West Making Big Mistake in Fighting ISIS, Says Senior Israeli Officer

IDF Northern Command officer says he thinks the U.S.-led coalition intervened too early against the Sunni militants, and 'not necessarily in the right direction.'

A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria, 2014. (illustrative photo/U.S. Air Force handout)Reuters

A senior Northern Command officer said Thursday that the Western coalition is making a big mistake in fighting against ISIS.

The coalition forces' attacks against the Islamic State support the "radical Shi'ite axis," the unnamed officer said. "A strange situation has been created in which the United States, Canada and France are on the same side as Hezbollah, Iran and Assad. That doesn't make sense," he said.

It was easier to deal with terrorism in its early stages [ISIS] than to face an Iranian threat and the Hezbollah, he said. "I believe the West intervened too early and not necessarily in the right direction," he said.

The unnamed officer said the Iranian presence in Syria is increasing, but neither Iran nor Syria has in interest in starting a war against Israel. He predicted that Assad's regime would last for several more years of "ups and downs" before crumbling completely.

The officer spoke about the change in Hezbollah's policy as reflected in its retaliation to Israel. "It's obvious Hezbollah has no intention of twiddling its thumbs every time Israel does something, openly or covertly, to prevent it from building up its power," he said.

It would not be correct to say that Israel's deterrence in the north has "evaporated" but is no longer complete, either, he said.

The IDF will not be able to defeat Hezbollah in a ground operation but only by using its entire power, the officer said. "[When Israel fought against them] Hezbollah were capable of shutting down Ben Gurion Airport down and paralyzing Haifa Port," he said.

"If Hezbollah decides to use its full power, there will be no choice but to use the IDF as well – and quickly, not slowly," he said.

"We in the IDF must be able to remove threats quickly and I don't know how that can be done without using the ground forces. Is there a chance of defeating Hezbollah by bombs alone? Definitely not," he said.

The officer blasted the IDF for failing to train the troops over the past year and said the army had reached a "red line" as far as the soldiers' competence was concerned.

"From May 2013 to November 2014 we were in bad shape. When an infantry soldier (in Operation Protective Edge) sees a device he has to use for the first time in the gathering area [before going into action] it's unacceptable," he said.

The officer said the ground forces' training is indispensable, as accurate intelligence and aerial strikes are not enough to defeat an enemy.