The IDF is prepared for a wave of attacks should peace talks break down,
Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi revealed Tuesday, but
he did not believe that the “Palestinian response to any breakdown of
would be initially similar to the events of fall 2000” that marked the
of the second intifada.
In a lengthy briefing of the Knesset’s Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee that at times seemed more like a final
than a routine report, Ashkenazi, who steps down from his post in
not just assess the IDF’s preparedness, but also his own response to the
so-called Galant Document. He even took a muted swing at Defense
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“If the talks with the Palestinians fail, we don’t plan to find
ourselves in a situation like in September 2000,” Ashkenazi told the committee,
which had almost complete attendance although the session was held in the midst
of the Knesset recess.
“There is a certain level of limited expectation
in the field among the Palestinians – we are following that and it is
central thing that we are keeping our eyes on in the West Bank.”
Ashkenazi said, is prepared for a wave of attacks following the peace
was aware even before last month’s deadly shooting attack near Kiryat
there was an active and organized Hamas infrastructure in the south
“We have known about them for a while,” said Ashkenazi, “but to my
dismay, we have yet to get our hands on them.”
The IDF has, in the last
two months, initiated 848 missions arrested 447 Palestinians.
activities in the West Bank, he said, include coordination with the
security services, “but every place in which the IDF feels that we need
we are – including the casbah in Nablus,” he added.
Ashkenazi added that
another element of the situation in the West Bank was the fact that “the
population expects that after it maintained the freeze and cooperated
law, that people keep their word, and that they will renew building,”
that there could be demonstrations if they were not allowed to do so.
noted that while there has been recent discussion of settlers’ weapons
seized by police, more West Bank residents have weapons provided by the
than ever before.
The chief of General Staff also assessed the threats
that the IDF faced from abroad, including from Iran and Turkey, as well
a series of flotillas currently being planned to challenge Israel’s
blockade of Gaza.
“The Kamalist heritage is in decline in Turkey,”
Ashkenazi told the MKs, emphasizing that while the IDF maintains good
the Turkish army, the Ankara government is continuously trying to reduce
status of the army.
At the same time, he warned, there are a number of
flotillas being organized throughout the world, including one that
sail up the Red Sea and then enter Gaza through an overland route, and a
European and American flotilla that he described as “especially
because it is due to include dozens of ships.
Israel, he said, has tried
to take political action to prevent these flotillas from departing, but
told by foreign governments that they cannot stop civil actions
Ashkenazi warned that even after
reviewing the lessons of the seizure of the Turkish-sponsored flotilla
if a similar incident occurs in which flotilla participants violently
IDF forces, he “cannot promise that it will also not end with
Ashkenazi blasted the five probes into the May incident
aboard the Mavi Marmara, saying that five investigations – three Israeli
international – did not achieve the purpose of studying the incident to
understandings of how to improve future responses.
complained, “a pattern of behavior has been established that every time
soldiers return from operational activity, an investigative committee
them. I am worried that as a result, people will be afraid to take
risks. I want
in our profession – which is assessing dangerous risks – people to
But the Mavi Marmara probe was not the only issue upon which
the usually restrained general spoke his mind Tuesday.
For the first time
publicly, Ashkenazi criticized the earlierthan- expected appointment of
Yoav Galant, by Barak.
emphasized that he and Galant are currently cooperating well in
IDF’s new multiyear plan and in planning the transition between them, he
noted that defense ministers generally appointed a new chief of staff
three and four months before the previous chief of General Staff was set
Such a period, said Ashkenazi, “allows for a thorough transition,
but does not prolong a state” in which there is a “lame-duck’’ at the
Ashkenazi, whose tension with Barak is well-publicized, told the
MKs that he had already expressed his opinion on the matter to both
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Regarding the Galant Document, the
forged letter that stood at the center of a scandal linked to the
the next chief of General Staff, Ashkenazi said that although he had
copy of the document, he had stored it in a drawer.
“I did not want to
address this document in an attempt to prevent what happened anyway
He added that he “would welcome any probe into the affair
as long as it was professional and objective” – a slam at the probe of
document launched by Barak.Yaakov Katz contributed to this