Wikileaks: Israel Plans Total War on Lebanon, Gaza

The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has summarized an Israeli military briefing by Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi of a US congressional delegation a little over a year ago and concludes that

‘ The memo on the talks between Ashkenazi and [Congressman Ike] Skelton, as well as numerous other documents from the same period of time, to which Aftenposten has gained access, leave a clear message: The Israeli military is forging ahead at full speed with preparations for a new war in the Middle East.

Note: This war preparation is serious and specific, according to the paper, and clearly is not just a matter of vague contingency planning.

The paper says that US cables quote Ashkenazi telling the US congressmen, “I’m preparing the Israeli army for a major war, since it is easier to scale down to a smaller operation than to do the opposite.”

The general’s plans are driven by fear of growing stockpiles of rockets in Hamas-controlled Gaza and in Hizbullah-controlled Southern Lebanon, the likely theaters of the planned major new war. Ashkenazi does not seem capable of considering that, given a number of Israeli invasions and occupations of those regions, the rockets may be primarily defensive.

Ashkenazi told the visiting delegation that Israeli unmanned drones had had great success in identifying rocket emplacements in southern Lebanon, and that it had been aided in this endeavor by the US National Security Agency,which spies on communications.

The new, major war will be a total war on civilians, Ashkenazi boasted: “In the next war Israel cannot accept any restrictions on warfare in urban areas.” (I den neste krigen kan Israel ikke godta noen restriksjoner på krigføring i byområder in Norwegian, or let us just translate it into the original German: “Im nächsten Krieg kann Israel keine Beschränkungen der Kriegsführung in städtischen Gebieten akzeptieren.”.) Mind you, the civilian deaths deriving from this massive and unrestricted bombing campaign on targets in the midst of civilian urban populations will be “unintentional.” Planning to bomb civilian areas with foreknowledge that you will thereby kill large numbers of civilians is a war crime.

Ashkenazi also admitted to then Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) that Hamas is not in control of even more radical groups, which had infiltrated cells into Hamas itself, and which had rocket-making capabilities. In public, Israeli officials routinely demonize Hamas for every rocket fired from the lawless, besieged territory of Gaza, but here in private Ashkenazi was admitting the opposite. He even admitted that Israeli intelligence had no means to distinguish the even-more-radical from the merely Hamas.

Other State Department documents on the same theme say that last year this time Hizbullah had about 20,000 rockets, some of which can now reach Tel Aviv, and that the Shiite militia will attempt to stretch out its supplies for a two-month-long war, and would try to lob about 100 rockets at Tel Aviv per day.

In the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon, one fourth of the Israeli population was be forced to move house. It will be more this time, and for longer.

The memos reveal that none of the goals of Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon and its 2008-9 war on little Gaza were achieved, and that both Hamas and Hizbullah have effectively re-armed. What makes Ashkenazi think things would be different this time? Israel hawks have doomed themselves to the particular hell of Sisyphus, forced to roll the same stone up the hill over and over again with no hope of ever balancing it on the summit.

You know, Israel could have a peace treaty with Syria and Lebanon tomorrow by giving back the Golan Heights and the Shebaa Farms, and by accepting a two-state solution. Instead, its Dr. Strangeloves are planning out massive bombings of areas thick with innocent civilians and willing to subject Tel Aviv to two months worth of rocket fire.

Nor will the United States be held harmless from the blowback in the region caused by another Israeli war of aggression. Before September 11, Israel hawks used to make fun of Americans who warned that eventually there would be hell to pay for the Israeli strangulation of the Palestinians (for the argument, see this posting). And, imagine what a war would do to gasoline prices and to the world economy. My deepest fear is that US support for Israeli militarism, and the terrorism that support inevitably engenders, will be what finally finishes off the civil liberties enshrined in the American Constitution.

49 Responses

  1. I think it’s time for the arab states to team up and tell Israel to behave itself and adhere to international law.
    If Israel does launch ‘total war’ on Lebanon and Gaza then all the countries in the region…. including Turkey should give it a bloody nose. That’s the only way this warmongering nation of savages will be brought into line.

