New York – The head of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) military intelligence, Major-General Amos Yadlin, has disclosed that strategic threats to Israel s existence have intensified in the past year due in part to Israels unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Speaking at Haifa University earlier this week, Yadlin listed seven factors contributing to the deterioration in Israels strategic position — the electoral success of Hamas and the success of Palestinian terrorism in forcing Israeli concessions like the Gaza withdrawal; the election in Iran of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Irans pursuit of nuclear weapons; the legitimization by democratic means of extremist leaders in Iran, the Palestinian Authority (PA), Egypt and Lebanon; the weakening of Americas driving the Middle East towards democracy, the waning of Western pressure on Syria due to the current preoccupation with Iran; the heightened focus on Israel by international jihadist movements; and the rise in world oil prices (Yediot Ahronot, June 20).
Excerpts from the Yediot Ahronot report:
- Yadlin noted Hamas rise to power and increasing faith in the success of Palestinian resistance through terrorism. Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, Yadlin said, was the first to claim that by military force alone he would make Israel retreat from south Lebanon, with no diplomatic compromise. This trend was positively reinforced by Israels disengagement from the Gaza Strip, he said
- General Yadlin noted that contrary to the positive atmosphere in Israels strategic environment between April 2002 and August 2005, the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the continued research and development of nuclear technology in the Muslim nation were the chief reasons behind the turnaround, according to appraisals by the IDFs intelligence wing.
- Contrary to threats heard from al-Qaeda in the late 90s, when Israel was on a low place in the list of targets, recent rhetoric and activities emanating from Osama Bin Ladens organization tend to frequently focus on Israel and the Middle East. In the meantime it has had a notable influence on the surroundings, such as the terror attacks in Taba, rocket fire from Aqaba, and fire on Lebanon — and not on Israel itself, he said.
- According to the general, when a barrel of oil cost USD 20, Iran was on the verge of bankruptcy, but now the price of a barrel is reaching USD 70, and every dollar from every barrel of oil sold means another billion in Ahmadinejads budget.
ZOA National Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt said, General Yadlin is but the latest in a line of military and defense establishment figures who have pointed to a deterioration in Israels strategic environment and in particular to the damaging effects of Israels unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria last year. The former Israel Defense Force (IDF) Chief-of-Staff, Lieutenant-General Moshe Yaalon, has repeatedly stated that the path of unilateral concession and assisting the creation of a Hamas-controlled Palestinian state will lead to a costly war. The outgoing head of the Israeli National Security Council (NSC), Major-General Giora Eiland, has also stated flatly that the Gaza withdrawal contributed nothing to the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens has actually said that Israel must reoccupy Gaza as the only way to prevent the continuation of the incessant rocket attacks upon Israel which Israel has been unable to stop or stem since withdrawing from Gaza.
Many left-wing political and media figures have also expressed misgivings over the policy of unilateral withdrawals and admitted the problems it has created for Israel. The No. 2 figure on the Labor Party parliamentary list, Tourism Minister Yitzhak Herzog, says that it is forbidden to encourage terror and that the Gaza withdrawal helped Hamas win elections — one of the factors mentioned by General Yadlin as contributing to the current endangering of Israel. Ari Shavit, the distinguished Israeli journalist for the left-wing Ha’aretz, known as the New York Times of Israel, has also spoken of the risk of endangering regional stability if Israel pursues further unilateral withdrawals, even writing that The history books will record Olmerts unconditional withdrawal as the unconditional surrender of Zionism. Danny Rubinstein, a veteran columnist for Haaretz, has also said regarding further unilateral withdrawals that, as far as security and peace is concerned, the contribution of such a move will be minimal.
General Yadlins analysis powerfully underscores the fact that the strategic threats to Israel are worsening in part on account of policies like that of further unilateral withdrawals now being pursed by the Olmert government. We urge the Olmert government again to reconsider urgently the path it is proposing to take.