New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) reports that Israeli Shin Bet Director Avi Dichter testified before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week and stated that if the IDF leaves Gaza and Northern Samaria (of the West Bank), terrorism against Israelis could get much worse.
Dichter said of Sharon’s plan to leave Gaza and northern Samaria, “In a situation where Israel is not in control of the Philadelphi corridor which separates Gaza from the Sinai, terrorists arriving from Lebanon are liable to infiltrate through it into the Gaza Strip and there is a distinct possibility that in a short while, the Gaza Strip will turn into South Lebanon.”
Dichter also warned that the number of arms smuggled through the corridor to Gaza is liable to increase dramatically and turn into a “river.” As to Northern Samaria where PM Sharon plans to dismantle 4 Jewish communities, Dichter said, “Samaria is an area with terrorist potential that already proved itself in the past. Therefore nothing should surprise us. If we evacuate the area and turn it over to full Palestinian Authority control we are liable to get an area that operates by the Gaza model.”
Israel’s news service Arutz-7 stated that other defense officials are warning that withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria will place numerous cities and strategic facilities within range of terrorist rockets. The latest warnings were issued during a meeting of the Knesset Interior Committee on Wednesday. “It is very likely that the territory to be evacuated in the context of the disengagement plan will be taken advantage of [by terrorists],” warned Lt.-Col. Itamar Ya’ar, Deputy Chairman of the National Security Council.
The committee assessed that the area threatened by missiles after a withdrawal would expand by 6-12 miles — and not 4-5 miles as has been previously assumed. Israeli cities such as Ashkelon, Netivot, Ofakim and Kiryat Gat will be within firing range. The withdrawal from the northern Samaria, too, will place the Jewish communities of Beit She’an, Afula, Hedera and the towns of the Jezreel Valley within the sights of terror groups taking advantage of the newly evacuated areas.
The speakers warned that despite the enlarged radius of endangerment, the Israeli Home Front Command has only been given a mandate to develop defense programs for the 46 communities within a 4.3-mile radius of Gaza. No plan whatsoever has been formulated to defend those endangered by the Samaria withdrawal.
Of particular concern were reports regarding the vulnerability of Israel’s main power stations in Ashkelon and Hadera, as well as the Eilat-Ashkelon oil pipeline — none of which are considered in the current defense program. Similarly, other industrial facilities within the threatened radius have been completely ignored by the programs to defend the newly threatened areas.
The manager of the water utility, Dr. Dreizen, also told the committee that the loss of control of the northern Samaria will likely create serious problems for Israel’s water infrastructure. He said that it could bring about the drying up of the Jezreel Valley water supply and the salination of the coastal aquifers.
ZOA President Morton A. Klein stated: “For the past year there has been a constant drumbeat of security and political leaders warning of the serious dangers of Israel leaving the Jewish section of Gaza (where 9000 Jews and 2000 Arabs live). They include: chief of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), General Moshe Ya’alon; former Chief of Israeli Military Intelligence, General Shlomo Gazit; Head of IDF Intelligence, General Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash; former Defense Minister Moshe Arens; ex-Deputy Chief of IDF Intelligence, General Yaakov Amidror; Minister Natan Sharansky, head of the Likud Faction, Gideon Saar; former General Ehud Yatom and many, many others. Now added to all their warnings comes new testimony by the leaders of Shin Bet and National Security Council.
In light of this continual array of warnings of the severe dangers of the planned expulsion of Jewish civilians and transfer of land to the Palestinian Authority — a terrorist regime headed by Holocaust Denier and long-time terrorist Mahmoud Abbas, we urge P.M. Sharon to reconsider his decision of the transfer of Jews and land. The ZOA supports Minister Netanyahu and others’ demand to have a national referendum before considering moving forward on Sharon’s Gaza policy.”