Top IDF officers oppose ceasefire deal

Amos Gilad to Suleiman: Arms smuggling must be stopped before Israel agrees to truce with Hamas.

idf tank gaza fire 298 (photo credit: )
idf tank gaza fire 298
(photo credit: )
Top members of the IDF General Staff have expressed their opposition to the deal Egypt is trying to broker between Israel and Hamas in an effort to obtain a cessation of violence in the Gaza Strip, defense officials told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. On Tuesday, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, Amos Gilad, traveled to Cairo for talks with Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman, who has been mediating between Israel and Hamas on the deal. Gilad, defense officials said, told Suleiman that Israel would not be able to agree to any type of cease-fire with Hamas if the border between Gaza and Egypt were not first sealed and the smuggling of weapons completely stopped by the Egyptian troops deployed there. "A continuation of the smuggling into Gaza will defeat the purpose of a cease-fire," one defense official said. Suleiman, the officials said, has for the past few weeks been trying to broker a package deal in the South that will include a cessation of violence, a Hamas presence at the Rafah crossing and the transfer of security over other crossings from Gaza into Israel to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Defense officials said that some of the IDF top brass were opposed to the deal since it would be interpreted as a "reward" for Hamas. The officials said that the IDF was pushing for additional operations in the Gaza Strip, such as the one in northern Gaza two weeks ago during which over 100 Palestinians were killed. "Hamas suffered a heavy blow during that operation," one official explained. "Additional similar operations will be able to keep up the pressure instead of rewarding them for their Kassam rocket fire." On Wednesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told visiting US presidential candidate Sen. John McCain that Israel would continue operating against terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip as long as Kassam rockets continued to fall on the western Negev. Islamic Jihad has been responsible for shooting close to 50 rockets this past week. "Despite the relative calm over the last few days, at this stage, there is no cease-fire agreement with Hamas," Barak told McCain during a helicopter tour of Israel and its borders. The IDF officers were said to be particularly opposed to the deployment of Abbas's Presidential Guards at the Karni and Erez crossings, a move that one officer said would also give Hamas a presence at the crossings. The Karni and Erez crossings repeatedly came under attack by Hamas when they were open and under the control of Fatah forces.