The War against Terror is a Major IAF Mission


Brigadier-General (Ret.) Rafi Harlev - The Managing Director
of the Fisher Brothers Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies:


Good evening and welcome. Without further ado, I would like to invite Mr. David Ivri to the podium.


Opening words- Major-General (Res.) David Ivri

    Today we are holding the   extended seminar on the subject of the “Air Operations and our Fight against Terrorism”. The time that has passed since the incident of the pilots' letter, which was the catalyst, which caused us to discuss the problem, has its advantages. We can now deal with the issue judiciously, without the pressures of the headline chasing press. We can express ourselves freely without bearing media consequences.

    The pilots' letter infuriated me, due to the way they handled themselves and due to their moralistic preaching in favor of a particular political position. The political stand is legitimate but does not derive from the fact of being a pilot. Ironically, the letter was, for me, also beneficial (we must always look for the benefit in every event).  It stimulated discussion around the fundamental question of “terrorism and its goals in light of a democratic society”.

    I have expressed my thoughts in an article I wrote (“The War on Terrorism: a Moral and Legal Dilemma”, Fisher Institute publication number 22) which was distributed prior to the letter. The article does not pretend to cover the whole issue, it is open to reservation or criticism, and I'd be happy if someone were to write a counter article or an article of his own. That is the purpose of this platform and of the Institute; therefore, I'd be happy to hear your ideas. This is the place to raise them.

    My intent was to publish the article in preparation for the seminar as a platform for discussion; I'm sure whoever reads it will have the necessary background for questions or remarks. In the article itself I deliberately avoided the issue of service refusniks, but in my opening today I intend to say a few words on the subject.

            The refusal of people from the defense forces to execute operations in serious situations, not to mention presenting partisan political ideas in the guise of individual conscience, is a characteristic phenomenon in a situation that requires using irregular norms against those working against you. In a situation like this, insubordination for reasons of conscience, which criticizes the needed irregular norms, is a known phenomenon in democratic societies. In my opinion the phenomenon in Israeli society is not very common in light of the intensive operational activities that have been taking place for over more than 3 years. This is due to the fact that even people of conscience cannot ignore the character of the terrorist acts, which is beyond any human norm, and most possibly they too are hesitant regarding the ability to cope with terrorist phenomena with normative tools. The fact that human beings were able to crash planes loaded with people into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon has nothing to do with a nation being occupied.


Look at what happened in Madrid, or the political struggles. It is self-persuasion to claim that democratic values must be hurt and destroyed because they endanger the traditional values which they prefer to live by. The service refusal letter of the pilots is perceived differently in different places. Terror chiefs operating against Israel worldwide, read the letter as a testimony to democratic society's weakness, its inability to withstand the challenges terror makes them face. In their opinion this spoiled society is in the process of disintegrating and in order to accelerate the process, terror must be increased. The letter in their eyes is a testament of weakness, which encourages terrorist acts. The Palestinian leaders saw the letter as proof of the armed struggle’s success, which created potential social pressure on Israel's leadership to reach generous compromise on the political level. In other words, on the other side of the fence the letter encouraged belligerence and not compromise. I do not think this was the intent of the writers. In the Diaspora the letter caused a lot of embarrassment that subsided with time but raised many questions in my meetings with them such as: is this really what the entire Air Force thinks? It became blown out of proportion.

            How Israeli society sees the letter reflects, as usual, the social political views of the different sectors. However, I don't believe the letter had any influence in changing positions, despite the fact that it may have been the writers' intent. The letter turned into a media episode without deep residual effect. The damage was done to the Air Force and its commanders, which I hope was not the writers' intent. To summarize, the manner in which the letter’s initiators chose to conduct themselves did not achieve the purpose they set for themselves and the result is a negative balance, meaning, the negative outweighs the positive by far. These are, of course, my personal views, and as I usually stand by my views, I do so in this case as well.

I will suffice with these words as my opening with the hope that they will provide a serious catalyst for the remaining discussions this evening.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank major general Dan Halutz, towards the end of his career as the Air Force Commander, for his services, for the new directions in planning techniques, for his organization and command, for his openness and for his contact with the public and with Air Force veterans. The Air Force that is about to be placed in Shakdi’s hands is a better one, aspiring to future orientated thinking and challenges, all thanks to Halutz's leadership. His appointment to the position of Deputy Commander in Chief symbolizes the deep appreciation he deserves outside the Air Force as well. We are happy for him and proud of him. We wish him the best of luck.

            To Shakdi, we wish all the best and the best of luck to the Israeli people as well. Air Force veterans, following their active service, have become a force that has grown with time. They have become active and successful throughout the various sectors of society and industry. It is this force that we offer to Shakdi to use as he wishes. And since there are no free lunches we will occasionally require some of his spare time (which he won't have). I would like to thank Rafi Harlev for the preparations for the seminar as well as all the participants that are about to take part in this event. My wish is that after today we will be wiser in our search for solutions to the difficult questions we face, most of which, unfortunately, are not even given to solution.

