
trajectory fire against Israel at the end of the confrontation. The IDF will
make an effort to decrease rocket and missile attacks as much as possible,
but the main effort will be geared to shorten the period of fighting by
striking a serious blow at the assets of the enemy.
Israel does not have to be dragged into a war of attrition with Hizbollah.
Israel's test will be the intensity and quality of its response to incidents
on the Lebanese border or terrorist attacks involving Hizbollah in the north
or Hamas in the south. In such cases, Israel again will not be able to limit
its response to actions whose severity is seemingly proportionate to an
isolated incident. Rather, it will have to respond disproportionately in
order to make it abundantly clear that the State of Israel will accept no
attempt to disrupt the calm currently prevailing along its borders. Israel
must be prepared for deterioration and escalation, as well as for a full
scale confrontation. Such preparedness is obligatory in order to prevent
long term attrition. The Israeli home front must be prepared to be fired
upon, possibly with even heavy fire for an extended period, based on the
understanding that the IDF is working to reduce the period of fighting to a
minimum and to create an effective balance of deterrence.
This approach is applicable to the Gaza Strip as well. There, the IDF will
be required to strike hard at Hamas and to refrain from the cat and mouse
games of searching for Qassam rocket launchers. The IDF should not be
expected to stop the rocket and missile fire against the Israeli home front
through attacks on the launchers themselves, but by means of imposing a
ceasefire on the enemy.
By instilling proper expectations of the IDF response among the civilian
population, Israel will be able to improve its readiness and the resilience
of its citizens. Still, the IDF's primary goal must nonetheless be to attain
a ceasefire under conditions that will increase Israel's long term
deterrence, prevent a war of attrition, and leave the enemy floundering in
expensive, long term processes of reconstruction.
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
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