By Tony Sayegh
The success of the Lebanese resistance movement of Hizbullah in resisting and repelling the Israeli invasion of the south of Lebanon has exceeded the expectations of even the optimistic observers. More than 32 days after the start of the invasion, Israeli soldiers are being killed by the dozens and their tanks destroyed within 3 miles of the border! The supposed fourth strongest army in the world has not been able to control such a narrow strip of land, in nearly five weeks of saturated bombing, from the air, land and sea. The success of Hizbullah and the factors that have led to this success will be studied by military experts for years to come, and this is no exaggeration. Military historian William Lind, who blazed the trail for what is now called Fourth Generation War (4GW), observed that what Hizbullah has done is even beyond 4GW. In a classic 4GW, guerrillas try not to hold ground, but to attack in small groups and then disappear. Hizbullah has been able to do that as well as hold the Israeli army at bay.
As everyone pores over this phenomenal success of Hizbullah and tries to learn from it, the Palestinian resistance should be the first to do that. I realize that the two situations are not identical, but the Palestinians have a lot to learn. Of course, the Palestinians have not been able to get into the occupied areas a fraction of the weaponry that Hizbullah has accumulated. But it goes much beyond weapons.
A stark difference can be seen in the areas of secrecy and counter-intelligence. Israel has found itself with very little intelligence about the military capabilities of Hizbullah. It has not been able to penetrate the Lebanese resistance to locate strategic targets or Hizbullah leadership. Reports explain how effective and wide-spread Hizbullah's counter-intelligence is. Almost the entire population in Lebanese villages and towns act as eyes and ears to keep a watch for outsiders and potential spies. Collaborators and spies are eliminated immediately. No one knows who is a fighter with Hizbullah; they are ordinary people, who carry on with their daily life and fight (part or full time) as well.
By contrast, Palestinian organizations have done a poor job in these areas. Thousands of Palestinian collaborators supply the Israeli army with day-to-day and minute-to-minute information about the fighters. It has happened so many times to lose count, where Palestinian fighters ride in a car in Gaza and within minutes an Israeli missile demolishes the car and obliterates the occupants. Yet, the Palestinian resistance has been unable to learn. Not long ago, Hamas leaders who harbored the illusion that Israel would spare political leaders, would give press conferences and then go home to their known places of residence! Israel has managed to kill so many leaders, because of simple stupidity on the part of the Palestinians. One of the most devastating was the killing of Dr. Rantissi who was the Hamas leader, while he was with his family in their apartment in Gaza. When will the Palestinians learn? Ordinary fighters not long ago, would be shown parading with their weapons to show off, making their identity well known to the Israelis. In fact, as of late, it has become fashionable to wear military fatigues (to show toughness?)! What kind of a guerrilla is that who advertises to the enemy, "here I am, come and kill me."
One of the major problems has been the wretched Palestinian Authority, which was an Israeli creation. It is hard to be secretive and to have an effective counter-intelligence, when the PA's security apparatus is in charge of spying on Palestinians and supplying intelligence information to the Israelis. In many cases the PA itself imprisoned resistance fighters and let Israel break into the prisons to abduct the Palestinian fighters. Just yesterday, one of the resistance groups accused the PA's Rajjoub of collaboration with Israel in arranging an ambush for two of its fighters in the West Bank. You can't have a successful 4GW when you are the "government" with ministers, parliament, etc. Israel took care of that by putting most of the "government" in prison.
One last area of difference between Hizbullah and Hamas (as an example) is in the area of information. I read what Hizbullah's Al-Manar publishes online and what Hamas publishes. There is a big difference: Al-Manar news and articles are factual with no exaggeration and to the point; this establishes credibility. By contrast, Hamas has a lot of trivial and meaningless news, it uses flowery language and a certain amount of bombast. You read countless denunciations, condemnation and holding Israel responsible for this or that; what does this accomplish? After a while, you want to skip the whole thing. Threats made and not kept is a bad strategy and the Palestinians are guilty of that. When Nasrallah promised he delivered. To be honest, I was disappointed by the performance of the Palestinians against the Israel invasions of Gaza. Judging by rhetoric, I was expecting heavy Israeli losses, but that was not the case. The Palestinians were not prepared nor organized. They acted in a haphazard and improvised fashion, and the results showed.
I was harsh because the truth needs to be told. It is time for the Palestinians to learn and get serious; they have the new leader of 4GW to learn from if they want.