Cast Lead: deception par excellance
By Ted Belman
Last week in the conference call with bloggers, myself included, Gen. Effie Eitam advised that Israel was going to pulverize Gaza City and would not agree to a ceasefire without recovering Corp Shalit.
Then the talk of a lousy ceasefire filled the news and I thought that Effie had mislead us. But now, I think not.
From the getgo, Israel managed the war and the message brilliantly.
First of all, the press was barred from Gaza even though the Israel SC ordered that they be permitted in. The diplomatic corps stayed on message and the IDF shut up. All to the good.
It started with the message that the Security Cabinet was going to decide on Sunday whether to launch the operation. To the surprise of all, the operation began on Shabbat prior to the Sunday meeting.
Another misleading message was a report that the IDF lawyers were greatly restricting the operation for fear of charges of war crimes. This tended to suggest that Hamas, the war criminals, could fire at Israelis from among civilians with impunity.
Such was not the case, as the IDF was very aggressive in waging the war in order to minimize IDF casualties. No target was sacrosanct. The IDF didn’t hesitate to hit mosques, schools, UNRWA compounds, and residences so long as they were identified as military targets or if Hamas was firing from them. It even hit the AP offices housing the Palestinian stringers. Prosecuting the war in this fashion greatly reduced the power of Hamas and increased IDF deterrence.
One week into the operation, Ehud Barak,the man tasked with prosecuting the war, started to push for a ceasefire. How odd he should be the one. But the war went on. Then, Livni the one tasked with finding a diplomatic solution, said she preferred no formal ceasefire but for Israel to stop unilaterally.
Nevertheless, Israel was talking to everyone about their ceasefire initiatives but at no time slowing the war effort. A number of messages came out leading us to believe the ceasefire agreement was immanent. Israel was careful to present minimal demands to make the ceasefire appear more probable. Demands it knew Hamas wouldn’t accept. And slowly these demands became more severe. Eitam had told us that the issue of Shalit’s release was not being raised but it would be at the end of negotiations when all else had been agreed on.
During this time, Israel kept advising that they were reluctant to enter Gaza City for fear of great casualties. We were told that Phase III of the operation had not begun when in fact it was going on with great determination. In the main, the war criminals refused to fight and kept retreating, thus making it much easier for the IDF to move to the heart of Gaza City.
Rice announced the US was hoping for a ceasefire by January 20th. Let’s see that gives the IDF four more days to finish the job.
Brilliant. Well done Israel