Opinion

The Army’s PR Hanukkah Miracle

The Israelis are the modern-day Maccabees, fighting - the few against the many, the weak against the strong - against the existential danger posed by the tunnels

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, December 6, 2018.
\ POOL/ REUTERS

Let there be no hope for slanderers. Israel, as became clear this week for the umpteenth time, has a wise, responsible political and military leadership. It recognizes the limits of power of a small country in the face of its many foes — such as the armies of Hamas and Hezbollah, with their advanced weapons, excellent human and technological intelligence and highly capable, highly motivated combat forces.

To wit, in order to reach the decision to destroy the tunnels built by Hezbollah reaching 40 meters into Israeli territory, it took half a dozen meetings of the security cabinet and there was a fierce dispute between the defense minister and the chief of staff. As we know, the chief of staff won, while the defense minister, who was concerned about the timing of this complex, dangerous operation, was forced to resign.

And of course there were those who reminded us that without the backing of a superpower, a vulnerable state like Israel can’t launch a large-scale military operation like destroying those 40 meters of tunnels, because of its impact on the region, and perhaps on the entire world.

To obtain the necessary backing, a high-level delegation, headed by the prime minister and the defense minister, went to Brussels to show U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his staff the terrifying intelligence, including solid proof that the tunnels had penetrated 40 meters into Israeli territory.

Okay, the secretary said, wiping cold sweat from his brow, you want my permission to destroy them? Yes, the defense minister said, fixing him with an assertive gaze. You’re certain, the American persisted, that it’s within your power to carry out this dangerous operation? Positive, the prime minister replied.

Pompeo, as is evident from the operation that continues even as you read these lines, approved it. He even lit a Hanukkah candle in honor of the modern-day Maccabees who are fighting — the few against the many, the weak against the strong — against the existential danger posed by the tunnels.

Operation Northern Shield was launched, with appropriate symbolism, on the first night of Hanukkah, the holiday of Jewish heroism. Like that ancient war, it will evidently be crowned with the laurels of sacrifice, heroism and daring.

Songs will be sung about it, and it will join our historic, unequivocal victories over Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War of 2006 and Hamas in the subsequent campaigns in the south, Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014. And also the latest heroic campaign against Hamas, which is still without a name, and which just ended — again, in a resounding victory.

It’s well known that the Israel Defense Forces, especially in its large-scale operations, is creative and full of surprises. In Operation Northern Shield, it is continuing this tradition of creative surprises, evidently with great success.

The operation, as we know, didn’t begin with airstrikes to destroy the tens of thousands of missiles that threaten Israel’s citizens and its infrastructure. Neither did the IDF send tanks and engineering units to exploit the shock of these airstrikes in order to destroy the entrances to the tunnels.

Rather, before the enemy’s disbelieving gaze, it began the offensive this time with the latest doomsday weapon: nonlethal explosives. The next surprise was bulldozers instead of tanks, drilling rigs instead of planes and sensors instead of artillery. The heroism of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, which is waging critical psychological warfare day and night — especially against the enemies — also reached a peak this week.

What about us, the missiles ask. Why were we forgotten once again? After all, we are 150,000 times more dangerous than the tunnels.

You’ve always preferred to deceive yourselves, you stubborn Jews, and you learn nothing from history, not even that of the last century. But don’t wear blinders this time. Iran and Hezbollah didn’t deploy those missiles throughout Lebanon merely for them to rust.