It's slowly, slowly dawning in the Israeli press that the IDF's recent... shall we say, lackluster performance in Lebanon, is due largely to the fact that one of the best-performing militaries in the history of the Middle East has spent the last three decades variously occupying Palestine and Lebanon. Occupation armies are not, as a rule, good combat armies, and vice versa.
First, (via Jon at PastPeak) Tom Segev wrote a few days ago:
There is a generation of soldiers whose main military experience involves the oppression of the Palestinian population in the territories; they have not been trained for real war.More substantively, Ze'ev Schiff (Haaretz military analyst) writes:
Like the chief of staff, the soldiers of the occupation have developed infinite arrogance. Every private is a king in the territories: If he so wishes, he allows a Palestinian to go through the roadblock; if he so wishes, he orders him to remove his pants. The power of the occupation has implanted a profound contempt for the Palestinians in many soldiers, and this is the essence of their experience as soldiers.
The Palestinian terror and its suppression have also granted legitimacy to a very serious systematic undermining of the Palestinians' human rights. The expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese from their homes, as though it were permissible routine, was carried out in this spirit as well. As opposed to the past, there was almost no protest in Israel; that is also a subject the committee of historians may want to study.
It turns out that many of the commanders in Lebanon learned their trade in the fighting in the territories, and they thought in terms of fighting the Palestinians. The "Palestinian model" guided the way IDF units fought the bloody battles at Maroun al-Ras and Bint Jbail. The units entered the battle and withdrew, similar to the way they operate in the Gaza Strip.(link via TPM) Hopefully, this will give some more impetus to the drive to withdraw from the occupation. Even though Olmert probably won't survive politically much longer, the Occupation has ruined Israel's fighting ability at a very fundamental level, and that's something the IDF can't afford.
The IDF was also surprised in Lebanon by the amount of anti-tank missiles
fired by Hezbollah. The immediate reaction in the territories is to take cover in the closest home. In Lebanon, many soldiers were killed when anti-tank missiles penetrated walls behind which IDF troops had taken cover. Two weeks into the fighting, a specific order went out on how and where to take cover....
Another example is the deployment of the Golani Brigade from the Gaza Strip to Lebanon. It turns out that this excellent fighting force lacked officer expertise in coordinating with artillery batteries, something that they don't have to do very often in their policing duties.