            One last thing, we are very interested that the Institute be a place, a platform, where you can take part and enjoy yourselves. This will require an investment from you as well. I think we need to address the younger generation –those who have left the service only recently. They too need to participate; there is great potential here because of the Institute’s location and its inherent possibilities. Write, initiate, do, we will help you. I wish you a good evening and I hope you will enjoy yourselves.



                                             The First Session


Colonel (Ret.) Dr. Uzi Arad

Colonel (Ret) Dr. Shmuel Gordon

Major-General Herzl (Res) Bodinger



Colonel (Ret) Dr. Uzi Arad

 Good evening, it is an honor to be here. The Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzlia and the Fisher Institute are neighbors and strive for neighborly relations in this special place.

Our current discussion is supposed to relate to the issue of the strategic implications of terrorism as an ongoing occurrence. With us are Shmuel Gordon and Herzl Bodinger. They will address aspects of this issue during the hour we have ahead of us. In my opening remarks I would like to make a few observations on the question itself, of why we need to address the phenomena of terrorism as an ongoing occurrence with strategic implications. It seems the issue isn't as trivial as it sounds. I remember my days in the Intelligence Corps approximately 10 years ago, when we considered whether we should characterize terrorism as a strategic threat or just an annoyance, or a threat of a completely different scope. I think that today it is obvious that terrorism has strategic connotations, a lesson that is sometimes learned the hard way.


The recent terrorist incident in Spain was indicative of a further ratcheting up of terrorism.  It was a sophisticated and coordinated operation, characterized by a high level of planning and execution that resulted in many casualties. This incident is a powerful and in some ways innovative reminder, of how terrorism has become an endemic phenomena in the strategic arena worldwide, in different areas with different forces and numerous implications. In Israel, of course, we don't need an event like the one in Madrid to know the meaning of terrorism, but it is still necessary to review a few things in light of it.


At first it was unclear who executed the act. There were two possibilities: one that it was the Basque underground fighting for autonomy and self-determination against the central rule in Madrid. This is a known, violent, sophisticated, active and deadly underground. The other possibility was that Islamic forces did it. The style of simultaneous attacks and the choice of Spain pointed to this possibility. What could have been the explanation for the Arab Islamic action related to El-Qaida? One reason could be that many Moslems view Andalusia in Spain as an occupied territory. We are not the only ones defined by radical Moslems as conquerors.


            Iraq is an occupied territory and Spain, which supported the United States in its attack against Iraq, has become a target for Islamic attacks. Since we did not know who was behind the attack, we could reasonably consider each of these two possibilities. In other words, one source or the other can use terror as a tool, and the operative question before us was which of the likely candidates in this specific case did it?


What does this indicate? That terrorism is becoming more and more a strategic phenomenon that will become problematic in the future, due to two contrasting features. The first is a feature that hasn't changed over the centuries. This is the feature of battles, worldwide political desires and forces. Underground bodies want political expression whether it’s justified or not. Violent bodies are motivated by fanatic ideologies and the interesting thing is that the world hasn't changed and is exactly the same as it was tens and hundreds of years ago and maybe even more. Throughout the years, these forces have been the same forces, changing in shape but not in the structure of the characters, the motivation and political direction. This is troubling because if the international arena had entered a peaceful, calmer and more serene decade, violent terrorism might have subsided. But since the forces and political desires still exist with the same intensity, dressed in new array and operating in new fields, the fact that this has not changed is the reason for its severity. 


The feature that has changed is also a source for severity.  Here I refer to new technological means that are available to terror sources. This is what makes terror an attractive option. I am referring to means for carrying out terrorist acts such as deadly explosives in planes as well as a global media providing the resonance terror needs in order to create shock waves, fear and the political effects it wishes to manufacture. These technological advancements enable additional operational possibilities. One example is the sophisticated use terrorist groups make of the Internet.


30-40 years ago, when we began fighting terrorism, we knew that without countries supporting terror and providing access to the diplomatic system, it would be extremely hard for an international terror group to operate across such large distances. Today, a large part of the communication problems, such as transferring devices, sources or orders, do not exist in light of technological advancement and development.

The link between these two features makes the problem of terrorism not only an ongoing one but also a problem that is becoming more and more threatening.


            Prof. Yehezkel Dror once said that with the development of science, fewer people will be able to kill more, and if we take this mathematical equation to the extreme, we can reach a situation in which a handful of people will be able to wreak havoc. Small groups will be able to create unprecedented disasters. This is, of course, a result of modern society's vulnerability and various sensitivities.

            Note the translation of these things in regards to Israel, and the threats it faces. First and foremost Israel is facing an Islamic threat combined of the international Jihad, non-Palestinian Hizbullah, and of course Palestinian organizations. Israel is in a situation that a country such as Iran can seriously exploit. Only recently the fact that Iran is seriously contemplating using terrorist devices against Israel has been exposed.    

      Lethal terrorism harms Israel by means of casualties. There are injuries in body and spirit that at times result in major disability; these are extremely tangible and difficult things. No less important is the financial impact terror has had on Israel in the past 2-3 years. If you review the data you will find that the Israeli Gross National Product has been set back a few years.  A big part of Israel's' budget problems is the fatal blow to areas that are sensitive to the effects of terrorism such as tourism and investments.


