Wall Street Journal: Gaza Withdrawal Divides Israel’s Military
May 4, 2005

10,000 Soldiers Say
No to Participation

New York – On Tuesday, May 3, 2005, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ran a front page article entitled, “In Israel, Pullout From Gaza Divides Its Military, Too,” the subheading was, “(Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief) General Harel tries to overcome resistance among troops.” The WSJ article stated that, “after decades of unifying Israel, the IDF must carry out an order that could split it.”

When former Cabinet Minister Natan Sharansky resigned his post this week, he said, “alongside my concerns, about the dangers entailed in a unilateral disengagement from Gaza, I am even more concerned about how the government’s approach to disengagement is dividing Israeli society. We are heading toward a terrible rift in the nation and to my great chagrin, I feel that the government is making no serious effort to prevent it.”

The WSJ added, “this divide is reflected within Israel’s military…Already, at least 10,000 soldiers in the IDF’s reserves have signed a petition vowing not to participate in the Gaza Mission — the most serious refusal of duty the IDF has ever faced.” The WSJ then pointed out that “in the U.S., a law forbids the military from being deployed against its citizens.” They also quoted IDF Chief General Harel saying that in a recent speech before 120 senior officers of the IDF, “he guessed to himself that 4 out of 10 of them didn’t agree with Mr. Sharon’s decision to evacuate Gaza.”

In fact, said ZOA President Morton A. Klein, “the list of prominent Israeli military leaders and others opposed to the Sharon/Peres Gaza Withdrawal Plan is long and distinguished. They include outgoing Chief of the IDF General Moshe Ya’alon (who said this Gaza Plan will blow up in our faces); Director of Shin Bet Avi Dichter; Chief of Military Intelligence Aharon Farkash; Speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin; Chief of Likud faction Gideon Saar; former Minister Natan Sharansky; former Chair of Foreign Affairs and Defense Uzi Landau; former Defense and Foreign Affairs Minister Moshe Arens; former Chief of Military Intelligence Shlomo Gazit; former Deputy Chief of Military Intelligence Yaacov Amidror; and even Foreign Affairs Minister Silvan Shalom and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Many IDF officers are worried about the military wisdom of this Plan. In fact, several weeks ago, Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Aharon Ze’evi Farkash testified before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee stating that Palestinian Arabs are moving terrorists and its infrastructure from Gaza to Judea and Samaria. This may well be happening due to the Arab conviction that Israel is leaving Gaza and forcefully deporting 9000 Jews primarily because of Palestinian Arab terror and murder. Once Gaza is Judenein, the terror war will resume in Judea and Samaria where Palestinian Arabs believe renewed terror against Jews there will force them to leave the West Bank.”

In fact, Israel’s largest newspaper, Yediot Ahronot (April 1, 2005), reported that the Palestinian terror/murder war against the Jews of Israel will resume as soon as Israel completes the forced deportation and transfer of 9000 Jews according to the Sharon/Bush Gaza withdrawal plan. Military sources said that the focus of renewed Palestinian terror attacks will be in Judea and Samaria, especially major roads, military camps, and Jewish communities there.

The Palestinian Arabs will use mortar and Kassam rockets to attack the trans-Israel Highway and on the cities of the coastal plain. The IDF Central command said it is already preparing for the next round of armed conflict with the Palestinian Arabs.

To further confirm this report, the Jerusalem Post wrote on March 31 that an internal Shin Bet document said that Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas have intensified their efforts to smuggle weapons from Egypt to cells operating in Judea and Samaria. The document stated that from last summer to this winter, 180 anti-tank rockets, 600 kg. of explosives, 3000 rifles, 400 handguns and 400,000 rounds of ammunition were smuggled from Egypt to Judea, Samaria and Gaza. A security official said that “terror groups abroad have intensified their efforts in recent months to smuggle weapons from Egypt to the Negev to the West Bank and Gaza.” Another route is by sea. Weapons are coming in through fishing boats as well.

It is interesting to see that the most recent polls show that Israelis are almost evenly divided on this issue. This strong groundswell of opposition is especially surprising since Sharon and his government are so strongly committed to this Plan. Sharon’s support among his own party has also dropped.

In a survey released recently by Israel’s Midgam polling company in conjunction with Radius radio, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has dropped to 8th place as choice for PM among Likud Central Committee members. The poll was based on 401 members of the Likud Central Committee.

Several months ago, polls showed PM Sharon handily defeating Bibi Netanyahu, Silvan Shalom and Uzi Landau among Likud Central Committee members. The new survey shows Tzahi Hanegbi topping the list followed by Netanyahu, Dan Naveh, Uzi Landau, Gideon Saar, Silvan Shalom, Yisroel Katz and then Sharon. Defense Minister Mofaz is number 11.

ZOA President Klein said: “It is stunning to see the dramatic drop in support for Gaza evacuation supporters during the last few months. This includes Gaza evacuation supporters such as Sharon, Mofaz, Ezra, Shteinitz, Livni, Livnat, Boim, Sheetrit and Ohlmert.”

“One can only conclude that Likud members see that Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas has refused to dismantle and disarm the terrorists, close the bomb factories, end the incitement, or arrest the terrorists since taking power — thereby giving pause to the notion of rewarding Abbas’ pro-terror inaction with more Gaza land and the removal of 9000 Jews from their homes there.”

“In addition, Chief of General Staff, Gen. Moshe Ya’alon said last month, “Do not get intoxicated by the current calm in the region, the terror groups are utilizing the calm to further arm themselves, as well as produce explosives and build up their depleted ranks. In fact, Abu Al-Walid, for the leadership of Islamic Jihad, said, “We aim to take advantage of the lull to prepare our military apparatus to confront any eventuality.” In light of these troubling facts, more and more Israelis are questioning the wisdom of making any concessions to Abbas’ regime especially unilateral concessions. Therefore, supporters of these concessions are becoming less popular while opponents are gaining support.

“We, of the ZOA, hope that PM Sharon and new IDF Chief Harel will do all they can to unify and reassure the country during these difficult times.”

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