Jerusalem Magazine
Aug 6 2006 Day 26 War in Israel
Twenty rockets fell on the northern Israeli port city of Haifa Sunday evening, killing at least three injuring at least 120 others e. The rocket scored a direct hit on a building in a crowded residential area of the city. Rescue crews worked under extremely difficult conditions to extract those trapped in the building.
Earlier in the day twelve Israeli reserve soldiers were killed when a katyusha rocket scored a freak direct hit on kibbutz Kfar Geladi. The soldiers were using an area near the kibbutz as a staging area before going into Lebanon. Reportedly the soldiers did not take shelter when the warnings came of possible incoming rockets.
Friday night Aaron and Ruti were celebrating their engagement with a group of friends on the beach near Hadera, halfway between Haifa and Tel Aviv, when they saw rockets streak through the night sky overhead. They heard three explosions. A couple of hours later Aaron and Ruti turned up at Aaron’s parent’s home in Jerusalem, far away from a possible attack. Aaron has received his call-up for reserve duty, and is scheduled to report for duty next week, to serve in Lebanon.
On Saturday morning the synagogue was peppered with young soldiers home for the weekend from Lebanon. One soldier, Shmuel, tall, handsome, muscular, serves in an elite Paratrooper unit, in Lebanon since the beginning of the war. He was given a weekend pass because he was to be married in a month, and the Army gave engaged soldiers weekend passes.  
Pinchas was worried man as he sat in synagogue. His son was in a “special ops” unit, as an officer in the regular army. He was one of those creeping around with painted faces and twigs sticking out of their helmets. Pinchas didn’t look happy. “Yoni called before Shabat,” Pinchas told me. “He said he was tired.”
Moshe was not tall and muscular, but of medium height, slight of build. Yet he was in the paratrooper corps serving in Lebanon. His background was amazing. During the Intifada Moshe and his brother were walking around Machane Yehuda, the Jerusalem open air market, when a suicide bomber pushed the button on his explosive vest. Moshe and his brother ran from the blast right into another bomber waiting for those fleeing. Both were caught in the second blast. Moshe’s lung was punctured. His brother, half his arm hanging loose from the bone, managed to plug the hole in his brother’s lung with his finger until a passing doctor took over the first aid until the ambulance arrived.
In Lebanon, during the first days of the war, little Moshe was in an empty apartment with his unit, resting  when Hezbollah fired a RPG into the room, killing a number of Moshe’s comrades. A week later in another apartment yet another of his comrades was killed when an RPG soared into the apartment they were holed up in, slamming into the soldier’s stomach, killing him instantly.  Moshe was uninjured. Given his close calls you’d think he’d be skittish, but no, he was still ready to fight.
Rockets also fell on the Golan Heights today, on the industrial area of Katzrin. Our family wasn’t far away. J was no longer in Haifa, but even so the rockets were too close. A few days earlier while in a shopping center in Katzrin the siren sounded wanring of a possible rocket attack. She gave up the shopping and went back to her son’s home.
Jerusalem, meanwhile, is still a bubble of peace and tranquility. However, the police and army are on high alert against possible suicide bombers. These were Hezbollah’s precision “rockets” before this war started. Fox TV reported that Bin Ladin’s son was going to Lebanon with 200 fighters to help Hezbollah. His reputation is formidable. Reportedly he specializes in insurgency, and has been active in Iraq since the US invasion. Al Queda siding with Hezbollah. The two most dangerous Terrorist groups around, although Hezbollah is much larger, more organized, and better equipped. The third member of the terrorist triumvirate is Hamas, who is facing Israel on the Gaza border.
These three terrorist groups have been responsible for thousands of deaths. They are now combined in their fight against Israel, even though in Iraq the Shiites (Hezbollah) and the Sunni (Al Queda) are at each other’s throats. However, the press sees Israel’s defending itself against these three terrorist groups as an overreaction. One reporter, on Sky News, claimed that the cause of the fighting was Israel’s illegal occupation of the Shaba Farm area, in the Golan Heights area. He ignored the fact that the UN had ruled the Shaba Farms part of Syria, not Lebanon. Why look for the truth when mistaken reporting helps fill out your preconceived notion.
