Chris Parry

Wallace has damaged his reputation for statesmanship with a cheap shot at Israel

It is clear that Mr Wallace’s intemperate language and view of the conflict are not supported


Israeli forces operating against Hamas in the Gaza Strip on December 6 (Photo: IDF)

December 21, 2023 11:24

The cynical, blatant propaganda campaign by Hamas appears to have claimed another scalp.

This time, it is the former secretary of state for defence Ben Wallace, who on the whole has been respected for his robust common sense and sound judgment.

His recent emotionally charged outburst in response to the relentless barrage of pseudo-facts and falsehoods emerging from Gaza, however, demonstrates how very quickly, once out of office, without access to reliable intelligence, one can lose touch with reality.

It is fair to say that Mr Wallace’s intemperate language and view of the conflict are not supported or reflected by those who know about the demands of urban warfare against heavily armed and securely established terrorists hiding among a civilian population.

Those of us at senior level who have commanded significant combat forces understand all too clearly that Israel is facing an unprecedented battlefield challenge, involving subterranean warfare and the use of civilian human shields on a scale with which the world is only now coming to terms.

Any casualties among the population are too high, whatever the number. But in this case, they have been both exacerbated and exaggerated by have Hamas, which seeks both physical and information advantages. Israel has very little alternative to hunting down and eradicating Hamas if Israelis themselves are not to be repeat victims of the sort of barbarism inflicted on their citizens and other nationalities on October 7.

Any commander worth his salt knows that that the Jewish state faces a complex and highly challenging operational context in Gaza. All scenarios are different and it is fatuous and unrealistic to compare the situation in Gaza to that in Northern Ireland, or indeed any other operation of this sort.

Unlike in Grozny, Aleppo, Idlib or any number of other failed urban combat situations, the IDF is following rigorous rules of engagement that seek to limit civilian casualties despite the frictions, fears and uncertainties experienced by its soldiers, sailors and airmen on a minute-by-minute basis.

Indeed, just last week the White House National Security spokesman, John Kirby, a former Rear Admiral in the United States Navy, said: “[Israel is] basically telegraphing [its] punches. There are very few modern militaries in the world that would do that. I don’t know that [the US military] would do that.”

Mr Wallace might well pay more attention to those whom he trusted and who trusted him in the past rather than the practised and proven propagandists of a proscribed terrorist organisation. Without good people around him, he seems to have lost his bearings.

When he uses careless language such as “killing rage” and “collective punishment”, he damages his reputation for statesmanship and takes a cheap shot at the state of Israel.

In supporting the objectives and language of an organisation that seeks to destroy the sole democracy in the Middle East, he gives encouragement to authoritarian states elsewhere, not least Iran, Russia and China.

Finally, it needs to be said that there is a groundswell of sensible, if typically silent opinion in Britain that stands squarely behind Israels attempts to seek justice for the victims of October 7, to eradicate a vile terrorist organisation and to provide a peaceful, safe and secure future for Israelis and the wider region.

That bus is routeing through Gaza, Mr Wallace. It’s not too late to get onboard.

Rear Admiral Chris Parry is the former Director of Operational Capability at the Ministry of Defence and the former commander of the UK’s Amphibious Task Group

December 21, 2023 11:24

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