Political Leader Finally Offers a Vision of Military Victory for Israel

by Avi Abelow

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, chairman of the “New Right” political party, presented his security outlook on Wednesday and criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy vis-à-vis the Gaza terror.

Bennett spoke at the National Security Conference of Ma’ariv, saying that “the IDF has amazing commanders who have been led by hesitant leaders for the last 15 years. That it is not a decree of fate. It is also not a decree of fate that Hamas, a not so large terrorist organization, leaves a million civilians under fire in bomb shelters.

“Hamas is in charge of everything, even causing the Prime Minister of Israel to leave in the middle of an important diplomatic visit in the US. A whole generation of children are growing up with nightmares and psychologists. Two days ago, I slept in the Gaza border area. There were five red color alarms. Multiply that by 500 times and you’ll understand what’s happening there.”

Bennett said that “in the mid-1990s I commanded a series of operations against Hizbullah. Hizbullah was then a small organization and not very impressive, and we kept it small and unimpressive. We thwarted most of their attacks on us. At that time Hizbullah could not penetrate into Israel. If then they would tell me that today Hizbullah is the greatest threat to us, I would not believe it. Why did this happen? The answer is – we cut off contact, we stopped being agressive in going after Hizbullah. We cut off contact from Hezbollah.

“We have witnessed Hizbullah grow into an organization with 140,000 rockets. The State of Israel has adopted a concept of severing contact with the enemy. Not to initiate activities, to seek maximum time between round and round, not to use force against enemy buildup. We are not only doing this against Hezbollah, but also against Hamas. Since Israel left the Gaza strip, we have thrown out the keys and left, cutting off contact and letting them grow into a dangerous foe. “

Education Minister Bennett attacked the issue of protection rather than assault. “We are defensive. Iron Dome, which is a technological achievement, a system fence, and now we are digging a canal and an underground wall that costs billions of shekels. All defensive moves. We stopped going on the offensive, we cut off touch. Of course our enemies want to grow stronger. That is their right. But this is an existential danger to the State of Israel. I think that the focus on defense alone is a perception that buys us tranquility, yet rolls a hot potato from chief of staff to chief of staff.

“We saw in the second Lebanon was the intensity of this mistaken approach. Needless to say, Netanyahu appointed defense ministers who failed, Barak, Ya’alon, Lieberman and now himself. I, as Defense Minister, will correct the damage that they have caused. The alternative to the approach of defense is one of offense with continuous contact. Continuous friction. This means daily friction with the enemy, and constant pressure on the enemy.

“We are now doing this against Iran in Syria. This concept creates a spirit of combat and creativity. Technological innovation and creativity and patience. When we left Lebanon, we let Hezbollah grow. Gantz was the chief of the Northern Command, and Ya’alon was chief of staff – they said that Hizbullah would not use the missiles so we should just let them rust instead of destroying them.

”Yet Hizbullah did use those missiles against Israel in the second Lebanon war. We met a camouflaged organization. 121 Israeli soldiers fell and 44 civilians were killed, and 2,600 Israeli civilians were injured. To buy a few quiet years, we paid a heavy price.

“Like I said, even in Gaza, we create a psychological image of ‘who knows what is there.’ It creates self-fear. I saw it with my own eyes. I saw it in the Gaza operation of Tzuk Eitan. I presented a plan to destruct 30 Hamas terrorist tunnels, and I presented the plan to the Government Security Cabinet, a plan to surprise the enemy. We would destroy the tunnels at a small price. But the entire top echelon of the defense establishment was against the plan.”

“PM Netanyahu, then Chief of Staff Ganz and then Defense Minister Bugi Yaalon instead were hesitant. They put in place a three-day operation that took 51 days! What happened to them? They hold on to a sense of fear, a lack of faith in our ability to win, a fear of the High Court of Justice and the Hague. The world likes winners. The world expected us to defeat Hezbollah in the second Lebanon war, and serve as an example for a future decision to destroy Hamas. The world despises us that we did not take advantage of the opportunity to defeat them.

“They tell me, ‘You are a populist, you can not speak of ‘victory.’ In the Defensive Shield operation we had a victory. In Mosul, the US defeated Da’ash. You can win in 2019 too. The problem is in ones consciousness. We educate generations that we can no longer win, I think that is wrong. It is still possible to win. We can beat our enemies. But we must reverse the consciousness in the defense establishment. “

Gender Equality in the Army

“We must abolish the promotion of the gender equality agenda. The IDF has a goal – to defeat the enemy and to provide security. It must promote good commanders and let go of hesitant commanders. The past decade has witnessed the exact opposite. Tchiko Edri was one of the most successful commanders in the second Lebanon war, yet he was let go. With many other successful commanders as well. “Who ousted him, past Defense Minister Bogey Ya’alon.”

“After that, Shmulik Zakai, the commanding officer of the Golani Brigade was let go. And it’s not by chance that both of them are Golani, successful fighters and initiators. Why was he let go, because of stupidity. Instead officers who make no mistakes are promoted. Yet commanders who make no mistakes don’t take the risks necessary. We want commanders who will take risks, we want commanders who are horses galloping and victorious. “

Legal Overreach in the IDF

“A third thing – we must remove the excess legalization from the IDF. Commanders must be backed up even if they make a mistake. Top officers should not have their promotions frozen because they shoot a terrorist who threw a stone at him.

“We must persecute every Hamas commander and officer at all levels, from the commander, brigade commanders, battalion commanders, and platoons. They should always be on the run. We should destroy their homes. Think about how the wife of a Hamas platoon commander will feel that his house is destroyed. They are an enemy. We must constantly pursue them. Let them hid in holes, and always be on the defensive. “

Bennett’s Speech in Hebrew

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