MI chief tells cabinet terrorist groups will probably try to detract from IDF achievements during Gaza op.
By HERB KEINONPublished: JANUARY 18, 2009 23:52Advertisement
Hamas and other groups are likely to try to carry out terrorist attacks and fire rockets at Israel to try to detract from Israel's achievements during Operation Cast Lead, OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the cabinet Sunday.
Yadlin, along with Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin briefed the cabinet on the cease-fire, but few details of how Israel would react if Hamas broke it were made public.
For instance, no clear answers were given as to what Israel would do if it saw Hamas rebuilding factories to manufacture rockets, or continuing to dig arms smuggling tunnels, or whether Israel would hit Hamas leaders when they emerge from their hiding places.
One senior government official said Jerusalem wanted to keep its intentions vague, but this has led to a situation where much more was unknown about the cease-fire, than what was known.
This is also true regarding the arrangements with Egypt regarding the smuggling under the Sinai border. No details were provided regarding what kind of mechanism would be set up there, who would be responsible, whether Egypt was going to increase its troop level, or what type of international troops or advisers would be involved.
When one senior Israeli source was asked who would enforce the agreement, he said: "Those who need to enforce it, will enforce it."
In the same vein, the fate of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit within the cease-fire framework remained equally unclear. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the cabinet that the government had worked during the offensive to "speed up an understanding that will bring about the release of Schalit."
According to Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel, Olmert said that "the operation has not ended yet, so conclusions should not be drawn regarding Gilad Schalit."
Operation Cast Lead "significantly improved Israel's deterrence" and made clear that Israel could effectively act against terrorist organizations, whether they acted as a military unit or whether they hid behind the civilian population, Yadlin said.
Hamas's military capabilities - its arms depots, and ability to produce and fire rockets - had been harmed, as had its ability to govern, he said.
"It was proven that the idea of Hamastan brings the Palestinians destruction and tragedy," Yadlin said, adding that criticism of what Hamas brought upon the Palestinians inside Gaza was increasing.
He told the cabinet that Hamas was hiding the extent of the damage, in order not to destroy the morale of the its activists. The cabinet was told that the number of Hamas activists killed, as well as their identities, had not been released.
Yadlin said that despite reports in the media late last week about the possibility of a unilateral cease-fire, Hamas was surprised by it, and that the organization was torn between its "ideology of resistance" and its understanding that "continuation [of the rocket fire] will make things worse."
Diskin said Israel destroyed many arms smuggling tunnels, but "this is not irreversible."
Not all the tunnels were hit, and as soon as the quiet returns, the tunnels would be rebuilt, "if Israel did not deal with the issue," he said.
Hamas badly miscalculated that Israel would not launch a military operation during an election period, or use as much strength as it did in Gaza, Diskin said.
The coming days were sensitive, and would indicate whether the sides were headed to a stable cease-fire, or to a renewal of the fighting, he said.
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