The IDF Has Put Its Brain in Storage - or Lent It to Hamas

The military’s budget has ballooned in recent years, yet it failed to subdue a small, ill-equipped terror group in Gaza.

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Officers of the Kfir brigade.
Officers of the Kfir brigade. Credit: Military Spokesman

When you’re too heavy, big or bloated, it’s hard to move, run or even bend down. Your arm is so fat it can’t reach into a tunnel. It gets stuck and you stand there helplessly.

That’s precisely the situation with the Israel Defense Forces. It’s a King Kong of an army — big and cumbersome; every move unintentionally knocks down a house, bridge or UN school in Gaza.

This happens because the top brass employs all its skills and strategies to lobby for a budget. It’s constantly demanding more money and is always short of funds, even if by every measure it has a huge budget — bigger than that of all the surrounding Arab countries.

The top brass has forgotten that line in the Book of Proverbs: “with wise advice thou shalt make thy war.” At one time, when the IDF was a small, lean and flexible army with a correspondingly small budget, it needed to be smart and nimble, carrying out amazing operations behind enemy lines.

Once the IDF had a chief of staff named Dan Shomron, who said the army needed to be “small and smart.” But now we have a large and not-smart army. The IDF has the best plane, the most sophisticated tank and the most advanced electronics, but the Jewish mind has been put in storage, or even worse, this mind is now with Hamas.

Every mission like Operation Protective Edge has been based on power, more power and more power still. Instead of managing the war wisely, with commando units operating behind enemy lines, ruses, ambushes and traps as in the old days, the IDF now unloads one-ton bombs on buildings in an effort to hit the command headquarters below. But the commanders in the tunnels survive without a scratch.

And of course the building collapses, burying civilians. That does us no benefit at all. It’s a loss in terms of morality and our standing in the world — and it makes thousands of young Gazans whose parents, siblings and friends have been killed join the ranks of vengeance seekers.

Despite the IDF’s huge budget — 47 billion shekels ($13.7 billion) in 2006 and 61 billion shekels by 2013 — the IDF has not developed a military doctrine to address the tunnels that Hamas built under the Gaza Strip into Israel. Hamas surprised the IDF with both the quantity and sophistication of its tunnels.

It’s also hard to understand how the army went into Gaza with antique armored personnel carriers when IDF warehouses have excellent newer models, and why it takes two weeks to figure out that it doesn’t make sense to put staging areas within range of mortar shells, costing many lives in the process.

And why did a senior officer set off toward a terrorist cell in an unreinforced jeep? And how is it that the gate to the grounds of the guard post near Kibbutz Nahal Oz wasn’t locked, leading to soldiers’ deaths?

Most painful is to see Hamas, which does not have an air force, navy, tanks or armored personnel carriers, attacking IDF soldiers from behind. Hamas doesn’t have the capacity to drop a one-ton bomb, but in this war it used guerrilla tactics, tunnels and the element of surprise. None of this detracts from the devotion and sacrifice of Israeli soldiers and their commanders in the field who have shown outstanding courage.

The clear proof that the fat has gotten to the army’s head is the case of the three yeshiva students who were abducted in the West Bank and murdered. The entire army, with all its resources and funds, couldn’t find them. But others who considered where the murderers might hide bodies found exactly the right spot without a budget or special means.

Most ridiculous is hearing about how Hamas has been hit hard and is begging for a cease-fire. Clearly this is what army spokesmen say in their desire to depict a victory, but the fact is, a David who has become a Goliath has not subdued a small, ill-equipped terror group. When will the IDF learn the limits of power and take its mind out of storage?

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