One of the objectives of the recently released Winograd Report on Israel's 2006 Lebanon War is educational--to avoid a similar debacle in the future. However, according to a paper by an Israel Defense Forces intelligence expert, Israel is now making the same mistakes dealing with Hamas in Gaza that it made with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The paper by Major General (ret.) Amirdror, entitled "Strategic Lessons of the Winograd Commission Report," was published this week by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, which is headed by Israel's former Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Dore Gold.
As reported by Israel National News:
Amidror notes, based on the Winograd report, that after then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak unilaterally withdrew Israeli forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel "declared that any violation of Israeli sovereignty would bring about a harsh and immediate Israeli response. These declarations stipulated that in the event of any assault on Israeli soldiers or civilians, all of Lebanon, Syria, and Hizbullah would be affected. The purpose of these statements was to build up Israeli deterrence in the aftermath of the withdrawal."
However, Amirdror continues, Israel did not follow through on these declarations with actions. Instead, it ignored the Hezbollah build-up of weapons and fortifications on the border, and provocations such as the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers in October 2000.
"Israel knew that Hizbullah was gaining strength and acquiring weaponry," Amidror concludes after studying the Winograd findings, "but it preferred to turn a blind eye. As a result, Israel did not prepare for war with an enemy that was far more powerful than it had been in the past."
Now the same process is reoccurring in Gaza:
Amidror extrapolates: "In the Gaza Strip, a similar process is underway. Hamas is getting stronger as it organizes itself, digs fortifications underground, and builds up its military capabilities." While Israel delays the confrontation with Hamas because of a temporary truce or some other illusory understanding, "we are likely to find ourselves in exactly the same position in Gaza that we created with respect to Lebanon."
One might add that the same mistakes are being repeated in Lebanon as well, where, under the shield of the U.N. multi-national force, Hezbollah has rebuilt its fortifications and weapons stores, including weapons smuggled in from Syria, that may include even more advanced Iranian missiles than those that struck Israel's cities in the summer of 2006. Even the U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, this past Monday stated that he is "deeply worried" about the arms smuggling by Hezbollah from Syria, as reported in Ha'Aretz.