Benny Gantz: IDF Can Destroy Hezbollah’s Military ‘Within Days’

Benny Gantz, the former IDF chief and, until recently, a member of the War Cabinet, took the occasion of the recent Herzliya Conference to deliver himself of some thoughts on Israel, Hezbollah, and Gaza. More on his speech can be found here: “Benny Gantz: Israel can destroy Hezbollah’s military in days,” by Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2024:

The IDF can destroy Hezbollah’s military capabilities in a matter of days, National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz said on Tuesday.

This is not empty sabre-rattling, in the Hassan-Nasrallah manner. It is, rather, the sober assessment of someone who would vastly prefer that there be no conflict with Hezbollah. But it is of course welcome news, especially after some of the scare-stories being bruited about, some by American commentators, in which it is claimed that Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system will be overwhelmed by the estimated 3,000 rockets that Hezbollah can launch every day for weeks on end. Gantz did not say at the Herzliya Conference how he thought Israel would fight this war — a very different one from that against Hamas in Gaza — but I’m assuming he is counting on the IAF’s ability to launch wave upon wave of Israeli planes in the first days of open warfare, that will reduce a great many of the rockets and missiles now warehoused in southern Lebanon to rubble. He may also be privy to new weapons in Israel’s arsenal that have not been made public.

Speaking at the 21st Herzliya Conference at Reichman University, Gantz said a major challenge for Israel is to “return the southern and northern residents back to their homes, even at the price of escalation.”

Sixty thousand Israelis had to leave southern Israel eight months ago, in order to avoid being hit by rockets launched by Hamas, but now 70% have returned, pari passu with the IDF’s victories over Hamas, in which almost all of the terror group’s store of rockets have been destroyed in their warehouses, and nearly 20,000 of its operatives have been killed.

But in the north, the situation remains as dangerous as ever, with Hezbollah sending barrages of rockets into northern Israel almost every day. Eighty thousand Israelis left their homes in the north and have become displaced persons in their own country. In short, Hezbollah and Hamas have reduced Israel’s livable space both in the north and, to a lesser extent, in the south.

As Ganz says, this situation cannot be long endured. Those Israelis must be able to return to their homes “even at the price of escalation” — a reference to the IDF ratcheting up attacks on Hezbollah (as Hamas is already close to collapse) until it stops its rocket attacks on the Galilee.

He said he heard the reports about the Hezbollah threat to bring down Israel’s electrical grid, and responded, “We can bring Lebanon completely into the dark, and take apart Hezbollah’s power in days.”

The former defense minister and IDF chief of staff said the price to “Israel will be heavy. We need to back up our institutions. We need to be ready for major incidents of harm [to the public]. We should try to avoid it, but if we need to do it, we cannot be deterred from it.

“We cannot let Hezbollah keep threats close to the northern border,” he added, “we need to get the [northern] residents back by September 1.”…

Note that while Gantz says that the IDF can “take apart Hezbollah’s power in days,” he does not minimize the likely damage to Israel. The price to “Israel will be heavy.” But the situation in northern Israel can’t be endured much longer; he gives September 1 as the terminus ad quem for the return of 80,000 Israelis to their homes in the north. If that hasn’t happened by that date, and there is no hint of a diplomatic resolution that would see Hezbollah both end its bombing of the Galilee and pull back its operatives north of the Litani River, as it had committed itself to doing under UNSC 1701, then the IDF, having finished its operations in Hamas, will gird its loins once again and take on Hezbollah, both to put a stop to its rocket fire and to force its fighters northward.

Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has not lost his interest in normalizing ties with Israel. He recognizes that the greatest threat to Israel — Iran, which supports Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen — is also the greatest threat to his country. He’s no friend of Hamas, which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and thus a sworn enemy to the family monarchies of the Gulf, including the al-Saud, and no doubt will be glad to see it defeated in Gaza. He also does not want Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, to be able to withstand an IDF invasion, should such prove necessary to put a stop to the near-daily barrages of rockets into northern Israel. As for the UAE and Bahrain, they have already normalized relations with Israel as members of the Abraham Accords, and like Saudi Arabia, both countries fear and detest Iran and its proxies. The UAE is the most enthusiastic about its ties with Israel, while Bahrain’s Sunni ruler is particularly wary of Iran, which has been stirring up trouble with the tiny country’s majority Shi’a population.

Gantz also wants to keep the Americans focused on the Big Problem that outweighs all the others: Iran’s headlong career to produce nuclear weapons. He wants the Americans to comprehend Israel’s immediate need for the most powerful bunker-buster bombs in the American arsenal that so far have not been provided to the IDF. They would be required for any successful attack on the nuclear facilities that have been built deep underground at Natanz and Fordow.

It took the Americans ten years to find and kill Osama bin Laden. The Israelis will not have to take that long to find Yahya Sinwar, and a ceasefire will not stop their searching for him. The IDF and Mossad will make sure Yahya Sinwar will not be dying a natural death.

In matters relating to direct news of the day, Gantz praised the High Court of Justice for its ruling to order a draft for eligible ultra-Orthodox (haredi) men. He expressed his disappointment in the political class for mishandling the issue earlier, instead of passing the ball over and over again to the court.

Israel can ill afford to continue to allow the Haredi population of 1.2 million to be exempt from military service. Their argument is that they, by their constant study of the Torah, are preserving Judaism. But if they are taken from their studies for two years and four months of army service, these yeshiva bochers will not forget all the studies that went before, and to which they can promptly return after serving in the IDF. Nothing prevents them from continuing their lives of constant study after they have. The non-Haredi Jewish population has been increasingly exercised that not only are they now called upon to serve for longer periods, but the 360,000 reservists have endured repeated call-ups. They are no longer willing to accept the Haredi argument that they are uniquely “preserving Judaism” through their Torah study. When you put your life on your line for your country, you look with ill favor on those — the Haredi young men — who do not want to serve because they are convinced that an “uninterrupted lifetime of Torah study” is more valuable in preserving the Jewish people than is responding to such things as the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7.

That argument no longer cuts much ice with the Israeli public. Many Israelis — religious as well as secular — have been increasingly infuriated that they must put their lives on the line, while the Haredi young men have been permitted to escape fulfilling their duties to the state. The IDF does not now have enough men to conduct the six-front war it now faces. It needs the tens of thousands of eligible Haredis to be drafted. And after some wailing and gnashing of teeth, the Haredis will in the end comply. Israel expects that every Jewish man — and woman — now including the yeshiva bochers, will do his duty. And they will.



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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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