The defense establishment has been careful not to overstate the significance of the recent – growing – wave of unrest sweeping the West Bank, but according to IDF Ezion Sector Commander Colonel Yaniv Alaluf, the third intifada has already begun.
"We're no longer on the verge of a third intifada – it's already here. We anticipate many more (clashes) from now on," he said.
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Speaking to troops and reservists assigned to the sector, Alaluf qualified his daunting prediction, saying that "We may not be facing thousands of demonstrators storming border fences with AK-47s, but that doesn’t diminish the seriousness of the situation."
Ynet learned Sunday that Alaluf, one of the GOC Central Command's top-ranking officers, spoke following a training session held in the area, as part of the IDF's efforts to deal with the increasing tensions in the West Bank following Operation Pillar of Defense and the PA's status upgrade by the UN.
Tamoun rioters (Archives: Reuters)
Alaluf's assessment of the situation was a pessimistic one: "The process lead by Abu Mazen is over, replaced by the attitude promoted by Hamas. Abu Mazen is trying to survive the Arab Spring and he understands that the path of negotiations with Israel is over.
"The question is – what will follow? We may see regional anarchy along a military campaign of our own."
The sector chief expressed concern that should Israel mount another military operation in Gaza, or have to deal with a regional deterioration, "The IDF may face a shortage in reservists."
Uprising (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
But not all is bleak: Alaluf was optimistic as to the IDF's ability to deal with terrorist threats, saying he does not foresee a string of suicide attacks, which became the gruesome hallmark of the al-Aqsa Intifada.
"The third intifada won't be like the second one, which surprised us. We're ahead of the game now and terror won't be able to slither up to central Israel because we're better prepared."
Many of the soldiers serving in the sector, reside in Gush Ezion and are not strangers to the escalating violence. "This is a great man and a greater officer, who has been able to significantly reduce terror acts around here since he came onto the sector," one of the soldiers who was present in the briefing told Ynet.
"His assessment didn’t come as a surprise to us. You can only admire how honest he was with the area's residents – that can't be taken for granted."
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that, "The military does not comment on remarks made in closed forums."
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