    • Israel’s supporters have been making similar claims about arabs for decades (“the only language they understand is violence”) and it hasn’t worked for them despite sixty years of upping the carnage level to the point where they openly refuse to distinguish between combatants and civilians.

      If arabs haven’t been beaten into submission by the much greater force inflicted at them, why expect the Israelis to just roll over? Especially since the United States can be depended on to intervene directly if Israel ever faces an actual (as opposed to rhetorically convenient) existential threat? Not to mention the continuing support (or neutrality) of Europe and other advanced nations.

      The Israelis appear to fear their growing isolation more than violent retaliation. I think that is ultimately what will put an end to their brutality, not elevated violence from the other side.

    • What? A ‘bloody nose?’ Nice use of euphemism there…
      I think many of Israel’s policies are horrible but what you’re advocating sounds like preemptive war. BTW, way to keep it classy with the ‘nation of savages’ line.

      Ahh, wait….are you a (net)troll?

    • Turkey must stop ocupation and torturings in kurdistan first, to have the right to talk.

        • Turkey is now in neo-ottoman character and is trying to rise as a regional empire in the historical area of the ottoman empire.
          Their target is to be the become the new chaliphate, the leading political entity of the muslim world and to downgrade all the other states in this area to satelite state vassal states.
          They are going into antagonism with iran in this role.

      • Nonsense! Turkey etc., etc. have nothing on the 60 years of horror the Israelis have inflicted on Palestinians. The question is “When will Israel accept the State of Palestine and finally abide by the UN mandated borders?”
        What did you say Israelis? Never? Isn’t the entire problem, Israel’s refusal to acknowledge the Palestinians?

    • Dennis,

      Demonizing a whole people for voting in weak leaders, who can not control their extremeists, does not advance or move anything forward. Do you say the same of Syria when it causes problems around Shebaa Farms with Lebanon. Or the same of the Ivory Coast, or the same of>>.

      Israels hawks are short sighted. Most military and intelligence people in Israel are on record with opposite policies……You just do not read about them. Why don’t you google Ami Ayalon.


  2. Almost every mighty power once thought that they are invincible, but anything that goes up eventually comes down.

    One can survive longer with peace, harmony & prosperity not always with bombs and long sticks. Eventually losers do get as sophisticated, deadly & lethal arms & ammunition as the winners have. One just cannot prevent not to happen that.

    Once many mighty are merely mentioned only in the footnotes of history.

  3. The thing that struck me from frontline reports of the most recent Israeli invasion of Lebanon was the lousy performance of the Israeli ground forces. But it fits on a trend line of declining performance, and that in turn fits an increasingly insular, fat, bourgeoise society that lives off of arms exports and real estate rackets. Therefore I can’t imagine what their commanders could have done to improve matters beyond more rigorous training.

    That leaves the air war. And that is very telling. This is nothing more than a society that bombs Arabs as a ritual of tribal supremacy, as proof that they “deserve” whatever they can seize. Every few years they will harvest another crop of dead Arabs on the unsaid yet sacred goal of breaking the Arab will, of getting Arabs to admit that they are a conquered race who must pay tribute to a superior civilization. They figure the Arabs who still have the manhood to fight back will expose themselves, and be quickly killed off, leaving an ever more compliant and weak gene pool.

    But this stuff doesn’t work anymore. It used to be that the rich and the conqueror out-reproduced their victims. But now it is the other way around, and the more wretched you are, the more future soldiers you have.

    Thanks to Wikileaks for leaving us no place to hide when we lie to protect Israel’s next war of social engineering. And thanks, Juan, for translating it into the original German.

    • very well said.

      You can’t bomb ‘hate’ (resistance) away; they can only massage their fear-induced social-psychological disorder of ideology–of being culturally separate and sepreme.

