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'Hezbollah's Arsenal Similar to any National Army's'

IDF Chief of Operations explains why the war to defend Israel has widened - and how terror has become far more organized.
By Arutz Sheva Staff
First Publish: 5/20/2014, 2:00 PM

Hezbollah terrorists
Hezbollah terrorists
Reuters

The IDF's Head of Operations, Major General Yoav Har-Even, spoke Tuesday at the "Combat Conference" and addressed the challenges of manning Israel's army in a highly dynamic environment. 

Har-Even said that in terms of military strategy, the IDF builds deterrence - and determination.

"We will have to make an operative decision and begin making greater achievements," Har-Even said. "Our gains depend on volume and force." He stressed that the IDF is prepared for war - primarily against enemy organizations that threaten the State of Israel's safety - and is ready to deal with the prospect of fighting terrorist organizations operating throughout urban landscapes.

The most significant change in the battlefield, the Operations Head noted, lies in the fact that Israel is an "island of stability" and the fact that the countries bordering Israel suffer from low governance. 

"All countries bordering Israel now are characterized by low governance," he said. He cited "conflict countries" as "Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt in some ways, despite improvement, even though they now have the ability to exercise sovereignty and governance and enforce what they want including in the Sinai" and noted that all of them are "problematic."

"We live today in duality: on the one hand terrorists exercise power for the sake of having power, and operate the execution of an ideological agenda from small groups - but on the other, they have much more capabilities now and are growing much larger," he said. 

Terrorist organizations: changing strategy?

Major General Har-Even added that major terror organizations, like Hezbollah, have experience immense growth - including intensification of weapons and military capabilities. Hezbollah, in particular, is now a semi-state run paramilitary organization.

"Today Hezbollah's arsenal would not shame any army in the world," he said, noting both their weapons' quantity and accuracy.

"They are conducting a battlefield trial in Syria that is not going too badly," he continued.

The weakness of governance throughout the Middle East, he said, has also led to the development of global jihad organizations which are based in the region, which present the IDF with the challenge of rooting out organizations that have a "lower profile." 

"The enemy is all around us," the Operations Head stated. "They have realized that they could not achieve what it wants via the forms that have characterized it in recent years so they changed strategy - conquering land, to take warfare right to the home front, to establish a greater rear." 

Har-Even called the change an "investment in conflict" that ultimately escalates the power and quality of a terrorist organization's arsenal. As a result, he said, terror organizations have put warfare at the home front - and established resource reserves far away from actual fighting.

As a result, he said, the IDF is prepared to launch a massive operation in the short term, in order to win the war on terror while reducing the duration of injury and damage to its own set of resources.

A full victory, however, would require a long-term investment. 

"Here there are no patents, no magic formulas," the Major General said. "Goals and operations are the first factor and the second is the behavior of the enemy." 

Aiming for arsenals

Part of the effort to reduce the duration of the campaign, the goal of the IDF is operating effectively to hit terror organizations where it hurts: not in injuring people, but in paring down weapons caches and supplies.  

"Efforts must focus on what is most effective," he noted. "If I have 100 goals, I need to hit the 10 most effective goals before doing anything else."

But balancing those goals can be complicated. "If we do not act, from day one, in all areas of operation, we are not relevant," he warned. "You cannot have a linear-geographical front, but must operate simultaneously all ranges of operation, we are not relevant. You can not run a linear - geographically, but must operate simultaneously in all areas."

He said the modern battlefield demands that the IDF not only safeguard protective safety nets like the "Iron Dome", but also conduct an offensive response, according to the readiness of the Israeli population.

'We do not win wars through combat," he said. "Whoever thinks we win through wars with combat has not found the right narrative. We could deter further terrorism through combat, but the issue of maneuverability will continue to be a key component." 

"It's our presence here that will ensure we meet our goals," he said.