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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Uh oh... IDF drafts plan to pull back to pre-intifada lines

This is one of the many downsides of having a Leftist Defense Minister: The IDF has drafted a plan to pull back its troops to their positions on September 28, 2000, which was the date that the Oslo Terror War (also known as the 'intifada' or the 'second intifada') started. That would mean that the IDF would move away from 'Palestinian' cities in Judea and Samaria. The pullback was one of the demands allegedly made by President Obama to Prime Minister Netanyahu at their hostile March 23 meeting.

Fortunately, the IDF is not taking this silently. Someone made sure to tell the public that the IDF is opposed to this idea.
“The IDF has plans for this possibility and is prepared for a scenario that Israel will approve the American demand and decide to pull back to pre-intifada lines,” a top defense official told the Post recently.

The Post has learned that the IDF brass, particularly the Central Command, have recommended not carrying out such a withdrawal.

“The IDF’s freedom to operate everywhere is extremely important in keeping terrorism down to a minimum,” the senior defense official said.

As proof, the official referred to a recent IDF operation in Jenin, during which troops arrested two top Islamic Jihad operatives. Operations in Jenin are still carried out, the official said, despite the “Jenin Model” program that saw the deployment of US-trained PA forces in the city and Israel’s decision to scale back its operations.

“We still operate there whenever we believe there is a threat,” the official said.
Two weeks ago, Defense Minister Barak informed IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi that his four-year term as Chief of Staff would not be extended for an additional year when it expires in February 2011. Such extensions are normally routinely granted for one year - the only time in recent memory that did not happen was when Ariel Sharon did not extend Moshe (Boogie) Yaalon's term in the run up to the Gaza expulsion. Yaalon opposed the expulsion. I suspect that the reason why Ashkenazi is (effectively) being terminated is that he opposes plans to pull IDF troops out of portions of Judea and Samaria. If Ashkenazi joins the Likud or another party on the Right after his 'cooling off' period ends, my suspicion would likely be confirmed.

Why did Netanyahu go along with Barak terminating Ashkenazi? The best case scenario would be that he wanted Barak to be able to appoint his own Chief of Staff (Ashkenazi was appointed by then-Defense Minister Comrade Peretz after his predecessor, Dan Halutz, had the decency to resign in disgrace at the end of the Second Lebanon War).

Barak is known not to like Ashkenazi. That likely goes back (at least) to August 2000, when Ashkenazi, who then headed the Northern command, wrote a letter to then-IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz criticizing the lack of response to Hezbullah's buildup (yes, that's when it started) in Southern Lebanon. The Prime Minister in August 2000 was Ehud Barak, who was busy with Camp David in August 2000:
Ahead of the withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, army chief Mofaz established a team to draft the IDF's posture along the border. The head of that team was then-OC Northern Command and current Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. The team's recommendations were brought up for discussion at meetings of the General Staff, and formed the basis for the IDF's operational stance following the withdrawal.

The essence of this stance was to deter Hizbullah by threatening the Lebanese home front in the event of an attack on Israeli civilians or on IDF positions along the border. Soon after the withdrawal, however, it became clear that implementing the plan would be difficult, as Hizbullah continued its provocations, and the IDF refrained from responding.

Ashkenazi warned about this policy as early as August 2000, in a letter to Mofaz. "Since our withdrawal from Lebanon, Hizbullah's provocations are increasing, and this is damaging our security and deterrence, and could eventually lead to a serious deterioration in the situation. There is a need to apply effective pressure on Lebanon or to change the way we react.

"If this doesn't happen the situation will crystallize and turn into a reality we cannot live with," the Winograd Committee quoted Ashkenazi as saying back then.

Former OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. (res.) Udi Adam, who quit after the war, told the committee, "The containment policy was in effect Israel relinquishing its sovereignty over the border area, while allowing Hizbullah a free hand in the area." [I feel sorry for Udi Adam. I think he was the fall guy for this past summer's foul-ups - and undeservedly so. CiJ]

According to senior IDF officers, the "containment" policy's effects were becoming obvious: The next kidnapping was only a matter of time, and it was doubtful if it could be thwarted.

Northern Command officers tried various creative ways to minimize the threat of kidnapping, mostly by distancing IDF soldiers from border areas that Hizbullah fighters could easily infiltrate.

Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch, commander of Division 91, who quit his post after the Almog Committee blamed him for the kidnapping of reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in July, tried to improve the containment policy by demanding stricter discipline, training and inspections. The Winograd Committee said in its report that Hirsch's reforms were not implemented, leading to a gradual degradation of discipline and alertness among the troops patrolling the border.

In summarizing the IDF's operations along the northern border during the six yeaBlockquoters between the withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the Second Lebanon War, the Winograd Committee paints a grim picture: The army was constrained by the policy of containment forced upon it by the political echelon; the policy itself was not physically sustainable; a degradation of the IDF's abilities mainly due to budget cuts and manpower shortages - due largely to the deployment of troops not specifically trained for the sensitive mission, and the deployment of better-trained troops to the Palestinian front; and the lack of discipline, training, drilling and frequent inspections that led to a lowering of soldiers' alertness.
But there's another possibility as to why Netanyahu is going along with Barak firing Ashkenazi: That Netanyahu also wants to pull IDF troops back in Judea and Samaria and wants a more pliable Chief of Staff who won't raise objections.

What could go wrong?


At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yaalon opposed the expulsion.

Yaalon only mouthed off about the expulsion just prior to his resignation.

For all the time prior, it was under Yaalon's watch that the IDF dedicated its soldiers, its time and a massive budget funded by the Israeli taxpayers to training the IDF to destroy the lives of the Jews of Gush Katif.

Ya'alon, too, must go.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

It could well happen.

As Moshe Feiglin has warned, if Netanyahu is planning another Disengagement a la Sharon, pay attention to what the government does on the ground, not to its declarations.

That IDF plan could be implemented at any time, if the government decided to approve such a pull-back. We'll have to see what happens in the next couple of months.

At 3:17 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Get rid of Barak and put Ashkenazi in his place. That would solve the problem correctly!!

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Neshama said...

The enemy(ies) within continues to grow!

The good get stiffled, but only for so long can you sweep the dirt under the carpet until the dust becomes an unavoidable mountain.

At 5:59 PM, Blogger Y.K. said...

Actually, Ashkenazi is well known for his Leftist views[1], and I'd rather a just as qualified but more Right-minded person would replace him after the term is up.

[1] See for example:

Also, note that the lack of extension is not as unusual as it may appear, since Ashkenazi already got 4 years in advance (unlike most Chief-of-staffs which get 3 years).


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