Most dismissed retired IDF general Yitzhak Brick’s warning earlier this year of a Hamas invasion. Now Netanyahu wants his advice on how to win.
Yitzhak Brick might be the only Israeli military official to see what was coming. And he’s been warning of it for some time. He also does not see a ground invasion of Gaza as the only option. And Israel must prepare for a multi-front war given the situation in the north. Brick cautioned, among other things, of problems with the competence of ground forces and made it clear that the ground invasion does not have to be a mandatory step. But according to Brick, Israel urgently needs to “change its hard disk,” i.e. make fundamental changes.
General Brick has been warning for years about the horror we saw in southern Israel on that accursed Shabbat morning a week ago. But his assessment was dismissed by the defense establishment and the political leadership. Brick was even called delusional by many.
“There could be a massacre, the State of Israel has not yet recognized the danger,” Brick warned. “We feel among the people that everything is fine and there is no threat, but the public is not told that powers (Hamas) are preparing. These are equipped, trained fighters who will cross the border on foot and attack and occupy our settlements in the south. The likelihood of this happening is very high. Hamas will conquer settlements, throw grenades into bunkers and shelters and cause a massacre. The local residents, you and me, must defend these communities because the army will not be there.” Brick said these words months ago, but no one wanted to listen to him. After the massacre in the south, everyone now has an ear for retired general, even Bibi.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brick spoke this week about the continuation of the war against terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, as well as developments on the Lebanese border. The general made it clear to Netanyahu that his position was to continue the surgical strikes, divide the armed forces and find a solution through a hermetic siege of the Gaza Strip. His view contrasts with the attitude of the military staff, which assumes that no success in the Gaza Strip is possible without an Israeli ground invasion.
Brick warned that the Israel Defense Forces have turned into a primarily air-based military, and criticized the army leadership for its sensitivity to human losses on the ground. “The current situation of the land forces is tragic, they are not ready for war. Emergency supplies are not available, exercises have stopped and the battalions have not trained in years. There is also no weapons training and education, and the army is not capable of carrying out an attack.” The former ombudsman added that technology alone is not enough to win wars. “The truth is that an imaginary reality has been created by the general staff and spread throughout the army. The soldiers have lost their motivation and fighting spirit in recent years, and many are not ready to go into battle.”
“To completely avoid losses on the battlefield is to hinder the army’s ability to win the war. This type of thinking will ultimately lead to heavier casualties in war,” Brick told Channel 12 back in May.
Brick added that Israel’s ground forces and reserve system have been constantly ignored: “We have lost the ability to field an effective army and have become a one-dimensional aerial power that cannot win a war on its own.” In his view, Israel’s ground forces are not ready for war. The warning follows a series of polls showing that a large portion of Israeli citizens have lost faith in their country’s future. This was particularly evident over the last year, when the people were divided over political and judicial issues.
“In my role as general, I have visited more than 1,400 units and spoken to tens of thousands of commanders and soldiers, three to four times a week, four hours in each unit. I know the army on the ground better than anyone in the Israel Defense Forces,” Brick said years ago. “I have seen soldiers who do not take care of their weapons before leaving the base. No army in the world behaves like this. The soldiers carry their smartphones with them everywhere. Commands are sent via WhatsApp groups. These phones are being tracked by the enemy.”
Not only that, but commands are said to have been sent via email and then deleted, meaning no follow-up action is possible. “Our system has lost all control. Have we gone crazy? I cannot sleep at night. Our ground forces and armored corps are not ready for war,” Brick continually warned.
“What I present to you here is something you will not hear from the top IDF officials. Not only do many of the commanders not know anything, but even those who do know are afraid to speak out lest they be punished,” he wrote, calling on members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to speak to the rank-and-file soldiers and address the issue. “Let them show you what is going on, share with them their problems and difficulties. It will not be the division, brigade and battalion commanders from whom you will learn about the reality that exists in the field. You should learn it from those for whom it is the routine of their life… Their statements are the truth.”
Israel’s entire security apparatus has failed and relied too heavily on technology, with an unhealthy dash of arrogance. But as is typically the case, those who don’t go with the flow and call out the glaring problems are dismissed as lunatics, like General Brick, who saw the danger before anyone else.