Israel's army, government split over root causes of Palestinian violence

According to Channel 10, defense officials have expressed their view to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that "a siege on Palestinian areas would simply exacerbate their frustration."

By JPOST.COM STAFF
November 6, 2015 23:07
2 minute read.
IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot (R), Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, and PM Benjamin Netanyahu

IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot (R), Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: GPO)

The chasm between Israel's civilian and military leadership over the causes of the ongoing wave of Palestinian violence is growing more apparent by the day.

According to Channel 10, defense officials have expressed their view to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that "a siege on Palestinian areas would simply exacerbate their frustration."

There were discussions among Israeli officials over a possible closure of Palestinian areas in a bid to deter further knife and shooting attacks, which continued on Friday.

In the Hebron region, two separate shootings within a span of two hours resulted in the wounding of three Israelis, two of them seriously. Earlier on Friday, IDF soldiers stationed at Khalhoul Bridge in the West Bank fired on and stuck a Palestinian female motorist they suspected of attempting to run them over.

Less than an hour later, a Palestinian assailant stabbed an Israeli man near the Rami Levy supermarket in Sha'ar Binyamin.

With Palestinian violence in the West Bank showing no signs of ebbing, tensions between Israel's government and the military high command appear to be steadily climbing.

According to The Jerusalem Post's Hebrew-language sister publication Ma'ariv, the head of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, was scolded by Immigration and Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin during a classified cabinet briefing in Jerusalem earlier this week.

Elkin apparently did not appreciate what Halevi had to say about steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to curb violence against Israelis, namely that President Mahmoud Abbas had ordered his security forces to lower tensions on the ground and to continue defense coordination with the army.

According to Ma'ariv, Halevi listed three factors to which military intelligence attributed the spate of Palestinian attacks: tensions regarding perceived attempts by Israel to violate the status quo on Temple Mount; the unsolved murder of members of the Dawabsha family; and Palestinian frustration over the stalled peace process.

These remarks prompted a number of ministers to murmur in disapproval, chief among them Elkin, who chided the Military Intelligence chief for wading into a political matter while serving as a mouthpiece for the Palestinian cause.

"The truth needs to be said, and that is that this wave of terrorism erupted due to the deceitful incitement by Palestinian officials and others," Elkin said.

Halevi responded to Elkin by insisting that it was his job description to inform the cabinet of what the enemy was thinking, not offer a political diagnosis or make policy recommendations. While no voices were raised, the Elkin-Halevi exchange caused some discomfort within the senior levels of both the civilian and political echelons.

Another reported point of contention is what to do with the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, the outfit run by radical, rabble-rousing Sheikh Raed Salah. According to Channel 10, senior Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) officials are opposed to the cabinet's plan to outlaw the movement.

The Shin Bet believes that issuing a decree banning the Islamic Movement would inflame tensions amongst Israeli Arabs while also forcing the group to conduct its activities underground, making it harder for the security services to trace its steps.

The government, however, is demanding that the Shin Bet cooperate in laying the legal infrastructure for the movement's dissolution, a position supported by the police.


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