Saturday, November 24, 2012

Reformatting deterrence: A new day in Gaza and Israel

Jon Elmer 
The true game-changer 
The true game-changer in the region was Israel's defeat in south Lebanon in the 2006 July War. For 34 days, a seemingly unending stockpile of rockets drove Israelis into bomb shelters and halted daily life throughout nearly the whole country. When Israel's brutal air war failed to halt the rockets, a ground war was launched by the Israeli army.
If every war is to have its signifying battle - the July War was defined in Bint Jbeil. Israel's conscripted army and its reserves walked right into a prepared enemy that had changed the rules of the game - mixing guerrilla operations with conventional military tactics. In so doing, Hezbollah dealt Israel a psychological blow that carried the "spectacle" of defeat, as Israel's Haaretz newspaper characterised it.
According to Israel's Winograd Commission - tasked by the state with investigating the July War failings - the battle in Bint Jbeil was the turning point of the war, "a symbol of the unsuccessful action of the Israel Defence Forces throughout the fighting".
A successful model was in place, and Palestinians took note.
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