Friday, July 21, 2006

Ze'ev Schiff: 2006 is not 1982

Haaretz's veteran defense correspondent explains why this Lebanon war is different from the other one:
The two wars are even different in terms of modus operandi. In 1982, IDF divisions launched a ground offensive from the south, and Israeli forces were also brought in by naval craft so that they could reach Beirut and proceed northward to join up with the Phalangists. Today, the Israel Air Force and Military Intelligence are leading the offensive. The IAF can launch quicker, more precise strikes thanks to its guided weapons; furthermore, aerial attacks mean fewer casualties.

Yet the IAF alone obviously cannot solve all the problems, including the presence of thousands of rockets in Lebanon. Many people, including citizens of Arab states, understand that this time, Israel is facing not one Palestinian organization fighting for its nation's independence, but two radical Islamic terrorist organizations plus a state like Iran, which seek Israel's annihilation, and Syria besides.

Israel circa 2006 is trying to avoid repeating the mistakes it made in the 1982 war. Little wonder that many people today support Israel, in contrast to the past, when international public opinion was hostile to Israel. If Israel makes no substantive changes in its objectives, takes greater care to avoid harming the Lebanese people and keeps its operations to the proper proportions, the support it enjoys in the present war will continue unabated.