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Israel Faces Dilemma on Military Strategy

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June 13, 2014 LOCAL STATIONS

Israel Faces Dilemma on Military Strategy All Things Considered: July 20, 2006 BROWSE TOPICS

Israel Faces Dilemma on Military Strategy


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ROBERT SIEGEL, host: What are Israel's military objectives in Lebanon and what might it take to achieve them?


Well, Michael Harris, who is a political scientist at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, was a major in the Israeli Army. And he served along the border with Lebanon.

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Welcome to the program.

Dr. MICHAEL HARRIS (Ferris State University): Thank you. Good to be here.


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SIEGEL: Across the border from Israel are Hezbollah forces armed with, we hear, thousands of Katyusha rockets and some longer range rockets. In this operation, what does Israel expect to be there if it succeeds by the end of it all? Dr. HARRIS: Well, the main thing that Israel would want to achieve, Robert, is that Hezbollah will never again or with a very low probability ever attack Israel from its northern border. That is the ultimate goal of this operation. SIEGEL: That means to push the entire force somewhere out of range to the north or to disarm all of the villages where there are tunnels filled with Katyuchas, we're told. Dr. HARRIS: The idea would be to push them away from the border and to make sure that it won't be worth for them to attack Israel, even if they will have a capacity to deliver Katyushas somewhere down south. SIEGEL: Are those aims that they can achieve from the air, or do there have to be more troops sent in on the ground to go from one village to the next looking for places where weapons are stored? Dr. HARRIS: That is the ultimate question and probably an evolving one. It could be that the Israeli defense forces at first did think that they could achieve more by air strike and are now realizing that without troops on the ground, at least a few kilometers from the Israeli border, that objective will not be achieved. SIEGEL: Presumably, troops that are sent in and then are brought back over to the Israeli side, they're not considering reoccupying the border area, are they? Dr. HARRIS: Absolutely not. The Israeli lesson, going back from '76 all the way to 2000 and such, that Israel will not want one soldier north of the Israeli border. SIEGEL: Why have the Israelis told so many Lebanese Shiites to evacuate the south and then bombed some of the very roads that they would be driving north on, indeed, bombed some vehicles on[6/13/2014 11:23:46 PM]

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the roads that are leading out of the south, if the people are supposed to evacuate the area? Dr. HARRIS: True, and the bridges on the Litani were bombed at the beginning, and that's a puzzling question. The one explanation is that at first Israel believed that it could achieve its goals while the population would stay there. Now, they believe, because the Katyushas are coming out of the villages that in order to hit the Hezbollah in the villages and not to cause civilian casualties, they have to evacuate the civilians. Which is, as you mentioned, very difficult for them to be evacuated and is causing a significant problem for Israel. SIEGEL: And for the Lebanese. There's a significant contradiction here. You're told, get out of harm's way. And then there's no place that you can go to.

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Dr. HARRIS: That is true and is probably related to the issue that Israel did think that it could achieve its goal while the population would be in the villages and that's going to create a lot of humanitarian difficulty on the Lebanese side and a lot of difficulty for the Israeli military. SIEGEL: To what extent, do you think, we're witnessing Israeli military actions that are specifically, tactically defined to get that missile site or to push Hezbollah forces back that far north? And to what extent are we seeing messages that are being sent to Hezbollah, to Lebanon, to Syria, to Tehran, to everyone in the region? Dr. HARRIS: That is the key of what’s going on and I believe that they’re both. There are special forces that are active along the Israeli/Lebanese border. They are trying to hit directly where they are launching the missiles from. There are special forces that are all over Lebanon that are active, but there’s also no doubt the major effort is to send a clear message to Iran, to Syria, to the Hezbollah, and to the international community that as long as Israel is going to be under these conditions, there won’t be peace and quiet in the region, and that’s definitely a goal of the Israeli government. SIEGEL: Professor Harris, thank you very much for talking with us. Dr. HARRIS: My pleasure. Thank you. SIEGEL: That’s political scientist Michael Harris, former major in the Israeli Army, speaking to us from Big Rapids, Michigan. Copyright ©2006 National Public Radio®. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to National Public Radio. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission. For further information, please contact NPR's Permissions Coordinator at (202) 513-2000. This transcript was created by a contractor for NPR, and NPR has not verified its accuracy. For all NPR programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version.

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Israel Faces Dilemma On Military Strategy Professor Michael Harris  

Israel Faces Dilemma On Military Strategy Professor Michael Harris

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