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Gaza War Day 16: Israel’s Defense Minister Ordered Use of Obsolete Armored Vehicle Leading to 7 Soldier Deaths

m 113 apn

Israeli M-113 APC destroyed by anti-tank missile resulting in deaths of 7 IDF troops

Israeli defense minister, Bogie Yaalon, has been locked in a major fiscal battle with Finance Minister Yair Lapid over funding for the IDF.  Lapid is desperately trying to cut ministerial budgets, while the IDF naturally tries to expand its funding in every budgetary cycle.  The IDF is the nation’s 800-pound gorilla.  It sucks up money. It sucks up manpower.  It’s used to considering the national budget its personal piggybank.

A highly-placed Likud politician revealed to me today that as part of that battle, Yaalon ordered that the IDF use an obsolete 50 year-old model of armored personnel carrier in the Gaza war. He hoped that either the APC would fail in battle (as it did) or at least he’d be able to point to use of the vehicle as a shameful example of budgetary penny-pinching forced on the army by finance ministry cuts, which diminished operational readiness of the IDF.

Haaretz’s Amos Harel points out the fallacies that underlie the IDF claim:

It turns out the General Command hadn’t even known that M-113s, which are ancient, poorly protected vehicles, were being used in Gaza. Only after that incident did the Southern Command issue an order forbidding M-113s to enter Gaza.

The army promptly cited this incident in support of its demand for a budget increase, but the mishap wasn’t due to lack of funds. The fact is that immediately after that attack, a convoy of modern Namer and Achzarit APCs, which have better protection, began making its way from the Lebanese border to Gaza. In short, there was no budgetary problem here, but one of planning and resource allocation.

As a result of this political maneuvering, 7 soldiers were incinerated during a street battle during which a Palestinian fighter fired an anti-tank missile, which destroyed the vehicle.  Only one soldier survived.  Two of the dead were U.S. citizens.

In other words, Yaalon gambled the lives of these boys away hoping for a budgetary advantage.  The dead were sacrificed on the altar of expediency.

Increasing the severity of the incident, the only reason why the Palestinians got a shot at the APC was that the ancient, outdated vehicle had broken down and was waiting for another APC to pick up its passengers and take them to their destination.  Clearly, whoever ordered these vehicles into battle should be court-martialed or, in the case of Yaalon, fired.

In a new development, Nana reports that 30 IDF reservists have publicly announced they will refuse to travel in the Zelda M-113s in the event they are stationed in Gaza and asked to travel in it.

When people wonder where the supremely confident, well-trained and equipped IDF of the 1967 War went, they should know it deteriorated precisely over such corrupt, borderline criminal behavior such as this.  I’ve documented other examples of outright IDF corruption.  This tragedy ranks right up there in cynicism.

Every minister has his dutiful Boswell regurgitating his talking points for the Israeli media public.  Ben Caspit seems to serve that role for Yaalon.  In a report dripping with patriotic fervor (Hebrew) for the boys who made the ‘ultimate sacrifice,’ he goes into high dudgeon over the obsolete “Zelda” (M113) into which these poor boys were packed:

I want these soldiers to have enough ‘Namer’ (a more modern, protected vehicle) APCs, so they won’t have to enter Gaza in the Zelda, like the one that was hit resulting in 7 dead…I want a ‘windbreaker’ for every tank and Iron Dome for everyone.  And tanks even more heavily armored, and sufficient budget to train these soldiers, so that they have every good thing that can be provided for them by this country including a decent, even indulgent salary to compensate them for the personal and family sacrifices they’re making, so we can look out for them as they’re looking out for us.

When Caspit’s reporting days are over he can be assured of a job as Yaalon’s publicist and speechwriter.  Another tidbit about Caspit, he’s one of the odd bunch of Israeli journalists featured in Al Monitor’s Israel Pulse section, which also boasts an avowed settler ultra-nationalist contributor.  That should make Caspit feel right at home.

Of course, my source has his own bone to pick with Yaalon.  Most of the Likud now expect, after Lieberman’s break-up of the governing coalition, a new election in 2015.  It’s every man for himself.  Every potential candidate for party leader, should Bibi step down, seeks a political angle.  They’re all positioning themselves for maximum advantage.  Even though Yaalon is a cynical scumbag who caused the deaths of those 7 boys, his enemies are taking advantage of his inexcusable decision to make life miserable for him.

But the truth is that every one of these Likud mini-Bibis have skeletons rattling around in their closets.  No one is Mr. Clean.  Most importantly, they’ll all lead Israel even farther into the darkness than Bibi has.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • PersianAdvocate July 22, 2014, 7:30 PM

    The US consul was requested to respond to the American deaths of those going like jihadists to Israel to help the Israeli military ethnically cleanse the Palestinians, advance Netanyahu’s re-election chances, and to make a energy resource play in northern Gaza. Two of them were reported killed in the line of duty.

    I’m sure after being queried, the State Department consulted its experts, who told the State Department that Israel’s operational abilities are laughable, that their claims of accuracy are absurd given the wanton 80-90% civilian casualty rate, and that, in addition to all of this, the cost-benefit rational by Israel’s leadership was self-serving, irrational and messianic (see the three reasons I listed above for this offensive).

    In an appropriate response to Israel’s heinous acts and conduct in these operations, which additionally set US strategic assets, interests and security also in jeopardy because the world views Israeli actions as only being executed with impunity because of the US, the State Department via the FAA ordered the airways to and from Tel Aviv closed. Even the Israelis know that Ben Gurion airport is safe from harm (those rockets can’t target it anyway — a lot of selective memory here).

