Gen. Yadlin: Pressure from Gaza street spurred truce

Military Intelligence head questions Syrian president's motives to enter talks.

yadlin 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yadlin 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The tough economic situation for Gazans pressured Hamas to agree to the cease-fire, Gen. Amos Yadlin, Head of Military Intelligence, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee during a Sunday briefing. "Hamas has not neglected the 'way of terror' and it sees terror as a legitimate tool for continuing its struggle, but it currently put it aside in favor of allowing for a period of calm," said Yadlin, who emphasized that it is yet to be seen how and to what degree Hamas would enforce the cease-fire among the various terror organizations in Gaza. Even while Hamas maintained the cease-fire, he warned, the group would continue to find ways to continue building its paramilitary forces both in terms of training and acquiring weapons. Yadlin spent a large portion of his briefing to the Knesset committee discussing Syria and the overall level of tension in the Middle East. The Syrians, he said, feared the visit that began Sunday by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, and as a result were carrying out assorted cover-up activities including preventing foreign journalists from entering Syria until after the visit. The inspectors are expected to restrict the IAEA's visit to the facility that Israel bombed in September to determine if the site really had been used for nuclear development. Yadlin argued that Syria currently has little to lose. "Assad is in a win-win situation. Taking the pressure from the fear of a hot summer and creating a calmer mood gives him time to continue to build his military forces and to pass the summer peacefully, while on the other hand, he isn't giving up on anything and he is opened up to other countries," he explained. Yadlin added that one of Syria's major motivations in coming to talks was the possibility of receiving a US-sponsored aid package similar to the one received for decades now by Egypt. According to the military intelligence chief, Syria's desire for the benefits of the Turkish-sponsored talks could be seen in their decision to rescind their previously maintained preconditions for sitting down to the table, including their demand for a preemptive Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. The general picture painted by Yadlin was guardedly positive. He presented committee members with a list of developments that he said have brought him to the conclusion that the Arab states are trying to calm the waters in the Middle East and prevent any flare-ups between Israel and her neighbors. "In recent months, a number of strategic actions were carried out by Arab states to prevent Israel from finding a supportive environment for military activities. There is an attempt by Arab states to neutralize fuses that could raise the level of tension," he explained. Nevertheless, he still emphasized that the potential for an outbreak of increased tension still existed on all fronts.