- “There is here a complete parallel with the Yom Kippur Way,” says Major General (res.) Giora Eiland, former head of the Israel National Security Council. An intelligence surprise can always happen. If the enemy is planning something and you know and you are prepared, then they won’t do what they are going to do, so there will always be an element of surprise.”
“There was a huge surprise here. That’s a fact,” Eiland added.
- “But that’s not the saddest fact. The bigger problem is that the army has to be built to respond even in an extreme situation of surprise, including at problematic times. Problematic timing, weekends, holidays and Saturdays. Six in the morning. Just when everyone is either on vacation or tends to be sleepy. The army should be able to respond to such a scenario routinely, and the response that the army thought it knew how to give, it thought it had a response to a surprise: very high-quality surveillance systems that detect every movement in Gaza and that has enough surrounding forces, that has control over the crossings and a strong barrier. It didn’t live up to it. And when it happened, the army was unable to take control of the situation for a very long time.”
“You have to know how to end this operation in a very strong way”
Eiland adds, “For the sake of comparison, I was an officer in an army outpost on the Golan Heights a short time before the Yom Kippur War. The atmosphere in the State of Israel back then was that everything was wonderful and there wouldn’t be a war. They wouldn’t dare to attack us. But in my outpost I behaved in exactly the opposite way. Not because I didn’t believe the messages but because they weren’t of interest to me.”
He continued, “From my point of view I was responsible that every day, every hour and every minute, my outpost was ready to fight the best that it could. And it was of no interest to me what the likelihood was that this would happen. That’s what you want to happen at the operational response level and as things look right now, and I say this cautiously, on the ground this completely the opposite of what we expected. From what I just described.”
He added, “People act according to some kind of awareness that is put into their heads, and also from what you tell them. Many times there will be A, but they are aware of B – it’s hard to change that. They put two things into our heads. Firstly, that our intelligence is so good, so that if there is any kind of attack we will know about it in advance, and the second thing is that the barrier we built for NIS 3 billion is so robotic and excellent that even if they tried, they would not be able to get past it. And you go to sleep in your tank or as an infantry soldier and you are 500 meters from the fence, but you say that if something happens, there will be intelligence, the barrier will help, so I don’t have to worry. So instead of being in position and ready to fight at six in the morning, you are asleep and this is the result.”
Will the weakness projected yesterday impact other arenas?
“Of course it will be very much felt. We don’t know where this will go, but for that we also need to know how to end this campaign in a stronger way than we did in previous operations. It also requires much more far-reaching steps than Israel has ever taken. “Gaza is a state. You are fighting against a state, you are not only fighting against its army but against all of its capabilities, including its economy. That is why Israel should completely shut down everything that happens economically in Gaza. Goods and gas, fuel and electricity and water and food. Not only to win the battle, but also because we have so many hostages there. If we ever want to see the hostages alive, the only way is to create a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza. When international institutions shout about a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and bodies are piling up in the hospital and they cannot treat them, we will reply, ‘We have no problem solving the real problems of Gaza, but give us back our prisoners first.”