Israeli professor calls for investigation of Gaza op

Yehezkel Dror says prolonged conflict shows Israel was unprepared for fighting Hamas, misunderstands group’s motives

Professor Yehezkel Dror (photo credit: YouTube screen cap)
Professor Yehezkel Dror (photo credit: YouTube screen cap)

A prominent Israeli professor urged the government to immediately establish an investigative committee with the purpose of drawing lessons from Operation Protective Edge and the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Yehezkel Dror, a member of the 2008 Winograd Commission that harshly criticized government unpreparedness and the IDF’s tactical and logistical failures against Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, said in a series of interviews on Monday that the drawn out conflict in Gaza, and Hamas’s unwillingness to halt rocket fire, suggest that the army must come up with new and improved combat strategies.

“I’m not a member of the security cabinet and I have no access to classified information, so I can not give ratings, or know whether there were any defects [during the operation],” Dror said in an interview with Channel 2. “However, it is clear that there are many lessons to be learned, there are problems that everyone is talking about.”

Dror, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, asserted that Israel may not have properly invested in developing military methods that would deter Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip from engaging in acts of violence against Israel.

“Do we really have an in depth understanding of them [Hamas]?” Dror asked. “Do we know whether destroying the houses of commanders really deters them, or does it just provoke them to take revenge?”

The professor stated that the very fact Israel had launched an operation in the Strip only two years after ending Operation Pillar of Defense showed that Hamas’s motives were “apparently deeply misunderstood” by the IDF and the government.

“The Gaza War shows us that some of the accepted [forms of combat] are now obsolete and inappropriate under new circumstances, such as a battle with Hamas in the Strip,” he told Army Radio.

The professor further asserted that the IDF may have failed in dealing with the tunnel threat at an early stage.

“A senior defense official was quoted as saying that they knew of the facts, but did not understand the meaning,” he said. “If this is true — it is indicative of a lack of thought, of not knowing how to connect the dots of strategy.”

Smoke and fire rise following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern of Gaza Strip, on Saturday, August 9, 2014. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Smoke and fire rise following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern of Gaza Strip, on Saturday, August 9, 2014. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Dror also criticized what is known as the Hannibal Protocol, an IDF order under which soldiers are instructed to thwart an abduction attempt even at the price of harming or wounding a soldier but without intentionally targeting him. The professor said that applying the procedure in a crowded urban environment, as was apparently the case in Rafah after the body of IDF officer Lt. Hadar Goldin was snatched by Hamas operatives on August 2, had the potential of causing unnecessary civilian deaths. He said the procedure therefore must only be executed after the IDF received clear orders from the government.

Almost 2,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip in more than a month of fighting, according to Hamas Health Ministry figures. Israel says 750-1,000 of the dead are Hamas and other gunmen. It also blames Hamas for all civilian fatalities, saying Hamas sets up rocket launchers and tunnel openings in Gaza neighborhoods and uses Gazans as “human shields.”

Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians in the fighting. Eleven of the soldiers were killed by Hamas gunmen emerging from cross-border tunnels dug under the Israeli border. Hamas has fired over 3,000 rockets at Israel, including some 600 from areas close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities, the Israeli army said.

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