  4. I think that we can firmly conclude two things:

    1. the war-cabalistic dudes find little, if any, resistance to their fearsome imaginations’ product among political circles (in Israel or stateside)

    2. their crazy rantings arise from pathological tendencies

    I speculate that many of the ‘planners’ (how hard is it to plan if you have no morality?) never engaged in combat in any appreciable sense besides shooting missiles from afar (or indeed by engaging other ruthless, amoral, assassins to do the same).

  5. My question: What do you expect the US to do, should Israel begin a major war against the Palestinians and their supporters in Lebanon? Given the statement by Cantor, the GOP seems nearly hellbent for Israel to attack the north and Gaza.

    • Your question is mine also. I am concerned that in the U.S. there will be, this time around, a backlash that involves upping the open ire of citizens who have lost patience with the Israeli madness. ‘Discussions’ will open,, one-on-one, like we haven’t seen before. People became less willing to endure being silent about their feelings two years ago during that invasion. This time, adding to it the general anger around the deterioration of U.S. economic security, I intuitively feel that reactions to blood spilled like before will undoubtedly add to the insecurity felt by Jews here. Add too that the inevitable failure of the attack, and their goes self-esteem. I am waiting for that massive show of Chutzpah that internally corrects the leadership problem Jews have in Israel.

    • The GOP will attempt to do what they did in the 2006 war except hopefully Mrs. Clinton won’t reprise the role of that Rice woman as she prevented the UN Security Council from acting until 1300 Lenanese were dead and the IDF had proven itself incompetent.

  6. “And, imagine what a war would do to gasoline prices and to the world economy. My deepest fear is that US support for Israeli militarism, and the terrorism that support inevitably engenders, will be what finally finishes off the civil liberties enshrined in the American Constitution.”
    That, in essence, is the Republican agenda. America cannot afford to keep a military presence overseas, and it cannot afford to wind down the military. What better place to put all those “defense” dollars than into controlling the American people in their homeland itself under the guise of fighting terrorism at home?

    • It is crucial for Americans to recognize the linkage between support for Israeli hawks (who are provoking Arab extremism) and American civil liberties. Those who don’t mind endless war against Islam include those who are quite happy to see historic profit margins on Wall Street while Main Street declines, for one example. (One could also mention Big Energy profits at the cost of a poisoned Gulf of Mexico; Big Pharma profits at the cost of many millions without government health insurance.)

      The link is that this highly comfortable situation the elite finds itself in while America declines is likely eventually to start making Americans angry. Are you angry about unemployment, bad health care, poisoned environment? “Sorry, deal with it: we are in the midst of a terrorist emergency!” It is all so very convenient for the ruling elites of both the U.S. and Israel.

  7. And it took a Norwegian(!) newspaper to reveal this information. A curious lack of references to Israel in the cables—at least up to now—has been noted by some observers. Can anyone imagine the NYTimes getting this out? No. The geographical and cultural disconnect between an upstate New York congressional district and its congresswoman (Gillibrand) and the people of Gaza cannot be reconciled. What does she know about or have to do with Gaza? Not much except for her politics and her country’s morbid obsession with Israel. The fate of the Palestinian peolpe of Gaza and the West Bank is in her hands—literally. Does she realize that? Probably not. And in the hands of the entire US Congress. After all these years there can be little hope that the US would become compassionate and fair.

  8. Israel is preparing an option of attacking Iran, in which case it is highly probable that Hizbollah will attack Israel, and Hamass too, since both exist as part of Iran’s army. This is the whole deal. There is no support from Israeli citizens to attack any country that does not attack Israel, and if you look carefully Israel never attacked without having a clear causus belly since 1956 in Sinai. So good for all conspiracy theory and demonisizing israeli politics, it just is against all facts.

    • “israel never attacked without having a clear ‘causus belly’ since1956 in sinai”.do you really believe this carp?extraordinary,my dear watson!

    • When Israel levelled Gaza in 2008-9 the stated provocation for the attack was more than a month in the past. The argument that they had a clear and justifiable motive to attack Gaza is preposterous, it was a sneak attack and Israel’s leadership boasted about taking them by surprise.

