Ex-IDF Southern Commander: Israel has no strategy

May 8, 2016  

In response to the revelations of the leaked state comptroller’s report on 2014 Operation Protective Edge, former IDF Southern Commander Maj. Gen. (res.) Yom-Tov Samia criticized the state for having no strategy vis-a-vis Hamas in Gaza.

The as-yet-unpublished report strongly condemns Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), and then-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz for their handling of the operation. Parts of the report that have been leaked point to misinformation, mistaken appraisals of the danger of the terror tunnels, and not fully sharing information with the Cabinet.

“The state of Israel has no serious, deep and long-term strategy,” appraised Samia in an interview with Walla! News on Sunday.

“There is no leadership with a backbone that is capable of making the other side understand we have a strategy. The entire nation of Israel sees there are no long-term plans, everything is according to the length of the term of the government or minister.”

According to Samia, whose post as Southern Commander had him tasked with operations in Gaza, not only does the state lack an overarching strategy but it also had no specific strategy in the 2014 operation.

“The army receives the goals of the operation from the political echelon,” he explained. “Generally, when there is no strategy, the goals of the operation are very vague and cannot be quantified or checked. In Protective Edge there were cloudy and unclear operational goals.”

Referencing previous wars launched by Hamas, he said, “it was completely clear from the start of the operation that its end would be like Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense, and the test was how long the ceasefire that would be obtained would last until ‘Protective Edge 2.'”

Samia assessed that the entire operation could have been avoided if Israel had dealt with the threat of Hamas’s terror tunnels breaching under the security border earlier, and indeed major tunnels were exposed as early as half-a-year before the operation.

The former commander noted how during the operation TV footage showed how the IDF pushed to deal with the tunnels using various technologies and vehicles, and their efforts showed results as 34 terror tunnels were destroyed in the operation.

“I ask the decision makers: why didn’t that take place two years ago? Why weren’t all those vehicles dispatched on the ground in April 2014? They knew about all the tunnels then, because everything was published in the media,” he noted.

“If those vehicles had been brought there earlier and the treatment of the tunnels had been preventative, ongoing and aggressive, Protective Edge might have been avoided or else we would have (at least) come to it prepared.”

Hamas used its extensive terror tunnel system during the war to lethal effect, surprising the troops and inflicting significant casualties.

Earlier on Sunday, Samia spoke to Army Radio where he condemned the “festival” of honorary citations handed out after the operation.

“Seventy-two honorary citations is a scandal in my eyes. I have a feeling that the way Protective Edge was summarized, the manner of the investigations, the citations, all came to cover up something,” he said.

He added that he was not surprised by the comptroller’s report, saying, “as serious as it (the report) may be, I’m not sure that it will be serious enough.”

Sources close to Netanyahu and Ya’alon have already rejected the report “out of hand,” saying, “this is a report which is not serious and was authored by a comptroller who is not serious.”

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