By: Motasem A Dalloul
MEMO –Israeli soldiers had been always depicted as invincible and no army on the earth is able to face them. However, this image is no longer available as these soldiers had been seen numerous times fleeing little Palestinian boys and girls holding kitchen knives, which can hardly cut a very thin string.
Following the three Israeli wars waged on the people of the Gaza Strip between 2008 and 2014, dozens of political, strategic and military analysts acknowledged what is a bitter pill for the Israeli army to swallow: it is no longer a deterrent to the Palestinian fighters in the beleaguered coastal territory, not even the children.
Writing after the end of the 2008/9 Israeli offensive, David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said: “Israel believes its deterrence was lost in that war.”
During last year’s 51-day Israeli war on Gaza, when more than 2,260 Palestinians were killed, Israeli columnist Shlomi Eldar wrote: “Israel lost its power of deterrence and the leaders of the strongest state in the Middle East are in a quandary.”
The senior researcher of the Washington Institute and the Israeli columnist reached their conclusions after looking at the outcome of the conflicts, where Israeli soldiers faced armed Palestinian fighters.
It has to be remembered that these were asymmetrical in terms of the armaments and personnel available to the two sides.
The current uprising – intifada – in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem has also been notable for the Israeli army losing any deterrent factor that it once had. The image of the Israeli soldier has changed from one who is “invincible” to one who is weak and scared.
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This new image is depicted in several examples for little Palestinian boys and girls running after well-equipped Israeli soldiers in attempts to stab them. Their weapons are clearly small kitchen knives, which would probably have difficulty cutting very thin string.
A 12-year old Palestinian boy from Jerusalem Mo’awiyeh Alqam was arrested last week in an alleged stabbing attempt. He appeared handcuffed and surrounded by several armed Israeli policemen while smiling, demonstrating to what extent this little boy belittles such hollow individuals.
On Tuesday, the Israeli Police Commander of the occupied West Bank, Shlomi Michael, resigned just nine months after taking office. He did not explain why he was resigning, but observers pointed out that he had served in the elite Israeli security services and did not want to damage his reputation by being unable to deter a wave of civilian protests.
One elite commander made it clear that the Israeli army has nothing to deal with the current wave of Palestinian protests, waged mainly by young people with stones as their weapons. He acknowledged that this is a challenge.
“It is a very big challenge with the current terror [sic],” Paratroop Brigade Commander Colonel Nimrod Aloni told Army Radio on Thursday. “There is a great deal of confusion over how to deal with it.” Is there any chance to win, he asked rhetorically. “I think this is very much not a military question, it is very much tied to political decisions.”
According to a Palestinian specialist in Israeli affairs Dr Saleh al-Na’ami, Colonel Aloni’s remarks are a new “slap” in the face for Israeli politicians. He also believes that the old image of the Israeli soldier has gone forever. “The invincible image is no more,” he concluded.