Asking Hamas to demilitarize Gaza is like asking a priest to convert to Judaism, former military intelligence head Amos Yadlin said Sunday.
“This is their ideology, what they believe in, their resistance,” he added. “They will not demilitarize Gaza voluntarily. The only one who can demilitarize them is the IDF.”
Yadlin, who is currently the head of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said that Israel needed to apply “much more military pressure” on Hamas' military wing, which he acknowledge has been “beaten,” but not hard enough.
Neither Hamas' leaders, nor its “main terrorist fighters,” have been killed, Yadlin said in a conference call organized by The Israel Project.
The only way to achieve a durable ceasefire and a political arrangement in the long run “is either by weakening or even destroying Hamas,” he said.
Yadlin said that the paradigm that the devil you know is better than the one you don't, and that at least with Hamas in control of Gaza there was an “address,” was applicable up until two months ago.
But since then, he said, Hamas has proven to be “not an address, but a military threat. I don't see any alternative that will be worse than Hamas. I call to waken and destroy Hamas as much as we can.”
Yadlin rejected the argument that the existence of dozens of attack tunnels in Gaza was a colossal intelligence failure.
As head of military intelligence for five years, Yadlin said he got used to being a “scapegoat” for everything.
Any failure was an intelligence failure, while all success were operational successes, he said. Yadlin added that Israel has known about the tunnels for at least eight years, since the kidnapping of Gilad Schalit.
“You may say that maybe the number of tunnels were not known,” he said. “That is the nature of intelligence, we don't know everything at all time.”
Yadlin said there were greater threats against Israel in the region – such as Scud Missiles laced with chemical weapons from Syria, and some of Hezbollah's capabilities. “Are you going to take a preemptive strike again all that, or are you going to wait for the enemy to make a mistake and then knock out their capability.”
Yadlin ask how the international community would have responded had Israel acted preemptively against the tunnels, and then added that the tunnels were not an intelligence failure. “If it's a failure, it’s a policy failure.”
Yadlin said that since the outset of Operation Protective Edge, two additional goals have been added to the one's initially stated: restoring quiet and significantly hitting Hamas.
The two goals that have been added are neutralizing the tunnels, which the IDF is doing, and demilitarization of Gaza.
“If demilitarization is the goal, then we are very far away.” Yadlin said. Instead of setting that up as an objective, “I am suggesting another term, agreeing not to let Hamas rebuild. I think that is much much more realistic.”