            If this financial blow is translated into a reduction of the IDF's power, the equation is solved - terrorism hurts not only the civilian population but it is also able to reduce Israel's military power. Today there is no argument- terrorism is a threat that hurts Israel directly, it hurts strategic levels not only because it molds public opinion or hurts the population but it hurts central power factors in Israel. The terrorists we face have identified Israel's vulnerability; therefore we have to take into consideration that they will keep using these means in the future.

It is clear that Israel's coping with terrorism is a lot more problematic and threatening than ever imagined and there is no solution in the foreseeable future.


I will conclude my observations by indicating how we can deal with terrorism and whether it is even possible to overcome it. It is clear that we need to try where we can. If we can't overcome terror we need to suppress its consequences and this we can do. Where we can't initiate attacks against terror we need to defend ourselves from it. These defense tactics are crucial to decrease the damage terror can cause. The damage of terrorism is not as symbolic and specific as it once was. But it causes great damage to the spirit and the indirect components of the country's ability and vitality. Therefore every effort to minimize terror and its consequences is an effort worth investing in. In a situation where Israel has to cope with the current features of this war as well as Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from territory we can assume that some of the defense and attack missions will be diverted to levels in which the Air Force will find itself taking on additional missions, which will probably be discussed further down the line. This phenomenon might increase the cost of the fight with terrorism and it is unclear if this has been thought through. I will adjourn with a word of optimism for the medium and long range. If earlier I commented that technology in a broad sense has assisted the attacker in improving his devices on one hand, enhances the potential damage it can do on the other hand, and in addition increases the target’s vulnerability, it can probably be said that on the technological level, in the medium and long range, some of the solutions will be found. Some are still conditional on the efforts of research and development and some might originate in discoveries that have yet to be found. I know that when the Western countries, the advanced and developed countries, were challenged by detailed threats as is the case today, and the Islamic world is the one challenging the Western world, when they had to utilize the areas in which they had relative advantages, usually science and technology, the situation was one of pushing forward and finding answers to allow significant improvement in defense abilities. The ways to do this cannot be perceived at the moment, because by definition it still depends on breakthroughs, some surprising, perhaps the pendulum will swing back to the defender.

This depends on a lot of efforts. Until then I feel that coping with the attacker and his advantages is difficult, which is why the campaign will continue to be a complex one.


Colonel (Ret) Dr. Shmuel Gordon

the topic I wish to discuss is- “Fight with terrorism- challenge and response”. As usual my presentation will be a bit sharp and for that I apologize in advance. I will rely on the things Uzi said and take them one step further.  I'll explain the conditions of the modern environment and as you will see throughout my presentation, I will head in one specific direction, which I am not sure I'll be able to explain in detail. We live in a time when terrorism has become international; it is not a network resembling an octopus with many arms but rather a network with many heads and arms all with strong connections.   Their synergic force is powerful and poses a threat to the free world. There are many countries with defined characteristics supporting terror, they provide a safe house for the organizational, manpower and training infrastructure, weapons supply etc. These countries are a part of the battle we are fighting against. There is a worldwide religious cultural characteristic, not only Muslim developing countries versus western countries, but inside the western world, for example in Europe where there is already a population composed of 5%-10% Moslems, there is a similar division.

            Both in France and in the US, the Muslim voters will determine the results of the next elections. They can determine a lot more than that, as they are an extended front.

The war against terrorism is not a war about territory; it is a war of different values, which is why territory loses its meaning. The value of occupied territory is deteriorating; it has strategic and tactical significance for our area as well. There is great sensitivity to loss, which affects those fighting against terrorism and might hurt their decision-making and initiative abilities.

            There is plenty of sensitivity on both sides regarding injuring civilians. An international environment is developing and limiting the operational abilities of fighting terrorism. In the courthouse where we appeared last month and where we will probably star again next month when we will be judged, these are the limitations. The US was restricted when it fought against Afghanistan and Iraq, as it probably will be in its next fights. In our country we are constantly waiting for a solution. There is no immediate solution; it will take a while, like the "Cold War" which lasted 50 years. We are facing 50 years of terrorism, which is what we have to prepare for and cope with. Technology strengthens both sides, not only the terrorist camp but also the terrorists over the Internet and the media, including means of sabotage as well as the development of non-conventional weapons in the hands of terror groups. This is one of the Americans’ biggest fears. For some reason, we are still not afraid enough but that is the general direction.

From the standpoint of the fight against terrorism we are becoming dependent on technology instead of manpower (I’m relating to means of intelligence gathering, assault and special forces). On land we need technological fighters and a technological commander. We have already witnessed that if a commander does not understand the advanced fighting devices, results are not as good and the cost is more casualties on our side and more achievements on the enemy's side. In this situation there is an advantage to power; quantity does not play an active role attack wise. We need to remember that technology does not substitute the essence of war but the other way around. As technology improved we witnessed the human gap between the Arabs and us. And finally, technology will contribute to the morality of fighting, a truce between two emphases: one - device for killing and the other - an assault device that is so precise it can hit someone on the forehead from the air without injuring innocent bystanders, a common problem nowadays.