    I think the best policy for Israel is to refrain from further operations here immediately and claim its objectives a success, and to really focus on the real and only existential threat to Israel, ISIS. It is also the recommendation of experts across the board, like on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, in the NY Times, Washington Post, and more, that ISIS be treated as the most dire threat in the region. Thus, Israel should be tasked to go after ISIS. With Israel’s terrorist hunting prowess, the special relationship we share, it’s a no-brainer. Right? :)

    If Israel cannot face ISIS head on, then it might as well tell everyone to pack their bags and go home. Because for years I’ve been listening to a campaign of lies about the “Iran nuclear threat hoax” from the same parties, and I’m worried that the fight Israel starts it will not be able to end. The only show of deterrence that is within potential for Israel is to face ISIS head on. Nothing else. Israel believes in fighting “terror”, right? :)

    • PersianAdvocate July 22, 2014, 7:34 PM

      I, for one, am excited at the prospect of Israel donating its very first troop to the “War on Terror” after 13 years. It was that long ago that Netanyahu proclaimed to Ha’aretz that “9/11 was good for Israel” because it created an American sentiment against Israel’s regional opponents. I think he would be in agreement that Israel is the front line for terrorism and this is a perfect fit.

      • ahhiyawa July 23, 2014, 5:40 AM


        There has been one, tiny and short IDF combat action of less than a day in a HAMAS outwork in the suburb of Shejaiya, and the whole country is collapsing in an orgy of recrimination and finger pointing. To give just one example, a Nahum Barnea in Yedioth is claiming the battle (sick) of Shejaiya the “Bint Jbeil of Gaza.” Give me a break!

        I have to believe your postscript about Israel being the “…front line for terrorism and this is a perfect fit…” was made in jest, because your concern about Israel not being able to finish what it starts has been irrefutably demonstrated in the Shejaiya affair. Israel facing “…ISIS head on..?” They can’t even finish the job they started with HAMAS with every advantage in the book.

  • persiangirl July 22, 2014, 7:50 PM

    [comment deleted: comments, whether brutish toward Israelis or Palestinians, will not be published.]

  • Adriana July 22, 2014, 8:24 PM

    I am getting sick with all these waste of lives.

  • poirefrais July 22, 2014, 9:08 PM

    “Netanyahu finally speaks his mind”
    I cannot abide by the weak Kerry-Obama stance — Why offer Gaza money, a pittance to the $11 Million a day o Israel.
    Why does the US pay Israel for an army it uses to destroyed Gaza, then ‘offer’ $40 million something to ‘help” pay for Israel’s vile destruction ~ How back to front this is!! Pay to bomb, then pay for ‘humanitarian’ aid.
    US money will not undo, what has been done to Gaza and it’s people and the arrogance of the offer adds insult to injury.
    The humanitarian thing would have been to strike Israel with sanctions, and withdraw military aid.
    It looks to me like a bribe to “persuade” a ceasefire, disingenuous.
    Who would really benefit from such a maneuver?
    Who ever benefits – the Palestinians?

    Kerry and Obama are, shamelessly, refusing to take responsibility for America’s responsibility here. Calls for “restraint’, and statements of ‘concern’ are hollow and Netanyahu couldn’t care less. He is assured, apparently, from the US unending narrative of Israel’s right to defend itself spin, and outpouring of American taxpayers dollars.
    Has congress no shame?? and are they not supposed to represent Americans and American people’s interest over Netanyahu and ideologies that persecute, segregate and marginalize people.?

    Every minute that passes, a life is lost and scarred – torn, thanks to a brutal, authoritarian entity that America has refused to condone.
    Media is being used for propaganda, and Americans are in the dark, as ever, as the powers that be manipulate the facts.

  • Strenikov July 22, 2014, 9:10 PM

    When M-113’s were used in Vietnam, soldiers rode on top of them and not within because they would rather take their chances being sniped then dealing with aluminum shards (“spall”) if the vehicle was hit by a rocket grenade or heavy ammunition. But let’s not forget that the IDF was still using WWII-surplus M3 half-tracks in the 1970s as scout cars, so sending soldiers to their deaths in substandard vehicles has precedence.

  • poirefrais July 22, 2014, 9:12 PM

    –correcting, ” thanks to a brutal, authoritarian entity that America condones”!!

  • John Bows July 22, 2014, 9:41 PM

    I’m sure you’ve all seen it before, but just in case you haven’t there’s a wonderful video from 2012 by Nina Paley that’s good for a laugh at (grimly) at ancient & modern history’s occupants and conquerors that have marched through the Middle East, and specifically the Levant to claim it as theirs…and whose land it may REALLY be if we fail to summon up our diplomatic, cooperative and tolerant natures to the occasion:


  • Laguerre July 23, 2014, 5:42 AM

    M113s are still the latest thing for the Lebanese and Egyptian armies!

  • Kozmo July 23, 2014, 12:02 PM

    I know that mechanization is seen as the epitome of modern warfare, but I have to wonder if these APCs just reduce the soldiers inside to helpless bystanders and targets. These vehicles are often blind to a degree, limited in maneuverability, and seem helpless in urban areas. What happened to the concept of light infantry that was not dependent on being buttoned-up in a vulnerable vehicle? I’d think that more mobile and quick fire and maneuver tactics by dismounted, dispersed infantry might be more efficient in many situations. These lumbering APCs are just begging to be shot at with hand-held rockets or grenades, or ambushed with mines or booby-traps, and when this happens, the occupants tend to all become casualties. But modern armies seem wedded to the idea of more and heavier armor, even though these forces have not been successful at strategically defeating determined guerilla forces. They do kill a lot of civilians and make rubble out of cities, though.

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