Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
MK Gadi Eisenkot (National Union) in the Knesset, November 22, 2022.

Former IDF Chief of Staff and War Cabinet Minister Gadi Eisenkot (National Union) last week sent the members of the War Cabinet a long and detailed warning letter titled, “The absence of decisive decision making on the war,” which criticizes the cabinet’s decisions––in which he participates, News 12 reported Monday night. The letter offers a detailed action plan for the remainder of the war.

“After more than four months of fighting, it is appropriate to evaluate the achievements and examine the continued directions. In my opinion, in light of the avoidance of decisive and significant decision-making, there is an increasing difficulty in achieving the goals of the war. The strategic outline of the war has stalled, and in practice is threatening the achieving the goals of the war, as well as the strategic situation of the State of Israel.”

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Eisenkot leaked his letter about a week after having sent it to his peers in the war cabinet. His view is grim regarding the IDF’s success in achieving the goals that the political echelon had set:

  • The reduction of Hamas’s military and governmental capabilities – partially achieved
  • The return of the hostages – partially achieved
  • An end to the war that ends the threat from Gaza – not achieved
  • Restoring security to the residents of the Gaza envelope – partially achieved
  • Strengthening the personal security and national resilience of Israeli citizens – not achieved

On the other hand, Eisenkot also says Hamas failed to reach its goals following October 7, 2023. He suggests the attack was an attempt to ignite an axial war, which would also include Lebanon, the militias, and the Iranians, to end the danger to al-Aqsa (meaning the right of Jews to ascend the Temple Mount – DI), the release of security prisoners with Jewish blood on their hands, and stopping the normalization of Israeli relations with Saudi Arabia.

That last goal would make it one out of three, at least temporarily.

As to the IDF, Eisenkot claims, “In practice, no decisive decisions were made in three months. The war is being conducted according to tactical accomplishments, without significant moves to bring strategic results.”

Eisenkot explains the five areas the security apparatus must pay attention to:

  1. Full transition to phase C, the phase of local raids with the forces laid out behind a buffer zone
  2. Implementation of a new scheme for the return of the hostages before the month of Ramadan (March 11)
  3. Preventing an escalation in Judea and Samaria during Ramadan
  4. Returning residents to their homes along the northern and southern borders
  5. Promoting a civilian alternative to Hamas rule in Gaza

Yours truly is not a military expert (I was honorably discharged from the IDF after three years with the humble rank of Private), but the above to-do list looks more like wishful thinking than a serious plan.

  1. The IDF is engaged in a slow and meticulous campaign to cleanse the tunnels, first in Khan Younes, and later in Rafah. Any attempt to push this effort into the next phase would result in increased Israeli casualties and a missed victory.
  2. Hamas is unable at this point to deliver the hostages, otherwise it would not have stuck by its grandiose demands. Getting a significant hostage release by March 11 is unrealistic.
  3. To prevent an escalation in Judea and Samaria, the IDF would have to impose a stringent curfew for the duration of Ramadan. It’s doable militarily, but not politically.
  4. Any government that moves the civilian residents back to their homes on both borders exposes them to serious danger. That’s all Israel needs now, a rise in civilian casualties because the war cabinet said it was OK to go back home. IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz did just that in 2014, calling on the residents of the Gaza envelope to come out of their shelters and enjoy nature, and a three-year-old was murdered soon after by Hamas mortar fire.
  5. It’s time to abandon the fairy tale about nice civilians living in Gaza who would be happy to take the reins of government from Hamas, exposing themselves and their families to swift assassinations. Such a phase will only be possible following a deep denazification campaign that should include public executions of Yahya Sinwar et al. Otherwise, the IDF will be the only agent of order in a chaotic Gaza.

Eisenkot concludes his letter with criticism of PM Netanyahu’s repeated use of the need for “total victory.” The former IDF commander suggests that without specific details to define this “total victory,” it remains little more than an empty slogan.

And here I was convinced “total victory” meant killing the entire Hamas rank and file and punishing all the civilians who supported them. I don’t know how anyone could be more specific than that.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.