Photo: Moty Sandar
Soldiers in Gush Katif -Soon, they’ll be evacuating settlements
Photo: Moty Sandar

‘We won't withdraw under fire’

Army chief says disengagement to proceed even if Israel fails to coordinate move with PA

TEL AVIV – There will not be a situation in which the IDF would be simultaneously fighting and evacuating from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, Army Chief Dan Halutz told reporters during a briefing in Tel Aviv Tuesday.


He added the pullout would go ahead even if Israel is unable to coordinate it with the Palestinians.


"Coordinating the disengagement is not a condition, and the IDF would execute the evacuation in any case,” he said. “If there will be (Palestinian) fire, we’ll handle it.”


Halutz emphasized the pullout would be implemented on schedule, unless the army received different instructions from the government.


“We’re not going into a war and we’re not going for a military victory, but rather, to execute a national mission that doesn’t include the use of force,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of residents in Gush Katif and the northern West Bank do their military reserve duty, have their children in the army. They’re part of us, and they’ll continue to be part of us following the disengagement.”


Terror threat central


Turning his attention to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Halutz said the PA chairman says what he means, but has failed to act in accordance with his words.


“The Hamas is challenging the Palestinian Authority, “ he said. “We must not have our actions paint us as if we are not giving Abu Mazen (Abbas) a chance.”


Regarding terrorism, Halutz said he views terror as a central threat.


“Terror is not an existential threat, but it did exact a price and may do so in the future,” he said. “After this (threat) come non-conventional capabilities and finally fighting against regular armies. We must prepare for that too, but I view the likelihood of this threat as low in the current reality.”


Regarding the recent escalation along the country’s northern border, Halutz said it is best to assess the situation after Lebanon stabilizes internally, adding that the American presence in the area serves as a positive and restraining force.


In his first public appearance as chief of staff last week, Halutz addressed the recent firing of Qassam rockets and mortar shells at Gaza settlement sand western Negev towns.


“At some point Israel's patience will run out,” he said at the time. "Today's events are another expression of the Palestinian Authority's weakness. The fact that they (PA) think the right things and say the right things but do not do the right things is the embodiment of everything."


פרסום ראשון: 06.14.05, 14:07
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