It is important to know that one of terrorism's sources of power is patience. Whoever announces that overcoming terrorism will take a year does not know what they are talking about. The war against terrorism is a war relying on attrition and exhaustion and therefore, the patience of terrorist groups is an important measure of their power and strength.


Of course the basic motive, whether religious, cultural or other, is one of the sources of power. Until ten-twenty years ago, capital was a secondary variable. A secondary influence. Nowadays we see that the international terror organizations, with the ties between them, need capital. It is commonly thought that deterring terrorism is difficult or impossible. Especially suicide terrorists. Because if the terrorist is willing to give his life, what could possibly deter him. This is not so. Obviously, there are difficulties that the deterring party faces. Here are some terms that sum up the deterrence: reprisal and punishment, prevention, foiling and also ability. The ability to execute these missions. Willingness and determination to carry them out. And the most important word - image. The image of ability, of determination and willingness to carry out reprisals, punishment, prevention and foiling. However, terrorism doesn’t have infrastructures that can be punished and ‘repaid’. It is very difficult to ‘repay’ when our citizens are being killed, because we will not kill civilians on their side. At least we will try not to if this can be avoided. It is therefore difficult. The classic deterrence does not work here. We need to find something else. Deterrence in a limited war is deterrence tailored to fit. I will tell you a short story as an example. In the sixties, Egypt wanted to develop rockets and unconventional weapons. For this purpose they wished to make use of resources used by the Soviets and the Americans - German intellectual resources left over from the Second World War. The Egyptians started recruiting experts in Germany and moving them to Egypt. And then one of our organizations, the Mossad, got an order to put an end to this. Instead of deterring all of Germany, the Mossad developed tailor fitted deterrence. There was one case where a German scientist got a warning letter that had no effect on him. One day he accessed his bank account and found it empty. Another scientist got an envelope containing a lock of golden hair, belonging to his daughter. Obviously, this scientist never left for Egypt. His daughter is alive and well. We see that by these means and others, the Mossad attained deterrence that was tailor made for that group of scientists. It also operated in this manner against those that actually got to Egypt, and within a very short time these, too, returned to Germany.


The lesson – this kind of deterrence can also be attained today. All the Palestinian leadership, from the first to the last of them, has something to lose. The Palestinian leadership has family and assets that can be hurt or threatened with injury. And so, if we can achieve this kind of deterrence we can significantly influence the prevention. A moderation (not total cessation!) of terrorism. Its moderation, and we are constantly working on reduction, wear and attrition rather than victory and submission. We are talking mostly about the Palestinian terrorism though there is also terrorism from the north, the Hizbullah that is quiet at the moment. Today, due to the fact that the Hizbullah has an array of surface-to-surface missiles, both in large number and range, we are pretty careful when exercising our power. We don’t want rockets falling on our settlements. The mutual deterrence that has already prevented nuclear war between the Soviet Union and America, can sometimes act as a stabilizing element. Mutual deterrence serves as a stabilizing factor.


From here I wish to move on to international cooperation. Terrorism can’t be fought the way we handled this previously, when Israel dealt with the terrorism against it, by itself. Only full cooperation of countries around the world will bring about the attrition and erosion of terrorism. The method has changed. There is a new model for the new alliance. While in the classic wars, such as the Second World War, America and Britain invaded Europe and helped France and Belgium rid themselves of Nazi occupation, today the new alliance is built on a different model. The role of every country is to fight terrorism with all the means, within its territory, and sever the ties and links of terrorism from and to the outside. The meaning of ties and links refers to its economic relations, and weapon trafficking. The leader of this new alliance is, of course, the USA, which is present everywhere, from Yemen to Indonesia, as well as Israel and Egypt, and of course, Iraq and Afghanistan. It reaches everywhere and cooperates even with those that had threatened it such as Pakistan, which, following nuclear testing, was considered an enemy and was subjected to sanctions. However, when the threat of terrorism rose, the USA and Pakistan began cooperating in the manhunt against Bin Laden on the Pakistani-Afghan border.

In this new alliance, each country has an autonomous role. There can be countries that hate each other, but in the war against terrorism they cooperate in a new manner. Mass media is an irrelevant and amorphous term. The media is a target audience just like any other.  Though absurd, there is a common interest between terrorism and people that make up the media, people that fund this media and the owners of the media. The interest is, of course, the ratings which generate a lot of money. Money talks. This requires a logical approach and if necessary the media must be ‘rattled’ in order to make it work in favor of the war on terrorism. The media plays the role of a ‘moral monitor’. And so, officers and commanders in the American army have adopted a method; every operation carried out, every mission, is carried out with a dual focus. One eye watches the media, for example, prevention of footage depicting Iraqis lying on the ground. The more intensive the fighting, Israel loses points in diplomacy, internal politics and the unity of the people. There is a paradox; the military power that we build will be very limited. I claim that we are developing enormous power and investing so much in it, and yet only a small fraction is used to combat terrorism. Policy, by nature, measures moderation, aspires for moderation and compromise.
War – military struggle, aims for submission and escalation. We are required to exercise restraint and refrain from tactical initiative. It is difficult for military officers to understand this phenomenon.

