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

LONDON: Israel has miscalculated the costs of a potential new war with Hezbollah, a former US military intelligence analyst warned on Tuesday, saying it could lead to significant civilian casualties in both Lebanon and Israel.

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

Mann pointed to the high risk of Israel engaging in a war on its northern border for domestic political reasons, led primarily by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s hold on power and his insulation from corruption allegations are seen as dependent on maintaining martial law.

“I don’t know how realistic their assessments are of the destruction that Israel would take, and I’m pretty sure they don’t have a realistic idea of ​​how successful they would be against Hezbollah,” the former army officer and intelligence analyst . said.

He said the Israeli military was aware that it could not decisively strike Hezbollah’s extensive arsenal, which is entrenched in the Lebanese mountains.

Instead, Mann suggested the IDF would target Hezbollah leaders and Shiite residential areas to demoralize the group’s support base, a tactic called the Dahiya doctrine, after the Beirut district was heavily bombed in the 2006 war.

“It’s not like actual written doctrine, but I think we can be very comfortable in assessing that bombing civilian centers as a way to coerce the enemy is clearly an accepted and shared belief in the IDF and the Israeli leadership. We’ve just seen them do it in Gaza for the last nine months,” Mann said, but said such a plan would backfire.

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

“They probably have the ability to at least partially overwhelm Israel’s air defenses, hit civilian infrastructure across the country, and inflict a level of destruction on Israel that I’m not sure Israel has ever experienced in its history — certainly not in his last period. history,” Mann said.

With Hezbollah’s arsenal apparently within reach of airstrikes, Mann suggested that the IDF would launch a ground offensive in southern Lebanon that would come at a high cost in Israeli casualties.

He warned that sustained bombing of Israeli cities could force US President Joe Biden’s administration, particularly during the election period, to heed Netanyahu’s calls for greater US involvement.

“Our least intense involvement will likely be to strike supply lines or associated targets in Iraq and Syria to help disrupt lines of communication and weaponry flowing 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 it could be the IRGC (Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps).”

Although Mann believes the Biden administration would avoid direct conflict with Iran, he acknowledged that the risk of such an escalation remained.

“We know specifically that the Israeli prime minister has to continue to be a wartime leader if he wants to extend his political career and stay out of court, so the motivation is there,” Mann said, adding that whatever The Israeli government would also be pressured by the displacement of tens of thousands of Israelis due to Hezbollah attacks.

Mann also emphasized the Israeli military establishment’s belief that Iran-backed Hezbollah must be confronted as it continues to grow in power.

Mann’s resignation, presented 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 “allowed and empowered the killing and starvation of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians.”

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

He said his resignation was met with a largely positive response from former colleagues, with many expressing similar sentiments.

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

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