Israel’s Chief of Staff Dan Halutz told the popular Israel TV Channel 2 magazine reporter Ilana Dayan that the plan of this war was to be one of low loss of soldier’s lives. This was to be a quick efficient air war. He recalled that while serving in the last Lebanese war 300 soldiers died in the first week. “We didn’t want to lose men. We adopted another plan.” But in the end the air campaign wasn’t as effective as they’d hoped, and ground troops had to go in.
3,000 rockets have fallen on the north of Israel since the beginning of the war. So far the Israeli Army claims that they’ve killed over 400 Hezbollah fighters, and destroyed most of their long-range missile launchers, but not all of them. Israel has launched “special ops” campaigns against Hezbollah positions, as far away as the Syrian border. According to the army these types of daring actions are meant to show Hezbollah the reach of the Israeli army. It has also energized Israeli troops in Lebanon.
Reportedly the Army has changed their tactics since the beginning of the war. They are now more circumspect when they attack. The first platoon of soldiers who entered Lebanon went in “standing up.” The new units are stealthy, careful, respectful of the enemy’s abilities.
A veteran journalist, who’d been covering Israel’s wars since ’67, said that during the Yom Kippur War of Oct 6, 1973, Israel was caught flat-footed. “It took a few weeks for the Army to get up to speed   In this war, the Army has been mobilized for less than a week. The reserves are just beginning to arrive. Results will be forthcoming that will change the situation.”
He also quoted Henry Kissenger, who said, “When a regular army faces a guerilla army, and the regular army destroys the guerillas, it’s clear who won. But when a guerilla army faces a regular army if the guerillas don’t lose, they win.” He thought the danger was the perception of the world that if Hezbollah weren’t defeated, Israel would be perceived as having lost the war.
Ari Shavit, writing in the Haaretz weekend magazine, took the same line, but said essentially, that if Israel is perceived as losing this war, the next battle will be quick in coming. The Arab neighbors will see Israel as weak, and start supporting those against the Jewish state. Iran will be encouraged to increase its support of Hezbollah and Hamas. The threat of a radical Islamic state on Israel’s borders will increase a hundred-fold. The conclusion of both these journalists was  that a cease-fire will only be temporary. Ultimately Hezbollah, emboldened by its success, will strike again, and again, and again.
Most pundits put little faith in a UNIFIL multi-national force. According to cabinet minister and former general ‘Fuad’ Ben Eliezer, UNIFIL is a joke.  The best that can be hoped for, expers say, is a chance for Israel to regroup, analyze the proper response to this new style guerilla force, develop the proper defenses, then go in and get the job done, once and for all.
A few things will change. For one the much-vaunted ‘Nautilus’ system, which can detect and destroy fast incoming low-flying katyushas, will be deployed. It will take 18-months for the system, developed through a US/Israel effort, to be delivered. Similarly anti-missile and rocket systems for Israel’s tanks, that the army passed on during the “peace” of the last few years, will be deployed. Later committees will determine who let them be cut from a budget, and when.
It’s really no one’s fault. Israel was of the opinion that a large army was no longer needed, nor first class tanks and weapons, nor short-range missile systems, since no one was going to mount a war against Israel on the ground; Syria was weak, Egypt was out of it’s fighting mode, Iraq was in disarray, only Iran was on the distant horizon. The assessment was that Iran’d use long-range missiles. Israel developed the Arrow missile system to counter that type of threat.
The problem was no one seemed to be studying the Iraqi insurgency. Israel was lulled into thinking they had no serious enemy. The army was too accustomed to fighting the Palestinians, who were essentially street gangs with automatic weapons. Iran was starting to train Hamas. An Israeli political analyst said today that Hamas aspired to be Hezbollah. Israel’s army was doing what most armies do, fighting the last war, rather than finding an offense and defense to the imminent danger on its borders.. During any lull in the fighting brought about by the cease-fire, the lights will burn late in the various offices trying to figure out what went wrong, and fix it. Israel isn’t Iraq. The Israelis, unlike the Americans in Iraq, can’t withdraw without losing their homeland.
August 6, 2006 Day 26 War in Israel