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IDF Failures in Lebanon Continue

There have been two recent incidents involving IDF assaults on Lebanese targets which ended in failure.  Given the even greater failures of the 2006 Lebanon war in which Israel lost over 100 civilian and military dead, its soldiers were largely  outmaneuvered by dogged Hezbollah veterans, and most of the northern population lived in air raid shelters for weeks, it’s important to note that not much may’ve changed.

hezbollah ambush

UNIFIL examines site of Hezbollah ambush that wounded four IDF soldiers (Jihad Siqlawi/AFP Getty)

The first incident involved an IDF commando unit composed of 10 Sayeret Matkal and Egoz (part of the Golani brigade) personnel who infiltrated a quarter-mile into Lebanese territory to plant spy gear.  Hezbollah was one step ahead of them and had planted an IED which exploded.  The operation was aborted and four soldiers from the Egoz unit were seriously injured.  My source tells me the mission failed because the army had used the same route previously to plant surveillance equipment that tapped into Hezbollah’s communications network.  While I’m no military expert, it seems that using the same route twice was a major error.

Similarly, I reported a few days ago that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, which is closely allied with the Assad forces, launched four Katyusha rockets from Lebanon.  Despite the fact that an Iron Dome anti-missile battery is stationed in northern Israel, it only succeeded in intercepting one rocket of the four.  It never fired at the others.  The IDF has not spoken about the reason for the failure.  It prefers to boast about successes and lie about weapons performance that is less than stellar.

An Israeli Iron Dome booster is attempting to pass off Iron Dome’s record this week as a success because it never fired at the missiles that landed in Israel.  That’s a mighty strange definition of success.  If you’re an anti-missile system and don’t fire at missiles targeting your population centers, then you’ve failed.  It reminds me of the enigmatic, but memorable Bob Dylan lyric:

There’s no success like failure and failure is no success at all.

The failure is reminiscent of another dramatic Iron Dome lapse (Hebrew) during Operation Pillar of Smoke, when it failed to intercept a Fajr rocket that heavily damaged an Israeli apartment building.  The IDF explanation was:

Remember that Iron Dome was not designed to offer hermetic protection.

In other words, when it works it’s great, but don’t expect it to work all the time.  Which instills great confidence.  On my Twitter feed, an Israeli diplomat claimed the missiles weren’t intercepted because Iron Dome only targets missiles that will land on populated areas.  He piped down when I offered pictures of Israeli homes seriously damaged by the Katyushas.

The U.S. will be spending $500-million on the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system at least in part in order to provide a psychological cushion for Israelis who live in fear of rocket bombardments from their enemies in Gaza, Lebanon and Iran.  If it can provide what’s perceived as an ironclad defense (which it can’t), then Obama believes there will be less clamor for aggressive Israeli action against Iran.  Though of course the opposite could be the case: if Israelis believe they are safe from an Iranian counter-strike after an Israeli pre-emptive attack, they might be more inclined to support such adventurism.

Even earlier, Israel was forced to destroy one of its advanced drones after a party that was likely Hezbollah (or Iran) hacked into the navigation system and hijacked it.

If you add to this yet another failed Israeli operation to destroy Russian advanced Yakhont anti-ship missiles at Latakia due to a pro-government double agent who informed Assad before the IAF attack, Israel’s record isn’t looking terribly promising in countering threats from Lebanon (and Syria).  This brings up the historical memory of multiple failures of IDF tactics and strategy in 2006, when Hezbollah tapped into IDF communications systems and was able to counter the latter’s military moves.  Hezbollah proved to be a more formidable adversary than Israel had expected (though the militant group hadn’t anticipated the ferocity of the IDF onslaught and its damaging impact on the country’s civilian infrastructure).

While there’s no question that the IDF remains one of the more formidable armies in the world (at least in theory), it has lost at least some of the ingenuity, innovation and daring that used to characterize it.  It has become an army of Occupation one of whose main roles is suppressing the resistance of civilian populations.  That’s not exactly a formula for brilliant strategic thinking.  And it shows.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Rain August 25, 2013, 3:32 AM

    Actually the fact that Iron Dome doesn’t work in populated areas makes sense here. One of the rockets landed in the sea, and both of the others that hit landed in areas next to the ocean, and indeed not particularly populated from an Israeli perspective, regardless of whether it did some minor damage to a building.

  • Dr. Scott Shepard August 25, 2013, 5:26 PM

    Dear Richard,

    Missile defense systems to this point are no better than one part hope and one part performance, as I am sure you already know. Reagan became fascinated with Star Wars type missile defense back in the 1980s; 30 years later, with all of our defense spending in the US, we still haven’t done anything meaningful about shooting down rockets. Not just because of treaties and so forth; because the technology does not exist yet. It’s just not that easy to pick large numbers of fast moving objects out of the sky. Remember all those lies George Bush senor was peddling in 1990 about the great performance rate of the Patriot missile, which actually intercepted I think no better than 10% of the rockets fired by Saddam Hussein? Maybe Bush had stock in the company.

    The peace of mind of Israelis living in towns that border Lebanon, towns that are mostly built on settlements established on dubious grounds to begin with, is not my top concern. But at least missile interceptor programs tend not to kill people.

    One way that Hizbullah can thwart things like Iron Dome, if it should believe it has the need to do this, is to aim at a low trajectory, which makes interception much harder. As does of course short range firing. The crude katyusha rockets are ideal for getting past hi tech ( and expensive) interceptor systems, as crude weapons tend to be. Sophisticated weapons are best at fighting other sophisticated weapons.

    I think I have read in your column before that the best defense program is not to be at war with your neighbor at all, which I would prefer.

    Everybody thinks IDF is going to invade Lebanon again within two years; but people said this two or three years ago. Let’s hope that this does not happen.

  • David August 28, 2013, 7:15 PM

    This A-Hole better stop and do a ball check before the Israeli Lobby and Netanyahu harvest them for good and put them in formaldehyde, along with Bush Jr’s balls

    This is an Israeli False Flag Operation – JUST LIKE IRAQ



    The great Pepe Escobar and Sibel Edmonds to the Rescue!

    “Russia’s ambassador in the UN Security Council, Vitaly Churkin, presented conclusive evidence – based on documents and Russian satellite images – of two rockets carrying toxic chemicals, fired from Douma, controlled by the Syrian “rebels”, and landing on East Ghouta. Hundreds of “rebels”, as well as civilians – including those children on the cover of Western corporate media papers – were killed. The evidence, says the Russian source, is conclusive. This is what Lavrov himself was hinting at yesterday.

    SOURCE – https://www.facebook.com/pepe.escobar.77377/posts

    Sibel Edmonds is also reporting this story of Russian satellite imagery evidence that two chemical weapons shells striking the region originated from the Al Nusra (Al Qaeda units of the ‘Syrian Rebel Army’) HQ

    So now is the USS Carl Vinson going to attack OUR OWN PROXIES who fired the weapons?!

    Even better – since it is now CLEAR (from the Guardian) that the Israelis Unit 8200 have been providing the US all this phony information – this could be the unravelling of a MAJOR Israeli False Flag operation –


    This is like outing Mossad/Michael Ledeen for the Niger Uranium Forgeries BEFORE we were hoaxed into attacking Iraq by the Israelis and her Neocons

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