Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Second Lebanon War

I'm listening right now to Mabat, the 9:00 p.m. news show on Channel 1, and they're speaking about the new report that the State Comptroller just issued on the conduct of the war on the homefront. The report reveals that the Israeli government was almost entirely unprepared for the effect of the war on the residents of the north (both Jews and Arabs, although the Arab municipalities were even less prepared than the Jewish ones). There were not enough bomb shelters, local municipalities were left to their own devices to protect their citizens, the Israeli Police (instead of the IDF - the army) took charge of the homefront (even though there is a Home Front Command), and the people who should have planned ahead of time failed catastrophically. The report blasts the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, the former defense minister Amir Peretz, the former army chief of staff Dan Halutz (the latter two have resigned), and the head of the Home Front Command, Yitzhak Gershon (who still has his job). Ehud Olmert has responded by attacking the report - not by considering the criticisms and trying to remedy the problems.

One of the things that have become clear to me since I got here this summer is how badly the the government failed in protecting the citizens in the north. When reading about the war last summer, this was not clear to me. Since I've gotten here I've heard and read many stories about how little faith Israeli citizens have in their government as a result of the experience of last summer, when the government did not succeed in helping people who needed it. (One thing that came up in today's Haaretz article on the subject was that during the war the government refused to hold an official discussion about whether and how to evacuate citizens in the north - despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of people on their own fled to stay with people in the center and south of the country).

Another thing is that whenever I read about the war, no one views it as a victory for Israel - they see it as a defeat, and one that does not harken well for the future.

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was pretty clear at the time that the Israeli government was not prepared--not only for the inevitable retaliatory air strikes, but also for any plan to "win" such a war (by falling prey to the airpower fantasy).

    Having said that, to call it a "defeat" for anyone but the Lebanese people is a bit of an over-stretch. Most wars do not end so clear cut that one can say there was one clear winner and one clear loser among the warring parties. Most wars are not WWII or 1967, and wars against entrenched guerrilla militias even less so.