      Israel routinely practices same the behaviour it uses to justify it’s regular, but incompetent, assaults on Lebanon and Gaza.

      It daily violates Lebanon’s territory in both air and on the ground, it limits access to food and medicine to the population of Gaza, and it has on many occasions taken civilians hostage and used them as human shields.

      If it’s criminal for arabs to behave in that manner, then only a racist or a hypocrite will argue that it’s acceptable for jews to do so.

    • Your information is totally incorrect! The USS Liberty incident proves my point. That ship was taken out by the Israeli airforce because it had electronically evesdropped on Israeli military communications and knew that Israel had started the 1967 war, not Egypt.

    • No, Israel is preparing US congressmen to protect Israel from the consequences of causing massive civilian casualties. That means there’s a pretty good chance they’re going to try it, like the last stupid invasion of Lebanon, which was clearly planned before two kidnapped GIs provided casus belli, or the storming of the Turkish aid ship. Or like America’s invasion of Iraq. Casus belli is not what it used to be here in the world of rich white people with killer robots.

    • Why is it that Zionist always, and I mean always, use the term conspiracy theory when confronted with the truth?

  9. “or let us just translate it into the original German: In den nächsten Krieg, den Israel kann keine Beschränkungen Kriegsführung in städtischen Gebieten.”

    Original German? Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi talking to a US congressional delegation in German? You must be kidding…
    Unfortunately Aftenposten didn’t publish the original cable.

    By the way, the correct German translation would be:
    “Im nächsten Krieg kann Israel keine Beschränkungen der Kriegsführung in städtischen Gebieten akzeptieren.”

    Automatic translations doesn’t work that well…

      • Ditto this. As I remember, you hold a highly enlightened view on Nazi comparisons – none allowed. This seems to be a backhanded one.

        Otherwise, I thought your piece was as valuable as ever.

      • I think most of your readers got a chuckle out of your Molly Ivins reference, and an accurate translation was rather irrelevant.

    • It’s not necessarily a Nazi comparison although most people will read it that way. German speech of unrestricted warfare dates back at least to World War I with unrestricted submarine warfare in violation of Prize law.

      • Interesting! Thanks for the knowledge. However, while you are technically correct I think the circumstances (Israel/Palestinian conflict, authoritarian/fascist behavior,the internet) make it natural to suppose a reference to the Third Reich. I don’t want to fight over the point, just being pedantic (another internet value) I suppose.

  10. The most disturbing thing about the report is the fact that the members of Congress did not say: No. You can’t do that. We won’t support that.

  11. The Israelis are victims of their leading oligarchs who profit from
    The constant state of war,allies of the American war machine and of ofcourse the bankers Do not expect Arab governments to react ,CIA has paid for them long ago

  12. .
    In making the point that Guantánamo is NOT the #1 recruiting tool for al-Qaeda, William Kristol’s Weekly Standard explains
    link to
    that the reason that al-Qaeda even exists is because of some tie-in with
    “Israel/Israeli/Israelis (98 mentions), Jew/Jews (129), Zionist(s) (94), Palestine/Palestinian (200), Gaza (131), and Crusader(s) (322).”

    • Crusaders = American presence. So thank you, Mr. Kristol, for proving that we Americans only have ourselves and our out-of-control ally to blame.

  13. Sad to see this though not surprised at all. If this war is undertaken it will bring great tragedy to the people of Iran. We can only hope in the name of Justice that that tragedy is also experienced by the aggressing parties also, and that means, you and I as citizens of the aggressing nations. We can no longer turn this cup of tragedy away for very much longer. Too many strings are being pulled in the shadows of power and the helpless or enthusiastic politicians are eager to dance to the tunes of the piper.

  14. For whatever reason :

    Side “A” – Wealthy state with well funded and sophisticated military, tramples on Side “B” – civilian/faction, poorly funded military = Obvious initial outcome.

    This, as proved throughout much recent history, then leads to infinite periods of Side “B” undercover strikes and assassinations usually (and often inaccurately) referred to as “terrorism”.