And finally, ground control of the territory used to be an advantage and is now, a disadvantage. How will we handle the war with the Hizbullah if this should erupt? And how do we handle it in the territories where we are present? What would we prefer? I would rather fight the Hizbullah while not occupying the territory. Part of the fight against terrorism, and there is no choice in the matter, involves injury to civilians. Renowned Air Forces have intensively injured civilians. In the Second World War in the Battle of Britain and the fight for
London. Over four years, the American and British air forces pulverized German cities. They killed over a million civilians; a million Germen citizens who were innocent by our present terms of reference. It had started earlier when the British Air Force was busy guarding the oil pipeline from Iraq to Haifa, and continued on in Vietnam. One should watch footage to remember the cruelty with which the American army fought over there. And what about operation “Shock and Awe” at the beginning of the Iraqi campaign? For four nights Baghdad
was pulverized and over one hundred civilians were killed every night until the Americans realized this was not the way.
The conflict is long, the success is slow, and the achievements limited. Ground control comes with a heavy political, diplomatic and military price. The military conflict must be shifted down stage, to the fringes of national sight and to the fringes of the media. National unity in
is something that should not be expected and the fight must go on in disagreement. It is all right. Leadership is formative, that is clear and perhaps in the end, the combination of Intelligence, Air and Special forces is the winning combination not only in the war on terrorism but also in any future war we might come across. And of course - constant initiative.

Major General (Ret.), Hertzl Bodinger

Is the war on terrorism really one of the Air Force’s main missions? I think that if this weren’t the question, we would not be sitting here today. We would not be discussing some amorphous terrorism situation and ways to combat it. But the truth is that we are. Allow me to address this in a short and almost mathematical manner because I do not think the discussion can be broadened beyond this level. We have seen that the State of Israel is in a state of war against terrorism and it does not have the option of deciding it is not going to fight. This is agreed, however, in any event, this is not a question the military should be asked. This is a question that should be decided by the Government and it has already been decided. This discussion, as far as I understand it, is whether the Air Force should be used in the fight against terrorism, or in order to show the absurdity of the matter: “is it right to swat flies with a hammer?”
If a plane could hit its target with 100% accuracy and hit a pinpoint mark killing only that which was intended, we would probably not be having this discussion, because everything would be clear. Terror by definition is causing fear. Terrorism is a means used by a group of people to further a goal. This can be used to blackmail for ‘protection’ money or, as in our case, be used for a national struggle.
The first counter-terrorism means, acceptable to anyone who has operated and fought against terrorism, is to do what terrorism aims at. By doing this you will be preventing terrorism’s success. Of course, the price for non-compliance is high, a force used by the terrorist against property or body is exactly what the attacked party wishes to prevent.

Terrorists are a group of people that operate within the rational. They are not psychopaths and they will ultimately stop using terrorism if they realize they cannot achieve their goal by using terrorism. This has already been tested in many places, not only here, and it works. If the aim of terrorism is known, and the attacked party insists on not serving this aim, with time terrorism will stop. The question is how long? How much force? And how many means the attacked side should invest so as not to be drawn to the terrorists’ goals, what could the attacked do to reduce the harm caused by terrorism. That is that question today.
The familiar argument is that you cannot eradicate terrorism. This claim is heard often but it is not necessarily, factually true. There exist examples on both sides of this question. There are examples where terrorism won, when it was usually allowed to get its way. There are also examples, in recent history, where the occupier was able to eradicate terrorism. One example is
Ireland where there has been terrorism for many years. They haven’t succeeded in driving the British out of Northern Ireland and they probably never will. I wish to remind you of America’s actions in Iraq, showing once more that ‘an empire is an empire’. Several days ago, General Franks, former Commander of the American forces in Iraq, appeared here and told us of how his forces operated in the war. It is hard to believe that this takes place in a modern civilized world. The same happened in Afghanistan
. To the issue of terrorism in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, what do they want or what do they claim? Is it ‘only’ to the ’67 border? Will somebody guarantee this or quote one Palestinian leader who has expressly said this? You will not find such a person. On the other hand, you will find Sheik Yassin for example, leader of a group that exercises terrorism, claiming the whole country and saying it bluntly.
History of the period right after the Oslo Accords shows that the creation of a Palestinian state within on the ’67 border is not necessarily the goal of this use of terrorism in this case. The historic argument within
(we are a democracy, and I acknowledge the fact that there are different views on the occupied / held or liberated Territories) colors the Palestinians as having a goal that in the face of reality has proven unreal. Factually, every time they came closer to a state of their own, terrorism just intensified. There are three ways to explain this strange phenomena: the first is that success merely encourages terrorism, that the more they see themselves as successful they take a final step in order to say that they achieved this through war, and not as a result of agreements granted by the west; the second is that we haven’t really identified the goal of the terrorism and that there is no connection between the political progress and these outbursts; and the third – perhaps the real reason – is that the political progress scares the terrorist organizations and their leaders, because they are not ready to forfeit their assets and do not know how to run a state. Here a discussion could be held on the fact that terrorism has been around for quite a long time. I agree with the two earlier speakers. I can’t say 50 years, but I am quite sure terrorism will not stop this year, nor with the signing of this paper or that, in the near future. The reason – the goal of terrorism is still unclear and cannot be refuted or accepted at this point. We need to act to reduce the harm caused by terrorism to the State of Israel and its citizens, and this is the subject of this discussion. What is effective and what is not in the war on terrorism.
The alternatives: the first, which I, of course, do not agree to is the use of counter terrorism, which means deterrence by striking indiscriminately, in advance, without concern for the identity of the victim. What we call collective punishment. This is thought to stir up terrorism even more. I am not sure this is correct however, we as Israelis find this hard to live with from a moral perspective. This would turn us into a terrorist state.
The second - passive defense. Security and fences and similar methods. This is quite effective. And the third – attacking people, targets and installations that are directly linked to the production of terrorism. What we call ‘the ticking bomb’. The decision making process is again divided into two: if we had a means of total and absolute precision, there would be no question and we would act accordingly. In the event of inability to be that precise, and that is the case, questions arise, why are some ground weapons acceptable for use and others not. On the issue of fairness, infantry might seem more appropriate and fair, but it is not necessarily more accurate, (neither was the bulldozer that killed the Peace Corps volunteer) it turns out that no means, not infantry, nor armored forces, nor artillery or Air Force, guarantees accuracy. Which guarantees more? If the casualties on the Palestinian side are examined, how many ‘non-involved’ were killed? And how many of these were killed by the Air Force? I am not sure what the score will be, but I personally believe that the Air Force’s contribution to those killed by mistake is probably the lowest. In any case, the use of the Air Force reduces the risk to our men and to civilian casualties on both sides when we operate to defend the security of the citizens of the State of Israel. I do not see any reason why a Palestinian citizen should be ‘worth’ more than an Israeli one. As for the claim “get out of there and it will all end”, we have seen that it is not completely certain that such action will ‘turn off’ terrorism since we are not sure that that is in fact their goal. In any case, that is not an answer which the Air Force needs to answer, nor is it the topic of our discussion.

