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, noting that it could result in significant civilian casualties in both Lebanon and Israel.

Harrison Mann, a major in the Defense Intelligence Agency and the most senior US military officer to resign over the Gaza conflict, expressed his concerns in an interview with The Guardian.

Mann stressed the high risk of Israel getting involved in a war on its northern border for domestic political reasons, largely under the influence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s retention of power and his insulation from corruption allegations are seen as dependent on maintaining a state of war.

“I don’t know how realistic their assessments of the damage Israel will suffer are, and I’m sure they have no realistic idea of ​​how effective they could be in the fight against Hezbollah,” said a former army officer and intelligence analyst.

He added that the Israeli military is aware that it will not be able to carry out a decisive attack on Hezbollah’s extensive arsenal, which is entrenched in the Lebanese mountains.

Instead, Mann suggested that the IDF would target Hezbollah leadership and Shiite neighborhoods to demoralize the group’s support base, a tactic known as the Dahiya doctrine after the Beirut neighborhood was heavily bombed during the 2006 war.

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

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

“They probably have the capability to at least partially defeat Israeli air defenses, attack civilian infrastructure throughout the country and cause a level of destruction in Israel that Israel has never experienced before in its history — and certainly not in recent history,” Mann said.

With Hezbollah’s arsenal seemingly out of range of airstrikes, Mann suggested that the IDF would launch a ground offensive in southern Lebanon, which would involve heavy Israeli losses.

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

“Our least escalatory involvement will probably be in attacking supply lines or related targets in Iraq and Syria to help cut off lines of communication and weapons 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 they could also be the IRGC.”

While Mann believes the Biden administration will seek to avoid direct conflict with Iran, he acknowledged that the risk of such an escalation still exists.

“We know specifically that the prime minister of Israel needs to remain a war leader if he wants to prolong his political career and avoid the courts, so that motivation exists,” Mann said, adding that any Israeli government would also be under pressure to displace tens of thousands of Israelis due to Hezbollah attacks.

Mann also noted the belief of the Israeli military establishment that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah must be defeated as the organization continues to grow in strength.

Mann’s resignation, submitted in November and effective in June, was followed up by a public letter on LinkedIn in May. In the letter, he condemned U.S. support for Israel’s actions in Gaza, saying it “enabled 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 an environment in which the moral climate regarding responsibility for ethnic cleansing was extremely hostile.”

He added that his resignation had been met with a positive reaction from former colleagues, with many of them expressing similar feelings.

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

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