Sunday, July 30, 2006

Yoel Marcus: Israel Must Fight Harder, Faster

Yoel Marcus writes in Ha'aretz:
Until 1967, the State of Israel fought against neighbors who refused to recognize its existence. Since then, all the Islamic countries (with the exception of Iran) have stopped talking about the destruction of Israel. We have peace treaties with some of them, and some of the more sane ones even appreciate having us around.

The current war is being waged by fanatic Islamic organizations - President George Bush's axis of evil - whose declared aim is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. They are fighting us in the name of Allah, attacking civilian targets in Israel and Jewish targets overseas. In the same way that we have no answer to long-range ballistic missiles, we have no answer to the ideology that promotes Israel's destruction.

The trouble is that we are fighting with yesterday's weapons. Israel should have switched over long ago to another form of deterrence and retaliation. When Hezbollah kidnapped two soldiers on our border, using rocket fire as a diversion, Israel should have responded with a very powerful pinpointed strike. Instead, the chief of staff recommended a war best described as half tea, half coffee - bombing and besieging Lebanon in the hope that the world would intervene and create a demilitarized zone between us and Hezbollah. So far, the air raids and massive destruction that were meant to restore our power of deterrence have only done the opposite. No minister in the security cabinet, apart from Shimon Peres, has asked what Israel is planning to do in the last stage of the game.

A recent scenario has Israel agreeing to a cease-fire and a multinational force deployed between the Litani River and the international border. But Israel cannot go about its business and ignore the intolerable ease with which Hezbollah lobs missiles at innocent civilians - something that no Arab country at war with Israel has ever dared to do in all the years of its existence. It is unthinkable to walk away from the battlefield with the depressing sense that out of all the wars Israel has ever fought, only Hezbollah, a mere band of terrorists, was able to bombard the Israeli home front with thousands of missiles and get off scot-free.

Before any international agreement, Israel must sound the last chord, launching a massive air and ground offensive that will end this mortifying war, not with a whimper but with a thunderous roar.