                                  Questions and Discussion.

Ilan – commander of the Anti Aircraft forces.
On the subject of the challenges that the Air Force faces and the response it is developing, and to the matter of the defense component. Gordon has spoken about the technological challenge and I believe he addressed these within these challenges to Intelligence gathering and Special Forces. When he spoke of the Power Paradox, if I am not mistaken, he spoke of the effect of using power and force and even spoke of the limitations of ground entry to the territory. I see this through the eyes of the attacker as far as dealing with terrorism. I think that you too, Major General Bodinger, when speaking of the different kind of solutions, spoke of passive defense, spoke of offence, and I may be mistaken, but you skipped over the term defense. I wish to develop the topic of defense within the Air Force’s missions. One of the major tasks is combating aerial terrorism, hijacking, blowing up planes, firing missiles from the ground, attacks on airfields and offices.
There is also terrorism that operates from the air and attacks the ground, in two manners. The first we saw on September 11th.  I call it new terrorism. Gordon spoke of its mostly fundamentalist ideologies, its network composition, the drama, the wish ‘to shake the pillars of the earth’ and quite truthfully it does and some of this ‘shaking’ is still being felt today. This is one against which we have to defend.
The other type of terrorism is the nationalist - ethnic terrorism, an aerial liberation movement. Border terrorism. I call it ‘aerial fence bypassing’. The first time this was used against
Israel (April 1980), was a balloon in the north. Over the years the evolution of rockets, mortar and today’s Kassam missiles are just another phase in the evolution to the future. Pressure from both sides of the fence, once the unilateral withdrawal in Gaza is complete, will bring about attempts to bypass the fence and one of the means will be through the air.
How do we deal with this? We again see the same questions on the Power Paradox. Can we take that territory again? How much legitimacy does this act have? Is there total success in other actions such as foiling, air attack etc.
I claim that if a country can create defense systems, it can minimize damage and respond in a controlled manner and not because of the success of one local terror event or another.

