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Former Mossad Director Addresses Lebanon War

November 2, 2006 By:
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The military conflict between Israel and Hezbollah may have ended three months ago, but for Israelis, as well as those who follow the Middle East closely, the debate over the war's ramifications -- especially as to whether Israel won or lost -- seems far from over.

Shabtai Shavit -- who served as director general of the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, from 1989 to 1996, and who has been described by the Hebrew newspaperHa'aretz as taciturn and reticent about offering political commentary -- nevertheless recently added his point of view to the cacophony of opinions on the subject.

Shavit was keynote speaker at a recent Jewish National Fund event in Manayunk. Roughly 120 people attended the installation ceremony for the new presidents of both the Philadelphia and the Bucks County JNF boards.

"The real story is a victory. I admit, it is not a decisive one," said Shavit, who currently serves as the chairman of the board of directors for the International Policy Institute on Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Israel.

Shavit reiterated to the audience that the Israel Defense Force did manage to destroy much of Hezbollah's long-range rocket arsenal and sent the group's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, into hiding. And he also argued that the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for Lebanese and international troops to patrol the border represented a victory, though it's still not clear how well that resolution will be implemented.

On the flip side, he pointed out that Israel failed to secure the release of two of its kidnapped soldiers, and it certainly did not succeed in bringing "Hezbollah to its knees."

He also offered his opinion on what are perhaps the two most pressing questions right now concerning Israel and Iran.

The first: Will Iran acquire nuclear weapons? Shavit noted that it's highly probable this will happen in the next few years.

And the second: What is Israel going to do about it? "A pre-emptive strike may be expected," he replied. "But it is at the moment still a long shot."

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