    Final outcome – Unresolved…….(Examples : Afghanistan, Iraq, ex-USSR states etc. etc.)

    Suggestion – Talk, COMPROMISE.

    Requirement – Grow up.

  15. […] Not just any war,after all wars in the middle-east happen with such frequency that  the words  middle-east & war  seem to be synonymous at times.  But a war of such magnitude and consequence that it will affect the entire planet. Particularly if  this war resulted in the realization of Juan Cole’s , and many others deepest fear , i.e… … that US support for Israeli militarism, and the terrorism that support inevitably engenders,… […]

  16. Israel is not the problem; it is the US that is the problem.

    Slavish US financial, diplomatic, and military support to Israel is the great enabler for Israeli unwillingness to compromise.

    To solve the mideast problem, the US must shake-off all of the political support structures in the US that Israel relies on to support it.

    Israeli political supports in the US are the same ones that are inside Israel….democracy, diversity, and crony capitalism.

    US democracy can be defanged by a return to rule by the people, local government rule, as enumerated in the 10th amendment.

    US diversity can be defanged by eliminating all of the freedom-privileges offered by the central government to benefit and buy the votes of Diversity people, who function as a neurotic victim cult. Diversity people control all national elections inside the US, being the majority of voters, because of their reliable willingness to elect like-minded scoundrels that cater to them. Need to debunk Holocaust myths too, as a continuing basis for the secular religion that is really jewish victim cultism. It would be useful also to debunk biblical myths as well, because old testament myths are philosphical and emotional fuel for jewish separatism, supremacism, and siege mentality.

    Large-scale US crony capitalism will subside when Democracy and Diversity supports are replaced by rule by the people, home rule by city-states.

  17. See Unmaking War, Remaking Men for a close study of the U.S. involvement in the 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon. Hizbullah, far from being a terrorist organization is like Hamas, a resistance force which will stand up to U.S. sponsored Israeli aggression. Yet, American pundits along with journalists like Robert Fisk have been setting a stage to justify Israel war by claiming that Hizbullah will be attacking Israel as if they are the ones invading and not the US sponsored Israeli troops. Wake up Americans and lets shake off this dream state fed to us by journalists and politicians where bears no resemblance to reality.

    • Hizbullah is more complex, I think, than your characterization of it here.

      Your book sounds interesting. You should have disclosed that you’re the author :/

  18. This is just pure genocide, plotted in a cold and calculating way. How any Jew can support this is unimaginable.

  19. “My deepest fear is that US support for Israeli militarism, and the terrorism that support inevitably engenders, will be what finally finishes off the civil liberties enshrined in the American Constitution.”

    “From this mountain, Mr. Robert, upon which you are sitting, we beat the Russian army and helped break the Soviet Union. And I pray to God that he allows us to turn America into a shadow of itself.”

  20. I just saw this piece posted at AlterNet (link to, and was particularly struck by the photo that they chose: an Israeli in Ashdod inspecting a building damaged by a rocket fired from Gaza. Dr. Cole, I suspect that you don’t have any say about the images the AlterNet editors choose, but do you ever offer your feedback to them?

    Frankly, it strikes me as odd that, in a piece about Israel’s planned aggression towards Palestine and Lebanon, the photo features an Israeli victim of violence from Gaza. Which almost seems like a reminder about the reasons why Israel rationalizes its siege on Gaza (and occupation of the West Bank), reinforcing the implication that repeated attacks and collective punishment against Palestinians are somehow justified.

    I wonder why there is no photo of the mass damage caused to buildings (and residents) of the Gaza Strip from Operation Cast Lead, even in a story by you in a lefty site like AlterNet? I wonder why I am so much more frequently seeing reinforcements of the Israelis’ “victim” narrative over and over and over, even when they are reported to be the aggressors?

  21. Israel the victim of EU and USA policy since decades ,trying to solve their problems by stealing others land.i think israel is still the puppet of oil policy makers

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