Lieutenant General (Res.) Giora Forman.
David Ivri. In an article that you once wrote you described the need to suit the rules of the game to the special case, the terrorist that stands above and beyond the law. Your conclusion was that the rules and the law must be made to suit this war. I think there is another side to this that you did not address. As opposed to the criminal on whom, in your opinion, some level of deterrence can be exercised, the other side of the equation is how to suit the kind of war to norms and rules of an enemy that has no soul. And how do you reconcile the two? This is an historic question and this side is missing. My main question is to Uzi Arad, and is – why now? You claim that it is because of the technological means. The terrorists that have caused the most damage in the last decade used hijacking and crashing the planes into buildings etc. and these means were available 40 years ago. What happened in the world that was not so, then? A secondary comment: war, the media revolution and information processing, in your opinion, gives the terrorist an advantage, but still has great potential to the defender. Information about millions of people can be received, tests and checks can be run, preventive action can be taken. In other words, there isn’t just one side to this equation so, why now? What is happening in the world now? We have several theories but this is the central question.
And one final question to Hertzl. You spoke at length about the end of terrorism once the terrorist realizes that his goals will not be attained by terrorism. You further said that in our region and in
Israel, we are not always clear on what the goals of terror are.
History teaches us, and today it can be seen, that the terrorist must be isolated in two main ways and that when fighting terrorism, one must be aware of these and adopt them. The first – separate the potential terrorist from his intended victim. In other words, protection of the population. In our case, the roadblock and the fence. We must stop the friction between the settlements and the neighboring villages. How is such separation achieved?
The second separation is the one between the terrorist and the population he relies on and in whose name he supposedly fights. There is a long line of solutions, all of them political. This conference’s contribution can be great in realizing how to do this militarily. If we hit a terrorist and the weapons used by the ground force are not as accurate as those of the Air Force, if in the ground operation Israeli soldiers get killed, is this effective, apart from it seeming more moral. This is the Air Force’s dilemma. This is the kind of war where the Air Force doesn’t play ‘first fiddle’, it is not decisive, but it can contribute greatly. The Air Force can contribute to pinpoint hitting of terrorists, the Air Force can supply Intelligence, can photograph and bring its own, otherwise hard to get, perspective into the media war.        

                                 Summary of the seminar


Air Force Commander – Major General Danny Halutz


Happy are those who have the answers to everything. I only have questions!  I read the title for today’s discussions where it says “Fighting terrorism is one of the Air Force’s central missions.” It does not say anything here about refusing to serve. I do not intend to deal with this topic because I don’t think it has been fully dealt with. It is so marginal and so unimportant at the moment – we have already drawn our conclusions and dealt with the people involved and whoever wants to refuse an order – so be it. The rest have where to turn – the officers sitting here today.

I don’t agree with everything that they say, but I do defend their right to say it. I think that the first question we have to address is the one Yiftach Spector related to in his talk – is this true? Is this the Air Force’s main mission? I think that it is irrelevant even to present the question. 

The main mission of the Air Force is the mission that the State defines as such at any given time. It can change overnight and the test of the Air Force is its ability to keep on adapting to the tasks at hand. If we don’t do this, then the Air Force is a wasted investment and its entire budget should be transferred to Golani – maybe they can do it better. That is why I am not prepared to accept the statement that the Air Force should participate in the ground force battle. The Air Force should lead the war on terror to the best of its abilities, but do so according to the rules and regulations, and with its high standards of excellence and professionalism. This is today’s battle. It is all well and good to be nostalgic about the Yom Kippur War. I like to do it too: I quite enjoyed myself then. I was a young pilot, I flew out and came back, and I knew nothing about all the fuss and bother going on at the General Headquarters between the commanding officers. 

We looked for MIGs – if we found them – great, and if not – we just got fired at. For three and a half years we have been waiting for some kind of classic war in which a MIG-29 appears and has to face an F-15.We will shoot a rocket at it and then bomb an airfield with a T-4. What can we do if this does not occur and instead we have had a campaign lasting for three and a half years in which 931 Israelis have been killed: more than in the Six-Day War, more than in the Sinai Campaign, fewer than in the Yom Kippur War? But the difference is that 700 of them have been civilians, I mean they were not in uniform on the day they were killed. 230 soldiers have also been killed. This is fewer than Yom Kippur, when we lost 2,700 soldiers, but no civilians.

Our supreme duty as a military organization is first and foremost to keep civilians safe.  Why? Because that is the only thing you cannot buy on the free market. You can buy health, you can buy education, you can buy bread or anything else, but there is no company in Israel that sells national security! Consequently, this is our duty, if we, as the Air Force, at some point come and say that we are not suited to this task because we think it lies in the domain of the ground forces, that we are morally superior to others, that the means we have at our disposal are not good enough, then I will ask myself why did we waste the fortune spent on us?

Every morning of my three years and seven months as Air Force Commander, I have dealt with the question of how we can be more relevant in the war against terror. Not whether or not we should be taking part in it, but how to be more useful, more effective, more accurate, and more lethal where necessary and less lethal elsewhere. These are the questions I ask myself. How can we give the most help to the ground forces, more intelligence and means so that Golani and Givati soldiers, the paratroopers and reservists, when they enter some alley in Gaza will know what is awaiting them around the next corner. Danger is everywhere and it is our duty to make sure that they get the aerial view that will let the soldier on the ground know that there is a group of terrorists around the corner. I would like to emphasize the fact that we have been successful in this mission and our RPV staff has been able to provide the ground forces with information in real time. If this is the battle that has been forced upon us, this is battle we will fight. We are very dynamic in our ability to adapt to this campaign.

If this conference had taken place three and a half years ago and I had told you in my concluding remarks that in the course of 2001 we would be bombing Judea, Samaria and Gaza with fighter planes, there would have been jeering and a call to replace this lunatic. We never thought that the F-15-I that we acquired for strategic targets would become a micro-tactical plane where the micro-tactics have become the strategy. This is one of the anomalies of this campaign, never seen in previous cases.

We are daily faced with an issue that has become a strategic problem for the entire country.  Have you hit the wrong person or at the wrong time and have you have caused more or less damage than you intended to?

