US officials who have resigned in protest over Biden’s Gaza policy

LONDON: Israel has miscalculated the costs of a potential new war against Hezbollah, a former US military intelligence analyst warned on Tuesday, noting that it could cause significant civilian casualties in Lebanon and Israel.

Defense Intelligence Agency major Harrison Mann, the highest-ranking US military officer to resign over the Gaza conflict, expressed his concern in an interview with The Guardian.

Mann emphasized the high risk of Israel getting involved in a war on its northern border for domestic political reasons, driven primarily by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s power and insulation from corruption charges are seen as based on maintaining martial law.

“I don’t know how realistic their assessment of the destruction that will befall Israel is, and I’m pretty sure they have no realistic idea of ​​how successful they would be against Hezbollah,” said the former military officer and intelligence analyst. said.

He said the Israeli military is aware that it cannot deliver a decisive blow to Hezbollah’s extensive arsenal, which is rooted in the Lebanese mountains.

Instead, Mann suggested the IDF would target Hezbollah leaders and Shiite neighborhoods to demoralize the group’s support base, a tactic known as the Dahiya Doctrine after heavy bombing of the Beirut district in the 2006 war.

“It’s not like an actual written doctrine, but I think we can very safely appreciate that bombing civilian centers as a way of coercing the enemy is a clearly accepted and shared belief in the IDF and Israeli leadership. We’ve only seen it done in Gaza in the last nine months,” Mann said, but said such a plan would backfire.

Mann told the Guardi that he expected Hezbollah to respond to any existential threat with a massive rocket and missile attack.

“They are likely to be able to at least partially outmaneuver Israel’s air defenses, strike the country’s civilian infrastructure, and cause destruction to Israel on a scale that I’m not sure Israel has ever really seen in its history — certainly not recently. history, Mann said.

With Hezbollah’s arsenal seemingly beyond the reach of airstrikes, Mann suggested that the IDF launch a ground offensive against southern Lebanon, at the cost of heavy Israeli casualties.

He warned that sustained shelling of Israeli cities could force US President Joe Biden’s administration, especially during an election period, to join Netanyahu’s call for greater US involvement.

“Our least escalating involvement will probably be to strike supply lines or related targets in Iraq and Syria to help cut the lines of communication and arms flow to Hezbollah,” Mann said. “But that in itself is risky, because if we start doing that, some of the people we hit could be Hezbollah, but some of them could be the IRGC (Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps).

While Mann believes the Biden administration’s goal would be to avoid direct conflict with Iran, he acknowledged that the risk of escalation remains.

“We know specifically that the Israeli prime minister has to remain a warlord if he wants to extend his political career and stay out of court, so there is an incentive,” Mann said, adding that he is putting pressure on all Israeli governments. displacement of tens of thousands of Israelis due to Hezbollah attacks.

Mann also pointed out that the Israeli military establishment believes that Iran-backed Hezbollah must be confronted as it continues to grow stronger.

Mann’s resignation, submitted in November and effective from June, was accompanied by a public letter on LinkedIn in May. In the letter, he condemned US support for Israel’s actions in Gaza, saying it “enabled and authorizes the killing and starvation of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians.”

As a descendant of European Jews, Mann wrote, “I grew up in a particularly unforgiving moral environment when it came to taking responsibility for ethnic cleansing.”

He said that his resignation was largely received positively by his former colleagues, and several expressed similar feelings.

“A lot of people I’ve worked with have reached out to me, and a lot of people I haven’t worked with, have expressed that they feel the same way,” he said. “It’s not just a generational thing. There are older people who feel the same way.”

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