The threat to Israel from Hezbollah should not be underestimated, Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak stated Monday night, referring to IDF estimates that the Lebanon-based terror group is holding more than 100,000 rockets in civilian areas.
Barak, who gave a speech at Tel Aviv University marking the 30th anniversary of the IDF deployment in southern Lebanon, said that Israel has "never had to cope with 100 thousand rockets and we have not even begun to deal with their accuracy." Accurate rockets, he said, "are not more of the same thing, they are something completely different."
Fifteen years ago, while serving as prime minister, Barak ordered the withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
"Part of our culture is found not only in the minds of commanders, but the political tradition of Israel," said Barak, a former defense minister and chief of staff, according to Walla! News. "If you've already been forced to take something, think twice before you leave it," he said, referring to the security belt Israel held in southern Lebanon from 1985 to 2000.
"At no point were we going to plant a tree there (i.e. settle there permanently)," Barak added. "We had to keep asking: what purpose does this serve?"
"The move was intended to boost security," he noted. "The width of the security zone was not enough to protect communities from even short-range rockets. Therefore, we had to ask what, exactly, we're doing there."
"It was a situation of ambiguity in the political echelon and each time someone asked why we do not move away, then the answer is: 'It's none of your business, it's the political echelon's business," continued the former prime minister, defending the decision.
Barak stated that two lessons can be learned from the IDF's conduct in Lebanon: to plan well in advance, but also to be open and flexible to adapting to new security situations and to re-evaluate every few years.
"Those who remember the circumstances of the founding of Hamas, this, among other things, added a certain weight to our decision," Barak continued. "We aren't the reason Hamas exists, but we are a factor."
"Even about Hezbollah, our behavior contributes to [how it behaves] and we have to take everything into consideration," he declared. "The reality is not deterministic. Each decision can affect everything."
"Our opponent is serious, we have no room for complacency on any front. Superiority is the result of serious work," he added.
Regarding the missile threat from Hezbollah, he sounded an urgent tone. "The state has no choice but to draw conclusions," he said. "It is impossible to deal with this challenge by deploying troops in all places, which can fire missiles. Iron Dome and David's Sling, Arrow and Super-Arrow are very expensive projects."
Barak argued that the state of Israel needs to act against the missile threat now, and warned that "a boundless upheaval" could take place if Israel finds itself under severe missile attack.
"Only a strong Israel Defense Forces will ensure the physical security of the State of Israel," he maintained,"just as a strong economy, a strong and correct relations with the United States will ensure that the remaining dimensions of security."
"All this requires sharp and clear leadership, which banishes the fear to look reality in the eye, recognize what needs to be done – then go and do it," he concluded.