Cartoon by Emad Hajjaj

Israel Almost Got Dragged Into War Due to Operational Failure

Haaretz: Once the applause dies down and the Israeli media stops patting the army on the back, perhaps we’ll be free to delve more deeply into how Sunday’s incident on the Lebanese border played out.

Admittedly, the bottom line of the latest round in the north was positive. Israel took action to thwart a series of threats from Iran and Hezbollah, the government behaved responsibly, the Israel Defense Forces prepared properly for retaliation from Lebanon, and the incident ended with no Israeli casualties.

These results lead to justified satisfaction. But they shouldn’t be allowed to obscure the fact that we were just a hair’s breadth away from a major escalation with Hezbollah on Sunday.

This escalation almost happened due to a serious mistake by the IDF that by pure chance (“a lot of luck,” as several officers admitted on Sunday), ended with no casualties. While it is marketing the achievement, the army should also investigate the mishap and how it could have dragged Israel into a conflict it didn’t want.

As the intelligence agencies predicted, Hezbollah’s response to the two attacks it blamed on Israel – the air strike on a group of drone operators near Damascus and the bombing of an essential piece of equipment for producing precision missiles in Beirut – came on the Lebanese border and focused on military targets rather than civilian ones. Hezbollah even recycled a scenario from the past – firing anti-tank missiles at IDF soldiers.

One of these, a Kornet missile, hit a military outpost near Moshav Avivim but caused no casualties. Northern Command and the Galilee Division were well prepared; they had reduced the number of targets Hezbollah could hit and changed their deployment. It’s likely that some of Hezbollah’s fire was aimed at empty targets.

But at least two missiles were aimed at a very real target: an armored military ambulance on a road between Kibbutz Yiron and Avivim. Unable to hit soldiers in stationary positions, Hezbollah’s anti-tank units had to search for moving targets, which are harder to hit, but definitely not impossible >>>