A Sunday morning article in the British weekly the Sunday Times states that IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz phoned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the first night of the war to inform him that the war had been won.
The article reports that, on this day, July 12th, Halutz was stationed in the general staff operations room in Tel Aviv, overseeing Israel Air Force strikes on Hizbullah strongholds in south Beirut. Over the Mediterranean, an F-15I squadron was preparing to strike at the Iranian made Zelzal rockets pointed at Tel Aviv.
At around midnight, the squadron received instructions to fire and, within minutes, had demolished the first rocket launcher. The squadron leader made contact 39 minutes later, reporting that "54 rocket launchers have been destroyed. We're returning to the base."
According to the article, Halutz smiled and called the prime minister, who was smoking a cigar as he waited in his Jerusalem home to receive the general's phone call. "All long-range rockets have been destroyed," Halutz declared. Then, he added three words that haunt him to this day: "We won the war." (Sunday Times via YNETnews)
The words "Kochi V'Otzem Yadi Assa Li Et HaChayil Hazeh" (My own strength and might made this army [instead of admitting that any help may have come from G-d]) keep ringing in my ears when reading this article.
IDF Chief of Staff, Dan "quick, sell my stock portfolio" Halutz not only sells his stock portfolia during the first criticial hours of the war, but has the gall to say "We won the war" after one successful IAF attack on Hizbolla rockets.
Simultaneous to his declaration of victory, 12 soldiers from an elite paratroopers unit encountered an ambush near the village of Maroun al-Ras in south Lebanon.
A soldier who gave an interview to the British paper, and who was identified only as Gad, said: "We didn't know what hit us. Within seconds, we had two dead. We expected a tent and three Kalashnikovs – that was the intelligence that we'd received. Instead, we found a hydraulic steel door that led to a network of well-stocked tunnels."
As the sun rose, the soldiers found themselves under fire from Hizbullah operatives who knew the lay of the land like the back of their hand and used this to their advantage.
"What's happening with the paratroopers?" asked Lt. Gen. Halutz. "They're surrounded," replied Chief of Northern Command Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, "I must send more forces."
As reinforcements from the Egoz infantry unit prepared to enter Maroun al-Ras, a number of them encountered an additional ambush. Exchanges of fire raged for hours, until soldiers succeeded in evacuating their dead and wounded.
The Sunday Times reports that, at this moment, everyone in the operations room in Tel Aviv knew that the fighting would be much harder and more complicated than Halutz had predicted. As the war progressed, the general's optimism crumbled – and along with it, Israel's reputation of invincibility, the paper wrote.
Reports from Egypt are now claiming that within 2-3 weeks, our 3 kidnapped soldiers will be released as part of a "prisoner exchange" between Hizbolla and Israel. So let's try and recap the war:
1. None of the war's objectives were met. In fact, we've proven once again that "Crime Pays" and that Israel will release terrorists to get our kidnapped soliders back (and our war effort didn't succeed in this in the slightest).
2. Our good friend, Kofi Annan is putting UNIFIL troops in South Lebanon, though he explicitly says that UNIFIL's charter is NOT to disarm Hizbolla or keep weapons from flowing into Lebanon from Syria.
Oh, while we're on the topic of UNIFIL, I found the following tidbit:
DURING THE RECENT month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel, U.N. "peacekeeping" forces made a startling contribution: They openly published daily real-time intelligence, of obvious usefulness to Hezbollah, on the location, equipment, and force structure of Israeli troops in Lebanon.
UNIFIL--the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a nearly 2,000-man blue-helmet contingent that has been present on the Lebanon-Israel border since 1978--is officially neutral. Yet, throughout the recent war, it posted on its website for all to see precise information about the movements of Israeli Defense Forces soldiers and the nature of their weaponry and materiel, even specifying the placement of IDF safety structures within hours of their construction. New information was sometimes only 30 minutes old when it was posted, and never more than 24 hours old.
On the bright side, I'm on vacation this week...
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael