"There has to be a ground assault"

Gaza credit: Reuters Abdel Rahim Khatib
Gaza credit: Reuters Abdel Rahim Khatib

Major General (res.) Gershon Hacohen tells "Globes" that Hamas is using the hostages to play with our emotions.

Following the release of two more Israeli hostages last night, there are reports of a larger deal to return hostages with foreign citizenship. These developments are possibly delaying Israel's ground assault, so "Globes" spoke to Major General (res.) Gershon Hacohen, former Commander of the Northern Corps and a member of the Israel Defense and Security Forum to ask how Israel should act in the current situation.

What is delaying the ground assault?

These are considerations for the cabinet and that is legitimate. We have time. A couple of days won't make any difference. What is important is that there will be a ground entry. There has to be."

The Americans are involved in the IDF and State of Israel's considerations?

"This is almost a war in a coalition with the Americans and so they have expectations from us to coordinate. Their people say explicitly that they expect not to lose control of the Middle East, and they do not want us to operate in the northern region. They agree that we will operate in the Gaza region. There are US questions here that are not our questions. In any case, first of all, we need to start."

What is the strategy for freeing the hostages taken by Hamas?

"They are trying to play with us emotionally. They enjoy it, just as they enjoy murdering, they enjoy extorting, even without gaining anything. They are bad people. Sometimes, because mainly we are intelligent, we don't understand them. If we succeed in freeing hostages, we have to do it. But there are many annoying things. They have selected people with foreign passports. Those who are not full-fledged Israelis, but only the kind of Jew who is not completely here, gets priority. This is a shocking thing. Any Israeli who is released - welcome. But something is happening here that is a kick in the stomach for Zionism."

Hamas has demonstrated unexpected creativity and preparedness, and perhaps they even underestimated it. How did it happen?

"Those who prepare for war and think about war, eventually reach creativity. All their creativity is focused on this. We made Waze, they make war. I did not underestimate them, I warned about this. They copied this scenario from Hezbollah and carried it out. The problem was that they got past our defenses, and there will be time to talk about that. We did not prepare to see them carry out such a scenario. Behind the defense, there is no second line. There are no mines, no trenches. We did not prepare the kibbutzim, in the past they were part of the defense system with fortifications in the kibbutzim. There were basic criteria and classic principles of war that we abandoned."

Aryeh Deri said that the ground assault has been delayed because 'There was not a plan in Israel to completely eradicate Hamas." Is that correct?

"Deri is not an experienced soldier, and he does not understand this issue. In general, people have no understanding of what an operational plan is. There has never been an operational plan that was implemented as it is, it is not a cakewalk. In the Six Day War, the professional plan on the shelf was for the main effort to be in the southern Negev, but in the end they went through the northern Negev. Eisenhower said that plans are nothing and planning is everything. In the end, after planning, if you do exactly what you planned, you are lost."

"A plan should be linked to the context, and the context changes. The worst thing that can be is to take a plan in an old context and apply it as it is to a new context. And not only this. The Chief of Staff uses the plan to direct the training and as a reference for building forces and a common language. But you must not hold on to it and you must take into account what is really happening."

"During the Operation Peace for Galilee (First Lebanon War), there was an excellent plan by Chief of Staff Raful (Rafael Eitan), which was built on four legs. A frontal offensive move towards the Litani and naval encirclement, a move on the eastern side to trap the Syrians and occupy the Beka Valley, paratroopers on helicopters on the Beirut-Damascus road, and a brigade of previously captured Russian tanks that would reach Beirut from the north. In approving the plans, they voted against dropping paratroopers on the Beirut-Damascus road and sending in tanks from the north. If I built a table on four legs and I only had two left, how would it stand?"

"With every change in the plan, and there are always changes in the plan, it requires adjustments to the other elements of the plan. Plans evolve, layer upon layer. Deri's lack of professional understanding stems from imagining the state as some kind of rational machine with plans for everything. The same is true now, the circumstances have changed and this forces the construction of new plans."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 24, 2023.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2023.

Gaza credit: Reuters Abdel Rahim Khatib
Gaza credit: Reuters Abdel Rahim Khatib
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