We can read, but we know as well how to build and destroy, and sometimes kill

20 Aug 2006 | 398 words | war israel lebanon

I guess the recent weeks have shown that the use of the word ‘sometimes’ in the above quote by Shimon Naveh, a retired Brigadier-General who directs the Operational Theory Research Institute of the IDF is somewhat misplaced: the IDF definitely knows more about killing and destruction than about reading and building.

While the article ‘the art of war‘ by Eyal Weizman from which the above quote is taken does portray the IDF as an extremely sophisticated and almost lovable bunch, reality has again shown that the IDF does not read enough (especially when it comes to history) and even more importantly still does not get that you cannot bring peace for your own people by humiliating and killing your neighbors. this becomes really obvious when looking into the earlier Israeli incursions into Lebanon. in ‘Pity the Nation‘, in the chapter dealing with the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, Robert Fisk quite drastically describes how Israel’s current number one enemy – Hezbollah – is a product of the 1982 invasion that eventually drove Israel’s then number one enemy – the PLO – out of Lebanon:

None of us, i think, realized the critical importance of the events at Khalde [a place just south of the Airport where the IDF met its first serious resistance by PLO and Amal fighters during its advance on Beirut]. The Lebanese Shia were learning the principles of martyrdom and putting them into practice. Never before had we seen these men wear headbands like this; we thought it was just another militia affectation but it was not. It was the beginning of a legend which also contained a strong element of truth. The Shia were now the Lebanese resistance, nationalist no doubt but also inspired by their religion. The party of God – in arabic, the Hezbollah – were on the beaches of Khalde that night. (Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation, 1990 p.227)

Now one wonders if the IDF really had these consequences in mind when it crushed the PLO in 1982. The same PLO could not stop the IDF from reaching West Beirut in 7 days. Hezbollah managed to prevent the IDF from reaching the Litani river for more than 4 weeks… at the same time one has to also credit the IDF for ‘only’ killing about a thousand Lebanese in its latest incursion. in 1982 they managed to kill 10.000 in those 7 days.