By Gideon Levy
On the morrow of the return of the last Israeli soldier
had all gone out there in vain. This war ended in utter
This goes beyond the profound moral failure, which is a
grave matter in itself, but pertains to its inability
to reach its stated goals. In other words, the grief is
not complemented by failure. We have gained nothing in
this war save hundreds of graves, some of them very
small, thousands of maimed people, much destruction and
the besmirching of
What seemed like a predestined loss to only a handful
of people at the onset of the war will gradually emerge
as such to many others, once the victorious trumpeting subsides.
The initial objective of the war was to put an end to
the firing of Qassam rockets. This did not cease until
the war's last day. It was only achieved after a cease-
fire had already been arranged. Defense officials
estimate that Hamas still has 1,000 rockets.
The war's second objective, the prevention of
smuggling, was not met either. The head of the Shin Bet
security service has estimated that smuggling will be
renewed within two months.
Most of the smuggling that is going on is meant to
provide food for a population under siege, and not to
obtain weapons. But even if we accept the scare
campaign concerning the smuggling with its
exaggerations, this war has served to prove that only
poor quality, rudimentary weapons passed through the
smuggling tunnels connecting the
dubious. Deterrence, my foot. The deterrence we
supposedly achieved in the Second
had the slightest effect on Hamas, and the one
supposedly achieved now isn't working any better: The
sporadic firing of rockets from the
continued over the past few days.
The fourth objective, which remained undeclared, was
not met either. The IDF has not restored its
capability. It couldn't have, not in a quasi-war
against a miserable and poorly-equipped organization
relying on makeshift weapons, whose combatants barely
put up a fight.
The heroic descriptions and victory poems written abut
the "military triumph" will not serve to change
reality. The pilots were flying on training missions
and the ground forces were engaged in exercises that
involved joining up and firing weapons.
The describing of the operation as a "military
achievement" by the various generals and analysts who
offered their take on the operation is plain ridiculous.
We have not weakened Hamas. The vast majority of its
combatants were not harmed and popular support for the
organization has in fact increased. Their war has
intensified the ethos of resistance and determined
endurance. A country which has nursed an entire
generation on the ethos of a few versus should know to
appreciate that by now. There was no doubt as to who
was David and who was Goliath in this war.
The population in
severe blow, will not become more moderate now. On the
contrary, the national sentiment will now turn more
than before against the party which inflicted that blow
- the State of
the right in
out against them.
If anyone was weakened because of this war, it was
Fatah, whose fleeing from
now been given special significance. The succession of
failures in this war needs to include, of course, the
failure of the siege policy. For a while, we have
already come to realize that is ineffective. The world
But this war's balance, as far as
does not end with the absence of any achievement. It
has placed a heavy toll on us, which will continue to
burden us for some time. When it comes to assessing
Israel's international situation, we must not allow
ourselves to be fooled by the support parade by
Europe's leaders, who came in for a photo-op with Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert.
support for the state. While this does not always
translate itself into an immediate diplomatic
situation, the shockwaves will arrive one day. The
whole world saw the images. They shocked every human
being who saw them, even if they left most Israelis cold.
The conclusion is that
dangerous country, devoid of all restraints and
blatantly ignoring the resolutions of the United
Nations Security Council, while not giving a hoot about
international law. The investigations are on their way.
Graver still is the damage this will visit upon our
moral spine. It will come from difficult questions
about what the IDF did in
despite the blurring effect of recruited media.
So what was achieved, after all? As a war waged to
satisfy considerations of internal politics, the
operation has succeeded beyond all expectations. Likud
Chair Benjamin Netanyahu is getting stronger in the
polls. And why? Because we could not get enough of the war.
Gideon Levy is an Israeli journalist for the Ha'aretz newspaper, where he is also an editorial board member. He is a prominent left-wing commentator. He formerly served as spokesman for Shimon Peres from 1978 and 1982.
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