yiftah ron tal 209 IDF.
(photo credit: IDF)
They all played an active role in the run-up to disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and excluding one, saw it through and filled key positions during its implementation. Now with one foot out of their uniforms, the officers involved in that operation are able to open their mouths, speak their mind and try to settle scores or clear their apparent guilty conscience through the media.
Maj.-Gen. Yiftah Ron-Tal, former OC Ground Forces, joined ex-chief of general staff Moshe Ya'alon and outgoing OC Chaplaincy Corps Brig.-Gen. Yisrael Weiss, who in recent months have all blasted the government, the military they once served in, and their former comrades for the disengagement.
While Ya'alon retired prior to the pullout, he did command the IDF as it prepared for disengagement alongside Ron-Tal, who not only prepared the ground forces for the massive operation but also oversaw it from up close. Weiss also fulfilled his duties, despite clear emotional difficulty. He oversaw the disinterment of Jewish graves in Gush Katif.
Ron-Tal and Ya'alon share in common not only their criticism of disengagement, but also their belief that the unilateral Gaza withdrawal strengthened Israel's enemies and in part led to the recent war in Lebanon against Hizbullah.
Weiss asserted at a farewell party last week that: "The good of our future existence requires an eternal oath of 'never again' - never again to a human disengagement, never again to human realignment."
Different theories have been raised regarding the motive behind Ron-Tal's revealing interview to the Kfar Chabad haredi newspaper. Some officers claimed he was getting back at IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz for not appointing him OC Northern Command in place of Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam.
Others saw the interview as the outgoing general's first step into politics, claiming that he was a supporter of Likud Party chairman Binyamin Netanyahu. Like Ya'alon, who has been marked as a Likud favorite, Ron-Tal could also serve as the general at Netanyahu's side in the next elections.
But political ambitions aside, the timing of the trio's anti-disengagement declarations cannot be disconnected from the post-war whirlwind. With the Winograd Commission well into its investigation the IDF has become an uncomfortable place in which to serve.
In addition to Winograd, the IDF is also conducting its own internal investigations into the military performance during the war, and so far the findings have been far from reassuring. Reports of lack of coordination and negligence have been slowly emerging regarding the top command's management of different battles during the war in Lebanon.
As a result, the IDF's image has sustained a heavy blow. The remarks by Ya'alon, Ron-Tal and Weiss only reinforce that negative impression.