Let it not be said that the IDF doesn’t learn from its mistakes and draw the proper conclusions.* The new deputy commander of Israel’s “depth command,” designed to take the battle to the enemy far from Israeli territory, is Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch (Hebrew). In 2006, he commanded the unit which was attacked by Hezbollah resulting in the capture and death of two IDF soldiers. This embarrassing debacle in turn led to the Lebanon War, an even more embarrassing debacle for Israel and the IDF.
The Almog Report (chaired by Doron Almog, another IDF commander embroiled in controversy), which examined IDF performance during the war, slammed him for his unit’s sloppy preparation and performance that betrayed weaknesses which enabled the Hezbollah attack. Most notoriously, Hirsch bragged to the Israeli media that the IDF controlled the village of Bint Jabel the day before nine Golani troops were killed there in a massive firefight. In this he wasn’t alone. The IDF bragged it’d killed Hassan Nasrallah using a U.S. bunker buster when it hadn’t. Dan Halutz also predicted his forces would bomb Lebanon back to the Stone Age. Though they tried awfully hard, they didn’t quite succeed at that either thanks in part to Iranian funds which helped rebuild the south.
Almog planned to recommend that Hirsch be deprived of any future IDF command, but he resigned just before the document was released. This enabled him to rear his ugly head again as he has today, like a cat of nine lives.
One wonders how someone who resigned in disgrace for something close to dereliction of duty could be allowed to return in a role with a supposedly prestigious new unit which shows that the IDF is adapting to new technology and the changing world. All this goes to confirm that the IDF is very good at recycling the same tired old faces which have failed in the past and much less successful at looking at objectives and strategy in new and unorthodox ways. It would rather remain with the tried, failed and true than experiment with the new and unconventional.
One also wonders how a commander who couldn’t prepare for or prevent his own troops from being attacked and killed by a relatively primitive fighting force like Hezbollah will succeed in combat against far more sophisticated enemies like Iran.
His Hebrew Wikipedia article reveals rather ironically that he chaired a group, Noam, which commemorated a fallen IDF soldier, Eytan Belhassan. No word on his chairing any similar committees in memory of Ehud Goldwasser or Eldad Regev. Imagine how the parents of these two men and all the other soldiers under his command feel about this atrocious rehabilitation of failed commander.
* the Hebrew (l’hasik maskanot) for “drawing the [proper] conclusion” means “resignation”
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.