Six months of failures
At a critical historical moment, the prime minister and the chief of staff were living in an imaginary world. Although they had been explicitly warned by intelligence, with pride and arrogance they sailed the ship for which they were responsible straight into an iceberg.
In December 2005 Military Intelligence placed an intelligence-strategic warning on the desks of the prime minister, the defense minister and the chief of staff. The warning said there would be an escalation on the northern border within a few months. The head of MI at the time, Major General Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash, foresaw that Hezbollah would kidnap soldiers, force Israel to react and rain Katyushas on Haifa. He stated that Hezbollah would present a significant challenge to the Israel Defense Forces because it is a well-established guerrilla force equipped with advanced anti-tank weapons and well-entrenched in southern Lebanon's nature preserves.
For a long time, Farkash asked the IDF to prepare for the anticipated confrontation with Hezbollah and asserted that the Lebanese group could not be defeated by an aerial operation alone. A month after the MI warning was formulated, in late January 2006, the Herzliya Conference was held. The highlight of the conference were the speeches by the prime minister and the chief of staff. However, although Farkash's warning was on their desks, in their speeches, neither Ehud Olmert nor Dan Halutz referred to the possibility that 2006 would be a year of war. Neither of them spoke of the need to prepare the nation for a conflict.
Two days before the Hamas election victory, the prime minister spoke about the road map, about permanent borders and about the outposts. Five months before the attack by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, the chief of staff spoke of the fact that the IDF was preparing soldiers for their bagrut matriculation exams and was doing a good job fighting traffic accidents. With great pride Halutz said that the budget for the reserves had been cut to about a quarter of what it had been. "The security ethos has not been eroded," the chief of staff stated. "The IDF is being run as an efficient organization," the chief of staff said. "Israel is not facing an existential threat," he promised. "The situation of the State of Israel this year is very good," he summed up. "In 2006 we find ourselves in one of the best geo-strategic situations we have ever known."
If this weren't sad, it would be funny. At a critical historical moment, the prime minister and the chief of staff were living in an imaginary world. Both were blind. Although they had been explicitly warned by intelligence, with pride and arrogance they sailed the ship for which they were responsible straight into an iceberg.
The gap between Farkash's warning and the Olmert-Halutz delusion is intolerable. Six months is a very long time. In six months it is possible to do what then prime minister Ehud Barak, defense minister Shaul Mofaz and chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon did during the first half of 2000 ? to prepare an army suffering from shortcomings for a new type of war in which it would win; to train the reserve battalions; to refresh emergency stores and prepare bomb shelters; to examine operational plans and change deployments; to prepare a nation drunk from the disengagement for a painful moment of sobering up.
But the six months granted by Major General Farkash to the State of Israel were wasted by Olmert and Halutz. Although they had been warned, they didn't lift a finger to prepare the public, the government systems and the IDF for war.
Today as well there is an intelligence-strategic warning on the desk. The IDF assumes that the fire will resume next summer. Major General (res.) Farkash estimates that between the spring and summer of 2007, war will break out again. He warns that this time Syria will probably join as well. Even more serious is the situation on the Iranian front: In April 2007, Iran will cross the threshold of nuclear technology. It is very doubtful whether Bush will be able to prevent that.
Anyone who is not blind must understand that the coming months are crucial. We must not waste them the way the first six months of 2006 were wasted. We must make every effort to prevent war and to enlist all our resources to prepare for war.
Nevertheless, although there is a clear warning on the desk once again, the government is not functioning. The IDF is not recovering. There is no preparation, there are no decisions and there is no direction. A failed chief of staff continues to sit in the office of the chief of staff. A failed prime minister continues to sit in the office of the prime minister. Without a captain, the ship is being buffeted by the waves.