A protester holds a Palestinian flag as he runs during clashes with Israeli troops as Palestinians call for a "day of rage" in response to US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
The rift between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Fatah in the West Bank “is a plus” for Israeli security, former IDF deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan said on Wednesday.
In spite of the current national unity agreement between the two Palestinian groups, Golan, speaking at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies conference, said: “There is no Palestinian national unity” and that, putting aside diplomatic concerns, “for struggling against terrorism” it is “better for Israel” that there is a rupture.
Moving on to the Hamas tunnel threat, Golan firmly endorsed the IDF’s strategy of building an above- and below-ground barrier along the Gaza border, despite the multibillion-shekel price tag.
Noting that he was directly involved in approving the strategy, he said Israel has sufficient resources to pay for building the wall without sacrificing funding for other vital capabilities.
Moreover, Golan said, “we need to get to a point where we can say to the residents of the Gaza corridor that the tunnel threat is zero.”
Regarding Iran, Golan broke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he and the defense establishment hope that the West’s nuclear deal with Tehran stays in place in terms of keeping the Islamic Republic from acquiring a nuclear weapon for many years.
He added that he hopes that enforcement of nuclear restrictions will remain strong and that nuclear inspections will remain tight.
The former deputy chief also said that Israel needs help from allies to hold off Iran’s effort to acquire hegemony in the Middle East, and that admitting this is not a bad thing.
Homing in on Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, he said that the IDF must continue to prevent the terrorist organization from obtaining new advanced weaponry, and work to harm its ability to wage war.
Striking the right balance between deterrence, on the one hand, and an unintended deterioration to war or loss of legitimacy in the eyes of the world, on the other, “is complex... but we don’t do it so badly,” he said.
Golan described a range of challenges in preparing for a war; two key items were getting to forces on the front real-time precision intelligence allowing them to hit enemy forces and increasing the quality of unit-level officers on the front with “10 to 20 times as much drilling.”