Tactical events in the context of the war on terror have strategic repercussions. The checkpoints have become all-important and the issue of whether the soldier did or did not say hello twice, or did or did not lift the barrier, turns into something with implications reaching far beyond the mundane and often forgettable event itself. I heard one comment and I think it is very true – the words we use are important, especially if there is someone who is going to use them for something else. I think that even more important are the words we use to define our actions and our beliefs, our morals and our values. The essence is important and it may be that we sometimes use the wrong words, but it is crucial that we not err in the essence of things.

This reality is not comprised only of technology and military power, morals and values. It is comprised of policies and statesmanship, politics, mentality, readiness and culture. It is an intersection of civilization with a thousand and one components, not just technology.  We are better at people and technology, and much better at morals and values. One point on which I don’t agree with you, Ran, is that the dilemma of the soldier fighting against terrorist attacks is not between carrying out the mission and the lives of innocent civilians, it is between the lives of innocent civilians here and the lives of innocent civilians over there. It is a much more complex problem, because when a pilot does not carry out his mission, it is Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Ramat Hasharon, Be’er Sheva or Holon that has to pay the price. I am exaggerating on purpose since there is not always a direct one-to-one link for these events. This is what makes the dilemma so difficult, because if the discussion were about balancing a civilian life and risking one’s own, that would be simple. But when it comes to the life of one’s wife and children - that’s an entirely different story.


I believe there is something this audience and all of you from the Air Force should keep in mind.  There has not been any question about the legality of our actions.  I trust this will continue to be the case in the future.  All of our operations have stood the test of the law, all of them, from the first to the last, until this day. Many petitions and appeals, suits and complaints have been submitted to the courts.  All have stood the test of the law.  Not the test of law of the advocate general of the Air Force who would be suspect because he himself wears the Air Force uniform, but the test of the highest civil legal authorities.

There is not one procedure of present operations that is not accompanied by legal analysis, not even a fragment of an operation.  Targeted assassinations have been tested more than once: the human targets, the route, everything. Therefore, the question of legality should be put aside since the issue of a “black flag” is self-evident that no one even questions.

We must understand something about the conception of this conflict; terror is fought by cutting off its head.  Unlike other organizations, in totalitarian terrorist organizations the hard core is the leadership core.  We had differentiated between the military and the political. We have now corrected this approach because there can be no such differentiation.

In my opinion the situation of the past several months, in which change has been palpable, is composed of two elements: the success of the IDF and the lack of success of the terrorists. This is a link that nourishes itself.  In other words every result is itself nourished by IDF operations. The consequence of operations that do injury to the terrorists, their leadership and infrastructure, is that their ability to initiate successful operations decreases.  There is a synergy of operations at work here. The subject preoccupies us; it lies at the heart of the activities of the entire organization.  Day by day, hour by hour, week by week, month by month, year by year for more than three and half years this subject has demanded a great deal of us, and rightly so. We have had a great many discussions and been preoccupied with issues that are not always the heart of our mission, if we are speaking about the global war on terror. I agree with Gordon that the chance that we will see them in the near future is small.

I perceive substantial advantages in the recent challenges the Air Force has had to confront. The abilities we have developed to fight this kind of war will enable us to engage in different types of war with greater effectiveness.  What has been required of us in the areas of intelligence, armaments, arms systems, command control is incomparably more complicated than what was required of us in the Yom Kippur War.  Not in the difficulty faced by the individual fighter but in the difficulty faced by the entire system as well as the individual fighters.

The dilemmas are from a different world.  Not whether or not to destroy a tank or an airport or a tactical target, which are operational dilemmas that dwarf all others. The question of civilians and collateral damage to the surrounding area are not to be dealt with in this particular setting since they are purely military matters. In many ways they are simpler in regards to their intelligence and technological demands.  I hope we can quickly develop for use the military technology to make applicable what the head of military hardware development has showed you.  The need to patrol in towns, to go in and out of streets is a daily need and I hope this technology can help us.

I think that our troops definitely have fulfilled expectations and that those isolated cases wherein we erred or did more damage than necessary are indeed isolated cases that we can count on the fingers of our hands.  There have only been five incidents wherein we used fighter planes for targeted assassinations.  They made a clamor like 500.  But there have been only five.  In regards to the film we have just seen, the commander of that mission was severely reprimanded by the Commander of the Air Force for his performance in controlling the mission.  Not everything goes smoothly for us.



Brigadier-General (Ret.) Rafi Harlev


I assume that we all know that Danny Halutz is finishing his tour of duty as Commander of the Air Force on April 4th.  It is not my job and indeed I am not up to the task to give marks to the Commander of the Air Force, but I would not be in error if I said in the name of all of us and I feel that I represent the opinion of most of us, and from the little that I know, also in the name of the combat fighters: You did it outstandingly well.

With your permission I would like to present the Commander of the Air Force with a small gift from the Fisher Institute.  A silver coin engraved with the logo of the Fisher Institute and with the sentence: “As like a flash I will soar like a bird”.  To Danny we say thank you and success in your new post as Deputy Chief of Staff.

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